Apologies for this post being a little late today, but I wanted to get some other writing stuff done first. This week has been … chaotic.
But now it’s here. So then, what’s that title all about?
Well, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a bit of self-serving logic behind this. Because, after all, I am an author, and yes, I do like to see support!
But it’s a question I’ve not just heard from my own readers, or mused on my own about. I’ve heard folks in person talking about their favorite book saying “Well, I read it, I bought it, so I don’t know what else to do.”
It’s a legitimate question! After all, unlike musicians, authors don’t go “on tour” in the same way, doing “writing concerts” and mosh-pitting. And when they do go on book tours, they’re something that is free to attend. At most, people buy a new book to get it signed, but many of the people that show up already have a book they want signed.
Same with panels or conventions. The authors that come to those do so out of their own pocket. They may sell items in a vendor hall, but no one pays them for paneling or putting in appearances. It’s all voluntary.
The point I’m making here is that authors aren’t like a lot of other celebrities or purveyors of the arts. They don’t get paid for public appearances, they don’t get paid for gigs … They make money from their books, and their books alone. Maybe some movie rights if they get lucky. Or merchandising. But you’ve got to be big for those to happen. Big enough that the money is just extra on top of a very stable income.
They’re not like musicians where you can buy an album, then a t-shirt, then go to a concert … Authors, basically, just don’t have the same avenues of support other artists have.
Sands, we’ve almost come to expect that too. It’s just become the culture of our society. Who would pay money to see an author in person? For that matter, just look at this site. No ads, each Monday a new article on writing going up, all for free. Because that’s just how authors are in society.
Okay, I don’t honestly want to delve into that too far. The point I wanted to drive home was, as I said, that authors are kind of in a tricky space, insofar as fans “funding” them. There’s not much to it but book sales and merchandising.
This is why, I think, you have so many people who read a good book, enjoy said book, and then think to themselves (or say aloud, as I’ve heard it before) “I really liked this author, but what else can I do besides enjoy them?
Again, this makes sense. If you read something you enjoy, chances are you’d like to read more of it. Which means you want there to be more created, so you want to support the creator and let them know “Hey, this is good, make more of it!”
But with authors, those avenues are slim. So, how then, do you support an author you enjoy?
Well, there are ways. Let’s look at a few.
Talk About It
Okay, this one might seem a bit obvious, but I’ve noticed a of readers don’t talk about what they read to most people. Call it shyness, introvertedness, whatever. But readers don’t often talk about what they read. Not often.
But they do talk with other readers. Well, tell them about the books you’ve read!
I mean, this seems like a small thing. But if you enjoy a book, share it with others. You never know who else may enjoy that book just as much.
This goes for the digital world as well as the real world. There are book hubs out there to talk about books. Forums, subreddits, all sorts of places where people talk about books. Sands, I’m on like … three or four. And when I find a book I like? I talk about it on there! Why? So other people can find it!
Talking about books is how people find them! Me talking about The Codex Alera was how my mother and my sister both ended up reading them. Me talking about Lady of Devices online with other people got them to try it. And so on.
If you like an author and want to support them, sharing about them really does help. Now more than ever, word-of-mouth is what drives many readers to books. It took The Martian, for example, to the top of the heap despite major book reviewers ignoring it altogether as it was indie (and we’ll talk about this form of “invisible censorship” another time). Talking about a book you’ve enjoyed gets it into people’s heads. They may not read it, but they may talk about it to others.
Basically, if you enjoy a book, share it with those you’re in contact with! Online or offline, that spreads the word to other readers that there’s an author there that they may enjoy reading!
Review It, Rate It
Next to talking about a book, one of the best things any reader can do is rate or review a book after they’ve finished it.
The world we live in makes this incredibly easy. I, for example, can rate any book I read on Goodreads. And I do. You can actually see what I’ve read, what I’ve like and disliked.
And you know what? Other people see and acknowledge those ratings. I once left a (non-book) rating on Google Maps for a restaurant that I visited. Maps later told me that my rating had been looked at by over 5000 people, and that over 1000 of those people had elected to try the place out (and enjoyed it) because of that rating.
That is not an insignificant number. And I’m no restaurant critic. I just left the place a rating.
We can do the same with books. Goodreads? Amazon? People go to those places and use the reviews there to decide whether or not to read books. If you’ve read something by an author, let the world know by giving it a score!
Sure, your score might not match up with how someone else views the stars. Not exactly, anyway. But the majority? Another rating may mean the difference between someone passing by a book you loved and trying it! Who then may love it themselves and pass that on to someone else!
Rate or review every book you read. It’s easy, it’s simple, and it helps every author out there find their audience.
Promote Their Work
This one’s a bit different than simply talking about it. But if you really love an author’s work, promote it! Author’s don’t often have an advertising budget.
Those book forums and sites online? They’re always looking for new reads. Books to talk about. Books to discuss.
Throw your favorite author’s books in the ring where appropriate! Again, this comes back against the “invisible censorship” and again, I’ll post on that another time, but you can promote works of people you like! Especially when there are forums, sites, and groups made for this.
Take The Codex Alera, for example. I tend to recommend it when places ask for Epic Fantasy series that aren’t standard medieval settings. I enjoyed it a lot, and I want to see more people discover it! Plus, maybe someday it’ll make a slamming TV series.
If you enjoy an author and really want to see their works succeed, don’t just hope for it, help them! Suggest books for your book group, or for reviewers to read! And while we’re on that note …
Bring Their Books to the Attention of Critics
This one is, I feel, valid enough to be its own segment: If you follow reviewers, critics, or other people, when they ask for books to read, suggest the ones you enjoy they’ve never heard of!
Libraries apply here too! Love a book? See if your library has it! If not, suggest that they acquire it! Libraries like to know what people are reading and enjoying so that they can get those books for their readers, or at the very least look for them.
But they can’t do that, and reviewers can’t read, if they don’t know that they exist.
Okay, I know what question is on some of your minds. “Buy why?” some of you may be asking. “Why can’t an author do this?”
Well … because we can’t. Quite honestly, we don’t have the time to be all our fans at the same time. But moreso than that … Socially we’re just not allowed.
This is one I’ve seen pointed out by numerous authors as being silly and illogical, but it is what it is. Society in general seems to have agreed that “an author is not to talk about their work until they’re important enough that you already know about their work.”
If that seems illogical, well yes. Worse, when we dive into “invisible censorship” next week you’ll see that it carries some real chilling implications. But the crux of it is that society believes authors aren’t supposed to promote their work. At all.
Which means that authors need fans to do it for them, especially in the early stages where they’re “not allowed” to talk about their own work.
Again, we all realize this is illogical (and kind of entrenching too), but it’s how the system works. But at the end of it, it means that authors need fans to talk about them and promote their work.
Check Out Their Other Stuff
Last, but not least, the final thing you can do is do all of these things with all the stuff the author has. They have a website? Check it out! Share it where appropriate. Bring the spotlight!
And if they don’t create anything else, that’s fine. That’s why this was last on the list. All that other stuff? It’s at the peak. Sure, Patreon is nice, but authors write books to be read first and foremost. The more those books succeed, the happier they are.
And that’s pretty much it. Weird topic, I know, but one that I got thinking of lately because of how much I’ve heard it.
And yes, next week we’ll talk about invisible censorship. It’s … alarming.
But until then, hopefully some of you found this post handy. Maybe not. Let me know what you think!