Readers sometimes wonder what they can do to better support their favorite authors. Book authorship is a difficult career, not one where it’s easy to succeed! So based on various things I’ve seen professionals say online over the years, here are some tips for readers who want to make an author’s life a little easier.
1) Buy their book on the day it comes out or as a preorder.
Sales are the major determiner of whether or not an author get to publish another book in the future, and the sales on the first week and especially the first day are the most important. Publishers are already making decisions for the future based off of those sales, and those first-day sales also determine whether or not that book makes the bestsellers lists.
However, since they’re sent to you the day of the book release, preorders are also counted as being “bought” the first day. So those are fantastic! If you want to preorder a book from Amazon or Barnes and Noble or your local bookstore, please go right ahead!
2) Don’t buy their book before the day it comes out (unless it’s a preorder).
Books are not supposed to be on the shelves prior to their release. If a book is bought before release day, it will not be counted as a sale. Additionally, some people try to sell ARCs, or early review copies, which are not meant for sale. Those are unfinalized copies given away for free to certain people in the hopes that they will promote the book and increase the early hype. If you see someone selling ARCs or books prior to their release date, please let the publisher know.
However, preorders from legitimate companies are fine. Again, since the customer doesn’t receive the book until release day, it’s counted as a first-day sale.
3) Don’t pirate their book.
This should be pretty obvious, but I’ve seen a lot of arguments about it online. Again, sales determine the future career of the author. If an author doesn’t get enough sales, their next book will not be published. Additionally, writers put a ton of work into their book–like, multiple years’ worth. A whole bunch of other people at the agency and publisher also work very hard to prepare the book. That labor is worth something. Those stories are worth something. So act like it! Don’t steal a hard copy of a book, and don’t download a pirated copy from the Internet either. (Research shows that the average Internet book pirate is wealthier than the average author, so that’s food for thought.)
If you can’t afford to buy a book, there are still appropriate options for accessing it. One great one, where available, is your public library. If they don’t already have the book, ask them if they can buy it. Then it will be a legitimate sale! Yes, that book will be read by many people for free, but libraries track those reads, and the numbers make a difference in what books end up on the shelves. Libraries also help promote books and authors, and in some countries, libraries even pay additional fees based off of how many people have read a book. Many people who read a book from a library later decide to buy it, which doesn’t happen if they already have their own stolen copy. So libraries = good. Pirating = bad.
If you see a link for a pirated book, please notify the author or the publisher.
4) Buy the hardcover version of their book, if you can.
This tip is less important than the others, but hardcover copies are generally a bit more expensive, which means more money comes to the author. Hardcovers are also what you’ll see being released first, with paperbacks coming later, so the hardcover sales are what affect those initial, most important numbers.
5) Rate and review their book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and elsewhere.
On most websites, and on Amazon especially, the number of ratings and reviews determines which books show up most often The more attention a book is given, the easier it will be to find and the more attention it will continue to gather in the future. Amazon is a huge retailer, so if you like a book–or even if you just like the author–go rate and review it on their website! Even bad reviews with low ratings help get the book more attention, so don’t worry if you’re not giving it a full 5 stars and talking about how perfect it is. (Although you certainly can if you’re inclined to.)
The websites for Barnes and Noble and other booksellers are also good places to publish reviews. Libraries sometimes ask for book reviews on their websites or during reading programs. Finally, you can always share reviews and recommendations on your social media or your blog (but if your review is negative, please don’t tag the author or otherwise directly send it to them–not only is that kinda mean, but reviews are ultimately for other readers, and authors should be left to solicit critiques themselves when they need them).
6) Tell your friends about their book.
This one’s probably the easiest tip on this list. Word-of-mouth is a major ways that things are sold, especially entertainment and art. If you like a book, tell your friends about it. If you like an author, share the word! Post about your favorite stories online with jokes and fanart and photos and whatever other content you feel inspired to create. Your enthusiasm will intrigue others who may find a new favorite themselves.
7) Even if it’s been a long time, share their book with other people.
What if you find and fall in love with a book long after it’s been published? Is it still a good idea to write reviews and give ratings and tell your friends about it? Absolutely. As an author’s career progresses, sales of their “backlist,” or their old books, support them and make it easier for them to devote more time to working on their newer books. These sales also determine whether or not a book stays in print after the initial publication, and they contribute to overall sales numbers, which, again, make it more likely that publishers will consider the author’s next book. So if you’re late to the party, don’t worry. Your support still makes all the difference!
Thank you all for reading. I’ll be back with a new post in June. ☺