Friday, September 13, 2013

What Makes a Book a Best Seller? (Part 5 of 13)

Reason number 3 for best sellers—and most people would say this is number 1—is what we call word-of-mouth advertising. The Road Less Traveled came out in the mid-1980s and stayed on the New York Times' best-seller lists for 12 years.

Some readers liked the book and told others who bought it. They liked it and passed on the word. The Shack is another word-of-mouth phenomenon, and that one started as a self-published book.

Many people would put Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media sites here as one form of word-of-mouth advertising. To my knowledge, there's no strong evidence to support sales based on posting to 7,000 friends that you read and liked a book.

I buy most of my books from the recommendations of friends whose tastes are somewhat like mine—that's the idea behind word of mouth. If someone whose tastes I respect raves about a book, I check it out. Many times I buy it immediately; other times I read the reviews before deciding.

Jonah Berger's Contagious: Why Things Catch On stresses word of mouth and calls it "the primary factor behind 20 percent to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions."[1] He goes on to say that "A five-star review on Amazon.com leads to approximately twenty more books sold than a one-star review."[2]

I quote Berger because he can back up his data and he makes a significant statement about word of mouth: ". . . is naturally directed toward an interested audience.”[3]

[1] Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger (Simon & Schuster, 2013), p 7. 
[2] Ibid. 
[3] Ibid., 9.

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