Word of mouth is the best marketing you can get — if, like free, it’s done right.
What are you doing to help your fans share your books? Do you teach them what to say, so they’re doing real marketing? If they’re just saying “This is a good book” that’s not marketing, it’s just talk. They need your guidance.
You need to craft a message simple enough for them to say something like my fans would say about my first mystery: “Joel’s book is like meeting someone you love for a laugh and a pint at the pub.” Folks hear that, and they’re hooked (or repelled, which is also fine.)
My fans won’t know to say that if I don’t teach them.
And they won’t say it if I don’t constantly remind them (staying well this side of pushy.)
Maybe you’re already giving your fans lots of information. Are you giving them one single sentence they can say? Less is better.
Hand someone a marketing sheet and a handful of business cards and they’ll take them to be polite, but don’t think they’ll really do anything with it. How much time do you spend handing out other people’s business cards for them?
Word of mouth works like this: we develop trust over time. You like my book, and you like me enough to talk about my book. I repeat the same phrase or sentence so often that it’s what comes to your mind when you talk about my book. I remind you once in a while that when you talk about my book, it’s the best thing possible for my life as an author.
If you’re not building trust first, then repeating that one sentence so your fans will memorize it simply by osmosis, you’re not generating word of mouth.
You’re simply trying to hire a free sales team.