How important is word of mouth? In honor of the release of The Hunger Games movie, I offer this little anecdotal* evidence.
[And no, we’re not going to talk about the book itself and whether it’s good or bad or appropriate or whatever.]
Back in mid-2010, just before Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins was released, I went down to my local Barnes and Noble to get copies of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I thought I’d better read them to see what all the hoopla was about.
Unfortunately for me, they were all sold out.
I talked to one of the floor managers and he told me that when The Hunger Games first came out in 2008, they’d ordered several copies, put them on the shelf and they just sat there.
Yep. Over the space of several months, they’d only sold ONE copy.
Then Stephenie Meyer, of Twilight fame, mentioned the book on her website and blurbed it, saying:
“I was so obsessed with this book I had to take it with me out to dinner and hide it under the edge of the table so I wouldn’t have to stop reading. The story kept me up for several nights in a row, because even after I was finished, I just lay in bed wide awake thinking about it…The Hunger Games is amazing.”
–Stephenie Meyer, www.stepheniemeyer.com
The next day, Barnes and Noble sold every single copy they had in stock and hadn’t been able to keep them in stock since.
Does The Hunger Games owe it’s success to Stephenie Meyer? Who knows. But her mention of it certainly didn’t hurt.
So what does this have to do with you and your book? Word of mouth is very important. Most readers trust other readers. In my opinion, getting book reviews on blogs, GoodReads, Amazon and other online places is a good way to get the word out. Even quick little tweets and status updates on social media sites is a good thing. If there’s enough positive and sincere buzz going around, eventually people are going to notice.
Readers, what do you think about word of mouth?
*based on personal observation, case study reports, or random investigations rather than systematic scientific evaluation.
One thought on “The Power of a Good Word”
Brandon Sanderson said at a library presentation a couple of years ago that one of the hardest things a writer fights is obscurity. So a shout out from a famous author is huge. But a shout out for a book that didn’t have anything going for it, I believe, would only work so far.
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