Word of Mouth Is the Best Book Publicity

by Trish

When kid’s book authors . . . actually when ANY authors . . . ask me how to best use social media to publicize their books, I give them this answer (provided by Janet Reid of Reid Literary):

Word of mouth is the best book publicity there is.

And getting to know people on social media is the point of social media.

Sounds like the two were meant to be together, right?

Then why is there so much conflicting information out there on positioning yourself as a kid’s book author on social media? Why is it this person says to use Twitter and this other person says to use Facebook? Who are you to believe?

I think you can tell where I’m going. No one’s right or wrong, but what social network(s) could you use to get to know people in order to encourage word of mouth?

Hm. I wonder.

Oh right! Twitter and Facebook. Blogs and email newsletters. Flickr and YouTube. The list goes on and on and on.

So, you’re ready to go on all these networks. How do you position yourself successfully in the mind of your reading (and buying!) audience?

1. What’s your story? We’ve covered this before, but from a kid’s book persepective, it really matters. Because to both kids and parents, what is the story is the central question. Parents will be checking for reading level and maturity requirements, especially from YA novels and down to picture books. Kids who are picking out books (with parents or without) will be checking out the story and the characters. They’re looking for situations and dynamics that attract them. A teenage girl may yearn for a romance or adventure; a teenage boy may want something historical or out of this world.

2. What’s interesting that you can use to connect with your readers? Laura Resau, author of the forthcoming book, The Queen of Water, has connected with her audience by talking about the subject of her novel and the subject matter that her novel deals with. This is effective word of mouth enabling and platform building, but it doesn’t look like it, does it? In fact, it’s more powerful than just publicity and platform building, because it’s a story that most of us need to know more about and don’t. Resau helps us imagine what it would be like to live a life as a child laborer and whenever she talks about the subject matter, she continues to use word of mouth to get other readers interested in her book.

3. What about a book that doesn’t appear to have a strong non-fiction slant? Say you’re writing an urban fantasy, much like Penny Blubaugh’s Blood and Flowers, which undoubtedly has a non-fiction slant, but at first look appears not to. Penny wisely appeared on a writing blog talking about the background of getting this novel written and published. What a great idea! This is something that prepublished writers can’t get enough of. We (and we’re all prepublished in one genre or another, aren’t we?) are always ready to listen to a post-published author and how he or she wrote it and sold it. The world of writing how-to can’t get enough!

4. Be creative! My good friend, Dori Jones Yang, author of Daughter of Xanadu, a YA historical that came out in January, has agreed to appear at a local restaurant near Seattle for a book signing. One the evening of the book signing, the restaurant will feature a custom menu highlighting Mongolian dishes (arranged artistically and appetizingly, of course!) with corresponding wine choices. Now THAT is creative word of mouth platform building. Who wouldn’t want to read a novel that tells you more about Mongolian history after you’ve spent an evening tasting delicious Mongolian dishes? I sure would!

Next up, ideas for positioning using social media for journalists and authors and then techheads and bloggers. Yes, I’m a bit behind because of my SXSW appearance, but I’ll make it. I’m so excited! If you’re in Austin this weekend, please be sure to say hi! I would LOVE to meet you.


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