Under the category of full disclosure, I am currently looking for support for my first book. And as a first time, self-publishing author, I am in need of a great deal of support. While reflecting about what I needed to advance from new author to successful author, I drafted this list of eight ways folks like me, authors, would love for folks like you, the book buying public, to help us become more successful.
1. Buy the Book
This seems obvious, but it’s amazing how many people have a desire to support an author and skip doing this basic act. I’m reminded of a political joke/anecdote I heard years ago – who knows where it came from – the exact number are not important, but is goes something like this…
A politician has just won a local race. He is addressing a group of supporters and the press after the results are announced and says, “I’d like to thank the 2,547 people who during the polling process said they were going to vote for me. I’d like to thank the 935 people who turned up to the polls today to vote. And I’d like to thank the 473 people who actually voted for me and elected me to this office.”
This anecdote speaks to voter turnout, but it also speaks to intention verses overt effort. The same can be said for buying books. More authors would be best-selling authors if all of the people who said they were going to buy their book, bought it.
So, if you want to continue to support authors. . . BUY BOOKS!
2. Like Their Social Media Accounts (Book and/or Author’s)
Marketing books directly to consumers has gotten a little easier with the use of social media and author websites. Authors have a greater opportunity to talk directly with their readers and potential readers outside of book fairs and visits to bookstores. Having more followers on these platforms also helps open other doors for authors as it helps the media, bookstore owners and other publishing influencers find the author and gauge who their audience is. Like it or not, if you are in business or are a creative, you are judged by your social media presence and how big it is. Liking social media accounts of the author you wish to support helps them gain credibility.
3. Like and Share their Social Media Posts
This goes hand in hand with the above. You liked their social media account, but now you must be an active follower. It’s not enough that an author has 5K followers, it also matters how and how often they interact with them. The author has the responsibility to provide content that is frequent and engaging, and the followers hopefully…engage. This not only impacts things like SEO, but also influences those who are evaluating the social media accounts to evaluate the author. These folks look at things like follower engagement.
For example, if you are looking at two potential author/influencers to work with, which one would you choose? The first author has 10 thousand followers and each post averages 5 engagements (likes, shares, comments, etc.). The second author has 2,000 followers, and each post averages 50 engagements. If you are looking for an author/influencer who has a more robust “relationship” with their followers, you might actually want to work with the second author who has less followers but is more engaged with them.
Therefore, as a follower and supporter of an author, if the author is engaging. . . be engaged.
4. Request Their Book at Your Local Book Store
Authors, especially self-publishing authors, have more opportunities for direct sales to consumers, however, bookstores are still a primary way active readers and book buyers “discover” their book. With booksellers needing to make choices from thousands and thousands of books being published each year, they rely on the consumers to help them make choices on what to stock. If you request a book at a bookstore, it puts that book on the bookseller’s radar. They may not stock it after just one request, but if multiple people ask about a book and buy it, it increases the likelihood the bookstore will stock it, thus increasing the likelihood that other book buyers will discover it.
Plus, much as I love online booksellers, nothing beats wandering bookstore aisles and flipping through the pages of books.
5. Request Their Book at Your Local Library
This goes hand in hand with requesting at bookstores. Self-publishing authors want to get their books into libraries, and many will contact the library themselves to request the book is purchased and placed into circulation. However, just like anything in sales and marketing, requests that come from consumers and not from the publishers (or the author) mean more.
Therefore, making a request at your local library means the book is more likely to be purchased by the library. Thus, more people have a chance to discover it.
6. Write a Review
Online or off, reviews matter. Word of mouth is still the most powerful marketing tool. We often pick up books based on the recommendation of a friend or colleague. Online reviews – whether for a book, a business or a product – have become so important that some reports indicate upwards of 93% of consumers say they use reviews to influence their purchase decisions.
So, if you like a book and want to help others find this wonderful reading experience, write a review on Goodreads or the website (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, independent bookseller, etc.) of the bookseller from whom you bought the book.
7. Search for Them
I’ve already talked about how social media accounts impact the author and a book’s over all SEO. Even if you are not a search engine optimization expert, you know how some of it works; and the ramifications of all those algorithms from one internet site to another. It happens to you all the time. You search for something on Google and then the next time you are on Facebook or Twitter, ads and sponsored posts for that very thing are all over your feed.
Going on your favorite search engine or the site of your favorite bookseller and searching for the book or by the author's name begins to put the author and their book(s) into the interconnected “atmosphere” that is the internet. The first couple of days my book was available on Amazon, I typed the title into the site's search line. Even when typing the complete title of the book, my book did not come up on the first page of search results. It wasn’t even on the first ten pages! I checked this morning; it now comes up first. This is because I and others have been visiting the site and searching for me or my book. That is the power of search. When people look for something, the algorithms take note.
Therefore, if you want to support an author, seek them out online. . . search for them!
8. Alert Them to Opportunities to Promote Their Book and Engage with Readers
Promoting and selling a book usually involves going to book fairs, having book signing at bookstores, and attending any event where you can showcase your book. Most self-published authors do not have the benefit of a large marketing team behind them. Even authors with traditional publishers need to be students of marketing and promotion.
Authors who don’t have help in the form of a publicist or an intern, have to do a great deal of the research themselves to determine which fairs and other publishing events to attend. If you know of an opportunity that will be a great match for your favorite author, let them know. And think creatively, it doesn’t always have to be publishing focused. Many authors welcome the opportunity to be a vendor or exhibitor at a conference or other type of event where they can sell books.
Or create an event yourself. Do you have a circle of friends who you think might enjoy the author’s book? Invite them – and maybe the author too – for an informal book discussion event at your home or a local restaurant. It’s a great way to spread the word and allow the author to engage with their audience.
Oh, and don’t forget to post it on social media!
So how would you suggest a “patron of the arts” support an author? Fellow authors, tell a story of a generous act of support you have received. Share in the comments.
Nadine Owens Burton has been a teacher, a university administrator, a non-profit board member, a director of a school readiness program and a Mompreneur. She is the founder and president of Owens Burton Consulting, a quality improvement training and speaking services company. Her book, What Color Is Your Imagination? © is the first of three planned books based on her proprietary workshops and keynotes. The next in the series will be The Power of CARE™ followed by The Promising Professional™.