On “buzz”

I’ve been thinking a little about episode 68 of the Coode Street Podcast, where amongst other things Gary, Ian and I discuss the subject of “buzz”.  As sometimes happens with podcasts, we talked around it as much as we talked about it, but I realise now that I didn’t really discuss clearly what I mean by it, or how I recognise it.

For me, I get the impression that there is buzz around someone or something when a number of unconnected positive mentions of a book come to my attention. This could be a good review on a website, a positive tweet or two, some anticipatory comments on a podcast.  It’s when the profile of something rises about the background noise or chatter that’s happening in media, social or otherwise, to the point where I become aware of it, and become aware of it in a positive sense.

An example of this is Christopher Priest’s The Islanders. Now, I know I said on the podcast that Priest generally doesn’t get much buzz, but this book is getting some. I’m pretty sure I discussed it with Paul Cornell and Al Reynolds at Worldcon. I noticed Ian McDonald tweet about it yesterday. Strange Horizons reviewed it and Adam Roberts commented (having previously reviewed it).  People are talking about it and it’s getting terrific reviews.

That’s buzz.  I don’t know if it’s the kind of buzz that adds up to sales, but it’s there.  I suspect it’s the kind of thing that drives marketing departments to distraction, primarily because it’s organic and difficult to control.

Oh, and a quick personal PS: I continue to struggle with a virus that has been kicking my ass since last week. I’m upright, but only just, so comms are slower than usual.