Research has shown that cultivating word of mouth is one of the most effective advertising techniques. Nearly 90% of consumers worldwide trust recommendations from friends and family more than any other type of marketing. However, authors may shy away from this marketing strategy because word of mouth can seem elusive and hard to generate. After all, most recommendations are made offline during everyday conversations, which makes word of mouth hard to measure and track. 

Luckily creating word of mouth isn’t as difficult as it might appear. There are several tried-and-true methods authors can use to get people talking about their writing, such as attending book fairs and doing giveaways. Here are six word-of-mouth marketing tips to help you build excitement for your book.

Experiment With TikTok

TikTok is one of the best platforms for word-of-mouth marketing because of its unique algorithm. Most social media sites focus on showing users posts from friends and creators they already follow. However, TikTok has an entire feed that helps users discover videos from brands and creators that they’ve never interacted with before. Because TikTok is always suggesting new content to users, your posts may be able to reach a wider audience on the platform. 

Research has also found that TikTok users are twice as likely to give word-of-mouth referrals compared to traditional social media users. So readers who discover your book on the platform may tell family and friends about it, spreading your work even further. Although many teenagers use TikTok, the platform isn’t just for young people. All age groups are on the app, so it can be a good place to connect with your target audience and drum up buzz for your book.

To get the best results on TikTok, marketing experts suggest paying close attention to trends. TikTok has a trends page that allows you to find viral audio clips and hashtags to utilize in your videos. Since TikTok’s algorithm favors viral videos, incorporating these popular elements into your content can help increase your views and engagement.

Build Brand Loyalty

The more invested your readers are in your author brand, the more likely they are to spread the word about your work. A KPMG survey revealed that 86% of customers who are loyal to a brand will recommend it to friends and family, so building strong relationships with your audience is crucial. 

Surveys are a common tool that businesses use to boost customer loyalty. Asking customers for feedback and implementing their suggestions makes them feel valued and appreciated. Authors can implement this strategy by polling readers and asking for their opinions. For example, you could show your audience two different cover designs and ask which one they like best. Or you could ask your followers what they’re struggling with so you can address their pain points in your book. Requesting feedback from your audience will make them feel more involved and get them excited about your book. 

Authors can also cultivate brand loyalty by rewarding readers with special incentives. Consider inviting your biggest fans to a small Q&A livestream so you can answer their burning questions. You could also send exclusive discounts to your email newsletter subscribers or allow a few fans to serve as beta readers for your next book. Finding new ways to boost audience engagement and loyalty will pay dividends since dedicated fans are more likely to recommend your books to others.

Get Involved in Local Events

Being present in your community can also have a positive impact on your word-of-mouth marketing. Getting involved in local events can help you connect with your target audience and spread the word about your book. Do some research and see if there are any existing meet-ups for authors that you can join. Some coffee shops and bookstores host open mic nights for writers, which are great opportunities to share snippets of your book with potential readers. 

Many cities also have book fairs or festivals where authors can set up a booth and sell copies of their book. Some festivals have eligibility requirements and may require you to apply to be an exhibitor. You may also have to pay a small fee to reserve your booth. 

Book fairs are great places to network with other authors and connect with local readers. Plus, they usually have panel discussions on different topics such as sports or local history, which you can apply to join. Although public speaking can be intimidating, panel discussions can help you gain more exposure for your book and make the most of your fair experience. 

If there aren’t any book festivals in your area, ask your local library or independent bookstore if they’d allow you to give an author talk so you can still interact with local readers.

Connect With Readers Via Book Clubs 

Book clubs can be a fantastic source of word of mouth. If your book gets selected by a club, each member will probably purchase a copy of your book, so you’ll get multiple sales in one fell swoop. Group members who enjoy the book may suggest it to friends and family, potentially starting a chain reaction of recommendations. But how do you get book clubs to select your work? Chances are you know someone who’s a member or leader of a book club, so reaching out to them is a great place to start. Send them a few chapters of your book for free so they can see if it’s a good fit for their group. 

