How to Support an Author Beyond Buying Their Book

The last book in my Taken trilogy, Forged, released last week! (Such a bittersweet moment.) I heard from lots of readers through social media, all of whom were excited to get their hands on the final installment and see how things concluded.

I am so very grateful for all the readers who pre-ordered Forged or went out and bought a copy during that first week. Pre-orders and first week sales are hugely important for authors. The pre-orders help publishers gage interest in a book and determine first print runs. Opening week sales are a continued display of reader interest and, for best-seller hopefuls, an important sales window if the book is going to hit the list.

But as many of us know, success in the publishing world is a marathon, not a sprint. While out-of-the-gate performance is important, authors’ careers are dependent upon continued sales and steady growth in readership.

So how can you support authors beyond buying their book(s)?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and have a compiled a short list…

1. Post a review to a major retail site.
I think this is one of the best things you can do after purchasing a novel. Reviews on Goodreads are great, but only the super-passionate-uber-book-fans are on Goodreads. Your average online book shopper is not. By leaving a review on Amazon or B&N, you are increasing a book’s chance of being seen by others. The reasoning is two-fold: Many ‘you may also like’ algorithms consider a book’s popularity when making suggestions to consumers, therefore more reviews means more potential for exposure. Additionally, a greater number of reviews has a more positive impact on shoppers. What seems more enticing to you: the book with three reviews or the book with three-hundred?

2. Tell others about the book.
Plug the book to anyone and everyone—friends, family, your followers on social media. Word-of-mouth is huge for authors and simply talking about a title you loved can have a ripple effect. A friend picks it up because you were gushing about it. They love it and recommend it to others, and another person picks it up. And so on and so forth!

3. Gift the novel.
It’s a well-known fact that books make amazing gifts. If you think a certain title would be great for your sibling/cousin/parent/friend/etc, consider buying a copy for a birthday or an upcoming holiday. Authors are grateful for every extra sale!

4. Donate a copy to your local library.
Was the book fun, but not something you plan to read again? Head to your local library and donate your copy to their collection. Loved the book so much you can’t part with it? Considering buying a second copy specifically for your library (sort of like point #3). Either way, this ensures that new readers continue to find the title!

5. Read the book in public.
This is like the silent version of #2… If you have a physical copy, flaunt that bad boy in public spaces—the coffee shop, the park, the train ride to/from work. Book lovers are always noticing what other folks are reading, and someone might pick up a copy of the book just because they saw you enjoying it.

6. Recommend the title to booksellers and librarians (when you don’t see it on the shelves)
If you notice the book isn’t part of the collection, tell someone who works there! Simply knowing that readers are interested in a title will put that book on the bookseller’s and librarian’s radar. The store might order a few copies. The librarian might snag one next time he/she expands the collection. Shy? Put a hold on the title through your library’s catalog system. They’ll get a copy (one for their shelves or through ILL), and you won’t have to say a thing in person. ; )

Aaaand… that’s about it.

Personally, I do #s 2, 3, and 4 a lot, and I feel like I can safely say they have an overwhelmingly positive impact! Are there any other suggestions you’d add to this list? Share ’em in the comments, please!


13 Responses to How to Support an Author Beyond Buying Their Book

  1. Natalie Aguirre Apr 20 2015 at 5:56 am #

    Thanks for all the helpful suggestions for helping out authors. I didn’t realize pre-orders and the first week sales were so critical. Can’t wait to read your book.

    • Erin Apr 20 2015 at 9:58 am #

      Thanks, Natalie. You aren’t alone re: not knowing pre-orders and first week sales are so important. I didn’t know how critical they are until I was a debut author!

  2. Julie Apr 20 2015 at 9:54 am #

    Erin, this is such a great post! When I saw the title I thought, “This is great! Show me what to do!” I think a lot of readers want to support authors and simply don’t know how to go about it. Of the things you listed, I do #2 and #3 a lot. As for #5, I ALWAYS look to see what other people are reading in public! 🙂 Thanks for this great list, ERIN!

    • Erin Apr 20 2015 at 10:00 am #

      Thanks, Julie. I feel like lots of people know that buying the book is a huge help (and it is! and I’m always so grateful for those sales!) but it’s the continued and steady growth of readership that *really* supports authors and people would help further if they just knew WHAT to do. (As you point out.)

  3. Narrelle Harris Apr 20 2015 at 8:02 pm #

    If you can’t afford to donate a book to the library, you can actually ask them to order it in for you. Most library systems have ways of making suggestions or requesting titles.

