You know that feeling when you finish a book, hold it to your chest, and wish for that author to hurry up and write another book right this very moment so you can read it?
OH BOY, so do I.
But the fact of the matter is that writers need support from their fans to keep on writing those books we stay up all night reading, to keep getting publishing deals, or earn enough self-published book income to release more of them.
Of course there’s the most obvious way to keep your favorite authors employed (see item #1 below), but over the years I have discovered that there are a lot of other ways we can help, too. Things we didn’t even know made a difference!
And what’s wonderful is that all it takes is one of us at a time doing our own little part to make a difference in an author’s career. So you don’t need to do everything on the list below, but maybe keep them in mind in case you find yourself in a position to both want to and be able to show your support.
Here are some of the things we all can do to help keep the authors we love selling their books so they can keep writing us new ones to read (WOO HOO!):
1. BUY THEIR BOOKS
(I know, I know. Duh.)
Every book sale matters, so pick up a copy online or at a brick-and-mortar shop or your kids’ school book fairs or whatever other magical ways books are sold these days.
Have too big a book habit to afford buying every single book at full price? Sign up for BookBub’s free service. Not only can you follow your favorite authors (like me!) to get notified via email of any deals on their ebooks (temporarily priced from FREE-$2.99) or new book releases, you can also get emails with deals on your favorite genres of ebooks.
2. ASK LOCAL BOOKSTORES TO CARRY THEIR BOOKS
Have a favorite bookstore? Whether it’s a big chain or a small indie shop, if you don’t see that author’s book on the shelves, ask them to order a copy for you and suggest they consider carrying that author.
If you’re looking for it, there is a decent chance that others have been, too, and the store possibly missed out on book sales because they didn’t carry it. This is motivation for the bookstore owner to start stocking up—and to keep an eye out for that author’s future releases.
3. HEAD TO THE LIBRARY
If FREE is your favorite book price, pop on by your local library and borrow a copy.
I know this doesn’t seem like supporting an author, but librarians do buy at least one copy for their shelves. Bonus: some librarians will order copies for multiple locations if they are in charge of a library network. Plus, they have to re-order physical copies as needed due to wear and tear (which is also a sign to them that they should consider the author’s other books, too).
If your local or digital libraries (like Overdrive) don’t carry the book you want, you can always suggest they carry it.
Ask your local libraries whether they hold book sales to raise money for those libraries. The library sales I have been to usually include books donated by members of the community, which go on sale for anywhere from $0.25 for a paperback, on up to $2 for a fancy hardcover book for the first two days, then by the last day it’s about $5-7 for an entire bag FULL of books. You can either be the one donating books for them to sell, or the one buying books (for very little) to help keep that library up and running. Tell others in your community about the sale! Spreading the word to potential book buyers is helpful and free to do. Successful fundraising book sales like this can make it possible for your libraries to order new books from those authors you love to read!
4. GET ON GOODREADS
This is a great (free) place to both keep track of books you read and want to read. Simply click the “want to read” button on a book, and it will add it to that shelf in your profile. When you do that, all of your friends there will see that you did, and possibly will decide to read that book, too.
5. REVIEW THE BOOKS YOU READ
When I say “review” I mean give it some stars and say a few words—doesn’t even have to be a whole sentence! “So funny” or “I couldn’t put it down” or “I loved it” is perfect.
If you ask an author what they need the most from fans, they’ll likely tell you two things:
- For people to buy their books
It can literally take you no more than two minutes to do this, but it means the world to authors when you do it.
On Goodreads, your review also goes on your wall, exposing the author to people who likely trust your judgement and thus might buy/read the book, too. You can either just give it a star rating, or include a few words about the book, too. (Want super simple step-by-step instructions on how to write a review on Goodreads? Here you go.)
On Amazon, adding a review can help get that book shown to more people, thus increase the chance of more sales of it for the author. You can do this simply by clicking the “Write a customer review” box under the description of the book. You can either just give it a star rating, or include a few words about the book, too.
A quick guide to help you choose how many stars to give (this is exactly how they word the ratings on each site):
However you bought the book—iTunes, Audible, Nook/B&N, Kobo, etc.—there will be a way to leave a review. Taking a moment to do so really can help get more copies of that book sold.
6. FOLLOW THEM ON SOCIAL MEDIA
And if you see a post by an author you love that shares info about a new release (or the like), engage with it by commenting on it, clicking through it to read it (if there’s a linked article), and Liking it. Doing so will likely amplify the reach of that post, allowing it to get seen by more people.
7. ATTEND OR RECOMMEND AUTHOR EVENTS FEATURING THEM
Is an author you love coming to a book signing or reading or festival near you? Go! When the organizers of these things see that author is a draw, they might just invite him/her back for future events.
Does a bookstore or library near you hold author events? Email them, suggesting your favorite authors. Bonus points if they happen to live within driving distance!
Does your favorite author write books for kids, tweens, or teens? Email your local schools, suggesting they look into inviting them for an author visit. Many schools do this, even have budgets for arranging travel and expenses.
Do you own a small business that could host an author event? Consider it! It is great publicity for your business and for the author, bringing both of you paying customers. (My in-laws have a great pizza place in downtown Chicago, and offered up their outdoor area for a book reading/signing event to me and my writer friends a few years back. It ended up selling out and being a great night for everyone!)
8. DON’T KEEP IT TO YOURSELF
If I love a book, I don’t shut up about it (ask any of my friends). I can’t even tell you how many copies of other peoples’ books I have “sold” by yammering about how much I loved them to fellow bibliophiles until they pulled out their phones and placed an order.
Even just putting a photo of the book on social media with an “I loved it!” and tagging the author or dropping the link to it can help spread the word. Simple things that mean a lot to people who write for a living.
You see now how these little things you can do–an email here, a click there–can be the push of a snowball that results in something bigger? Pretty cool, right? [Pun totally intended.]
There are so many debut authors or ones who self-publish and don’t have giant marketing budgets to get the word out. There are also established authors whose readers assume they don’t need help like this anymore, but they genuinely do. This is where we, the fans, can step in. So I do.
And now you can, too.
Do you have any other ideas? Whether you’re a fan or an author I’d LOVE to hear them all.
Happy reading, everyone!
Kim Bongiorno is an author, full time freelance writer, and the blogger behind Let Me Start By Saying. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter, hire her to write for you or speak at your event, or buy her a cherry Icee because they are delicious.