Thursday, February 23, 2012

7 Ways Readers Can Support Their Favorite Authors

Before I began hanging out with writers, it never occurred to me that the authors of my favorite books were real people with mortgages, laundry, soccer practices, and—in many cases—day jobs. Obviously, I knew these things, but I didn’t think that there was anything I—a reader—could do to support or encourage them in any meaningful way.

But now I know better, so I give you...

7 ways readers can support their favorite authors.
1. Buy their books. Yes, this really does matter. There’s only a small percentage of the writing population that has anything that resembles job security. Most writers are only guaranteed to be published through their current contract. If book sales don’t meet expectations, the publisher may choose to pass on their next idea.

2. Write them a note. I’m not kidding. Again, only a handful of writers are so “big” that they don’t have time for fan mail. Many of the writers I know (including yours truly) have files where they keep every encouraging card or note.

3. Write a review of their book. Seriously. I had no idea how much this matters. You don’t have to be a writer to write a review. Take five minutes, log onto Amazon, Barnes and Noble,, Goodreads or wherever you purchased your book, and say something nice. Did it keep you reading until 2AM? Say so. Did you order takeout because you couldn’t put it down? Tell them! Did it change the way you think about a topic or open your eyes to an issue you were unfamiliar with? Let them know.

(Even authors who say they “never read reviews” still need reviews. Statistics show that books that have a higher number of reviews sell better than those that don’t.)

4. Go to their book signings. I know you think this means standing in line for hours, but that’s not the case for most authors. If a favorite author is signing books anywhere near you, take the time to meet them and say “thank you” or “I love your books” in person.

5. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Publishers expect authors to maintain a social media presence. And yes, they check to see how many fans and followers an author has. Many of my favorite authors post daily. Some are very good about sharing when a bookseller is featuring one of their titles at a discount. Most will let you know if the Kindle or Nook version is free or discounted as well.

What’s fun is when they are working on a manuscript and ask a question that relates to the plot—I love those little glimpses into their work-in-progress.

6. Subscribe to their blogs and newsletters. Again, publishers want to know how many subscribers an author has. When you subscribe, blog posts will be delivered to your inbox and you can read them when you have time. It’s very easy to subscribe, and it does matter.

7. Pray for them. Authors have all the real-world issues that plague the rest of the population—they pay taxes, struggle in their marriages, pray over rebellious teenagers, care for aging parents, and cuddle sick babies. They fight insecurity and exhaustion. They wonder if what they are doing matters in light of eternity.

I don’t know a single author who wouldn’t be thankful for prayers for strength, creativity, and the courage to write the stories God has given them.

So what about you? As a reader, have you ever done any of these things? For my writer friends, do you agree with my list? Have some things you would add? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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Felicia said...

You are absolutely right! In meeting some real-life, bonafide, published authors at BRMCWC, I was amazed to discover that they are REAL people. They are generally not the stereotyped recluse hunkered down in a cave and shunning the presence of other humans. They are also not like the stereotyped 'celebrities' who are so overwhelmed by publicity and fans that they feel entitled to treat them rudely. They really appreciate someone coming up to them and saying, "I love your books!" (Or if not, they're good at faking it. :-)) Thanks for the reminders of how we can be an encouragement to those who have encouraged, taught, or even entertained, us.

Alycia Morales said...

Lynn, This is such a great post!

Here's another secret:
I went to a major bookstore once to seek out an author's fiction novel. I couldn't find it on the shelf, so I asked one of the employees. He went off to find it in the back. Meanwhile, I found it on the shelf, hiding behind something else. Only three copies were left, and when he returned, he informed me they were getting ready to send them back to the distributor. But, because I BOUGHT A COPY, he said it would show that an interest still existed, and it would keep one of my favorite author's books on the shelf longer. Buying books in regular stores can be a big help to our favorite authors' careers and income.

Vonda Skelton said...

Great post, Lynn! Yes, as an author of four books, I can tell you each of these items would be a real boost to any author. People often think of mega-sellers when they think of authors, consequently they believe that authors are rich.

Ummm, nope. On average, we make about $0.75 per book. Now, if you're selling 3 million copies, you've got a pretty good paycheck, but most of us sell a few thousand at the most. H-U-G-E difference!

Thanks for your support and encouragement, Lynn. And speaking of bills, could you help me out a little until your readers go buy my books? :-)

Love you!

Lynn Huggins Blackburn said...

Felicia - Thanks! Blue Ridge was an eye-opener for me as well!
Alycia - Great point. Shopping for books in a real bookstore is huge!!
Vonda - Ok - 75 cents? That's a crime!! :-) Thanks for stopping by!!

Cynthia Howerter said...

Excellent article, Lynn. Your points are on target.

Lynn Huggins Blackburn said...

Cynthia - Thanks!!