An author recently asked the following question on the BookBuzzr Pro Authors Forum:
What kind of impact does the number of Facebook fans have on your book sales?
To answer this question let’s do a thought experiment:
Consider two authors of the same genre, both of whom are equally unknown to you. Let’s call the authors Joe and Jill. Joe has 24 fans on his Facebook fan page. Jill has 2000 fans. Assuming you’ve got just 5 minutes to investigate one of these authors’ books, whose book are you more likely to learn more about?
When I visit a Facebook fan page of an author whom I have not heard of, the first thing I glance at is the number of fans that the author has. While this ‘social proof’ may not be the sole criterion for making a purchase it is one of the important determinants for me to proceed forward about investigating the book or the author. I guess that I’m unconsciously asking myself the question, “Is this author worth my time?” and if a number of people seem to think so (as evidenced by the number of fans on Facebook, or the number of reviews on Amazon) then I will tend to dig deeper and see if it is for me.
Of course, there are situations where I have bought a book serendipitously … when I stumbled upon a book in a physical bookstore. But those situations are becoming more and more rare in the online world. This is because the Internet makes it easy for “birds of a feather” to congregate in a single place. However arcane the topic, if an author has any kind of following, chances are that they will have gotten together at one place (Facebook, Twitter, the author’s blog).
Now, this may not be a fair system. And I’m sure that there are several world-changing or hugely entertaining books out there that remain hidden gems because of a lack of social proof. But that is just the nature of the game. And until a better system comes out there, we’re likely to rely on the opinions of others to vet what we choose to investigate deeper.
What do you think? Do let us know in the comments section below.