I have been thinking lately a lot about how to educate family, friends and fans of my writing on how they can best support me as an author. To be honest from what I have read online in other writing blogs this is something that many aspiring authors struggle with perennially. So I know I’m not alone in pondering over this.
Frankly speaking it is awkward to broach this topic. While I am infinitely grateful for all of the support I have had so far, I also recognize that many well-meaning people still struggle with finding how they can contribute to my success as an author beyond the obvious, i.e., purchasing a copy of one of my books.
The financial windfall of even a hundred odd friends and family members purchasing a book is in reality only a few hundred bucks at best. Depending on the book distributor and printing costs, authors earn roughly, between one and five bucks per paperback book sale. Hardcover sales are even less profitable. So in the greater scheme of things a one-off purchase hardly impacts the bottom line since it is not a sustainable, livable wage in most geographies. So despite the kind gesture of moral support, it is unfortunately not particularly effective on it’s own in setting an author up for success.
The good news is that there are three no-cost, low-burden additional steps, beyond purchasing a book, that family, friends and fans can take which can have a huge impact on a writer’s literary career:
i) leaving ratings and reviews – After purchasing a copy of a book it is helpful if you can read the book or at least a few chapters, and leave an honest 2-3 line review online on Amazon, Goodreads or on the website at which you purchased the book. Even if you feel ill-equipped to write a review you can at least leave a rating. This helps an author tremendously since reviews and ratings are two of the top factors which determine whether a potential customer will purchase a book.
ii) spreading the word on social media – If you are too busy for whatever reason to read the book, perhaps you can consider posting a photo on social media. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Reddit are ideal social media platforms for helping an author reach his/her target audience. You can even share the photo and a short message via WhatsApp with your friends who you think might be interested in reading the book. Word of mouth works wonders! With just a few clicks you can make a huge difference for an author.
iii) blogging or podcasting – If you have a blog you could can make a post about the book or alternatively if you have a podcast you could interview the author, provided the book fits with your theme. If not, then perhaps you know someone who is a blogger or podcaster that is looking for content and might be interested in showcasing the book. Hooking an author up with a contact in the blogging and podcasting world is extremely helpful since, this is one of the platforms that can allow books to reach a wider audience.
It goes without saying that these small gestures of support can go a long way to help an author achieve literary success. It would also be remiss of me not to mention one of most common vexations that are the bane of many authors, especially when it comes to friends and family members. If you genuinely wish to back an author, one of the least supportive things you can do is to ask for a free copy. Such a request undermines the hard work invested in writing the book and also deprives the author of the already meagre revenue from a book sale, not to mention the algorithm sales rank boost from the purchase.
I hope this post has given you a few concrete ideas that you can easily apply to support aspiring authors even better than before. If you have any other bright ideas please feel free to leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you!