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How to Help Your Favorite Authors

| Posted in Tips and Tricks |

36

As authors, we spend a lot of time trying to promote our books. Our biggest obstacle is obscurity because there are a lot of books out there. No, really. A lot.

We like to think that good stories are all it takes to make it (in author terms “make it” usually means “become well known enough and sell enough books that I can quit my day job and write for a living”), but you can doubtlessly think of mediocre books that are selling bazillions of copies and authors you love who never make it out of the “mid-list” category.

Sometimes it’s just the author (or publishing house) with the biggest marketing budget who wins, but you, as a reader, have amazing power. Don’t believe for a second that you don’t have anything to do with whether an author makes it, because you do. A lot. No, really. A lot.

Why does this matter to you? Well, authors who get to quit their day jobs can write faster and put more books out for you!

The following are some little things you can do that can make a big difference. Some of them only take a few seconds. Your favorite authors will appreciate the effort. Trust me. 🙂

Helping out on Amazon

Amazon is the big kahuna of book sellers, especially when it comes to ebooks, so helping an author “get found” on there can give them a big boost. You can certainly do these things on other bookstore sites as well (nothing against copying and pasting a review, for example), but Amazon tends to have more cool features to help an author get found.

Here’s the list (any one of these things can help):

  • If you do nothing else, consider writing a review on Amazon, even if the book already has quite a few and/or you’ve reviewed it elsewhere. There’s evidence that ratings and reviews factor into the Amazon algorithms that decide which books are promoted on the site (i.e. certain books are recommended to customers who bought books in similar genres). If reviewing isn’t your bag, don’t worry about writing paragraphs-long in-depth studies of the book; maybe you could just pen a few sentences with a couple of specifics about why you liked the book.
  • “Tag” the book with genre-appropriate labels (i.e. thriller, steampunk, paranormal romance). You don’t have to leave a review to do this; you just need an account at Amazon. A combination of the right tags and a good sales ranking can make a book come up when customers search for that type of story on Amazon.
  • Give the book a thumb’s up. This takes less than a second and probably doesn’t do much, but it may play into Amazon’s algorithms to a lesser extent than reviews/ratings.
  • Make a “Listmania” List and add your favorite authors’ books to it. This creates another avenue for new readers to find books. It’s better to create lists around similar types of books (i.e. genres or sub-genres) than to do a smorgasbord, and consider titling it something description so folks will be more inclined to check it out, ie. “Fun heroic fantasy ebooks for $5 or less”
  • If you have a Kindle, highlight some wise or fun quotations from the book and share them publicly (if enough people share their highlights, they’ll show up at the bottom of a book’s page):

Popular Highlights on a Book's Sales Page

Helping out with Social Media

If you’re involved with Twitter, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc., you can give your favorite authors a shout-out when they release new books. If they blog, you can follow their site (through Google Reader or other RSS readers) and share the link when they post something that may be interesting to your friends. If they’re on Twitter, you can follow them and retweet their links now and then.

Authors don’t expect you to follow them 24/7 and repeat everything they say (that might actually alarm some folks…), but a little promotional help now and then is greatly appreciated.

If you like to be social about books, you can join sites such as Goodreads, Shelfari, or LibraryThing. You can help your favorite authors by posting reviews and talking about their books on those sites, or you can just use those places to find online reading buddies with common interests.

Helping out with Your Blog

Do you ever talk about books or what you’re reading on your blog? You might consider reviewing your favorite authors on your site (you could even make a few dollars if you signed up as an Amazon affiliate).

Also, if most of your favorites maintain websites, you could add an “author blogroll” list in your menu with links to those sites.

And Lastly…

These days, most authors have websites and contact forms so you can get in touch. If you enjoyed their work, consider sending them a short note to let them know. While it won’t help them sell more books, it’ll make their day.

Thanks for reading (this post and books in general!).

**Authors, you’re welcome to reprint this article and post it on your blog. All I ask is that you give me credit with a link back to my site, i.e. “Originally by <a href=”http://www.lindsayburoker.com”>Lindsay Buroker</a>” or something like that. Thanks!

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Comments (36)

Excellent article! Thanks for writing and sharing it.

