Making the Most of Your Big Mouth List

May 27, 2015


In the book trade, some of the most coveted supporters a book can have are “big mouth booksellers” – booksellers who can hand-sell the book to customers and generate interest through word of mouth. Big mouth booksellers are often credited for laying the groundwork for the success of the Harry Potter series, for example, planting seeds about the remarkable series among book buyers before the boy wizard became a household name. Publishers will often send advance reading copies to key booksellers well in advance of a book’s publication, so by the time the book is released, store staff are already primed to promote it. We think a big mouth campaign is a great idea, and we encourage our self-publishing clients to adopt the strategy in their own sales plan, even when they don’t have bookstore distribution. In that case, their big mouth supporters become key people in their networks who can help get the word out about a new book.

To design your own big mouth campaign, identify the people in your networks you really trust to spread the word. Ideally, these people are key influencers within their own communities of interest who can reach people you couldn’t reach on your own. Here are a few ways in which you can make the most of these valuable contacts:

Present clear calls to action

Don’t just tell your big mouth list about your book; make it clear that you’re asking them to be ambassadors for your work within their own networks. Tell them you’d love to enlist their help in promoting your book and give them specific ways in which they can do it. For example, ask them to review your book on online retail sites, or to forward an invitation to a reading you’re doing to people who live in the area. Provide plenty of information that will make it easy for them to get the word out for you.

Tell them what they mean to you

Everyone feels flooded with information all the time, so if your outreach to your big mouth list feels like just another generic e-blast, it might not be well received. Tell your big mouthers that they are your core ambassadors: the people whose support and influence you value most. Let them know that you’ve carefully curated this list and that you’ve included them because of their meaningful connection to you. This will provide context for your calls to action and it will make your big mouthers understand how critical their help is to making your book a success.

Spoil them a little

Consider how you might thank or reward your big mouthers for helping you out. No, we’re not suggesting bribery! Just a way to show your gratitude. Send them a sneak-peek chapter pre-publication or some cutting-room-floor material that’s valuable but that didn’t make it into the book. Bring them some special treats if they show up at your launch. Offer to help support their work in return. Whatever you do, it will be appreciated and it will probably make your big mouthers feel even more invested in you.


Still confused about building your big mouth list? Contact us to inquire about best practices for book promotion.