In spite of popular myths, writing books is a tough way to make a living. The writing itself is tough enough for most people, which is probably why most people don't consider becoming writers themselves. But for all the writers I know, the writing is probably the easiest part of the job. The hard part is promoting your books so people will buy them and, hopefully, will read them.
One of my writing buddies recently released a new book, A Murder of Crows. To accompany the release, she wrote a blog essay in which she said, "I am, of course, in panic mode, because I have a release-day checklist in which I do more than whisper a quiet announcement on Facebook and slink back into my hidey hole, as usual, so make snarky comments and post nerdy links. The dreaded promotion phase of writing. I think I know like two writers who enjoy promoting themselves. The rest of us are terrified."
I'm not one of those two writers. I don't enjoy promoting myself, not because I dread it, but because I don't enjoy doing things I don't do well. I didn't adopt a writing career because I was a good self-promoter. Fortunately, I have done quite well in my writing career because other people do a good job of promoting my stories.
That's true for most any successful writer. They succeed because their fans promote them. So, if you would like to help your favorite author, here are some options:
1) Buy their book today. With the advent of e-books, this act is easier and cheaper than it's ever been in the past. Various services report the sales of books, and the more that are sold, the more the stores promote them. The more people who buy the book, the better it seems to look to the stores' algorithms and the more visible they make those books to complete strangers who happen to be looking for something to read. Buying the book is not required, but it should be a huge help to your author's reputation.
2) Ask the for a free copy of the book. For instance, I have formats set up for all major ereaders as well as on your computer. If you have no intention of reading the book but want to pass it on to someone who miiiiiight want it like six years from now, I have no problem with that. Ask away
3) Review the book at Amazon, Goodreads, LibraryThing, Smashwords, on your blog or other social media, on the back of a napkin, sealed up into a bottle and tossed into the ocean...[Note: Anywhere you mention the book—or link to it—on the Internet helps brainwash Google and other search engines into making it just slightly more visible.]
4) Pass the word. There’s a local commercial that always ends up with, “If you like our service, tell a friend. If you don’t, tell me.” That’s it exactly.
As far as social media goes, you may copy the picture of the cover off the author's blog and use it to help promote the book. (Most social media give extra weight to posts with pictures attached, which is why you see so many dang cats).
5) Sign up for the author's mailing list, which might produce a newsletter or other forms of information about the book or other books by the same or similar authors.
6) Chat with the author. Dayle says, and I agree: "I will listen to you complain about/praise the book. I will take typo oopsies if you catch any in the book. I will take invitations to write on your blog. I will talk with your book group. I will send free copies of books to libraries. If you have a favor to ask, ask it. Because trading favors is what makes the writing world go ’round.
7) Give the author hugs. Appreciative feedback encourages authors to write more and better books and stories.
In summary, to help your favorite author,
- buy books
- review someplace
- tell a friend
- give the author hugs
An Offer of Free Books to Reviewers
That summarizes (or plagiarizes) Dayles blog post. Now here's something of my own. I've always offered free books to reviewers, but don't always receive reviews in return. In fact, my experience and that of author colleagues is this: Only about one in three (1/3) of free books produce reviews. The rest produce nothing. So, I'm going to try a slightly different policy for reviewers, as follows:
- You obtain one of my books (buy, beg, borrow, steal, or find laying on the sidewalk).
- You read the book, or at least attempt to read it.
- You write a review telling what you think others ought to know about the book. The review can be long or short, favorable or unfavorable, serious or funny.
- You submit the review to be published somewhere, and also send a copy to me.
- As your reward, I will send you two of my ebooks—you have dozens of books to choose from. Tell me your choices when you send me the copy of your review. You will receive your reward a day or two later.
- (You can then repeat the process by reviewing one or both of your reward books. You can repeat until I have no more books with which to reward you.)
That's all there is to it. You can find all of my ebooks at <https://leanpub.com/u/jerryweinberg>—there are currently 44 books listed there, so you won't run out quickly.
And by the way, if I'm not one of your favorite authors, check with your favorites and ask what kind of reward they offer. The important thing is to support those writers you love, so the world can share your pleasure.