Word of Mouth

Some people have asked why a publisher would give away copies of a newly released book rather than sell it. Surely, they say, there must be some people who would buy it. Friends and family would be happy to buy it.

While that is true, there is a method to this giveaway madness, particularly when it comes to books available online. If you have ever ordered a book from Amazon, you will get a small list at the bottom of the page that says, “People who bought this book also bought..” and then a list of several titles. In Amazon’s algorithms, even free books are considered “bought” (just bought for $0) and so the theory goes that the more books you sell, the more often your book will appear on “also bought” lists. Common sense theory also adds that the more you offer books for free, the more people will “purchase” the book as the risk of the book being a dud is far less costly.

And so, last week, we gave away 9100 copies of the book in total.

The other part of the plan is more meaningful. If someone tells you what they are selling is fabulous, you take it with a grain of salt and rightly so. They have a lot invested in the success of their product. But, if someone else tells you about a great or terrible customer experience or product, you pay attention. If the product is made by their cousin, you apply that salt once again, but if they have no reason to bias their review, you pay attention and it can influence your behavior.

Simple example: yesterday, I was talking with a friend who is crowdfunding a project; I told him about the best crowdfunded project I knew, connected to a website I follow, one that is followed by more than a million people. “I’m going to check that out,” he said. That’s word of mouth coupled with numbers.

So that is the second part of the giveaway strategy. Our hope (hint, hint) is that people will read the book and will review it on Amazon or GoodWords or their own book review blogs — or even tell their real life friends about it.

Later this week, I’m going to give away a hard copy of Seeker of Stars through GoodReads. Head over there — https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18808482-seeker-of-stars?from_search=true– on Thursday and check the contest out. Maybe even tell your friends about it.


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