February 21, 2014

Casual Friday: 5 Ways to Make an Author Love You

Photo by the talented Misfit Jenny Kaczorowski, used with permission from flickr

So you have an author friend with a book soon to come out, and you want to know how you can help them. Or there's a book you've read and loved you feel isn't getting enough attention. First of all, THANK YOU, from all us authors, from the bottoms of our writerly hearts. We love every single one of our readers, and we especially love the ones who champion books!

And also…you're in luck! In less time (and in most cases, for less money) than your daily Starbucks run, you can make a huge difference in the life of your favorite author or book. Here's how.

1. Buy the book.
The truth is, book publishing is a business just like any other business. It's a very simple equation. When the business is making money, more product can be made. When an author's books are making money, more of his/her books can be bought by the publisher or self-published. Not making money=no more new books. Easy peasy. If you love a book and want it to succeed, or want your author friend to succeed, buying the book is a great, important way to help.

Along with that, we can also talk about timing.

Any time you buy a book is great. Some times are just greater. If you want to support a book that's not out yet, the time to buy it is NOW. You order it now while you're thinking about it, forget about it, and in a few months, a shiny new book is all ready for you! It's kind of like magic. And what's more, pre-sales orders are really important to books in many ways:

1. They tell retailers there's customer interest, maybe prompting them to order more
2. They get the book on brick-and-mortar retailers' radar, making them remember it, and making it more likely they'll think of it over the other ten thousand books in their store when they're making recommendations to other customers (note: For physical stores, while ordering online is always an option, ordering in-store helps even more in this regard, because then the retailer gets to see your lovely smiling face talking about your interest in the book!)
3. For traditionally published books, they tell the publisher there's customer interest, possibly leading to further marketing efforts or a larger print run
4. Pre-sales numbers factor in to first week sales numbers. The more pre-sales and first-week sales a book gets, the more likely it is to hit any of a number of bestseller lists, which is huge for visibility. (Disclaimer: No, the great majority of books are not likely candidates to hit bestseller lists, but some of them are, and this is a great way to help.)

The long and short of it is that pre-orders are important. As author Claire Legrand says in this great post, "Pre-orders are like the ~*unicorns*~ of the book ordering world. They are sparkly, they have fantastic hair, and they hold untold amounts of power."

2. Talk it up.
Even if you can't buy the book (but also if you can!) talking about it is muy importante. You know that adage that you have to see something ten times before it sinks into your consciousness? Those ten times a potential reader sees a book, for the great majority of books, aren't going to be in the NY Times and on the Today Show and in Entertainment Weekly. They're going to be normal readers talking about it. Readers like YOU.

So if you find a book you like, or if you want to help out a friend? Talk it up. Post something to Facebook, or twitter, or tumblr. Talk about it in person. Blog about it. If you want to write a review, that's fabulous! But even a quick "Just finished Greatest Book Ever by Writey McAuthorson!" tweet or status update is really great, because then the name of the book is out there in the world an extra time, and it takes you practically no effort.

3. Review it.
Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, your other favorite review site. Review, review, review! You can even copy-paste your review from one to the other to save effort. The truth is, reviews help sell books. Think about it--if you see a book with 2 reviews, and then you see a book with 250 reviews, you're drawn to the one with more, right? It's human nature. So if you liked a book (or hey, even if you didn't like it--authors love all reviews, I swear!) taking one or two minutes to write a couple sentences about it is a huge, huge help. HUGE.

Even before the book comes out there are ways to help with reviews. Goodreads is great. Adding a book to your to-read shelf takes two seconds, and is super helpful in getting other readers to discover it. Even better, take an extra thirty seconds and add a review. A sentence or two about why you're looking forward to the book (You love the idea of the heroine! You've read the author's previous books and love how she writes romance! You've always wanted to read a were-unicorn mystery!) will float to the top of the adds on the book's home page, and will act like a mini-endorsement for anyone who's on the fence about adding. *cute, funny GIFs optional* ;)

Other review-ish things you can do that take less time than making a cup of tea:
-Add the book to a list on GR
-Add quotes or trivia on GR
-If you purchase an ebook from Amazon, be sure to highlight and take notes on your favorite passages! Even we're not sure how Amazon's elusive formulas work, but we know having highlights and notes in a Kindle book is a good thing. 

PS--You can find all the Misfits' books, with links to our GR pages, here. *wink wink*

4. Request it.
Authors definitely understand that not everyone has money to buy every book they want. There is a great way around that: libraries! Authors love libraries. We adore it if you get our book from a library. If your library doesn't have it, request it! There's a request form on nearly every library website. Even better, request it in person from a librarian. This puts the book on their radar. Same with bookstores: If they don't have it, ask. They will definitely order it for you, and you will have given a little extra push for that bookseller to remember this particular book. (I know--I used to be a bookseller myself.)

For those of you who do any reviewing, another great way to request is through NetGalley and Edelweiss. Requests on these eARC services signal to a publisher that there's interest in a book before its release. This could lead to more marketing, a larger first printing, possible author appearances, and all kinds of other good things.

5. Don'ts
Unless you're our mom, please don't ask us for a free copy. Authors get very few free copies or advance copies of our books, and most are already allotted to send to reviewers, contests, etc. Trust me, we would love to send our book to everyone we know, but there just aren't enough. (Plus--see above, re: sales. And thanks.) ;)

Please don't ask us how much we're making on the book--this is our job! Do we ask to see your pay stub? :) And don't assume we're now rich. (We're probably not! Some authors make enough to quit their day jobs, but many--most--do not.) 

