What’s the best book you’ve ever read? Was it a bestseller—the kind of book you find facing the aisle at the airport bookstore? Or was it a sleeper novel—one not so many folks have discovered?
What about your second favorite? Your third? Your fifth and tenth and twentieth? Unless you only read wildly popular and enormously successful authors, chances are at least one of the authors you just thought about is struggling these days.
If you’re a writer, you probably already know this. Even novice, pre-published authors are aware of the headlines—declining sales, dipping royalties, closing bookstores, shrinking advances. But if you’re one of those intelligent, sane people who spends his evenings grilling burgers and playing catch with his kids instead of tapping your dreams into a laptop one gut-wrenching word at a time, then you might not understand what we, the terminally insane novelists, are going through.
Suffice it to say, it’s a treacherous road. Since none of us is writing against our will, I’ll spare you the details. We could all choose to do something else. Theoretically.
So think back to those favorite authors. If you want them to keep writing, you might need to be proactive about supporting them. No, I’m not asking you to send money—not directly, anyway. Here’s a quick list of what you can do to support your favorite authors.
- Buy their books. Seems fairly obvious, but if you love an author and you want him to keep writing, then you ought to plop down the cash to support him. You don’t have to buy the hardcover or even the paperback—the e-book version will work just fine. And most e-books are priced at $10 or below. In other words, most e-books cost less than a super-sized meal at McDonald’s. If you can fork over $8 for a Big Mac, large fry, and Coke, you can spend as much or more on the culmination of a year or two of your favorite author’s time and talent.
- Leave a review. If you love a book, take the time to leave a quick review. Start with Amazon, since it has been estimated that 40% of all new book purchases come through Amazon, and more than 60% of new online book sales flow through Amazon. Find the book you love, scroll down to the reviews, and click on “Write a Review.” It doesn’t have to be fancy—a simple, “I loved this book. I highly recommend it,” along with your 4- or 5-star rating helps the author so much. If you really love the author, also leave reviews at Goodreads and other online retailers.
- Tell a friend—or two. For all the marketing that publishers and authors do, most people learn about books through their friends. So if you like a book, tell a friend. Better yet, tell everyone you know.
- Request it at a bookstore. If your local bookstore doesn’t carry the book, call them and request they carry it.
- Request it at the library. If your local library doesn’t have the book, request they buy it.
- Post about the book on your favorite social media site. Again, this doesn’t have to be fancy. A simple post that says, “I just finished reading [title] by [author], and it was fantastic.” If you’re really excited about the book and you have a blog, write a post about it. In both cases, you could even copy and paste the purchase link to make it easy for people to buy.
- Suggest the book to your book club.
- Buy a copy for a friend.
- “Like” and “Share” the author’s Amazon author page. Did you know that when you like an Amazon author page, you’ll automatically be updated when that author releases a new book? It helps the author, and it helps you, too.
- Let the author know how much you liked his book. Writing can be a very lonely business. Knowing somebody’s reading and appreciating an author’s work can make all the difference in his life.
You might not have a wing named after you at your local art museum, but by supporting your favorite author, you are a patron of the arts. And the metaphorical (and sometimes literal) starving artists who write books thank you.
So tell us–what’s your favorite book?
Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, released in April. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website, robinpatchen.com.
You can purchase Finding Amanda at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo.