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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Word of mouth

by Charity Tahmaseb

Even in the world of relentless, online promotion, I always had the sneaking suspicion that word of mouth still sold books. I don’t blame authors for trying anything they can, because getting the word (of word of mouth) out there can’t be easy. As someone hoping to publish someday, I pay close attention to what I think might work and what might not (emphasis on might).

We’ve all seen blog tours where the hostess hasn’t read the book. I’m probably not the only one who has received an author newsletter I never signed up for.

What gets my interest online, about books? An intriguing title in a blogger’s To-Be-Read list. I read Naked in Baghdad because it was on Noodler’s Colleen Gleason’s TBR list. A recent review by a blogger I read on a regular basis had me requesting The Thirteenth Tale from the library. In the end, it’s not the flash or promises of prizes. It has more to do with trust than trinkets.

The other day, I had my own close encounter with word of mouth. Now, I’m a low-key kind of blogger. I don’t sweat my Technorati rating or obsess over my stats. Not too long ago, I’d received a nice email from a gentleman who discovered my Blogging Airborne series via a Google search. (He was searching on the I-Bar at Fort Benning, GA. The infamous I-Bar, the one with the strippers. He didn’t elaborate. I didn’t ask him to.)

I thought nothing of it until I glanced at my stats the next day and saw a spike--and that’s putting it mildly. Normally my stats resemble a graphical representation of the Great Plains. What I saw that day was serious Himalayan action.

That nice gentleman apparently emailed the link to the series to all his friends. He also, apparently, has a lot of friends. People from all over were reading my blog.

After a week of frenzied activity, some nice emails and comments, things calmed down. I still get Blogging Airborne hits, a few Google searches on the I-Bar and strippers. (Please, people, I am so not an expert--I never even got through the door.)

The whole incident made me think. All it took was connecting with one person. And sure, those seem like needle-in-the-haystack kind of odds. But it can happen. And when it does, it’s magical.


At 10:40 AM, Blogger Karen said...

This reminds me of the old shampoo commercial where you tell two friends and they tell two friends and so on and so on. That's exactly how it happens so often.

Sometimes it's the cover that draws me to a book, but most often all it takes to make me scramble for the shelves is to hear that someone simply liked a book--a character, a setting, a theme.

At 11:20 AM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Most of the books I buy are because I've previously read and enjoyed that author's work, but many of my other purchases are based on something I've read online--an interview, a blog remark, a review (yes, horrors, a review!).

Charity, I'm glad you figured out what was driving your traffic. I'm usually mystified when someone "finds" me. But the sense of connection is a pleasure.

At 5:00 AM, Blogger MJFredrick said...

I pick up MOST books because of word of mouth. I started listening to TWILIGHT because Trish told me about it. I read Virgin River because a chaptermate raved about it. I have RIDING THE STORM in my TBR because I've been reading the authors' blogs and have been following the path of publication. I read GODS IN ALABAMA because it was recommended to me.

I try to spread the love, too. I've recommended Eileen Rendahl's books, Lori Handeland's, and of course, Noodler books!

At 11:38 AM, Blogger Jen said...

I also find it very interesting how those stats and runs work. And isn't it nice that gentleman had so many friends, because those pieces are brilliant and deserve a WIDE audience!

At 4:19 PM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

I became a huge fan of the J.R. Ward Black Dagger Brotherhood series because fellow Noodler Stephanie Rowe suggested them. Matter of fact, she's suggested other books I've really enjoyed as well -- maybe she's the one who suggested Twilight to me before I suggested it to Mary. :) Can't remember -- brain is tired.

At 10:06 AM, Blogger Erica Orloff said...

I think that's why your editors will tell you to first write the best book possible--because heartfelt books connect with people, and make them more likely to spread the word . . . And I agree . . . I've had blurbs in Cosmopolitan and US Weekly and decent plus in Women's World (a feature) and American Girl (same thing) . . . and didn't see my sales rise that much--but then had one book that just slammed my email full of reader letters on how much it touched them--and that one had my strongest sales. And my publisher didn't do much promo for it.


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