As a writer, you know how amazing it feels to get positive feedback on something you’ve shared with the world, whether a blog post, article, poem, or even a short social media update.
And if you’re an author trying to get a book into the hands of readers, you appreciate each and every person who buys your book and reads your book. You’re moved and humbled by readers who tell others about your book, or give your book as a gift, or leave a positive review, or show up at your book launch and book signings.
You’re probably already doing a lot of that for other writers. But I know that when my life gets busy, the pile of books I mean to read and review sits untouched while I scramble to finish my own projects. I fail to send off a timely note to encourage a friend who’s just released her book. I delay recommending it on Goodreads.
Help Writers Find New Readers
I forget, that, like each and every one of us, I can help a writer push into new groups of people—my groups of people—to find readers he might not be able to connect with on his own.
No matter how many followers we have on any platform, no matter how many subscribers we have on our email distribution lists, we can make a difference in another writer’s life by helping share their projects with the people who know us.
Collecting Ideas That Truly Help
After attending a writing festival in April, I left inspired to do more—to be a better literary citizen. I poked around online, gathered ideas from people who have been on launch teams, and asked other authors who have benefited from the support of readers: What did those readers do? And what truly helped?
I collected this input to make a list of action steps I can take to support and serve fellow writers. Then I converted it to a checklist so I can do at least one of these things each week.
Busy Readers Can Encourage Writers
I’m sharing it with you not to generate any guilt or put any pressure on you…only to share what I’ve collected and offer a reminder that it doesn’t take much to make a difference. Most of these ideas would take no more than five minutes, especially if we were in that space anyway.
If we’re poking around on Goodreads, for example, it wouldn’t take much to recommend a book to someone we think would enjoy it. If we’re in a library doing research, we could take a couple of minutes to fill in a request that they acquire a friend’s book.
I assembled this list for myself, but I hope the ideas leave you inspired to join me in spreading goodwill and good words for our fellow writers everywhere we go.
20 Generous (and Easy!) Ways to Encourage a Writer Today
I’ll share the ideas with additional thoughts right here and now in more detail. If one stands out to you—take note and take action (get your copy of the whole collection using the form below):
- Sign up for a writer’s newsletter (and read it!). If something they send strikes a chord, hit reply and let them know.
- Buy books. Stop by a brick and mortar store if you can—many of us encourage support of independent bookstores whenever possible. But don’t limit yourself. Buy the book anywhere, new, and it’ll boost sales. If a store doesn’t have it in stock, ask them to order a copy. You’ll get the copy you want, and the book will get on their radar.
- Preorder a book that’s about to be released, which helps in many ways, such as showing the publisher sales numbers in advance and maybe even pushing the book to rank high in some bestseller algorithms.
- Feature a writer on your website. Interview or write about someone on your blog. Link to the writer’s website to send traffic her way and introduce her to your own readers. If this writer is also an author, send people to places her books are for sale.
- Rate and review on Amazon. Write an honest, positive review (many stars are helpful, too). Keep in mind a thorough, thoughtful review helps potential readers decide if the book is right for them, but you don’t have to write a long review to make a difference. Better to write something short and publish it right away than to put it off and never post one at all.
- Upvote other Amazon reviews you agree with and find useful or helpful. On Amazon, it says under each review: “Was this review helpful to you? Yes or No.” You can click “Yes” to boost a positive one or “No” if you disagree with a negative review you feel is unfair or doesn’t accurately reflect the book’s content (perhaps the reviewer didn’t appear to read the whole thing, for example).
- Write and share a review on Goodreads. You can rate books there, as well, and recommend them to people you think would benefit from them or enjoy them.
- Don’t forget the Barnes & Noble website. You could paste in what you wrote elsewhere. Writing and posting all these reviews on the author’s launch day is super helpful, by the way, if you hear about it in advance, but any time is great. Talking up a book in the first days, weeks, and even months of a book’s existence helps readers discover it, but what writer doesn’t want to get a positive review at any point in the lifecycle of their book?
- Share an author’s book with others. Share it tangibly by ordering an extra copy to give away to a friend (and encourage him to write a review, too—you could tuck a note in the book itself to remind your friend how easy it is). Share it virtually in creative ways like recommending books through social media to individual people and groups of people you think would benefit from it. For example, if you feel a book might be useful to teachers, you could tag a particular teacher you know and at the same time you might tag a teacher organization on Twitter.
- Not all writers are authors—recommend a writer’s articles and blog posts to your friends and followers on social media. You might introduce a reader to a writer they’ll love!
- Bring in an author to speak at an event for your work, club, or civic group. For smaller gatherings you could invite local or regional authors, but you might be a voice of influence for a major event. In that case, you could recommend an author who will be a perfect fit as the keynote, or you could recommend multiple names for breakout sessions.
- Ask your library to order an author’s book if they don’t already have it. Sign up to be alerted when it enters the system so you can check it out—this is another sale for the author and makes it available to a wider audience. And it didn’t cost you a cent.
- Follow authors on social media. You can like or follow their feed. Search for them on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. Find the author. Click like or follow. Then remember to actually visit their accounts to like, share, retweet or pin their posts and updates. Visit their websites and read a blog post—even leave a comment!
- Post about an author’s book on your social media accounts. You can take photos of you holding the book or show the book lying open on your chair. Snap a photo of it “in the wild” at a bookstore or on a library shelf. This helps readers see the cover, lock the title and author’s name in their heads, and see your recommendation. You can offer a micro-review as the caption on Instagram or in the Facebook update. On Facebook or Twitter, you could link to your review on Amazon or Goodreads. For ideas and inspiration, see what others are doing by following #bookstagram on Instagram.
- Some writers have a Patreon account you can join to support them as a patron. After several friends urged me, I launched my own Patreon account—mostly to defray the cost of producing and maintaining free and easy access to this weekly podcast. If you’ve found value as a listener, I invite you to check out patreon.com/annkroeker and consider signing on as a patron of this work. But I’m not the only one. While you’re there, use the Patreon search bar and see if your favorite author or creative writer has done the same. Donating even a small amount can make a big difference.
- Nominate favorite authors for awards. If the award involves public voting, be sure to vote for them and invite friends to, as well.
- Send a fan letter. You’ll find an address at the bottom of an author’s newsletters or emails, or you can Google their contact information. Tell the author what you appreciate most about their work.
- If you see a good fit—maybe your favorite mystery or romance series features coffee shops, quilters, or knitters—reach out to a local business (cafes, quilting stores, and yarn shops) and suggest they carry the book.
- Show up at local book launch parties and book signings. Attend readings and listen to interviews.
- Join an author’s virtual launch team. You’ll encourage her by helping spread the word with online marketing activities she’ll ask your help with, and then she’ll likely encourage you with a sneak preview of the book, at the very least, and personal interaction you might never enjoy otherwise.
You may be a writer who has felt encouraged and supported in other ways—be sure to share those below. And if you’ve spotlighted someone’s work with great results, let us know about that, as well.
- 8 Easy Ways to Support Your Favorite Author, via Garden Betty
- Why Book Preorders Matter, via Chadwick Cannon
- Ann’s Patreon account
- All podcast episodes
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