“I saw that book you wrote, and I almost bought it.”
“I walked past the bookstore and saw a poster for the book you wrote, but I didn’t go inside and buy it.”
True quotes. People have actually said these things to authors.
Maybe they genuinely couldn’t afford to buy the book. Maybe they view writing as a hobby. I don’t know why they didn’t purchase their friend’s book. And I certainly don’t know why they felt the need to tell the friend that they didn’t buy it.
Why do people assume that authors don’t need to be paid for their work? We think nothing of paying more than $10 for a meal that took a cook less than a half hour to prepare, and then we tip the server who took our order and placed the plate in front of us another dollar or two. But we hesitate to spend $10 for a book that took an author months or even years to write. And author royalties are only a fraction of the purchase price.
Writing is work. It is the more-than-full-time job for most authors, although few could actually live off the money they make. An author may write out of deep conviction and not be too concerned about how the book sells, but sales are very important. Every acquisitions editor at every publishing house looks at an author’s previous sales.
Did you know that major publishers won’t even consider an author unless they’ve sold 5,000 copies of a book within two years? Nobody has that many friends and relatives. Copies that an author buys and sells at book signings and through other personal marketing endeavors usually don’t count toward that publishing total.
Buy their books!
The most important way anyone can support authors is to buy their books. Buy a copy for yourself. Buy copies for Christmas gifts for your kids or birthday presents for friends. Buy a copy to donate to your church library or community bookshelf. Show up for an author’s book signing and buy a copy there. Bring a friend along. However you do it, buy the author’s books!
Review their books!
Reviewing books can be an easy way to help support an author. You don’t have to be a professional reviewer or a college professor to do this. Anyone can go to the book’s page on Amazon or another online bookstore and click on the “review this book” button. People purchasing books are often swayed toward a book with more or higher reviews over one with fewer or lower ones. Publishers look at the number of online reviews an author receives. It takes only a few minutes, but it’s an excellent way to help support an author.
You can also write reviews for your church newsletter or local paper. Help out your author friend by taking time to review their books!
Promote their books!
Social media makes everyone a marketer. Blog a promotional entry with links to the author’s books on Amazon or the publisher’s website. Recommend the book to your friends on Facebook. Tweet your positive reactions to it.
Check with your favorite online or local bookstore and ask them to order the book if they don’t already carry it. Ask your local library to order a copy. Discuss the book with family or friends and encourage them to buy it. Even in today’s technology-saturated age, word of mouth remains an effective marketing strategy.
Getting by with a little help from my friends
This past Monday I had a book signing at Mid-America Reformed Seminary in the Chicago area. It was just the type of signing I love, a steady stream of old and new friends stopping by the table with time to chat to each one. I met a Facebook friend for the first time in person. I met several people with whom I’ve only communicated via email. And I renewed some favorite friendships.
I also sold a good number of books. The next day I sold several more to people attending a meeting I was reporting on for Christian Renewal.
I’m thankful for the friends who supported me so visibly by attending my book signing and buying books from me there or later. One friend brought a friend with her. Another probably has no real application for any of my books, but bought a copy of all three simply from his kind desire to support my work. Thanks, friends!
Think about ways you can help support your writing friends. An author can be the world’s best marketer or a stellar salesperson, but we all get by with help from our friends.