Pre-order. You might be surprised to learn that pre-ordering a book is critical to the launch of a book. Publishers may make decisions about how much marketing support to provide a new release based on the volume of pre-orders. Some even determine the size of a first print run using those numbers. 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.
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.
Follow. Many authors have Facebook Pages you can like and follow. On Twitter, many authors have accounts and you can follow them and retweet to amplify their voices. Follow authors on Instagram. And most importantly, engage!
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. While most in-store events have come to a halt, there are many new opportunities to attend these events virtually. 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 or group 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. And please not from Amazon. Authors make almost 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 pennies per copy. Amazon also allows third-party sellers to list “new” books which did not come from the 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.
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 you think would like it.
Host a book party. Celebrate a great book with a gathering of friends on Zoom or Google Meets. Invite the author!
Book Spotting. If you see the book in bookstores on the shelf, 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 for the book when the contest runs.
Little Free Libraries. Leave your copy when you are finished reading 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 virtual visit.
Invite Author to Speak. Recommend an author to speak at your local library, book festival, alumni association, company, conference or class. Since most speaking engagements are virtual, the author doesn’t need a travel budget!
Write an appreciative note. Authors love fan mail. If you’ve been touched by a book, write a letter to let to the author know what an impact their book had on you. You may be surprised to get a postcard or email in return.
Six or seven years ago my advice to aspiring authors of nonfiction books was to build an audience platform by blogging. An example of how critical blogging could be to securing a publishing contract can be found in the case of Ann Marie Ackermann, author of Death of an Assassin: The True Story of the German Murderer Who Died Defending Robert E. Lee. After an initial assessment of her manuscript, I had recommended she start a historical true-crime blog, and she did. In fact, the editor of the ideal book series at Kent State University Press became a fan ofRead more…