Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Marketing Power of One

When you think of one person and their impact on the world around them, for most of us, that impact is small. For authors trying to promote their novels, they walk a fine line between crass advertising and letting everyone know they've written a book. I'm not going to talk about self-promotion today. I have little experience with it. I do have some experience with promoting other people and recently I came to realize that my impact was larger than I had thought.

Everyone finds new books to read differently. For me, the library is my primary source of discovering new stories. So it makes sense then that the library is my easiest place to promote books and authors I enjoy.

A few years back I heard about a new book by a relatively unknown author through their agent's website. I don't normally find books that way, but this one had a premise that really intrigued me. I jumped online to see if I could reserve it at my local library. They didn't have it. They didn't have any books by this author at all. My library's pretty neat, in that they let people request books for purchase. I requested this particular book and in due course was able to borrow and read it. I really liked it.

About a year later the next book in the series came out. I again checked the library. They hadn't automatically bought it. Apparently the first book wasn't in high demand locally, although I knew it was making waves in reader circles elsewhere. So I requested the library buy the second book.

The same thing happened with the third, and the fourth, and the fifth books. By the time the last book came out this year, I finally didn't have to request that the library purchase it. They had bought four copies already and the series had caught on locally.

Now, that's not to say that my local librarians wouldn't have discovered this series (a New York Time's bestseller) eventually. But because I requested the books as soon as they came out, it gave them exposure locally much faster. I was helping to promote this author's books, helping them achieve that bestsellerdom.

I request the library purchase many books each year, either based on favorite authors, or premises I like the sound of. Some books have turned out to be duds, subjectively. Others have been great finds. Sometimes the library's brought in the first book but doesn't purchase the rest in a series. I'm then able to build up that author's presence through requests.

That's become my niche.

For other individuals there are lots of other ways to promote the books you love. We may not feel like anyone else will notice or share our enthusiasm, but we never know. Maybe you like to write reviews online, maybe you do shout-outs on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or Pinterest. (Which if you do, please try to mention the genre and what the story is about. Gushing over a title tells no one anything enticing.) Others join book clubs, or do in person recommendations when friends or relatives ask what to read. The point is word of mouth works. Authors can't really buy that kind of publicity, and it's what works the best.

Don't underestimate your sphere of influence, no matter how small it may be. If you like a book, you have the power to let others know about it. When the authors and books you like hit those bestseller lists, you were part of putting them there. Their success is also, in a smaller fashion, your success. Just another angle to consider.

So what's your promotion niche? How do you like to tell others about the books you love? What are you reading right now that you're excited about?


  1. It's is so true. Word of mouth really is the best form of promotion, as far as I know.

  2. Wow, great post. I never really thought of it that way. I usually just post on goodreads if I like a book, perhaps I should branch out a bit. 😀Thanks