How to Love an Author

In my line of work, I meet a lot of writers. I meet a lot of authors—folks who’ve climbed that mountain of writing and crafting and polishing and seeking and finding an agent and waiting patiently and securing a book deal and editing-editing-proofing and waiting some more until a box of books from the publishing house arrives on the doorstep, and they think, OK, whew, I’ve arrived. I’ve reached the top of the mountain.

But they haven’t, my friends. After the champagne is spilled and the celebrating is over, the author sighs contentedly, takes a look around … and sees an Everest-size mountain yet to be scaled. Let’s call it (ahem) Booksales Mountain. The author must keep climbing.

It’s enough to make one choke on one’s Moët & Chandon, isn’t it? But my daddy always told me nobody was going to toot my horn for me, so I’d have to toot it myself. And that’s certainly true in the book biz. (There will be post about why that is so another time.)

And this is where you come in, dear reader. Whether you love an author because you’re related to him, live next door to her, went to college with him, are best friends with her, work with her, or just admire him from afar, there are loving things you can do to help.

(If you’re a working author you’re excused now. There’s quite a bit of talk out there about how writers should support other writers, and while I agree with that in principle, your book won’t succeed on the approbation of your writing community alone. The idea here is to move your book outside your circle of family and friends. After all, they already know about it. The idea is to get, you know, strangers to read your book.)

So if you love an author, here are fifteen things you can do to materially help book sales.

✱ Buy the book, for heaven’s sake. Right away. Don’t waste a minute. Order it on Amazon if you must, but I’d rather you sashay into your local bookstore and buy it. The traffic is good for them. And if they don’t have it, have them special order it. This gets the title up on their radar and into their ordering system.

✱ Preorders, however, can be very helpful. So go for it, particularly if your town doesn’t have a bookstore. Barnes & Noble has a nice website.

✱ Book signing? Show up. Bring friends. Ask them to bring friends. And buy a book if you haven’t already. Or even if you have!

✱ Write a book review. Don’t gush. Just be you. Amazon should be your first stop, even if you do nothing else, and even if the book already has a lot of reviews. Why? It’s those mysterious Amazon algorithms. But don’t stop there: Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Audible.com, Books-A-Million, CBD.com, Novel Crossing, your local library’s website … A lot of reviews are proof that a book is being read, being talked about. You can also suggest the book on reading forums.

✱ Talk about the book on social media. Post a picture of yourself holding or reading the book on Facebook or other social media sites. Make sure the cover can be seen! You can post this picture on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest … go on, do it! You look mah-velous!

✱ While you’re at it, post a link to the author’s website on Facebook or other social media. Post a quote from the book on your social media site of choice. Every little bit helps.

✱ Do you blog? If it’s appropriate to your readers, this is another possibility. Interview your friend for your YouTube channel, put a feature story in your newsletter … again, wherever you have an outlet.

✱ Ask your local library to order a copy of the book. Remember that libraries have budgets, though, so if you donate a copy, you can be sure it will be available.

✱ Host a book launch party! That’s always fun, especially if you have access to a great space like an art gallery, coffee house, or a nice conference room at a university or in the big city. Just a couple hours, light refreshments, a reading or talk by the author … and, of course, a book signing. If you’re invited to a book launch party, go. Bring a friend. It will be good for you to get out of the house. :)

✱ Recommend the book to your book group. Many, many books have gathered momentum and ultimately sold well due to their popularity with book groups. You can start that ball rolling.

✱ In fact, just talk about reading the book to your friends, coworkers, and colleagues. Tell the PTA moms about it. Any group that you’re a part of, talk it up. (In an authentic, organic way, that is.) I talk about books I’ve loved all the time, and I have firsthand experience that it works.

✱ Give the book as gifts—for birthdays, graduation, holidays, thank-yous, or to clients and biz colleagues. Everyone I know knows to expect a book from me as a gift. If the author is a friend of yours, have him autograph the book before you wrap it.

✱ Invite the author to speak to your club, alumni or networking group, or other professional association, if it’s appropriate. Be sure there are books on hand for sale afterward (contact your local bookstore for help).

✱ Talk about the book to your fave bookstore clerk. Many bookstores feature employee recommendations, so if you can encourage just one clerk to read it, your friend’s book could end up on this shelf. Face out.

✱ If you’re just enthusiastic about an author you don’t know personally, send a note of encouragement through her website. Or contact her on Twitter or her Facebook page to say hi.

None of these things are difficult. (There are even more ideas—and some duplicates—here, here, and here.) Bottom line, it’s just word of mouth (or horn-tooting). And if you love an author, this is how.

UPDATE: There’s more information on this here.

Thanks to Elizabeth Ludwig, who formulated a list on which this one is built. And to author Cynthia Ruchti for bringing it to my attention. I’m upping my love-an-author game!

 

Tweet: There is still a mountain yet to be scaled. Let’s call it (ahem) Booksales Mountain.
Tweet: The idea here is to get, you know, strangers to read your book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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2 Comments

  1. Liz Johnson says:

    LOVE! Thank you, Jamie! Great suggestions for how to love an author. :) We authors–and we who love authors–appreciate the suggestions. :)

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    […] talked a little bit about marketing in this post—“How to Love an Author”—but you can get consistently good marketing advice over at the MacGregor Literary blog. In […]

  2. […] too long ago I wrote a post called “How to Love an Author”—about how to help an author you love when he or she has just published a book. This morning a […]