Unless a book makes it to the top of the bestseller lists, it can be pretty hard for authors to make a living. Which is why your favorite authors rely on you, their fans, to sustain their careers and give them the chance to write more of the books you enjoy so much.
With COVID-19 having massively affected the global economy, the impending recession is bound to be a difficult time for authors and publishers. And as readers, many of us would have had a bleak, desolate time during lockdown without the work of authors there to provide a much-needed escape — which is why it’s our responsibility to do what we can to support the industry that allows us to journey to imaginary worlds. Here are five ways to do just that.
1. Buy their books
It sounds obvious, but one important way to show your support is with your money. You can buy a book in many ways: hardback, paperback, ebook, or audiobook. Each format is priced differently, and the total amount reaching the author will differ depending on how you buy it.
Often, the pricier the version you purchase, the greater the royalties reaching the author! So if you have the funds to buy a beautiful, ornate hardback, know that you’re not just indulging yourself, but possibly also supporting a writer more. It’s also good to remember that if you buy books from independent bookshops, you’ll be helping out authors as well as indie booksellers. (Booksellers, too, will struggle post-coronavirus, so it’s important that we have their backs!)
Because no one has unlimited book-buying funds (we wish!), you can establish a few book-buying goals for yourself to make sure you give more support where it’s needed. For example, you can aim to buy more physical books by independent presses, but get J.K. Rowling or Stephen King’s next books in ebook format, to balance out your spending.
2. Review their books
Even if you can’t buy brand-new copies of books, you can still borrow them from libraries or buy them second-hand, which means you can still access the writing of authors you love. If you’ve borrowed something that really moved or spoke to you, why not write a review on the Internet?
These can go on your own book blog (like this one!), on Goodreads, Amazon, or anywhere else that accepts reviews online. The purpose is to add to the publicity hype around a book. Even a lukewarm or a negative review can add authority to the book’s sale page, especially in the case of authors who have self-published; these writers often start out with small numbers of reviews, so by adding to these, you can make sure other readers see a book as legitimate.
3. Tell others about these books
Many authors rely on word-of-mouth marketing for their books to reach the right audience. So tell your book club, your friends, and your Insta followers about the book you enjoyed recently. Tell your neighbors, your dad, and your colleagues. Shout it from the rooftops! Tell anyone you think might be interested, especially if they share your taste in books. If you’re struggling to describe a book, consult its book description online — just make sure you do it justice!
Authors from marginalized groups need you more than you realize, since they have to overcome more biases to get their books into the mainstream. So make it your mission to champion diverse books by minority or socio-economically disadvantaged authors — like this very blog did by reviewing Common People.
You really have to sing a book’s praises if you want its author to be successful enough to write more books for you to enjoy. And even on a pretty basic level, it’s only polite to give something back to the person that worked their writerly magic on your brain. So show your gratitude!
4. Be a loyal reader
While we’re on the topic of gratitude, another way to express it to your favorite writers is to simply be a loyal reader. Keep up to date with what they’re writing and be the first to buy when it comes out!
Especially if you love an ongoing series, stay on the lookout for its next release (and keep reviewing a series’ new releases). The easiest way to do that is to sign up to your favorite authors’ mailing lists. You can also work backwards — for example, if you read Sally Rooney’s bestseller Normal People and loved it, you can turn to her debut novel next.
5. Write to them
It sounds silly, but if you feel an author’s work has genuinely touched you, you should write to them and let them know! Most authors’ websites or blogs will have a contact form that you can use to send a message – if not, you can try reaching them on Twitter!
Even if they aren’t very active online, fan mail is guaranteed to make any author’s day. Some writers really engage with their readers, even shaping their new writing in line with what readers say they want. (On that note, why not submit a writing prompt for Jess to write her next short story here?)
There are so many ways you can support a great author, and not all of them have to be financial. Buying someone’s book is great, generating publicity online is fantastic, but a simple email or a letter from a fan can also work wonders for a writer’s confidence. So channel that gratitude out there, and decide how you want to say thank you — every little bit counts.
Desiree Villena is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading contemporary fiction and writing short stories.
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First, I want to thank Desiree for the wonderful guest post. Second, I have to say that I 100% agree with what has been said in this post, and it was some of the reasons why I started this blog.
Also, if like Desiree, you have something to say and would like to be a guest on my blog you can check out my Guests Post to know more about it or you can leave a message using the form on my Contact Me page.