Thursday, January 31, 2013

the best way to help your favorite author

Dear friend and fellow author Harley May takes a bite out of Crim on launch day last year.

I have been unknowingly doing my fellow authors a disservice:

I've been waiting to buy their books.

That is, when I hear their book is out, I wish them a Happy Book Birthday on Twitter, add their book on Goodreads, share their FB status, "like" their book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and do all of the easy social media methods of supporting them from my pajamas.

But then I typically wait until I see them at a con to buy their book and have them sign it.

And that, dear friends, is a bit of a sloppy unkindness.

The best way you can help an author is to buy their book THE WEEK IT COMES OUT.

That's when numbers count the most for bestseller lists, Amazon rankings, and publisher scrutiny. That's when authors are desperate, watching numbers online, praying for their big break. That's when your $8 can do the most good for someone who counts on book sales to continue doing what they love.

So if you're going to buy the book anyway, I urge you to consider buying an author's book the week it comes out, especially on the day it launches. You'll save a few dollars, at most, by waiting, but it makes a big difference to the author's life, livelihood, and career. Then, if you ever get to meet them, you can just bring it along and have it signed. And if you really love them, buy an extra copy at their book signing or launch party and give it to a friend.

Because the second best way you can support an author is to convince someone else to buy their books.

Other things you can do to make sure your favorite writer gets to keep writing:

* Pre-order the book to let the publisher know how anxious you are.
* Leave a review at Goodreads, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble
* Tweet a link to their book and a few warm words of praise on Twitter
* Use your Facebook or Google+ status to leave a link and some praise
* If you participate in online forums, mention their book
* Go to the book signing or launch party or visit them at a con, even if you don't buy anything
* Post their book cover on your Pinterest board
* Write a book review on your blog or post a video on YouTube
* Ask for their book at your local bookstore. If they don't carry it, urge them to pick it up and tell them how much you like it.
* Find out which local indie bookstore the author uses and request a signed or personalized copy
* Buy/wear author swag. They probably have t-shirts, bracelets, bumper stickers, buttons, or something that you can wear as a conversation starter.
* If you're in the bookstore and see someone standing in front of your author's genre, ask that person if they've read it and encourage them to buy it. Put it in their hands for bonus points, as people are more likely to buy things they've touched.
* Take a picture of their book in a bookstore, especially of you holding it, and post it online. A picture's worth a thousand words on social media.
* (adding a great idea I saw on the Reddit thread) When you're at the bookstore, turn the book(s) cover out instead of spine out, as people are more likely to notice covers than spines. Or put one on an endcap or table. The bookstore might put it back, but you never know who will pick it up!
* In as few or as many words as you wish, tell the author how you feel. Email, Twitter, FB-- it doesn't matter. Some days, writing can kick you in the nads, and a few kind words can keep someone going even after the Swamp of Sadness has swallowed their Artax.

They say the #1 way to sell books is word of mouth, so if you love a book/author, be that mouth.


This public service announcement is brought to you by someone whose next book comes out April 30.


Anonymous said...

Agreed on all points. One big thing to watch out for, though, is that you gotta wait until the ACTUAL release day--whatever that Tuesday is that it drops, that day. A lot of times, bookstores will put a book out on the shelf if it comes in before its release date and isn't specifically marked STRICT ON SALE (which many mass market and trade paperbacks aren't). So maybe we've been making grabby-hands over this book for three months, and we see it out early, and squee, but don't. Sales don't start counting till the laydown date. Buying early is just as bad as waiting to buy. Plus, if your favorite author has made a bestseller list, that goes on the next book cover, and voila! Royalties, very often, will go up. Love your authors and wait--but not too long.

Virginia Valerie said...

Thanks for letting us know!

delilah s. dawson said...

There's still a big value for pre-orders. Publishers LOOOOVE to see a bunch of pre-orders for an author's book. But good to know they don't count toward NYT!

Anonymous said...

I had no idea about these points - thanks for sharing!

Deborah Grabien said...

LIBRARY SALES, people. A bookstore may take your book off the shelves in two months. My first novels, published in the 190s, have been there longer than two decades: long out of print, but I still get fan mail on the early ones.

If you have a library card, make noise. Ask your library to stock the authors' full backlist, not just the new ones. Make noise.

And then actually borrow it from the library. The circulation lists matter.

delilah s. dawson said...

Good point, Deborah. Libraries are great!

Anonymous said...

One more tip.
In bookstores and libraries, if you can, put your favorite author's book with the cover facing out rather than the spine. Yes, the bookstore people and librarians might change it back again but, in the meantime, it makes the book stand out in the crowd.

Fiachra said...

Selfishly enough I work in a book store and push my favourite authors enough that they are seen as consistently selling items, therefore we get more of them in and I can make them face-outs.

St. Andrew said...

I think Sara is saying pre-orders DO count toward the Times/USA bestseller lists, but only the week that the store receives the books and puts them out or customers pick them up. So if they get them early, yes, they won't "count" for week one. Ebooks are different, because all ebook pre-orders count toward "week one" sales, since all ebooks have strict on-sale dates.

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