  4. Lori T Apr 21 2015 at 8:09 am #

    I agree with everything about this post, Erin. Everything you pointed out is so on point with how to get books out there in the hands of readers. I do all of this, not only as a reader and writer, but as a HS assistant librarian. I love to find new books that we don’t have in our library, then suggest them for our collection. Same goes for our public library: if they don’t have a book by an author (or authors) I enjoy reading, I’ll suggest their books (and they’re very good about purchasing them, too!) I donate a lot of books from my personal collection, too, to both libraries, because if I’m not going to read them again (for whatever reasons: time, knowing I won’t get around to reading again, etc) might as well let others enjoy. And, when I’m able to, I’ll buy books by authors I admire and just donate to the library where I work (budgets are always a funny thing.) I follow a lot of authors’ blogs and keep readers informed of when they have new books coming out or if any have events scheduled at bookstores near our area (it’s always a lot of fun to meet one of your favorite authors!) And of course, it’s always great when authors have contests where they give away books. Anytime I win a YA, I donate it to my library/work (like your own, Erin! 😉 )

  5. Alexa S. Apr 27 2015 at 4:19 pm #

    I love finding out how else I can help out the authors I love! I think I’d like to do 4 and 6 more often (though I rarely find myself presented with the opportunity to do them), but I love hearing that even something as simple as reading it in public can have an effect.

  6. Grimlock Apr 29 2015 at 8:24 am #

    Sorry, no. If I don’t want to flaunt a book in public, I won’t. If I don’t want to go onto major retailers, I won’t.

    I don’t even disagree with you on principle; if I like a book, I’m going to talk about it. However, I have a couple different issues. The typo, for starters: ” The librarian might snag one next time he/she expand the collection.” Expands, not expand.

    Secondly, the whole ‘our careers!’ thing is basically implying that either we do these things, or we are somehow responsible for a flagging career. Then you go onto give some advice that sounds like marketing. So basically, we market your books for free, or we get to feel like your career flagging is our responsibility. If you want social media posts, if you want reviews on major retailers, then that’s great – but I’m still not your free marketing. That is, unless you’re actually paying me? I will post where I feel comfortable. But I’m less willing to go out of my way to do those things when someone feels like their emotionally blackmailing me: do this, or my career.

    When I buy a book, I have one responsibility. To pay for that book. After that, my responsibility to the author, the publisher, the world as far as that book goes is met. I don’t even /have/ to read it if I don’t want to, much less all of these things.

    Also, my third comment? Plug this to everyone you know? Really? Because I’m currently reading both Marvel and Atomic Robo graphic novels and the Satanic Verses. Point is, my family? Don’t like graphic novels and don’t like Rushdie. And no offense to the author of this post, but they simply don’t read the genre she writes in, so, no, I won’t be bothering my family about books I know they won’t read, no matter how much I love them.

    What I have done is post reviews of books I like, post about awesome things authors have done, and given suggestions for books that I like. That’s what I feel comfortable doing. Where I feel comfortable doing it, so, no, no, thank you. I’d like to spend my free time reading, not doing marketing for authors.

    • Erin Apr 29 2015 at 9:23 am #

      Hi Grimlock,

      Thanks for stopping by the blog. I think you may have misinterpreted my intent and tone with this post. The piece is about how you can support an author beyond buying their book. Not how you *must*, or even how you *should*. How you *can*… Everything on this list is completely optional. As a reader, you’re not required (or expected) to do any of it. And as you’ve pointed out, if you don’t want to read the book in public, or post reviews to certain retail sites, etc, etc, you absolutely do NOT have to. As a reader myself, I only do a handful of the things on this list and typically only for the books/authors I am extremely passionate about.

      I apologize if the post felt emotionally manipulative. That was not my intent, although in hindsight, I can now see how the line about sustaining a writing career may have come across that way. I simply wanted to provide a quick list of additional things (again, all of them optional) that a reader can do for the authors they are super passionate about and eager to support. I do not expect anyone to do these things for me. I don’t even expect people to buy my books. This post was just supposed to be a open dialog about what can be done beyond buying an author’s book, should a reader be interested.

      Lastly, you are right about “plug the book to anyone and everyone.” I probably should have said, “plug the book to anyone who you think may be a good match.” And as for the typo — good catch. I blog on this site monthly, in addition to juggling my own contracted books and a new baby in the house, so naturally things slip through the cracks. There’s probably a typo in this response, even though I’ve proofed it quickly.

