Help Your Favourite Authors by Lindsay Buroker

GUEST POST: As authors, we spend a lot of time trying to promote our books. Our biggest obstacle is obscurity because there are a lot of books out there. No, really. A lot.

We like to think that good stories are all it takes to make it (in author terms “make it” usually means “become well known enough and sell enough books that I can quit my day job and write for a living”), but you can doubtlessly think of mediocre books that are selling bazillions of copies and authors you love who never make it out of the “mid-list” category.

Sometimes it’s just the author (or publishing house) with the biggest marketing budget who wins, but you, as a reader, have amazing power. Don’t believe for a second that you don’t have anything to do with whether an author makes it, because you do. A lot. No, really. A lot.

Why does this matter to you? Well, authors who get to quit their day jobs can write faster and put more books out for you!

The following are some little things you can do that can make a big difference. Some of them only take a few seconds. Your favorite authors will appreciate the effort. Trust me.

HELP OUT ON AMAZON

Amazon is the big kahuna of book sellers, especially when it comes to ebooks, so helping an author “get found” on there can give them a big boost. You can certainly do these things on other bookstore sites as well (nothing against copying and pasting a review, for example), but Amazon tends to have more cool features to help an author get found.

Here’s the list (any one of these things can help):

  • If you do nothing else, consider writing a review on Amazon, even if the book already has quite a few and/or you’ve reviewed it elsewhere. There’s evidence that ratings and reviews factor into the Amazon algorithms that decide which books are promoted on the site (i.e. certain books are recommended to customers who bought books in similar genres). If reviewing isn’t your bag, don’t worry about writing paragraphs-long in-depth studies of the book; maybe you could just pen a few sentences with a couple of specifics about why you liked the book.
  • “Tag” the book with genre-appropriate labels (i.e. thriller, steampunk, paranormal romance). You don’t have to leave a review to do this; you just need an account at Amazon. A combination of the right tags and a good sales ranking can make a book come up when customers search for that type of story on Amazon.
  • Give the book a thumb’s up. This takes less than a second and probably doesn’t do much, but it may play into Amazon’s algorithms to a lesser extent than reviews/ratings.
  • Make a “Listmania” List and add your favorite authors’ books to it. This creates another avenue for new readers to find books. It’s better to create lists around similar types of books (i.e. genres or sub-genres) than to do a smorgasbord, and consider titling it something description so folks will be more inclined to check it out, ie. “Fun heroic fantasy ebooks for $5 or less”
  • If you have a Kindle, highlight some wise or fun quotations from the book and share them publicly (if enough people share their highlights, they’ll show up at the bottom of a book’s page).

HELP OUT WITH SOCIAL MEDIA: 

* If you’re involved with Twitter, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc., you can give your favorite authors a shout-out when they release new books.

* If they blog, you can follow their site (through Google Reader or other RSS readers) andshare the link when they post something that may be interesting to your friends.

* If they’re on Twitter, you can follow them and retweet their links now and then.

Authors don’t expect you to follow them 24/7 and repeat everything they say (that might actually alarm some folks…), but a little promotional help now and then is greatly appreciated.

  • If you like to be social about books, you can join sites such as Goodreads, Shelfari, or LibraryThing. You can help your favorite authors by posting reviews and talking about their books on those sites, or you can just use those places to find online reading buddies with common interests.
  • Helping out with Your Blog: Do you ever talk about books or what you’re reading on your blog? You might consider reviewing your favorite authors on your site (you could even make a few dollars if you signed up as an Amazon affiliate).
  • Also, if most of your favorites maintain websites, you could add an “author blogroll” list in your menu with links to those sites.

AND LASTLY . . . 

  • These days, most authors have websites and contact forms so you can get in touch. If you enjoyed their work, consider sending them a short note to let them know. While it won’t help them sell more books, it’ll make their day.

Thanks for reading (this post and books in general!).

SMC: (Many thanks to Lindsay Buroker for this excellent post.) 
AND A FEW MORE IDEAS from a comment by “Adonna”.

  • At your local bookstore: If you don’t see the book that you are looking for make sure to request for it to be ordered. This sales information gets back to store owners when overall reports are done and they will order more of a title if they see it’s been requested.
  • At your local library: Check to see if the local library is carrying your favorite title. If not, you can make a request for it. If they get enough requests from readers they will usually order multiple copies of the book.
  • Friends: Make sure that you tell your friends about any great books that you’ve been reading. It’s always fun to turn a friend on to an author who becomes their new favorite!
  • Goodreads: If you’ve added a book to your collection there, make sure that you create genre & overall theme shelves for it. (You can put a book on more than one shelf in your collection.) A lot of people search through the shelves at Goodreads to find new titles. By putting it on your shelf, it’s very similar to tagging the book so that other people with similar interests can find it (vampire books, native American fiction, steampunk, blimp fiction, cats that swim, to-be-read, wishlist, 2012 releases – you get the idea).

AND ONE LAST ONE FROM ME (SMC): If you know of a new book coming out by an author you enjoy reading, order it at your local bookstore. Even if they hadn’t planned to stock it, that will prompt them to do so. The more orders, the more they will stock it.