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© 2004 by Richard F.X.O'Connor

By now, every writer should know what sells books. Oprah, you say? Well you are right, but your chances of getting on that show are slim to none. But that didn’t deter one writer I know who equated attending the Santa Barbara Writers Conference with getting an audience with Oprah, because she resides near Saint Babs. How she was going to execute this juxtaposition of neighbors is beyond me. And, she didn’t.

It’s not just Oprah but the Word of Mouth (wom) she generates. The answer to today’s quiz is that wom is the single most effective selling tool in the writer’s arsenal. Wom is more powerful than advertising (which does not work—see my book below for details why); it is more powerful than TV appearances; and more powerful than book signings.

Let’s dissect this tool by using O’Connor’s Rule of 250, which postulates that each of us has 250 friends, relatives, colleagues, and critics. In turn each of them has 250 friends, relatives, colleagues, and critics, who have 250 . . .

According to the Rule of 250, if you rave about the newest Spiderman movie to your circle of 250, many of them will see it rave to their circles of 250. And on it goes.

Another example of wom is the new French restaurant that you tout to your friends because you enjoyed it so much. Chances are then next time that you want to eat there you will need reservations because wom worked too well.

Then there is the downside of wom. If you didn’t like the latest Ashley Judd movie, it just might tank at the box office. Powerful stuff that wom.

I recall a day when I bumped into Jeremy Tarcher, the great publisher of New Age works. I was in the waiting room of his offices, there to see an editor. I had no sooner gotten off "Hi Jeremy," when he said, without so much as hello, "Dick, I was just reading this amazing manuscript about Circadian Clocks." He went on for ten minutes telling me all about this then relatively unknown phenomenon. I was hooked by his enthusiasm and read the book after he published it.

At the core of positive word of mouth is "Infectious Enthusiasm" that I learned from the former editor-in-chief of Doubleday, Ken McCormick. And it works from top to bottom inside a publishing house. Infectious Enthusiasm works this way: it is up to you to be enthusiastic about your work, your book, when "selling" it to others. You must convey inordinate enthusiasm for your book to your editor—so much so that your editor becomes "infected" with your enthusiasm . . . and then your editor is able to convey genuine enthusiasm to editorial peers and marketing folks. If they too become infected, they will share that enthusiasm with copywriters, sales reps, artists . . . and on and on throughout the ranks of the entire house . . . ultimately "infecting" retail and wholesale buyers with sufficient enthusiasm to buy your book. IT WORKS!

–Richard F X. O'Connor is the published author of seven books including the best selling "How To Make Your Man More Sensitive" (E.P. Dutton/ Fawcett) and "Ident-A-Kid" (S&S). His self-published work is "How to Market You and Your Book."



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