10 ways you can help an author
1. Buy their books!
An obvious starter, but buying books helps authors in the following ways: it builds their confidence, recognises their efforts, refunds their advances, earns them money and can help them get additional work (e.g. speaking engagements, consultancy etc).
2. Read their books
How often have you bought a book and put it on the shelf, never to be opened? Make time to read. You might find it helpful to have a designated reading hour each day for this, or a ‘DEAR’ (Drop Everything And Read) moment. A comfy space, warm drink and a snack can help with this too.
3. Show off the books you’ve bought
If you loved a book don’t keep it to yourself! Share photos on social media of books you’ve purchased, or you are reading a book (bonus points for reading in unusual locations). Where possible tag the author and publisher so they can keep track of sales and pass on your photo. Other people are more likely to purchase a book if they see you enjoying it (and know what the cover looks like). Remember if you’re sharing this information via email, text or on social media to provide a link so they can go straight off and buy it!
4. Tell other people why a book is so great
This goes further than sharing a photo of a book cover. While people will be interested to see books you’ve bought, they will be much more motivated to buy a copy for themselves if they can see what’s inside the book and how it’s relevant to them. It is okay to quote from books or photograph specific passages you found meaningful and share that widely on social media. Sometimes people think this is stealing or cheating, but it’s a great way to indicate exactly why a book is worth reading. Remember to say clearly where the quote is from and always link to where the book can be purchased.
5. Swap discount codes
Share promotion/discount codes along with links on where to redeem them. Don’t worry that using discounts will affect a writer’s royalties, those will still apply (in fact discount codes usually equal more sales, which in turn equal more royalties). It’s also fine to tell others if you’ve seen a book available cheaper on a particular website, prioritising independent book stockists where possible.
6. Write to authors
Writing books is a lonely job. You put your heart and soul into a text, you send it out into the world, and you hope people enjoy it. And most often you hear nothing back. That can be upsetting, especially if sales figures are low. Email an author, write them a card if you have a contact address (e.g. their publisher or agent), or message them on social media. Let them know if you’re happy for your good wishes to be shared as they might want to include your feedback on their website or other publicity (e.g. share a photo on their social media of a card you sent). Experiencing the pleasure of reading something is great but passing that enjoyment back to the author is even better!
7. Put their books on your reading list
If you teach; organise reading lists for libraries or book clubs; or create lists for charities, reading groups or other occasions ensure you add books that you have found useful. Include the book’s title, author, publisher, date of publication, price (including discount codes) and a link signposting where to purchase. Explain briefly what the book is about and why it’s relevant/helpful/inspiring, linking to a blurb or other product details if available. If you teach, some academic books come with readers or course guides/companions you can use in your own practice (saves you time!). Or you can adapt books to suit your teaching requirements.
8. Review books
There’s several ways you can do this (and it’s fine to do more than one!). Leaving reviews at online bookstores, particularly detailing what you loved or found useful about a book helps potential audiences select a text. It’s good to leave similar reviews on different online stores to reach more readers. You can also blog about books you rate (either on your own blog or as a guest on someone else’s). It’s fine to be creative here, exploring how the book applies to other areas or even interviewing the author. Reviewing books for trade magazines, newspapers, academic journals or other publications is another great way to alert wider audiences to a book that might benefit them (remember you can often get free books by signing up to be a reviewer for a trade or academic journal).
9. Ask your library to stock books
Books aren’t always affordable, and we want people to be able to read them without authors missing out. Libraries are great solutions as they allow a wide reach to audiences, and authors can earn royalties from library borrowing. (If you’re an author and want to know how to get hold of that cash join ALCS). You can also ask your bookstore to get a title that you’ve enjoyed (and if you’re an author it is fine to tell your local store or library about your books, they might invite you to speak or sign copies).
10. Invite authors to your events
If you work anywhere that hosts regular speakers (on or offline) inviting an author can be a great way to boost their profile. It might be they participate in a panel with other writers, join a festival, host a workshop, be part of a Q and A session, or give a reading. Signings after events are also popular and can be combined with fundraising for charities or promotions for bookstores or libraries (for virtual events an author can send signed bookplates). A personal interaction with authors can bring life into a text and also offer opportunities for more publicity (e.g. a photo with an author at a book signing shared across social media will promote them and potentially your business/organisation/charity too). It’s really heart-warming for authors to experience positive reactions to their work and feedback directly from audiences.
Why do these 10 things matter?
You might assume that publishers promote books for authors, and while some do, many don’t. The books you see prominently displayed in stores or talked about online often have a promotion budget behind them; for everyone else it’s down to them to get their book known. As you might imagine this is exhausting and can feel disheartening if nobody seems to notice you’ve even written a book. You can help by doing all of the above, not as a one-off but as a regular endorsement for authors whose work you particularly admire. For example if you notice someone asking for advice on a topic and you know just the book that will provide the perfect recipe, study solution, self-care soothe or DIY tip then say so! If you are an aspiring author or a writer yourself you may also find that helping other people share their work pays back with return publicity for you.
What have you done to help an author? If you’re an author, what has helped you? Please share your tips in the comments!