To incentivize them to choose your book, you can offer to attend the meeting and answer the group’s questions. You could even give them a group discount to sweeten the deal. If you don’t know any book club members, you can pitch your book to local groups and offer them similar incentives for choosing it. You can find book clubs in your area on Meetup.com or BookClubs.com and try reaching out to them. 

Uploading free resources to your author site can also encourage book clubs to read your work. It’s a good idea to create a list of questions or prompts that group leaders can use to encourage meaningful discussion. Consider recording an informational video that book clubs can watch to learn more about the themes and inspiration behind your book. You could also include resources like journaling prompts, worksheets, quizzes, and references for further reading. Make sure these files are easy to download, and don’t forget to promote them to your followers on social media so they don’t go unnoticed.

Give Away Copies of Your Book

Giving away copies of your book is a tried-and-true strategy for drumming up buzz. Advertising a book giveaway on your social media pages can help you gain more fans, especially if you require entrants to follow you and share the contest. You can also partner up with other authors in your genre to increase the size and reach of the drawing. A giveaway that includes several books and is cross-promoted by multiple authors will likely generate more entries and attention.  

If you want to give back to your community while promoting your book, consider donating a copy to a Little Free Library. There are thousands of Little Free Libraries across the country, so you’ve probably seen one in your area—they’re located outside and look similar to birdhouses. Members of the community are encouraged to donate books they no longer need to their neighborhood library and pick out a few new titles to read. 

Although they aren’t required to, readers often return books to the library after they finish them. So donating a copy of your book could be a good way to circulate your work throughout your community and generate word of mouth. Julie Vick, a humor writer, used this strategy to promote her book and attached a note to each copy she donated. The note encouraged readers who enjoyed her book to review it on Goodreads to help boost its rating. If you’re interested in trying this marketing method yourself, you can use Little Free Library’s mobile app to find a location near you. 

If you have some funds left in your marketing budget, you can also give away books on Goodreads, a popular book recommendation website. A standard Goodreads giveaway costs around $100, but the expense may be worth it considering the exposure you’ll gain. Giveaway entrants are required to add your book to their “want to read” list, which helps boost your book’s visibility on the platform. Winners of the contest will also be prompted to rate your book, helping you get more reviews. Plus, your giveaway will probably gain more exposure and entries on Goodreads where book lovers congregate than on other social media sites.

Ask for Reviews

Reviews are an important form of social proof and word of mouth. Nearly 90% of consumers say that product reviews affect their purchasing decisions, so authors should focus heavily on getting more Amazon and Goodreads ratings. One of the best ways to generate book reviews is simply to ask for them. Your friends and family are eager to support you, but may forget to rate your book because they’re busy. 

Posting on social media about how much you appreciate reviews can remind your network to help you out by rating your book. You can also email your newsletter subscribers to let them know how much reviews and Goodreads interactions mean to you. If a fan hasn’t had time to read your latest book, they can still add it to their “want to read” list on Goodreads to help generate buzz. 

Additionally, it’s a good idea to reach out to any beta readers or bloggers who received a free book from you, but haven’t left a review yet. Remember that sending out advance reader copies doesn’t guarantee reviews, so be courteous when following up. Thank each person for taking the time to read your book and politely suggest that they rate it on Goodreads if they enjoyed it. If asking for reviews outright feels too awkward, you can include a request for reviews in the back matter of your book instead.

Need Help Crafting a Share-Worthy Book? 

Readers don’t recommend mediocre books to family and friends, so it’s important to craft a high-quality book that’s worthy of sharing. If you have an inspirational story that the world needs to hear, but you can’t figure out the best way to tell it, reach out to The Book Professor®. 

Our book coaching programs will help you identify your target audience, refine your core message, and write a high-impact nonfiction book in just one year. Even if you’ve never written a book before, our programs will guide you through the process from start to finish so you can achieve your dream of becoming an author. Contact us today to get started.