It’s not easy to make it as a writer. You know it better than anyone. That’s why it’s so important to support our fellow authors by buying their books.
But the “it’s not easy to make it as a writer” sword cuts both ways – if you’re a broke writer, then it’s not always feasible to purchase every worthy book that’s out there, or even just the ones you read – many writers (myself included) find most of their reading material at the library, garage sales, or thrift stores.
So what’s a writer to do when they want to support the market, but can’t exactly afford to do so? Read on for 6 ways to support authors (when you’re a broke writer yourself.) For free! Of course, if you can afford to buy their books and do any of the things on this list, that’s even better!
Request their books at your library
Mur Lafferty, author of the award-winning Shambling Guides Series and host of the I Should Be Writing and Ditch Diggers Podcasts, often says that librarians are invisible forces for good on the front lines of book promotion. Not only will this increase book sales (most libraries will purchase more than one copy), it also gets the book into the hands of people who otherwise would not have had access to it (or even known of its existence). These people may recommend the book to their friends (see Tell All Your Friends, below), and even write reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads.
Which leads us to…
If you really want to help, don’t be tempted to leave a 5-star review unless you really believe the book deserves it. A book with only 5-star ratings seems suspicious – a lot of people will assume these reviews were left by well-meaning friends or relatives, or that the author paid a third-party site to write them. In fact, some potential buyers won’t buy books unless they have at least one 1-star review, (again, don’t do this unless you truly believe the book deserves it. Honesty is the best policy.)
Tell All Your Friends
Fancy social media campaigns aside, word of mouth is the most powerful tool in making a book successful. This doesn’t just have to be verbal, either. Post about the book on Facebook, retweet the author’s tweets, link to their blog, write a synopsis on the bathroom stall at a My Chemical Romance Concert – heck, I don’t know. Be creative.
Don’t worry if your friends don’t run out and buy the book right away, either. Generally, consumers need to see / hear about something at least seven times before they will really consider purchasing it. You’re helping to raise awareness of the author, even if it’s just that your friend says, “Oh yeah, so and so said that was a good book…” The next time it comes up in conversation. That ain’t too shabby.
Loan Out Their Books
I recently attended several writing panels at Phoenix Comicon, and I don’t remember exactly which author this was, but one of them said that they would rather have you loan out their book to your friends than simply tell them to go buy their own, as they will be more likely to read, review, and recommend it for free. See Tell All Your Friends above on raising awareness.
“Buy” Their Book for Free on Amazon
Since so many self-published works are available as ebooks on Amazon, this is a great way to support Indie authors for “free” – they get paid, and all you have to do is wait a few extra days for your new phone case, or whatever.
*Note that this option is only available on certain items.
Give their books away as gifts
Birthdays, Christmas, Hanukkah, graduations – these are all times when we’re socially obligated to purchase things for our near and dear. You’re spending the money anyway, right? Why not use this as an excuse to financially support your favorite author by giving their work to people who you think will enjoy it? Hopefully, the recipient will like it enough to recommend it to their friends!
There you have it – six ways to support authors (when you’re a broke writer yourself). Of course, when your own book hits it big and you have boatloads of disposable income, don’t forget to spread it around! Until then, do you have any other suggestions for supporting authors? Let us know in the comments!