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How to Support Authors You Like

There’s a lot of talk in the blogosphere about whether authors have the right to ask readers to support authors.  Some (very vocal!) readers feel that all authorial requests are out of bounds, that authors unfairly exploit their position to dominate readers by suggesting any form of support.

If you’re one of those people, please don’t read any further.  You’ll only be angry and frustrated with me.

If, on the other hand, you are intrigued by the possibility of helping authors that you like to read, here are some ways (two free, two with some cost attached) that you can do that:

  • Ask your public library to purchase one or more copies. Most libraries are thrilled to have their patrons request books.  Libraries *want* to have their collections read widely.
  • If you read the book, post reviews online. If you keep your own blog, post it there.  If you want your review to be read widely, re-post it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, and other online sites.  Of course, if you don’t want to “dilute” a personal blog by posting at third party sites, then don’t (but many reviewers enjoy far greater readership by harnessing the online behemoths.)  And I shouldn’t have to say this, but your reviews should always be your honest opinion of the work, untempered by who might come across them once they’re released in the wild.
  • If you can, buy the author’s book, preferably soon after the release date. Publishers and booksellers  pay attention to how fast a new book “moves” – sort of like motion picture studios watch the opening weekend for their films.  Of course, if you can’t buy early in a book’s release, buy (if and) when you can.
  • When possible, patronize bricks-and-mortar stores (as opposed to online vendors). When bricks-and-mortar stores sell stock, they usually reorder, to refill their physical shelves and reach out to brand new customers.  Of course, online sales are far better than none, so if you don’t have a physical store to support, go virtual!

Thousands of books will be released from now till the end of the year.  If you find one (or many, many more!) from an author you want to see write more, then consider these options.

Mindy, hoping people will post other free support tips in comments

Mirrored from Mindy Klasky, Author.

Comments

( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Sep. 28th, 2010 06:58 am (UTC)
Reviewing at Amazon
I learned a long time ago that, if I want my Amazon book review to be noticed, I need to buy the book early, if necessary in hardcover. I then have to read it and write the review in reasonably short order. Otherwise, the review will simply get buried under an avalanche of other reviews.

That's because the early reviews, if they're popular, will garner more positive feedback ("helpful" votes) and hence will stick on the front page in the three coveted "Spotlight" positions, where they continue to be noticed. Later reviews and those with less favorable feedback get relegated to a side-bar which only shows the latest ten efforts. After that, you have to start digging for them. Most people won't.

This, of course, assumes that the author (or the author's work) in question is well known. For more obscure works, any review is a good thing, and one's efforts will tend to always be visible on the front page.

I've been buying all of my books locally ever since Colorado passed that Amazon Sales Tax of theirs. I don't mind paying sales tax for an online purchase, but I seriously DO mind getting a tax bill in the mail at the end of the year. It's just more paperwork I don't need. I suspect a lot of my fellow Coloradans are going to be in for a very rude surprise come January or February. Most of my friends aren't aware of the new tax law.

Bob Shepard of Denver
mindyklasky
Sep. 30th, 2010 09:47 pm (UTC)
Re: Reviewing at Amazon
Bob - great to hear from you!

Yes, I agree that early reviews on Amazon tend to carry more weight, because they get viewed and "voted" on by more people. Strange system, over there...
maryosmanski
Sep. 28th, 2010 11:34 am (UTC)
I wish it were easier for me partronize bricks-and-mortar book stores. The last one in my small community closed last year. It's a half hour to an hour drive in any direction to get to a book store these days.



mindyklasky
Sep. 30th, 2010 09:48 pm (UTC)
I just got back from a trip to the Baltics, St. Petersburg, and Helsinki. In the latter two cities, I went to bookstores that made me cry - they were so well-stocked, and so well-frequented. We're entering into sad Bricks-and-Mortar days here in the States...
deborahblakehps
Sep. 28th, 2010 12:31 pm (UTC)
I try and do all of the above.

And don't forget my favorite: word of mouth. If you like a book, or an author, tell people about it! Say, "Have you read anything by Mindy Klasky yet? Are you kidding? You haven't? Her work is great!"

If I finish a book that really impresses me, I go to FB and Twitter and say so, loudly.

I find most of the new authors I read through personal recommendations from people I respect.

Also, I'm going to post links to this blog post--I was going to do one like it, but you said it better than I ever could have.
mindyklasky
Sep. 30th, 2010 09:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the linkage! (And, as always, thanks for the word of mouth! (Sorry for the late reply - I just got back last night from two weeks of travel and one week of *very* spotty Internet!)
deborahblakehps
Sep. 30th, 2010 10:03 pm (UTC)
Where were you traveling? I promise you a real email soon!
csmaccath
Sep. 28th, 2010 02:18 pm (UTC)
You know, I used to add a "What I'm Reading" tag to my blog posts, but I stopped doing that awhile back. Perhaps I should begin that practice again. It's a nice way to simply talk about books I like and to perhaps generate conversation among friends.

Also, as authors it doesn't hurt to pimp the work of our friends. =) I've purchased more than one book recommended by a fellow author in this way, and I've never been unhappy with my purchase.
mindyklasky
Sep. 30th, 2010 09:50 pm (UTC)
I think that tags are a great way to spread the news! I've used various links in the past (including putting the book cover in a footer for my posts), but the labor for that got a bit too intensive when I went through a time-crunch...

