Today, I'm going to talk a little bit about the effects of "word of mouth."
Most authors aren't going to get that "BIG" deal, the "6-figure, everyone's buzzing about it, tons of promotional efforts, etc." deal that many people dream about. That is a rare feat. So, once you get published (because you will!), what if you are one of the majority without all that icing to help sell your cake (aka, your book!), how do you get it to the best-seller list? Or to at least sell through your advance?
There are many opinions on this. Social networking is important, of course. As well as making efforts to promote your book yourself. I'm no expert, having not been published yet, but the thing that seems to make the biggest difference for good (or bad -- even for those so-called BIG DEALS) is word of mouth.
If a book gets a huge advance, but the word of mouth for it is really negative, that book may not end up selling through it's advance even with tons of promotion. However the flip side is that if you get a smaller advance, but have glowing reviews being passed around and a strong "word of mouth campaign" gets going, you will easily sell through your advance, and possibly even propel you to that coveted best-seller list eventually.
The book world is small. We all talk about those BGs (Big Deals) as if everyone in the world must know about who the authors are, and how much they got. We watch the best seller lists like hawks and tweet furiously when someone we know or admire makes it. (Kiersten White #7!! Cassandra Clare #1! Alyson Noel #2! Plus even more; what a week!) However, you talk about advances or where books debuted to anyone outside of the writing world, and they have no clue what you're talking about. (well, they might understand the best seller list part, but the advances, not so much.)
Case in Point:
"Did you know my friend _____ got a MAJOR ADVANCE for her book _____ from ______?!?!"
"Uh... who's that? And what's an advance?"
So, basically, they think you're crazy and you are flabbergasted that they don't know what a MAJOR ADVANCE means and you both stomp away in frustration. (Okay, probably not that last part.)
However, if someone then tells that same person a year down the road when the book is published, "I just read ____ and LOVED it so much. You HAVE to read it. Go buy it right now!" THAT will mean something to them. And hopefully, they will go buy it and read it. And tell their friends and family, and so on and so on.
Just how powerful is word of mouth, though, really? I'm not sure. It would be interesting to find out. What do you think?