Man has always relied on a variety of shortcuts when making decisions. Rather then reevaluating every facet of every decision, we rely on principles to help us judge new decisions based on the past. We rely on our brains and our intuition to push through the noise, which has grown louder and more far reaching than ever before.
Social proof is one of the tools that we use to help make decisions. The principle of social proof is simply using what other people think is correct to determine what we think is correct. This is a powerful psychological principle and plays a part in our lives every day. In fact, it is so powerful that the suicide rate will often jump after a highly publicized suicide, widely known as the Werther effect.
As an author, you want to insure that social proof is working alongside you and not against you. It can often be the difference between selling a lot of books and struggling to sell any. Here are three ways authors can use social proof.
1. Endorsements: Seek endorsements from as many people as you can before your book is printed. Find authority figures in your field who are willing to give an honest, positive endorsement of your work. Make sure that the best are displayed on the back cover, and any others are recorded inside the book or on your website. This is a shortcut that many people use when deciding whether or not to buy a book, and sometimes it is all that it takes.
2. Early Reviews: You want your book reviewed positively as soon as it is released by as many people as possible. These reviews must be honest, not a part of your family (happens more than you would think), and public. The best place for you book to be reviewed is Amazon. We offer our authors a letter that is helpful to use when you are seeking reviews and filtering strategies for choosing reviewers who will likely give you a positive, honest assessment. Email us at [email protected] if you are interested in a copy of the letter or finding out more about selecting reviewers. Also for all of the books you send out for early review, plan on a 10% success rate. If your goal is to get 20 reviews, send out 200 copies of your book.
3. Crowds: Magicians, street performers, and sidewalk vendors have all known a secret for a long time that others are just finding out. The best way to attract people, is to have people there already. Crowds attract crowds. If there are 15 people surrounding a performer, then he must be good; if there is no one there, its probably not worth you being there either. As an author, you can use this social proofing method to your advantage in many ways.
At book signings, engage with multiple people at once and use something else besides your book to get them to come to the table. Build your momentum and you will have a crowd around your table soon.
Keep track of your selling stats and any awards you receive, and advertise any positive trends. If more people are buying your book, then more people will buy your book.
Social proof is powerful concept that can make or break an author. Use it to your advantage. For more information about social proof and other psychological principles, pick up a copy of Influence.