The importance of book reviews and word of mouth for ebook sales

It may sound obvious, but word of mouth is one of the major factors that will help you sell books. I know this, you know this, but knowing and doing are two completely different things. When I first started self publishing, I debuted Inside Evil on a bit of a down low. It was my first novel, I didn’t know how it was going to be received and I didn’t want to put family and friends in that awkward position where they have to gush about loving your book whilst they’re secretly cursing the hours they lost having to read their loved ones trash. Luckily, it seems that I didn’t write 70,000 words of trash, but putting a book out there that you’ve slaved over is scary stuff.

Once you hit that self publish button, and for those who are organised enough to get a head start, the marketing and advertising starts. Forum posting, blog commenting, Goodreads ads and LibraryThing giveaways are all part of the process of trying to get sales; along with having fingers and toes crossed that a little bit of luck comes your way. However, from personal experience, the one thing you need to do to sell some books is to swallow your pride and turn to book reviewers, friends and family to spread the word.

Book Reviews

Some people don’t have a lot of luck with book reviews, but I’ve found that it’s been one of the best way to get sales. Most reviewers have a huge backlog of books to read, but getting on as many blogs as possible will passively spread the word of your novel, build some reviews and gain some sales. Most reviewers will post their ratings on their blog, Goodreads, Amazon and even Barnes and Noble, offering you the chance to reach blog readers and grow your range of marketplace reviews. On Goodreads this can help you to reach more people’s shelves, adding to the natural word of mouth spread of your book.

One of my first book blog reviews came in yesterday with a stunning 4.5 stars. A huge thank you to Krista at Breathe in Books for this review, and I’ve already noted an increase in sales which I expect has come off this sole review.  Don’t be persuaded to only go for some of the big book reviewers – get on as many blogs as possible to reach a wider audience.

Two great lists of book reviews can be found at:

Kristy’s Stories book reviewers post
Indie Book Reviewer

Word of Mouth

There’s nothing that says ‘buy this book’ better than a personal recommendation. In the best scenario you want readers to be saying ‘Wow, I read this great book. You should give it a go.’ However, you need a little help now and then, and it’s here that friends and family can help. There’s nothing wrong with asking for a little plug here and there. My sister put out a Facebook status saying that she’d read my book and loved it. She added the Amazon book link and I had several sales from people who were interested. Likewise, an author friend of mine Tweeted about my book, and I had several more sales as a direct result from that.

It’s understandable that you don’t want to rely on friends and family to spread the word, but you have to reach new fans in the first place so that word on your book spreads. Get two friends of a family member to buy your book and recommend it to others, and you soon have new and completely unrelated fans. This in turn will push up your Amazon sales rankings so that you can enter top 100 lists and become more noticeable.

Reaching new fans and getting sales is a difficult task. People will be far more willing to try a new author if they receive a personal recommendation. If, like me, you’re not very good at blowing your own trumpet, asking for help from family and friends can be a huge help to get your ebook sales snowballing.

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