January 18, 2016

5 Better Ways to Support Your Author Friend

So you have an author friend, and after hearing about the drafting and the editing and the revising drama, you're almost as excited as they are that the book is done. Published. Out in the world. You've congratulated your friend, and maybe you've even bought a copy!

And now you don't understand why your friend is still down about the lack of support from their friends. Or maybe, you don't even know that your author friend would really love some better support—because we truly are grateful for every bit of help and encouragement we receive. Whether you're not really sure what you can do, or you’d like to know how to go above and beyond for your author friend, these tips will help you become a Better Supporter.

Instead of: Buying their e-book but never reading it

Try: Buying a copy for someone who would enjoy it
      Buying a copy of your friend's e-book is an instant and easy way to show your support. But what if your friend writes in a genre you just don't like? It happens—I don't read thrillers or anything super gory; I just don't. While you should definitely consider branching out and giving your friend's genre a try, if you're unfamiliar with it, it doesn't do much good for the e-book to sit there on your e-reader forever. Good news is there's a painless way to stretch those same ~$2.99 and become a Better Supporter: gift that same e-book to someone who might enjoy it.
      That new reader might write a review or even become a super fan! You never know. And this way, you don't have to suffer through a genre you don't like. Plus you also get points with your gift’s recipient. Win-win-win.
      Even better: Transform into a Super Supporter (cape optional) by choosing your friend's print book as a gift idea. Books make awesome gifts, and since you know the author, you can probably score an autograph—making your gift even more special.

    Instead of: Telling the author how fantastic it is that they wrote a book that was published 

    Try: Bragging about it, to everyone you know, using every form of social media ever. Seriously.
      It’s wonderful to acknowledge how fantastic your friend's accomplishment is, and after the many, often solitary and doubt-filled hours, your friend could almost definitely benefit from the reminder. But this post is about doing even better.
      By bragging about knowing this author and about their book, you're helping them be discovered by more readers. Whether you do this in person or through social media (or both!), you're offering the author word-of-mouth marketing, which is still considered one of the most effective ways to sell books. So despite those childhood lessons, start bragging. You know someone awesome—now tell the world! You have my permission.
        Note: This also holds true for complimenting them on a good blog post, or a beautiful cover, or anything else. Literally every bit of exposure helps, so if you like something an author is doing, consider shouting it out to the world at the top of your physical and virtual lungs.

    Instead of: Sending a quick message saying, "I loved it!" (fantastic as that is)

    Try: Posting an honest review somewhere visible
      Authors love hearing from readers, no question. But posting a review on Amazon, Goodreads, another retailer, your own website, or even Facebook is actually much more helpful!
      Even better:  Do both! Some authors intentionally don't read their reviews, so shooting off a quick message with your thoughts and the information that you posted a review will also boost you to Super Supporter status.

    Instead of: Asking for a free copy (digital or especially print)

    Try: Requesting it at your local library
      How would you feel if you spent hundreds or thousands of hours on a project, and then everyone asked you to hand it over for free? If you absolutely can't afford a copy, which your struggling author friend will certainly understand, get out your library card (or go get one!) and request your friend's book. Digital or print, many libraries offer books in both formats to their members.
      Result? The library buys the book, you get to read it, and the author gets an exposure boost. Plus, you support the continued existence of the library in your community just by using their service. Win. Win. Major win.

    Instead of: Asking if you can help (and if you're still using "if," you haven't been reading carefully)

    Try: Taking the initiative
      Authors, both indie and traditional, have a lot on their plate, what with writing, revising, pitching, marketing, social media, and usually a day job—not to mention family obligations and things like sleeping and showering. So don’t wait for them to badger you for help, which many of us don’t feel comfortable doing anyway. Some ideas:
      • Are you in a book group? Suggest your friend’s book!
      • Not in a book group? Offer to organize & host a small signing for your friends. Even 10 new readers is pretty amazing for authors just starting out.
      • Not that social or live far from your author friend? Ask if they need a second pair of eyes on anything, whether a query, synopsis, or scene from their draft.
      • In general, consider your special skills and how they could be helpful. I had a friend who was helping me look through stock photos turn around and offer to go take some photos for me. The resulting cover was gorgeous, and I'm still so grateful! So are you handy with websites? Could you design and/or create some custom giveaway items? Maybe you forgot you know the manager of a local bookstore.
    Take a few minutes to brainstorm, and you’re sure to find even more ways to become a Super Supporter. Like a true hero, you'll help change an author's life.

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