How To Be a Good Book Fan 101
I was perusing Twitter recently and was reminded by Sam Sykes (Twitter) just how important it is to “Be a Good Book Fan” these days. There is SO much data that can be collected and aggregated and analyzed that it’s all too easy for your favorite author to suddenly find themselves kicked to the curb (or kerb, for you folks across the pond — yeesh, I love the British variation of that word so much it gives me the giggles). The most recent instance of this happening in my mind happened to F. Paul Wilson (Author’s Website), author of the popular Repairman Jack series. That one hit us Elitists pretty hard.
Sykes’s tweet had a pretty simple message: First week sales are very important! That’s the truth. There are a bunch of other things that you can do when you love a book, a series, or an author though, and that got my ol’ gray matter turning. Pretty soon I had enough bouncing around in my head that I figured I’d better put some of it down, so it wouldn’t all be wasted. So here it is.
Ever wonder how you can be the best fan of a book, book series, or author that you can be? Have an author that you never want to see stop writing? We have a bunch of those here at EBR. Below are a few things we’ve gleaned that can help you help them keep their job as an author. Just don’t get too persnickety about this list, yeah? I’m not promising that if you do these things your favorite author will never stop writing. If only, right? I am however promising that anything you do from the below list of items will help your favorite author to keep doing exactly what they (hopefully) love to do: write more stories. And the more stories they write, the more stories of theirs you get to read! And you know you love that. So listen up.
First, you should know that these are only loosely ranked from top to bottom — not strictly — and mostly that ranking is based on our impressions and observations. Still, important stuff up top and less-important, but not insignificant, down toward the bottom.
Pre-Order Their Books
While it’s true that I was inspired to write this Editorial in the first place by Sam Sykes’s tweet, I’m listing this item first because of just how vitally important it is. Yes it’s important to buy your favorite author’s books. Plain and simple. I’m pretty much taking taking it for granted though that you all know that one. What you might not know is that even more important than buying their books is pre-ordering their books. First week sales are historically very indicative of how large the sales of a book will be over it’s lifetime. So when publishers see big first week sales, and a large portion of those sales are from pre-orders? Yeah, it’s only ever positive for authors that get that. So order your books early.
Give Books as Gifts
i.e.: buy more books. Yes, this also doubles as sharing a book, and we completely agree with you all that this is a relatively expensive way of helping your favorite authors. The up-side is that your friends will be benefiting from your generosity in sharing with them awesome books. The down side? Hmm. We’re not seeing many of those on this point. However, if you also need chili cheese fries every day at lunch… you might want to consider cutting back on that potatoey goodness in anticipation of new books from favorite authors being released.
Leave Ratings on Amazon and Other Marketplaces
Online marketplaces have ratings for a reason, and the unfortunate reality is that it’s usually those that dislike something that provide the loudest voices. The fact of the matter is that not everyone is going to love the same books that you. I know. Utterly shameful, disappointing, and a complete travesty… but that’s just freaking life. Thus, there are going to be people that will rail on authors, give horrible ratings, and write horrible reviews of their works based on criteria that range from legitimate concerns to patently ridiculous lies. I’ll tell you a secret too: authors love every good rating they get. Okay so maybe that’s not such a big secret. Regardless, get out there and do your job! If you’ve bought a book (see our previous two points) from a place like Amazon or Barnes & Noble that have ratings and reviews for buyers, help an author out and throw them a bone or two. Trust me, they can definitely use the help and will be very appreciative.
Give Authors Some Blogger Love
Seems like everyone has a blog these days. (Hmm. You know I think someone else important has one of those sitting around here somewhere too…) If you’re one of the masses of people that add to the blogosphere, drop some love about your favorite author(s), their most recent book(s), or your favorite series of theirs. Not a reviewer? Don’t know what to say? Don’t stress! Share some of your favorite parts of your favorite stories. What makes you love their stuff? Tell other people why they should pick up one of your favorite books. Because you see, the entire internet is all one big interconnected mass of information. And if you write something about an author or a book, it’s going to help. As long as you’re going to be writing about them though, make sure you do this next thing on our list as well.
