This pretty much comes under “market research” for me… the BBC has a story up about a study that confirms that word of mouth is the best tool to sell a book, and help it become a best seller.
It includes examples such as “The Da Vinci Code”, “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” and “The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Nighttime” as examples of books that have succeeded massively with this kind of help. And I’d have to agree – regardless of what I thought of Da Vinci in the long run, I’ve seen it’s word of mouth success up close (about 20 times now!), and I know it works. Even though I read the book way before anyone else I know as well, even I first heard about it from author Matthew Reilly and a post on his website.
Thanks to Cory Doctorow at Boingboing for this one. He quite rightfully points out that he’s used the technique himself very well, with his pioneering free online release of his books, including Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, another one I recommend without a doubt, and one I read from the free online download, entirely because it was not available in Australian bookshops at the time.
(But hey, it made a fan out of me, and led me to Boingboing as well, so it worked…)