It’s kind of rough to be an author right now. It’s never been the most monetarily stable, predictable, or low-stress profession, but the last almost-a-year have seen stress levels for a lot of writers go through the roof. If you’re in the US, you get the ceaseless anxiety of wondering if you’re still going to have health insurance next year–full time writers a self-employed people who pay for their own insurance, after all. And even if you’re not in America, try figuring out when to make a little happy noise about your book when social media is an endless fiery hellscape of can you believe what the US President just tweeted.
(The cover reveal for my debut novel was supposed to hit the week after the 2016 election. Guess how that went.)
I’m not saying authors have it harder than anyone else, but since this is Book Riot and gosh darnit we love reading, I figure we want writers to keep supplying us with new books. So here are seven ways you can help an author out and in so doing make their day–and only one of them costs any money.
- Pre-order their next book – buying a writer’s book is great, and please keep doing it. Pre-ordering the next one is even better! Publishers do pay attention to how many people are champing at the bit for a book before it even comes out. And if you want to see a series get finished, do not wait for the entire thing to come out before buying it. Publishers can and do cut their losses if early books don’t sell well enough.
- Check their book out from the library – and if the library doesn’t have it, ask for it! Library systems buy significant numbers of print books and ebook licenses, and those sales really, really help writers. Plus since they’re library books, lots of people can enjoy them.
- Rate the book on Goodreads (and wherever you bought it) – if you’re feeling it, a review is awesome too. But the more ratings (and reviews) a book has, the more visible it becomes. Which helps bring it to the attention of other people who might want to buy it.
- Tell your friends – authors who aren’t big names being upbeat about their books on social media doesn’t have even a tenth of the power of someone who really likes a book telling all their friends omg dudes you have to read this! People tend to trust the taste of their friends more than a rando on Twitter, unsurprisingly.
- Suggest the book at your local book club – if you’re in one, that is. But book clubs don’t have to be big, formal organizations. Most are small collections of friends who agree to read the same thing once every [insert time period here] and then dish about it over brunch. You might be in a book club and not even know it.
- Tell the writer directly if you liked their book – this is a much rarer occurrence than you might think. Most of the time, a writer puts out a story or a novel and the response tends to feel like an all-encompassing silence that makes them wonder if anyone’s even read the thing. Someone taking a few minutes out of their day to type something as simple as, “Hey, I read your book and thought it was fun,” into the contact form on a website can be an incredible pick-me-up when it feels like no one cares. And fanart? That’s a +10 smiling bonus for the next week at minimum.
- (US Only) Call/email/fax/write to your members of Congress the next time they try to kill the ACA – sorry to get political here, but if you want your favorite (American) writers to be able to keep writing, you want them healthy and not stressing about health insurance for themselves and their families. Books aren’t produced in a vacuum.