This is an uber-important concept for SEO. In order for an author to get some good SEO rankings, they typically have to write content for the internet. Think John Scalzi. Dude’s been writing online for like forever and that helps people find his stuff. Everyone that puts stuff out on the internet wants a good SEO ranking. Especially book authors. The better a website’s SEO ranking, the more the site is going to show up in search requests. You know, the ones that people make to Google in the billions every single day. The question is, do you want your favorite author to spend his or her time writing more stories or writing more internet content? Personally, I’d rather they spend their time writing more stories. So I say do them a favor and help them with the SEO side of things by linking to their website. Because in addition to content being important, so are all of the links that point to their site.
Social Media Posting
Companies pay people loads of money to run their social media accounts. Authors don’t typically have such luxury. So they’ll do social media stuff themselves. How can you help with this? Follow your favorite authors on their social media accounts! Interact with them. Share their stuff. Just don’t go overboard on this one, yeah? If you’re on the gram or are a fan of The Face, you know just how time-guzzling scanning through those never-ending feeds can be. Remember, you still want them to write more stories. And not necessarily in chunks of 140-characters each.
Do Something Artsy
You an artist? Make some fan art. Put it up on your site. Or post it on your DeviantArt account. Wherever. Share an engaging image on social media. I see these all the time and think they’re great. You a YouTuber? Make a video. Link to the author’s website in the comments. Literally anything you do in this space to introduce, promote, and tout the goodness of your favorite books will help to spread the word and increase an author’s fanbase. Hmm. You know, the more I read what I’m writing, the more it kind of sounds like I’m telling you to go be their broad-spectrum marketing department. And, well, I guess it is kind of like that.
Join Author’s Mailing Lists
Some authors aren’t big on the social media gig, but they still need ways to interact with their public. Some send out newsletters despite the fact that they also do all of the social media stuff. Either way, sign up for their newsletter. This is another great way for publishers to directly see just how large an author’s audience is. The larger the audience the more potential they have to make money for the publisher, and thus the more likely the publisher will be willing to keep them around. Because as much as we sometimes hate to admit it, businesses are there to make money. The good thing that we get out of it is having our favorite authors having a writing gig as a day job.
Write An Author A Personal Email
I think things like this get overlooked way too often. The fact of the matter is that writing books is a lonely business, and putting something out into the world that you’ve written can be very difficult. Especially if past reception has been overly critical. If you think something an author has written is awesome, tell them so. It can go a long ways toward helping them out when they’re having a difficult day. Remember what we said about those that don’t like stuff usually having the loudest voice? There was this little article a while ago about a new author giving up her publication deal because of how much negative response she got from the public (American Conservative). I know there isn’t much that her “fans” could have done at that point (she didn’t have any yet, this happened before she released her first book), but if she would have had some positive among the bad, might she not have pulled her book from the pub schedule? Guess we’ll never know. The point still stands. Every author loves to hear that people love their stuff. You can quote me on that.
Request the Book at Your Local Library
Libraries buy lots of book. LOTS of books. If you can’t buy the books that you know are going to be just bursting with awesome, go to your local library and make sure they’ve got those books on order. Heck, even if you do buy the book, check to make sure your local library has a copy available. Not only will that make those books available to you if and when you need them, it might just introduce the oodles of other readers that frequent the library to your favorite author as well. More fans = more attention = better chance they’ll keep getting published. If you think about authors as freelancers that are continually dependent upon their next job… is there anything else you think might take more stress off their plate than having a perpetual contract to write more books? Not much, folks. So do all the things.
Go To Book Events
How cool is it when your favorite author shows up at a local venue? Wanna know what absolutely sucks? Going to an event where no one shows up. If you find out that an author you love is coming to a venue near you? Tell your friends about it. Load up the minivans, Marge! We’re off to a book signing!
No matter how you decide to do it, supporting your favorite authors is an absolute necessity these days. They need you to survive just like you need them for their story weaving magic. It’s a symbiotic relationship that neither one of you wants to give up. If we don’t give back to them though, if we don’t add to that feedback loop, then there’s a very good chance that one day you just might lose them.
And do you want that to happen?
We didn’t think so. Because neither do we.
Now go and get busy. Because there’s so much time and so little to do. Wait. Stop that. Reverse it.