While most of my posts are to help other writers or just to entertain you (and myself) through the tedious and stressful process that is publishing, today my post is strictly directed towards readers.
I myself am a reader first and foremost. Reading is my escape from everyday life and it is something that has gotten me through some of the darkest times in my life. I am forever grateful to authors who've written books that have spoken to me and helped me push forward, or just given me a laugh when I've so desperately needed one.
While I have always been an avid reader, I never took the time to think about what my actions were doing to help (or even hurt) my favorite authors. As I am now networking and connecting with several amazing authors and am soon to be in their shoes I've been doing some research on just what I can do to further their careers and make sure they are able to continue writing the books I love so much.
Before I began my publishing journey, I was under the impression (as so many people are) that when authors finally receive their publishing deal their hard work is done. I believed that they did some editing and from there the publishing house promoted the book, placed it in all of the bookstores you can imagine, and made sure it would end up in the hands of every reader possible.
Boy was I wrong.
Now, don't get me wrong: my publisher is amazing. They honestly do so much more for their authors than most publishing houses. In this day and age, unless you already have a huge name for yourself in the publishing industry, and a guaranteed market with already established fans, (Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, JK Rowling) publishers just aren't able to place the money into marketing your book and your brand like they used to be. That being said, it's up to us, the readers, to help our favorite authors in any way we can. But... how do we do that?
I was relieved to find out helping my favorite authors is going to be easier than I thought. Here are a few ideas I've discovered:
1. Buy the book. Okay, Captain Obvious. I know this one seems redundant, but it's the best way to help the author. The most important thing to authors is that you read the book, so don't let money stop you from reading their story- but if it's at all possible, avoid checking out their book from the library (sometimes I'll check out books as a test run and then if I like it, I'll buy a copy. I think that's fair), borrowing from a friend, or (EEEK) illegally downloading the book. Whether you go to a book store and pick up the actual book or download it on your E-Reader, actually buying the book is so important. This shows publishers what sells, it increases the author's chance of having a larger marketing budget for their next novel, and of course it allows the author to continue doing what they love to do- write.
2. Review. In this digital era we've all become accustomed to, reviews mean everything to authors! When potential new fans are looking for new books, myself included, we look at reviews. If a book has no reviews, or worse- several awful ones, chances of them buying the book decrease. Even if you can just write a short review, it could help convince someone to take a chance on an unknown author. (Of course, please keep the reviews honest. If you write three paragraphs on how the author changed your life and how you will name your children after the author- it may seem a bit forced :P) Review on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble.com, Audible, even video review if you feel so inclined!
3. Social Media. Okay, so you're reading a blog- chances are you're pretty tech-y. In today's world, even most grandparents have several types of social media (Shoutout my super cool Nannie!) When you receive the book, take a picture of it. Take a picture of yourself with it, reading it, laying in a hammock, on a beach, in a diner. Just take a picture! Post it online so that your friends can see how much fun your having reading this great new book. This is an AMAZING way to spread the news about your new favorite story without being overly sales-y.
4. Buy books as gifts. Christmas, Birthdays, Easter, Anniversaries. Whatever the occasion, if you have a friend/friends who love reading as much as you do, buy them a book and introduce them into the world of an amazing new author.
5. Book Club. If you have a book club or are a member of one, ask your favorite author to come speak or even just attend a meeting. Authors love this and most will be glad to join you. If nothing else, introduce the book club to the book and suggest it as your next read.
6. Blog. If you have a blog, ask the author if they'd like to be featured on it. Give them a link and let them check out what you do. Share a review with your fans and they may just take a chance on the book as well. If you don't have a blog, twitter and facebook are still great places to share a quick recommendation.
7. Talk about it. Talk about the book or the author. Tell your friends about it. Tell your coworkers. Tell your great aunt. Tell your neighbor and your bus driver. Tell your doctor. Tell your customers at work. Just tell people. This one is one I have no problem with- once I've found a great book, I can't stop talking about it. If any of those people go out and buy the author's book- or even better, multiple books from that author- I have just contributed to the author's success.
8. Ask bookstores if they carry it. It seems crazy, but most authors books aren't carried in bookstores right away, in fact some never are. One way to make sure your favorite author's books are placed into stores and in front of thousands of customers? Ask about it. Whenever bookstores get requests for books that they don't carry, they can typically order it for you. But if they have enough requests, and lose enough business to Amazon because they didn't carry it in store, book store managers will become curious and most will eventually consider stocking it. If they are searching for the same book several times a month, or even week, they're going to take notice.
9. Bookmarks. Most authors order book marks as a way of promoting their work. As a reader, we obviously need bookmarks all the time. Ask the author if they wouldn't mind sending you a stack. While some may say no, most authors would be happy to. Drop the bookmarks off at your doctors office or local library, leave them in your tanning salon or anywhere else you can. This just helps spread the word.
10. Use your connections. If you know have connections with anyone in your local media- newspapers, radio stations, libraries, etc. who you feel may consider helping you spread the word, ask them. Authors spend a lot of time setting up events in their communities and most use every chance they can get to get in front of new potential fans.
11. Pre-order their upcoming novels. Pre-orders of an upcoming work are so important to authors and publishers alike. Publishers look at "pre-orders" to determine an authors worth & potential success in a lot of cases. If a novel receives a lot of pre-orders, publishers will take it into account and they could spend a lot more time and money promoting the work. Pre-ordering an upcoming novel also ensures you will have it the first day possible.
12. "Like" the book. "Like" the novel on Amazon and Facebook. "Like" the author's page if they have one. Vote "up" positive reviews on Amazon. Share news that the author posts via Facebook and Twitter.
13. Read. Most importantly, putting aside all of the sales and business side of this, the best thing you can do to help an author is read. Read the work that they have poured their heart and soul into in the hopes that it would speak to someone out there. Read the work and enjoy it. And continue to read. Continue to read every single day and never let it lose it's magic. Because that's what books are- a small piece of magic handed down from author to reader.
I hope you enjoyed this post and that it gave you some great ideas. Let me know what you think and if I left anything out. I can't wait to start helping some of my favorite authors and I hope that you will to! :)
Until next week.
Kiersten J Modglin is an author of suspense & mystery novels. Lover of books, blogs, and Boston Terriers.