Whether you are a reader, aspiring author, or working on your next book, there are things YOU can do which make an enormous difference in the life of an author. The reason authors write a book is to connect with readers and the best rewards come from readers who let an author know their book had an impact.
Most readers don’t know how important their support is to an author’s career. Publishers need to hear from reading audiences. An author may not get another publishing contract to write a next book if there isn’t much response from readers. If you are an aspiring author, consider it part of your civic duty as a literary citizen to support other authors and pay it forward. One of the things I appreciate about many of my clients is the way they support one another.
Here’s a list of things you can do to support authors.
Pre-order. You might be surprised to learn that pre-ordering a book is critical to the launch of a book. Many publishers make decisions about how much marketing support to provide a new release based on these pre-orders. Some even determine the size of a first print run. If a book has strong pre-order sales, reviewers are more likely to review it, the media is more likely to hype it up, and retailers are more likely to carry it in stock and give it premium placement. If you know an author has a book coming out, please pre-order it.
Enter to win a free copy. Often a publisher or author will have a Goodreads Giveaway for a new book 30-60 days before it is released. Enter to win a free copy. Even if you don’t win, the more people who sign-up for the giveaway helps generate interest in the new release. If you do win, post your review within 30 days so these early reviews help others find the book in the first 90 days after release. What readers may not know is that there is a narrow window of opportunity after a book is released before a bookseller sends back copies of books which have not sold on their shelves. Early reviews of a book help readers find the book and purchase it during this critical time.
Write a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. It doesn’t need to be very long or a deep literary analysis. The number of reviews a book receives affects the algorithms for getting found online. If you don’t like the book, don’t leave a review. As my mother used to say, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Spread the word. Let your friends and family know how much you enjoyed a book. Share this on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or wherever you do social media. Take a book-selfie. Post a picture of the book, your cat lying across the couch with a paw on the cover, you falling asleep on the couch with the book.
Talk to your local bookseller. If your local bookstore doesn’t already carry the book, they may consider ordering it. If they do already have it in stock, your recommendation could move it up to a staff pick.
Go to author events. Demonstrate your support for authors who show up to meet readers. Invite friends to come along. There is nothing more demoralizing to an author than a poor showing at a reading. Support the bookstore which hosts the author by purchasing a copy of the book there. Never bring a copy you bought on Amazon to a bookstore reading.
Buy the book in a bookstore. Not a half-price bookstore. Not a used bookstore. Authors make nothing on these book sales. Authors earn copyright royalties based on sales in bookstores. When you buy a book from Amazon it has been heavily discounted and the author earns substantially less per copy. Amazon also allows third-party sellers to list as “new” books which did not come a publisher or wholesaler, depriving authors of royalties they should have earned from the sale of a book.
Wish list. If you can’t afford to buy the book, put the book on your wish list and let friends know you’d like a copy. When someone asks what you’d like for your birthday or a holiday gift, let them know.
Gift the book to a friend for a birthday present. Let the friend know you’d like to read it when they are done reading so the two of you can talk about it and share the pleasure of a good read.
Request your local library order the book. Even if you do buy the book, recommend your library purchase a copy. Library sales help authors.
Suggest it to your favorite specialty retailer. If you frequent a shop whose clientele may like a book, mention it to the manager. Bookstores are not the only place books are sold today. This is important for nonfiction books, especially.
Recommend it. Word-of-mouth recommendations are the most powerful form of advertising for books. Even if the book isn’t the kind of thing you would want to read, you may know someone for whom it is the perfect gift. Recommend it to readers who would like this sort of thing.
Host a book party. Celebrate a great book with a gathering of friends. Everyone who comes gets a book and plan refreshments based on the content.
Book Spotting. If you see the book in bookstores, take a photo and share it on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter. If you see someone reading the book on the subway or at the beach, take a snap and share it.
Blog it. If you are a blogger, give an author some online love. Post a review, conduct an author interview, or ask if they’d be willing to write a guest blog post.
Add to lists. On Goodreads you can add a book to a list. These topical lists help the book get found by other readers. Nominate a book for a Goodreads Choice Award. And be sure to vote the book when the contest runs.
Little Free Libraries. Buy an extra copy and leave it in your neighborhood Little Free Library. Be sure to include an inscription and mark the copy NOT FOR RESALE.
Book Club Selection. Recommend a book to your book club. Some publishers offer discounts for book club orders. You might contact the author to do a book club visit, either in person or via Skype or Google Hangouts.
Invite Author to Speak. Recommend an author to speak at your local library, book festival, alumni association, company, conference or class.
Write an appreciative note. Authors love fan mail. If you’ve been touched by a book, write a letter to let to the author to them know what an impact their book had on you. You may be surprised to get a postcard or email in return.