Thursday, October 23, 2014

5 Ways To Become Your Author's Favorite Reader

Ever read a book and enjoyed it so much that begin to wish you knew the author in real life? Ever become a little bit of a fan-girl and wondered if there was more than stalking their Facebook account and blog back-pages that you could do to support their career? Ever wanted to be more than "that one guy who always comments" in your favorite author's mind?

Good news: I have a list for you. 
Of course this list doesn't help you a bit if your favorite authors are dead, but we are supposing you have a modern author you admire. This, then, is the skinny:

#1: Buy their books. Look, we are flattered when you borrow one of our books from a friend and love it, but it does very little for sales. What really helps is you buying our books for yourself, putting them on your birthday and Christmas lists, and buying them for friends who are having birthdays or Christmases. Buy. Our. Books. It's super helpful. It makes them go up in the ranking on Amazon. It gets them on the New York Times Best-Seller list. It's helpful.
#2: Review their books intelligently. When someone is waffling about Position No. One, they might click on the reviews tab for that book on Amazon, or look it up on Goodreads. I know I do. And when I look up a review, I don't want to see all caps-lock, "OH MY GOSH IT WAS THEBESTTHINGEVERRRRRRR." I am looking for someone who actually seemed to have their wits about them while they were reading, who can tell me something (but no spoilers) about the plot, the quality of the writing, and what I liked best. I love hearing what other people liked best...and if it happens to be something I'm inclined to like best, I'll probably end up buying the book.
#3: Start a blaze. Carefully. No, please don't burn our books. But if you tell your friends enough about the book (and buy a copy for them, maybe) then they'll read the book, and if they read the book and enjoy it, they'll tell their friends, and pretty soon you'll have started a wildfire which is extremely helpful for your favorite authors who are, in this way, fans of pyromaniacs.
#4: Give them a hand on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. I can't tell you how much I love a few of my followers on Twitter who, no matter what sorts of links I share, will share them from me. And not just retweets, but an actual, "I went to the site and tweeted it myself" sort of thing, while still mentioning my name. Those people are valuable because they care enough about what you said today in a blog post, or what you recommend they read next, or whatever it is. They care enough about it to share it in their own words and ways. It's precious. (Also, liking a post on Facebook brings it up in other peoples' feed. That's actually how I've found several of my favorite pages to follow. It works on authors' feeds too! ;)
#5: Surprise them. Several times since my debut novel, readers have surprised me with an email in my inbox, writing about what they enjoyed in my book, or how they came to read it, or something else interesting. One reader emailed me an amazing drawing she'd done of the main character (I happen to already be a fan of this girl's art. It was good). Sometimes a reader will post on the page, or message you via Facebook or Twitter, or something else. It's uplifting to the author to get a message like that and not expect it. We don't need the reader to gush, but it is heartening to hear that, independent of your reach, a new reader got hold of your book and enjoyed it. We thrive on approval ratings.


Joy said...

I love this post, Rachel. Sometimes, it is difficult knowing when to whole-heartedly share one's love of a book to friends, and when it actually annoys them, but I think definitely the things you've shared here help immensely. I really need to work on being more coherent and witty in my reviews, more professionally reliable in regards to my literary opinions so that when friends find out I like a book it isn't immediately imagined that I am freakishly fangirling, but really sensibly loving a great work.

On that note, I often wish to email my favourite authors and express to them how much I loved their books and how they inspired me, but unless I know them previously through their blogs, or have met them in person, I get struck with a strange shyness. Goodness, it was the most awkward thing in the world for me to express my appreciation of the Acts of Faith series to Mr Davis Bunn when I attended his writer's workshop in England.

This post really makes me want to overcome this shyness!

Lady Bibliophile said...

Great points, Rachel. These are all really good, but #1 especially struck me. It's not easy shelling out cash, especially when you're in the irregular work stage of life, but over the last year I've been mulling over supporting authors with money, and not just trying to finagle a book for free. It helps an artist, shows appreciation for their talent, and supports a worthy cause.

I've been doing it with music for a few months now, and just lately have started in on books as well. And you know what--it's fun to buy something right when it releases! :D


Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

As an author, I say, "Yes, please."

As a reader, I've tried to do some of these things. Most of my book reviewing is done on Goodreads, but when it's a newly-released book (as opposed to a hundred-year-old one) I make a point of cross-posting on Amazon because I know from experience how welcome reviews are.

And yes: pleasant surprises, be they unexpected reviews, emails, or what have you, are the nicest things ever!

Rachel Heffington said...

Joy: How fortunate that you got to attend a writer's workshop while in England. Sounds marvelous. And it does take time to learn how to harness one's natural enthusiasm and make it profitable, but you will learn. We all do. :)
Schuyler: That is the one I still need a reminder of. I tend to be a tightwad till I remember that some people make their living selling these books or music or what-have-you.
Elisabeth: Yes, reviews on Amazon of hundred-year-old things are not so useful, are they? XD