The Word of Mouth Phenomenon

What most inspires you to see a movie? Is it a review? A trailer? You read the book? A friend made recommended it? Perhaps you use a combination of these, but a trailer often skews the actual quality of the movie. The laughs you have in a comedy trailer might be the only laughs in the movie. A review might call it “rotten tomatoes” since it’s one person’s opinion and one who doesn’t know others’ tastes. Most likely, it’s a family member or friend who enjoys the same kinds of books, television shows and movies who you trust. Many books have become best sellers by the phenomenon of Word of Mouth. People telling people.

Word of Mouth book promotion is a referral from a reader who is a happy customer and loyal reader. You have many readers who like your books, your writing style, your stories, and the genre. The book they talk about has met their expectations. They know they can count on you to write the kind of story they enjoy. This means that all authors benefit from identifying these readers and gaining their trust and their willingness to promote your latest release through the best promotion they can give you: Word of Mouth.

What can you do to build a Word of Mouth readership?

1. Write an excellent novel
You write a quality novel by honing your craft: creating vivid flawed but likeable characters, bringing the setting to life, developing complex conflicts based on realistic goals or needs with solid motivation, and creating powerful emotion. It means practice and hard work, but it takes an outstanding novel to bring about Word of Mouth promotion.

2. Be prolific
The more you write the more you bring pleasure to readers and the more they will talk about your books. Readers are drawn to an author who release numerous novels a year, especially those writing in a series with aspects that tie the stories together—a town or street, a ranch or business, an organization, a family, siblings or an individual, such as: Jack Reacher, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, or Agatha Christie’s Mrs. Marple. A new release can arouse interest in your work and can effectively sell your backlist.

3. Identify Influencers
Notice who tags you in social media or who always hits like when you share information about a new release or an older book. Keep an eye on your reviews. Do you see the same reader commenting on most of your novels. Who “friends” you with enthusiasm because you are one of their favorite novelists. These people love your work. They follow you. They can become excellent influencers and supportive friends. Contact them to see if they would be interested in becoming an influencer for your novels. Provide them with a free copy even if you have to pay for the book and shipping. Or offer an eBook and send them a gift card so they can download the book free. Define some stipulations that are part of being an influencer: a review, social media comments on sites you consider worth advertising, or spreading the word on various social media. Thank them for their faithful work.

4. Focus on Relationships
Your influencers have become your friends on social media. Follow their posts, leave comments and likes. Don’t forget you can tag or share their good news or interesting videos or photographs.

5. Share Comments and Reviews
Make sure that when your influencers or non-influencers when you become aware of their comment on one of your books or something you’ve done or said. Thank them and then share their comment. Not only will their social media friends see their post but you can share it with your social media friends too. Make sure that you reciprocate.

6. Be a Person As Well As A Novelist
Share who you are with your influencers if not in public, in private messages on FaceBook. Tell them about a wonderful experience you’ve had, share an embarrassing incident, a problem your facing with your latest novel, a story idea you’re considering and get their opinions. We ask them to support us so support them through your friendship.

7. Allow Comments
Don’t block comments from your Facebook page. Readers are your friends, and it’s important to keep a line of communication open. I avoid using the fan page since I heard that comments cannot be made. Your page becomes an advertising site and is that what you want? I formed a group of readers who enjoy my books. I can ask their opinions and they can share their thoughts and comments. They come up with title ideas and I ask their input on a storyline I’m considering. I find influencers on this site.

8. Be Generous
Giving a free book for a review is one way of being generous but what about sending a small gift card to your influencers for Christmas or their birthday? Offer a download of a short story you’ve written or some poetry you wrote. Give them a link to Dropbox where you’ve shared photos of a family event. Help them know that you appreciate what they do for you.

9. Ask for Support
Although my influencers and others who are part of my Readers of Gail’s Books Group often tag me when mentioning a book or a photo of me from a conference, you can also ask them to share other links that you have for articles you’ve written for Blog Sites or news of Awards you’ve received. Let them toot your horn, and let others know they are supporting you. Many are happy to do this, and I’ve been grateful that many do this without my asking.

10. Listen
When you ask, listen and respond. Sometimes the ideas are great or the comment is helpful. Even if you don’t like the idea, say thank you. No novelist is perfect, and someone who loves your novels might express that the newest release is not one of your best or one of their favorites. That’s not a life and death situation. Let them know you’re sorry they didn’t enjoy the novel as much as usual and ask why? The response could be a good lesson for you and help you avoid something that isn’t appealing to readers. Perhaps it’s just one person’s opinion and that’s okay too. Say thank you.

I’m sure you can think of numerous other ways to stimulate Word of Mouth. If so, please leave a comment so your idea is helpful to everyone. I take the name and information from each comment, and the individual is entered into my next free book drawing. So you are not only helping others, but also having the chance to win a free novel or eBook download.

© Gail Gaymer Martin 2014


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  1. Cheryl Smith November 30, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

    Excellent tips! It’s hard to get started building relationships online. I like your ideas!

  2. Jill December 1, 2014 at 8:20 am #

    Great points, Gail! You seem to hit on all of these in your writing career.

  3. Davalynn Spencer December 2, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    I have a few Facebook friends who *share* my posts when I have an announcement, book release, or cover reveal. It’s turning out to be a great word-of-mouth/face way to reach people outside of my network. And I didn’t even ask these friends to do this. Like you mentioned, Gail, they just did it on their own. What blessings.

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