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Word-of-Mouth: Good Books or Just Great Books?

Don’t be satisfied with the merely good.

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief

man reading a bookIn our feature story today Overturning The Lemonade-stand Culture of Literature, Eric Obenauf, founder, Two Dollar Radio paraphrases the writer Stephen Elliot as once saying that nobody recommends good books to their friends — they only recommend great books.

Word-of-mouth marketing is the holy grail of the book business. But it is elusive. And if what Elliot says is true, publishers would be much better off putting their efforts into producing the best possible books they can — great books — instead of being satisfied with the merely good.

As with all questions regarding the book business, the answer to always comes back to the books. The question of how to sell more books to people is easily answered: produce great books, and people will recommend and buy them.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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  1. Posted February 9, 2013 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    I totally agree. I’m a prolific reader and book reviewer. It is shocking how poorly books are written that get published, not only self-published, but also by traditional publishers. If a book is truly awful, I sometimes won’t review it, because I discovered that traditional publishers get a bit upset when one of their books gets a bad review, and might even ban their galleys from getting to me. I understand that my opinion is not necessarily the last word, and that others might actually like the book that I do not like, so I try to take that into consideration in my reviews. It seems to me that there are a lot of writers and editors who don’t do their homework in learning to be a great writer or a great editor, and so we have to wade through a very large amount of barely good or even bad “literature” out there.

  2. Posted February 11, 2013 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I have to agree with R.Z. above. I also review many books, and for established book sites. I review both self-pubs and legacy books. I am stounded at the drivel that comes from many long-standing, highly respected authors who have made a name for themselves over the years. One gets the feeling they think that writing anything is OK; that why should one try? After all, “If I write it they will read it, the poor dears.” When I review, and especially for sites, I try to keep in mind the target audience, and that might not be me. If I can’t give a book a four or a five, I am reluctant to post a review. I don’t want to rain on either the author’s or his/her many fans’ parade. It has been a long time since a book really startled me with its brilliance. I don’t think people know how to write great literature any more; rather (sadly) like people don’t know how to paint like the Old Masters did.

  3. Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    I agree. That’s why I have started a business that makes it easier for people to recommend and discover books using the power of viral marketing. It’s still early days.

    Research has shown that social media influences a high percentage of sale purchases. However, word of mouth applies to relevance, you share what you think will be of use.

    So maybe the moral of the story is to produce something highly relevant to ensure viral marketing does you proud.

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