Most of the things I post on my blog are for writers. I'm flipping the coin to the other face today. Today, I'm a reader. I'm a reader who has, in the very recent past, started to try to find ways to help my favorite authors succeed.
To my surprise, it's actually a lot easier to help an author than I thought. But for whatever reason, it never really occurred to me to do these things.
This is my quick and (surprisingly) easy guide on how you can help your favorite authors succeed. This may sound arrogant, but every reader matters when it comes to helping make your favorite authors succeed.
This is the obvious way you can help: Buy their books.
Every sale is important. I know, this makes it sound like all an author cares for is your money… but book sales are what makes an author sink or swim.
If you know someone who enjoys reading, buy a copy of one of your favorite books for them. Not only do you earn brownie points with your reader friend, but you help your favorite author(s) at the same time.
The frugal reader in us loves going to used bookstores, but remember this: Used book sales don't actually help your author succeed. If you find a great read at a used book store, consider buying the book at retail, even if you do so to give it as a gift to someone else. Those retail sales determine if an author's publisher keeps them around.
Publishers don't care about those used book sales. The issue of used book stores isn't as dire for independent authors because most of them don't have a presence in brick and mortar stores.
There's nothing shameful about buying a book twice. (Says the reader who owns three or more copies each of her favorite books… one for the car, one for the tub… one she lost and couldn't find… oh, crap, lost the second copy… better go buy a new one… and the e-book version.)
Whenever you see a giveaway featuring your favorite authors, participate! Participation is a quick, easy way to show your support for an author–and you get a chance for goodies!
Used book stores are a great way to unload books so you can get more books. I think most of us with library collections have done this. If you need room for new books, or you're going digital, consider donating your used books to charity. Some readers just can't afford to buy books. Donation can get your favorite author's book into the hands of people who love to read but can't afford the luxury.
Really love a title? If it is by an independent author, they may not be in the distribution system for your local library. Go to your library. Show them the book. Ask them if they are accepting donations of copies. If so, buy one or two for your local library.
Libraries are a great way for voracious readers to connect with great writers.
Some libraries will accept used books in really good condition, but your mileage may vary.
This is the easiest way you can help your favorite author. Review their books. Be honest, including what you both love and thought could be better about the book. It doesn't have to be a long review–a paragraph or two is truly enough–but making this sort of effort helps them a lot. When you review the book, cross post to Amazon and Goodreads. If you have a blog, post it there so people searching the internet can find your review!
Reviews help sell books. If you love a novel and it doesn't have many reviews, adding your review can help the author connect with more readers.
And a good review makes an author feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Review the books you don't love, too. If you feel an author has a lot of potential but missed doing something to make you love the book… tell them in your review. Not all authors read their reviews, but quite a few do. Who knows? With your feedback, maybe their next novel will be better!
And if there is a book you view as just awful… review it and let other customers know.
Readers deserve good books, and there is nothing wrong with warning someone about a really bad book. (Bad is relevant, but in this case, I really do mean things like an unforgivable amount of typos, formatting errors, and so on.)
Remember, it doesn't need to be a long review–just an honest one!
If you use sites like Facebook, Google+, GoodReads, and Twitter, don't be shy–talk about your favorite authors and their books.
Word of mouth is the most powerful form of support you can give your authors.
An author becomes popular because people talk about their books. You don't have to write a long review. You can invest a couple of minutes, and plug the link to your networks. Within five to ten minutes, you will have spread word about these books. If your friends end up reading the book and loving it too, encourage them to write a review and spread the world.
One person–you–can make a huge difference an author's career.
Word of mouth is a reader's super power. If you talk a single friend into buying the book, and you convince them to talk a single friend into buying the book, it creates a very powerful chain of people talking about this book. If you talk two people into buying the book–and convincing them to tell their friends about it–you can make a huge difference.
Real life example: One of my friends knew I liked the Jack Ryan series. She told me about the Mitch Rapp novels.
I ended up buying all of them. Every last one of them. The whole kitten kaboodle. One person made a difference. I have since coerced quite a few people into buying Mitch Rapp novels, too.
And if you both read the same book, that's a connection you now share with each other.
That's the most important thing you can do. Keep reading, and share your love of books.