I’ve been pondering for a while how to help the indie authors I’m so enjoying. I retweet where I can, give high ratings on goodreads and try to review where I can (I’m a bit dismal at that because I feel that I need to read a book twice before I can really review it). One of the questions I was dying to ask was whether or not indie authors would mind if we used the same reviews across multiple sites – for example, posting the same review at goodreads, smashwords, amazon and our own blogs. I think you’ve just answered that. Exposure is good, no matter how repetitive it may be for the writer 🙂

I’m posting this article on my blog as a “guest” post. It’s just a tiny blog, but I feel this is a really important article to share, any which way I can.

Great article. I recently started doing book reviews and I think my focus will be on indie authors. Give the underdogs a hand and help show indie publishing can be good.

All excellent ideas. When I come across a book I really enjoy I always review it on Amazon, I figure if someone took the time to write it, even though I purchased the book, it was a mighty creative endeavor for them and my little five minute review is just a little way to give something back. Plus feedback, for me, is something I highly desire. I joined GoodReads about two months ago, so I post reviews there as well.

And on this note, I spent the entire day reading TEE and I will be writing a review on my blog because IT IS JUST THAT DAMN GOOD. I have to say, I am so happy I picked up Flash Gold, because Lindsay you are a very, very good writer and I eagerly wait to read anything you put out (so long as it isn’t too romanticy…I am a dude after all, can’t have my friends see me reading those!) 😉

Thank you for putting words to page, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

[…] BONUS: Are you enjoying works by Lindsay Buroker? Well you’re in luck. She posted an article today about how to help your favorite authors. Head over, check it out now, and show your support! How to Help Your Favorite Authors […]

Thanks for the comments, guys!

The indies will certainly appreciate your love, Claire and Patricia! Of course, traditionally published novelists will too. They may sell more copies on average but they have a lot of middlemen taking a cut, and most of them don’t get to quit their day jobs for a long time.

MS, thanks for the kind words and for reading my stories! Encrypted is the closest to a romance I’ve got, and even in that one there are usually gory dead bodies in the room or something to keep The Moments from getting too mushy. 😛

I’m taking you up on your reblog invitation, with a note about how well your suggestions can be applied to music as well. Thanks for writing and sharing this!

In regards to readers getting in touch with authors, I would humbly recommend that writers help themselves by making their email addresses available to the general public instead of just having contact forms. Who in the world doesn’t like getting personalized kudos from their customers? The contact form seems rather mechanical and distant, like you are contacting the IRS about help with your Schedule B forms. To avoid spam, put it up as a jpeg.

Thanks for re-posting it, Shawn!

Paul, that’s certainly an option, though I personally wouldn’t care to have to manually type in an email addy while alt-tabbing to make sure I got the spelling of the name right (since you can’t copy-and-paste letters on a jpeg). Both my first and last name get misspelled a lot, so I could imagine emails going into the ether, heh.

Hi Lindsay.
I think that this is a really great post for any reader. Many times we aren’t sure just exactly what we could be doing to help spread the word about a book that we really loved and thereby help the author out as well.

I just wanted to add a few ideas that weren’t mentioned:

– At your local bookstore: If you don’t see the book that you are looking for make sure to request for it to be ordered. This sales information gets back to store owners when overall reports are done and they will order more of a title if they see it’s been requested.

-At your local library: Check to see if the local library is carrying your favorite title. If not, you can make a request for it. If they get enough requests from readers they will usually order multiple copies of the book.

-Friends: Make sure that you tell your friends about any great books that you’ve been reading. It’s always fun to turn a friend on to an author who becomes their new favorite!

-Goodreads: If you’ve added a book to your collection there, make sure that you create genre & overall theme shelves for it. (You can put a book on more than one shelf in your collection.) A lot of people search through the shelves at Goodreads to find new titles. By putting it on your shelf, it’s very similar to tagging the book so that other people with similar interests can find it (vampire books, native american fiction, steampunk, blimp fiction, cats that swim, to-be-read, wishlist, 2012 releases – you get the idea).

Thanks again for posting this. I really enjoy the items that you share on Twitter as well!

Sincerely,
Adonna

Twitter: @passionmuse
Web: http://www.theauthorpro.com

This is an excellent post (well thought out)!

I wish more readers would realize the importance of their reviews to their favorite authors on Amazon. One review can shift the tide.

Thanks Again.

Very good article. Very helpful.