      Thanks for stopping by and for supporting authors via book sales and any other means you choose. We really do appreciate any and all support.

      • Grimlock Apr 29 2015 at 9:50 am #

        I figured that it was just a typo that got by, but just as I’d like to be told so I could fix it, I figured this was the same.

        Except that you have that bit about the careers bolded, so it really comes across as that it’s our, well, responsibility to your career.

        In addition, there are lots of posts about this type of thing, many of which do have the ‘you owe it to us’ mentality. That certainly doesn’t help things. And yes, we can do these things, but many of us have limited free time and/or money. It’s not feasible for me to buy extra copies of books I like for the library – and even if I do, there’s no guarantee that it won’t be sold in a library sale.

        Was I a bit gruff? Yes, but what you’re seeing is Authors who feel that they are Entitled to one of the following or a imx-n-match: nothing but glowing praise, free publicity, people to ignore typos and grammatical errors (< — not a dig at the one typo in your post; I've seen people go, 'well, the grammar sucked, but the story was good so STFU about the grammatical errors.) An author who I won't name called me vicious and spiteful for pointing out grammatical errors and typos with a bit of snark – but when you've got viles of blood and sewing his oats I suspect it's to be expected that someone will come along and snark.

        May I add one of the best things that I've come across for authors: honest reviews. Not necessarily in any one place, but I pretty much live on Booklikes for reviews. Honest reviews that are glowing have gotten me to either buy books, or steer away from books I know I wouldn't like. Negative reviews have pointed out things that I thought I'd like and, yes, sold me books – or again steered me away from books that I don't like. Negative reviews are very, very useful for readers, and I would argue for authors. For example, I've been eying a book for a long time, and a friend wrote a mixed review about it. One of his negatives drove the star down rating, but it was also about a lack of mecha in the story. Since I would have bought it for the mecha, I would have probably one-half starred it. I wold have been far more critical, in most likelihood. While his review was critical, it didn't create a trend or a negative feedback loop like most people seem to expect.

        Then again, I've seen lots of books that say a book has too much violence, or robots, or something else I like. I'll definitely give the book a go, and try it. I'll read books I don't like and suggest them to people who will like it – because they're my friends and even though I didn't like the book, they might. A scathing update of a book I was reading got a fried to try it out. (She was afraid of what I would think, but I said good for you and the author.)

        Dishonesty works against the author: I lose respect for them if they pay for reviews, and if their reviews are inflated for pay, and I buy a book, I will not hold back any punches when it comes to reviewing.

        It's easy, it's simple, it's what most people already do and sometimes it gets glossed over. For all those people sharing book titles, and being honest in their reviews, keep on doing just that, please.

        • Erin Apr 29 2015 at 10:12 am #

          I completely agree about honest reviews. If you check my debut on goodreads, you’ll see I have plenty of mixed and even negative reviews. I welcome any and all reviews and am grateful for the time it takes any reader to read and review books.

          Ultimately, I bolded that one section about career because it’s true. An author’s career depends on continued sales, be it directly to readers, or to libraries or schools. As I said in my first response, I do see your point about how it could have felt like I was putting the burden on readers’ shoulders. However, that was NEVER my intent, and all I can do now is try to be more open-minded in my posts about career. Thanks for bringing another side of this debate to the table. I hope you can see where I was coming from, too, and allow me the chance to do better in my explanations in the future.

          • Grimlock Apr 29 2015 at 11:40 am #

            No, I do. I blogged about this particular post and edited to point out that you’d be quite kind in your response. I also pointed out that I plan on checking out your books. Props to you for being able to deal with a dissenting opinion; so many authors aren’t.

            But I think any discussion that has only one opinion to be less useful to me than something with a variety of opinions. I figured I might as well put myself out there and be one of the dissenters for now.

            Thank /you/ for your respectful response, by the way. I’ve been called horrible things for daring to not like books, or agree with opinions, so it’s really refreshing to see someone who can deal with another point of view.

            And I do understand why you bolded it, and why you said that thing about book numbers. I know a little about publishing, but I know how brutal numbers can be sometimes. I have various opinions on that, but mostly I wish more people /would/ buy more books that are mid-list or below. Those are really the ones who depends on numbers. I imagine if you’re Patterson or Picoult, one clunker won’t hurt you in the long run!

            And like I said: I’m not opposed in principle. I talk about books I like. And I love that it helps authors. But I really mostly do it for the readers and to help them find something they love. So I don’t go out of my way for the author, but I do like to think something I do helps them in some ways.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.