Special Note on Buying:
1b. Buying books and price and stuff.

(Note: We authors know that not everyone's rolling in cash, and will never disown you as a friend or reader for not buying our books. But if you're thinking about it, here are a couple more (possibly surprising) thoughts about book buying.) 

You know that part about more sales=more books? YOU are a huge part of that. No kidding.

You've probably thought, at some time in your life, "I don't need to buy this book to support it. I mean, it's a Real Published Book. This author is practically famous. Between bookstores and Amazon and Kindle and worldwide sales, it probably sold thousands of copies today alone!" hahahahahaha. The truth is, every sale counts. Seriously. Every. Single. One. And not in the "Your vote counts! Yours and the other 6 billion!" kind of way. In the real, makes-a-difference-to-the-bottom-line way. Okay, maybe if you're JK Rowling, each sale doesn't quite count (I'm sure she still appreciates every single sale, but they don't count in the same way as non-mega-blockbusters) but for the vast majority of authors, they do.

It might be sad to realize this, but the huge majority of books do not sell enough copies for one sale to get lost in the masses. Many--most?--books (and yes, I'm about to shock you) don't sell even one copy every day, much less hundreds or thousands. That book you're thinking of buying? It counts.
(Because I can hear the roars of shock and protest now, yes, of course there are books besides Harry Potter that sell far, far more than this. There are books at every point on the sale spectrum. Your friend's book, or the book you love, could be at any point on the spectrum. But there are millions of books out there, and for quite a lot of them, each individual sale does cause an uptick.)

And another point. I know a lot of people complain about the price of books--especially ebooks. You, loyal reader, probably hear this complaint all the time (maybe you even voice this complaint all the time). And no, ebooks don't cost as much to physically produce as paper books, but years of time by the author, editors, designers, etc etc etc still go into them, just like paper books. Yes, YEARS. Any book you're thinking of purchasing represents years of work. So let's be honest here--you can find a copy, in some format, of nearly any book, even brand new bestsellers, for under $15. For YA, under $10. That is less than a single movie ticket for entertainment that lasts an hour and a half. It's the price of two days worth of Starbucks (and those drinks were made by some college kid in about 23 seconds). And if the book is self-pubbed? It's probably under $5. You have that in pocket change.

In short: No author is ever going to get mad at you as a friend or reader for not buying their book, but there are lots of great reasons to do so. ;)

Addendum: Yet another note, on buying from Amazon vs from bookstores: 

I'll give it to you straight, since Truth Bombs are the order of the day here: you are helping out the book industry as a whole more buying from brick and mortar bookstores than from Amazon. (Indies have a special place in my heart, but any physical store is helpful.) If we don't buy from bookstores, they will go away. Pure economics. Amazon has a monopoly on a lot of industries right now, including books, and unless we want them to be the only retailer out there in a number of years (which hurts consumers, producers of goods including authors and publishers...it hurts everybody), we need to keep in mind that physical stores need our love, too. 

We get it. Authors get it. Even bookstores get it. Amazon is cheaper.  

So why don't bookstores discount? Quick lesson: Publishers sell to all retailers at (relatively) the same price, and retailer discounts on books are not as big as those for many other products. Amazon's prices are such that they sometimes lose money on a book, and very often just squeak out a profit. That's because Amazon does huge volume, and they count on people buying these cheap books to also buy vacuums and air fresheners and rain boots. Bookstores, on the other hand, do a much smaller volume, and need to keep the margins they get to stay afloat. Hence, no gigantic discounts off cover price. But bookstores add a lot of value Amazon doesn't have. 

It's absolutely up to each person where and what to purchase (and yes, we authors sometimes buy from Amazon too) but it's something to be mindful of while you're shopping. 

Another Special Note, on Author Gratitude:
If you do any of these things, we will love you. If you head over to our Goodreads pages and write a cute GIF review of how much you're looking forward to our book, or if you tweet out that you just read and loved it, we will ADORE you. I'm not kidding. We will build shrines to you in our heads and give you mental hugs every time we see your picture come up on twitter and generally be creepily in love with you all the time.
But here's the thing: we might not publicly acknowledge it. Because of the particular relationship between authors and their books and reviewers, it's usually frowned upon for authors to interact with their reviews. So if we don't vote up your review or RT it to the world, please don't be offended. I promise we saw, and we appreciate very much.

Buy it if you possibly can--pre-ordering is even better!
Add it on Goodreads, even if it's not out yet! (Misfit GR links right here, if you want!)
Review it everywhere!
Talk about it online and off!
And THANKS! We love you for it.

 What about you guys? Is there anything else you do or you see happen that really helps books and authors? Please share!


Leandra Wallace said...

These are all great things to do to help out authors! My CP has a book coming out this year, and I was thinking of doing a contest where people request their library to order it. Then they could email me a confirmation or something(not quite sure how to work that part yet...) and I'll enter them in a drawing to win a gift card.

And I completely agree on pre-ordering- I forget about it and then voila! A new book has just shown up at my door. =)

Maggie Hall said...

Leandra, that contest is a great idea! That would be an awesome thing to do for your CP. :)

Deirdre said...

This post makes me feel hugged. Awesome!

Sarah Hipple said...

Thanks! It's always great to have a post like this for non-writer friends to read (and to reference when I have a friend coming out with a book).

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