Writers often work in solitude. We sit at our desks, fingers poised over the keyboard, taking thoughts from our heads (or thin air) and putting them to virtual paper. When our babies are finally ready to go out into the world to be published, we don’t want them out there all alone. We need support to help them thrive and grow.
I'm lucky. I have the best family and friends ever. My mom and dad literally bought boxes of my first book, handing them out to every single person they knew (or didn’t), from the hairdresser/barber to friends to the clerk at the grocery store. My siblings and friends also rallied around me, handing out flyers, bookmarks, and introducing my books to their books clubs and friends. At some point, most have used a combination of enthusiasm, persistence, and possibly guilt to spread the word of my novels. However, twenty years after publishing my first book, I’m still asked, “Julie, what can I do to help get word of your books out there?” Wow. I REALLY appreciate people asking me that.
Ten or fifteen years ago, I would have had a much different answer. The publishing landscape has changed dramatically since then. But thinking about it in today’s context, here are five simple things you can do to right now support your favorite author.
1.) Buy the Book. It sounds simple and it is. Every book you buy helps the author stay motivated to write another one, and/or encourages the publisher to support the author. Numbers are everything in publishing and can make or break a writer either emotionally or financially.
2.) Write a Review. It doesn’t have to be more than 1 sentence. Even a word will do. In the new virtual environment, reviews drive algorithms that help spread word of the book to other potential readers. Reviews have become so important that publishers are reminding authors on a regular basis to urge their readers to post them. It’s a hard pill to swallow for most of us authors to swallow. We have to overcome our shame and embarrassment of appearing too self-promotional and sincerely ask for help in this area. So, believe me, a review of ANY length means a LOT to an author, especially if we don't have to ask for it. If you are writing a review on Amazon, take a minute to “like” the author, too. These numbers also drive algorithms. For example, let me show you where that button is on my Amazon Author Page (ha, see how I snuck in no-so-indirect self-promotion?!). First log into your Amazon.com account. Then click HERE to go to my Author Page. In the upper right hand side you should see a little orange button that says “Like” with a thumbs up. Click on that. Done. It’s that simple. (Thanks!!) Now you can do it for your (other) favorite authors and I assure you, they will appreciate it. :)
3.) Share on Social Media. This is the new form of “word-of-mouth.” If you like a book, post a comment on your social media vehicle. Even better, add a link to the book where people can buy the book if they are intrigued by your comments. Word-of-mouth is vital to authors!
4.) Gift Someone a Book: This is connected with #1. If you like the book and think your sister/grandmother/BFF/co-worker would like it, too, then gift it. Most books, especially e-books, are very affordable, intelligent and a thoughtful way to say thank you, happy birthday, or I’m thinking of you.
5.) Invite an Author to Speak or Blog: This gives us much needed exposure to new and varied audiences. I’ve spoken at libraries, conferences, schools, book clubs, and people’s houses. You name it, I’ve probably been there talking about writing. Many authors are shy by nature, but ask us to talk about writing books, and you can’t shut us up!
Well, there you have it … my top five ways of helping your favorite author. Did I forget anything?