Friday, April 26, 2013

Ten Ways to Help the Authors You Love

Authors are a needy bunch. We need time without distractions for our work. We need stimulation of various kinds (not necessarily ingested) to keep our creative juices flowing. We need readers, and that means we need a way to help readers find our books, articles, poems, plays.

Helping our favorite authors steer readers to their books may seem sort of irrelevant for us as readers, but it's not. Writing is hard work, and most authors really do want that work to bear fruit critically and financially.

For the authors among us, helping our fellow scribblers is the best thing we can do. We are not in competition with one another ~ after all, books and other publications are like the chips we munch while we read. No, we are in competition with all the other distractions of modern life. So encouraging people to read our peers books helps us, too. Besides, it's good karma.

So what can you do to help an author or three? Here are some ideas. Feel free to add more in your comments.

Buy books. This is obvious. What may not be obvious is that it matters how you buy them. Here are my preferences when possible:
  1. Independent bookstores -- these are the places where people know and love books, and they are usually vital participants in their communities. Don't know an Indie near you? Try the IndieBound Indie Store Finder.
  2. Online -- books, especially the newer ones, are often discounted by Internet booksellers. I encourage your to buy new books rather than used, though, at least part of the time -- the authors make nothing from sales of their used books.
  3. Directly from the author if she or he offers books for sale. (We don't all do that, at least not all the time.)
Don't buy books. I'm serious. If you don't want to buy certain books, see if your library has them. If they don't have a book you want to read, ask them to order it.

Buy, but go to the library, too! Even if you do want a book in your own collection (or, like me, you like to write in the margins as you read!), check that your local libraries have the books you like.

Talk to booksellers. When you're in a bookstore, especially an Indie (where people tend to really care about books), be sure to let the booksellers know about books and authors you really like. If you like them, other readers will like them, too, and some of the stores will add those books to their inventories.

Write reviews. Reviews on and other sites help other readers decide what to read, and may help make a book more visible when people search the sites. Be honest, but please also be civil and fair. For instance, I don't know what is gained by slamming a book for what it is not, as the reader did who complained that my cozy mystery didn't have enough sex in it.

Click "Like." Ever notice the Like buttons on amazon and other retail sites? If you like a book, click that button! It does some sort of magic in the grand digital scheme of things and helps the book rise to the searchable surface. Many author's also have author pages on various retail sites, and those pages also have Like buttons. If you like an author's work, like her author page. (Here's mine on amazon - subtle, eh?)

Follow authors. No, I'm not suggesting you stalk anyone. But most authors have one or more online method for letting their readers know what they're up to - Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and other social media sites for a start. Most authors also have websites, and many have blogs and newsletters. (Another hint - those are live links that will take you my thingies.)

Go to Readings & Events. Support author readings and book signings when you can, even the ones you've never heard of. You might discover a book or writer you didn't know before, or learn something fascinating about the subject of a book or an author's path to publication or....who knows? Most such events are free. If you're an author, you can also learn more about what makes a successful event by attending those you can.

Tell Your Friends. If you like a book or author, tell your friends. Despite all the crazy digital marketing whirling around us these days, word of mouth (or word of your own social media presence) is still the best way for readers to find books and authors. If an author you're following posts something interesting, share it on your wall.

Drop the Author a Note. Really. Writing can be a very lonely business. We work, sometimes for years, on a book or other piece of writing, and if we're lucky enough to publish it, we send it out into the world and it never writes back. But you can. If a piece of writing moves you, or helps you, or makes you laugh out loud, and keeps you up all night because you have to read just one more chapter, let the author know that the work did what it was meant to do: it touched another human being.

Do you have more suggestions? Please share in a comment!

Oh, and one more thing. Share this blog!


Come back on Monday - author C. Hope Clark, author of The Shy Writer and The Shy Writer Reborn and maven of the Funds for Writers, will be here to tell us what happens when murder leaves the big city lights. We'll have an excerpt of Tidewater Murder, her newest Carolina Slade mystery set in the low country of South Carolina.

Have a creative weekend!


  1. Great suggestions, Sheila. Here's a post I did on a few years ago on this same topic.

  2. Great advice too often ignored, Sheila!

    1. Like most advice, eh, Marni? But we can keep nudging. :-)

  3. Great post, Sheila! You're right - we definitely should be supportive of each other as readers and writers. I've found many of my favorite reads (especially by lesser-known authors) through word-of-mouth from other writers. I might have missed some of these gems if I'd relied solely on NYTimes, for example.

    Nancy Gadzuk, a/k/a Natasha Alexander

  4. Hi, Sheila,

    As an author, I greatly appreciate each of the suggestions you have offered in this blog. When my novels first come out from my hardcover publisher, Five Star/Gale, I always suggest that readers request the books at their local library since the novels are expensive. Also, Five Star/Gale is mainly a library publisher. So this piece of advice is especially valuable.

    1. Jacqueline, I'm glad you find the list useful. I hope you'll pass it on.

  5. Great advice, Sheila. Thanks for an excellent blog to tell, or remind, authors like me what we should be doing!

    1. Thanks, Linda. Some of it we know and let slide, but some people don't realize that they can help us, and we can help each other!