(And yes, I'm always happy to pimp books I like. I tend to just stay quiet about the ones that didn't please my palate...)
ext_233893
Sep. 28th, 2010 02:55 pm (UTC)
This is great. I wrote a blog post along these lines last week called "The Four Letter Word." Good to know there are other authors who aren't just expecting readers to promote them, but are also participating in helping promote their fellow authors too! Nice! Would you mind if I updated my post with a link to this one?
arhyalon
Sep. 28th, 2010 04:08 pm (UTC)
I think it's really useful for readers to know things like "if you buy the book right away, it helps a lot." I changed my buying habits a bit after I learned this.
mindyklasky
Sep. 30th, 2010 09:49 pm (UTC)
Yep - me, too. My to-be-read shelf is more bowed, but I hope I'm making more of an impact for writers I love!
mindyklasky
Sep. 30th, 2010 09:45 pm (UTC)
Sorry - I've been traveling, and I'm just getting Internet connectivity for the first time in a week! Link away!
arhyalon
Sep. 28th, 2010 04:08 pm (UTC)
This was a great post, Mindy. I reposted it with a link back to your blog. I particularly love the first one. Library sales are great for us authors, and all it takes the reader is a few moments to fill out a form.
mindyklasky
Sep. 30th, 2010 09:51 pm (UTC)
::grin:: Glad the post worked for you (and thanks for the linkage!)
barbhendee
Sep. 28th, 2010 04:15 pm (UTC)

Mindy, I think this is a very helpful post. Nobody minds hearing (and learning) about general information like this. I think most readers want to know how to best support the writers they love to read.

mindyklasky
Sep. 30th, 2010 09:52 pm (UTC)
::grin::

Thanks for the kind words. I agree that *most* people like hearing such general information. (Of course, my colleagues over on Dear Author disagree!)

If we don't support our favorite writers, they might go away, and that would make us all sad, wouldn't it?!?
(Deleted comment)
mindyklasky
Sep. 30th, 2010 09:46 pm (UTC)
Sorry for the slow reply - I've been traveling, and this is my first Internet connectivity in a week (ah, the joys of pre-written posts!)

Check out the Dear Author blog - they are *quite* vocal about authors overstepping the bounds by asking readers to do anything to support them! (If you don't find on point posts readily, let me know, and I'll track down some of the long-running discussion on point.)
(Deleted comment)
mindyklasky
Sep. 30th, 2010 09:59 pm (UTC)
There is a large, vocal faction at Dear Author that believes that believes that authors and readers have a relationship where the power is disparate, and that authors abuse their superior power by asking for any form of support. They define "support" as asking readers to buy books, to buy books at a particular time (e.g., first week or month of release), to post reviews, to spread word of mouth, or to engage in any other activity that advances the author's interest without giving any direct advantage to the reader. (By their definition, donation buttons (and the implication that readers should pay for something that is otherwise freely given and advancing the author's career) would definitely be an abuse of authorial power.)
(Deleted comment)
deborahblakehps
Sep. 29th, 2010 12:22 am (UTC)
I posted a link to this on my blog and got lots of great responses! Thanks for doing this--you rock.
mindyklasky
Sep. 30th, 2010 09:52 pm (UTC)
::grin:: You're the queen of your own rocking!
deborahblakehps
Sep. 30th, 2010 10:02 pm (UTC)
It's good to be Queen :-)
marycatelli
Sep. 29th, 2010 01:28 am (UTC)
Special order a book at the bookstore at need. At least it will have a sale registered.
mindyklasky
Sep. 30th, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
I forget special orders all too often - I tend to jump online when I can't find things locally...
(Anonymous)
Sep. 29th, 2010 02:04 pm (UTC)
Link posted.
ext_233893
Sep. 29th, 2010 02:07 pm (UTC)
Sorry for the extra comment, above "anonymous" is me! Wrong button. :0)
mindyklasky
Sep. 30th, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
::grin::

Thanks!
ashkitty
Sep. 29th, 2010 05:59 pm (UTC)
Posting a link to this, I hope that's all right. :)

(ETA: to aoifebright.dreamwidth, not to my LJ. I tried to comment with OpenID, but computer said 'no, we're doing it this way!' so there we go then.) :p

Edited at 2010-09-29 06:00 pm (UTC)
mindyklasky
Sep. 30th, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
::grin:: Thanks for the linkage! (and I have no idea why OpenID does half the things it does!)
stevie_carroll
Sep. 29th, 2010 07:38 pm (UTC)
And of course with smaller/e-book only publishers, if you can purchase direct, then more goes to the author. I do that for ebooks, and really ought to try and do it more for print. Of course the costs for shipping across the Atlantic tends to make the third-party sellers a far more viable option in some cases.
mindyklasky
Sep. 30th, 2010 09:54 pm (UTC)
Interesting... I wasn't aware of the different royalty percentage for direct purchase!
stevie_carroll
Oct. 1st, 2010 04:54 am (UTC)
It's not the royalty percentage, it's the percentage of the selling price that actually goes to the publisher. So (as I understand it) for a direct purchase, all the money goes to the publisher, whereas the third-party sellers will take a cut before money goes to the publisher. So Amazon gives the books more exposure, and so more sales, but each of those sales nets less money for the publisher and thus (in some cases) the author, than a similar number of direct sales.

Of course different publishers will have different business models, and may factor the cost of third party sales into how the authors are paid, but I'd definitely go to the publisher's site where possible for the smaller publishers.
( 35 comments — Leave a comment )

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