Thanks,
Arthur

Book Extras from the Shelfari Community has been added to Amazon. This opens a new door to Readers helping their favorite author, too. I just discovered some very nice comments there that I would never have known about except for the new linking system between Amazon & Shelfari. If you are already on the reader site, Shelfari, that’s great. Please know that as a reader you can help through them. Happy reading! Aithne

Great post, Lyndsay. There truly is nothing that can brighten an author’s day faster than a thank-you email from a reader.

The “experts” insist that all authors need to reach out to their readers and would-be readers…but it’s just as important for readers to respond, especially these days with more and more books being published and fewer and fewer reviews in the major media. Every little bit helps, even if just a two-line review on Amazon.

[…] the indies that you’ve read and loved or even just liked. There’s a great post on E-book Endeavors written by Lindsay Buroker on how you can do just […]

What great suggestions not only for our readers but also for us to help our fellow authors! Thanks so much!

I realize that an author cannot respond to every review written about their work. However, I have written 10 reviews on Amazon. I was very flattered and grateful when two of the authors replied to thank me for the review even though one review contained criticisms of the work.

It certainly makes me feel that writing the review was worth the time and trouble.

[…] How to help your favourite authors by Lindsay Buroker (and vice versa, you can ask others to help you in these ways) […]

[…] How to Help Your Favorite Authors […]

I’d add …

Buy their books. New. In hardback even. Preferably from an independent store.

I know lots of people (even writers) who brag that they never buy books new. They always borrow them from the library or buy them used. But in those cases, they’ve given the writers *nothing* for the hours they spend enjoying the writers work.

This is such a great post! We authors are always a little bit shy about asking people to post reviews and, you know, to go to “trouble” to let other people know about our books…but the truth is, IT MEANS SO MUCH TO US!

Thank you for reminding all of us of how much we can help each other! I’m going to go share this on facebook right now.

Thanks, Maddie! Yeah, most of us authors have those introvert tendencies. You have to promote, but, ya know, you don’t want to bug anyone… 😉

Yeah – traditionally-published authors need plenty of love too! Just because they have a contract with a publisher doesn’t mean they’ll sell books. And if that book doesn’t do well, it often means the author won’t be getting any more contracts. There have been plenty of times a trad-pubbed author stopped mid-series – because they weren’t getting enough love from customers!
These days there’re so many people publishing in various ways, nobody is guaranteed success!

I have an entire Yahoo Group devoted to authors helping each other promote. Most of the 100 or so members took a blog book tours class with me, now are experts at promoting this way and host each other on their tours, we promote three times a week on various social networks, and even published a Kindle book together to help sell other titles. This kind of collaboration is powerful. I’ll go share this post now on my social networks!

Awesome, thanks for sharing the post, Dani!

Hi Lindsay,

Thank you SO MUCH for offering this post to authors to put on our own sites. All the way through, I was thinking, “I have to get her to guest blog for me!” Then I came to that offer.

I have it scheduled to appear on my writing site on Friday 26th. I have to say I LOVE your site. It’s the first time I’ve been here but I assure you it won’t be the last!

Shirl (from South AfFrica)

Haha, thanks, Shirl! You’re very welcome for the post. 🙂

Thanks for letting us know how we can give back to authors for their wonderful work. I tell as many people as I can about EE, but never feel like that is enough. Now I know that even short simple reviews can help.

Thank you for caring enough to want to help out, Denise!

This is the very first time I have ever written an author. I found your book on Amazon and because it was free I downloaded it. Started reading it and quickly became a fan. Promptly purchased any and all available books. I also recommended it to my sister and she explained why she hasn’t called me lately – apparently she has been reading her new fav author!

I love fantasy but what catches me about you is your snappy and humourous way of writing. Can’t wait until you next one. Please keep writing and I will do my part by extolling your talent!

Katherine

Thanks, Katherine! That’s great to hear. I’m glad you (and your sister) have enjoyed the stories! 🙂

Another great topic, Lindsay. Reviews are a great way to help other authors and have them help you. Just by having people talking about your book on such a large, authoritative and established website such as Amazon will push your eBook title up in Google’s rankings and greatly help improve sales of your ebook.

[…] of these things are difficult. (There are even more ideas—and some duplicates—here, here, and here.) Bottom line, it’s just word of mouth (or horn-tooting). And if you love an author, this is […]

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