By: Trista Herring Baughman
Occasionally, I witness a rallying call to support local businesses. It’s a nice gesture, one I’d like to see more often. I prefer to shop local when I can: farmers’ markets, locally-owned specialty stores, mom-and-pop restaurants, etc.
I don’t think authors generally come to mind when we speak of local small businesses, but they should. Indie authors, especially. Their books are their business. Writing, formatting, marketing, and publishing are all their responsibility.
When you write a book, it’s a part of you that you’re setting out into the world. It isn’t as much about the money as it is impacting your readers. But money pays the bills and allows you to continue your writing passion, so there’s that.
It’s a common misconception that authors make tons of money. Well-known authors such as J.K. Rowling and R.L. Stine probably do. The majority of authors aren’t there, just yet. I don’t know many authors that earn enough to write books for a living.
Most self-publishing authors make more per book in royalties, but typically sell less.
Let’s say you self-publish a full-color, 32-page book on KDP and sell it for $7.99 (The minimum price is $6.08). $3.65 goes to printing. Estimated royalties are $1.14 per book; the rest goes to KDP.
You’ll have to sell many copies to get a decent paycheck. To sell many copies, you need a marketing plan, which, you guessed it, takes more money.
As you can see, your author friends could really use your help.
Whether your friends are traditional or indie authors, here’s a few simple ways to be supportive.
- Buy their books. This one seems obvious. When I released my first book, I was so excited. I shared it on social media and told all my friends. I even booked a few signings around my local area. I gave out a few complimentary copies to select friends and family who congratulated me and were excited for me. But only a handful of those actually bought a copy, shared my posts, or came to events. Less than a handful reviewed my book. You may be thinking, “Well, maybe your book sucks.” Don’t think I didn’t wonder that myself. But it doesn’t suck. I came to find out that other authors (amazing authors) had this exact same problem. I think family and friends simply don’t realize all the different ways they can help. So, if your author friend has a book, buy it for yourself or as a gift for someone you know. Books make great gifts for all occasions! You could even grab a copy for your local little free library!
- Share their website. Like, follow, and share their pages and posts on social media: Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Instagram, etc. This will boost their visibility on these platforms and increase the chances of reaching more potential readers. Follow their blog, visit their website for updates. Leave a comment. All of these small things are huge to your author friends.
- Review and star their books. Did you like their book? Let someone know! Word of mouth is a great way to get more readers. Sites like GoodReads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble are great places to star and share reviews. It will only take up a little bit of time, even if you do all three! (No reason why you can’t copy and paste the same review). Five star reviews will help their book pop up in more search results. Think of it as a gift that keeps on giving.
- Add their books to your “reading” or “want to read” shelves on GoodReads. The more shelves their books are on, the more newsfeed they get into.
- Tell them personally what you like (or dislike) about their book. Authors need honest feedback! They will appreciate your praise or constructive criticism.
- Volunteer to be a beta reader. Beta readers read the book before anyone else and offer feedback. This may be notes on grammar errors or plot holes, or it could just be your overall opinion of the book. Before you offer to be a beta reader, get the details. How long is the book? Will you need to read the whole book or only part of it? When is the deadline? If you have the time, set a reminder on your phone so you won’t leave them hanging. If you think you won’t have the time, respectfully decline. Saying you will when you won’t is the opposite of helpful.
- Send some good old-fashioned snail mail. You can make an author’s day by writing to say what you thought of their book.
- Request a copy of their book at your local library and bookstore. If they already carry it, ask anyway! It may inspire the librarian or sales person to read the book themselves or recommend it to others. If enough people request a title, bookstores may order a few for their shelves.
- Go to their events. Show your support by stopping by with your copy of their book to book signings or festivals. There is nothing sadder than a book signing where no one shows up.
Whether you’re a writer yourself or not, you can do these things for your author friends. But there’s even more you can do if you are a writer, too.
Writers Helping Writers can…
- Interview your author friends for your blog.
- Review their books on your blog.
- Invite them to your writer’s group or start one with them.
- Carpool to a writer’s conference. This is a good way to network and learn valuable trade skills. It’s always nice to have a friend when learning.
- Host workshops to lend your expertise to fellow writers. Invite your writer friends.
- Mentor a new/struggling writer.
These are just a few ways to help your author friends. They are an excellent place to start. I think you will find that helping others will make you feel great, too!
Trista Herring Baughman is a proud military wife and a homeschool mama. She isthe author of The Magic Telescope. Her second book, Zombiesaurs, will be available soon at Barnes & Noble Press. You can find out more about her books on her website, or catch up to Trista on Facebook.