When you really bond with a book, you're also bonding with the author of that book. Like some kind of sacred blood ritual in a cult made for two. Awwww. Chances are, as a reader, some part of you will want to support that author and celebrate them!
The part usually buried under a few layers of apathy, that is. No judgement though. Regardless, if you DO summon the motivation to actually connect with an author after reading their work, you're amazing and I love you. Also, I want to give you some ways to go about doing this.
Publishing a book and getting some people to read it is just one tiny step in the authorial journey, and it's the things that come after that are usually more difficult to get moving. Here's how readers can help authors once the book-buying is done.
You've Got Opinions? GREAT. Post Them, Please.
I doubt most readers understand the complexities of the Amazon algorithm or other such mysteries, nor do they need to. Suffice it to say, when it comes to sales and an author's income/reputation, reviews play a very important role.
A lot of studies have been done proving the (pretty obvious) connection between conversions (sales) and reviews. USA Today summed it all up quite nicely in an article they wrote about the power of book reviews. And it's not even about positive reviews - it's about honest ones.
Consumers - that's you, dear readers - are simply way more likely to buy something that other people have shared opinions about. It's that good old herd mentality, and no one is immune to it. I'm certainly not. Psychologically speaking, it's an adaption we've been developing for thousands of years!
People like to know that something is important enough to be talked about. It's that simple. So please, for the love of books, leave as many reviews as you have time for. Some people just aren't about that life and that's fine - there are other ways to support authors. If you are at all inclined toward pumping out a few sentences about something you've read, however, I have a powerful quote from one of our greatest minds to share.
"JUST DO IT." - Shia LeBouf
Sign Up For The Author's Newsletter.
What? Newsletters? Aren't those a thing of the past? NO. They aren't. In fact, email newsletters are a HUGE source of engagement and connection for authors and readers. Not only do they provide bonding opportunities, but a lot of authors spend tons of their time writing up thoughtful, useful emails that they think their readers will like.
Remember that viral video of the grandpa who hosted a party, only for none of his grandkids to show up? Do you want to be those a**hole grandkids? When an author spends all this time writing a newsletter each week or month or quarter only for no one to sign up and read it, well...I know how that poor grandpa felt.
Not only is the newsletter a way for you to show your support for an author, but it usually affords certain privileges, too. Plenty of authors do pre-releases in theirs, or allow you to vote on a cover, or send you extra scenes and exclusive materials! You'll also be the first to know about new books being launched or written, and you'll probably be privy to some inter-author reviews to help you find more books in the genres you love.
Additionally, any author worth their salt will let readers contact them via their email newsletter, so if you're a fan or have questions, this is a good way to get in touch. There are a lot of reasons to sign up for these darn things, basically.
Oh, and one final note. Free stuff. It's usually in those letters. Everyone likes free stuff!
Post Their Work on Social Media.
Every author I know of has some kind of social media strategy. It's pretty much non-negotiable these days (though maybe less important for sales than some authors think).
Different authors and genres are active on different platforms, usually depending on where their readers are. Aka, you. Whether it's Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, LinkedIn, or whatever, you're bound to find your author somewhere if you look.
When you engage on social media, you're giving that author's name and reputation a nice boost! It's also just a good feeling for an author when someone takes the time to say hi or comment on a post. Always good to feel like we're not just casting words and pictures into an empty void.
Most authors won't post that much about their own books, at least not in a salesy way. We're more like bridges, or bridge trolls, guarding and forging connections between topics of interest for our readers. Historical Fiction authors might post all about a location in one of their books, or maybe a weird historical event that ties into their story.
A romance author like myself might make some memes or share cover ideas and links to other books in the genre, or maybe even some scenes and dialogue you haven't read before.
The possibilities are endless, and as a reader there's a lot of fun and interest to be gained by being active on an author's profiles.
Find Out Where Else They Write.
These days, most authors are going to have multiple streams of revenue - few of us JUST write books. Honestly, I'd get really bored if that's all I did, hence my blogs and freelance writing work. If you can find out where your authors write outside of their books, you'll probably become privy to some neat articles or short stories (or whatever).
For example, I have a profile on Medium where I post various articles, often about writing, lifestyle, or other topics relevant to my life and expertise. I really love to write them, and I also can potentially earn a nice chunk of money if enough people read my work on there. It's a win-win.
I also submit articles to various publications (such as my work on The Fem Word) and write for businesses, clients, and different causes. Many if not most authors do the same. And when we get engagement on our writing in formats outside of our books? It's a wonderful thing.
Not only can we earn more money if we're seen as popular or engaging on various platforms, but we also get the validation and connection that comes with having our work respected by readers who find us in many places.
As a reader, you'll find all sorts of unique insight and nuance by finding your favorite authors outside of their books. It's definitely worth looking into!
Send Fan-Mail. Yes, Really, We Love It.
Ah, good old fan mail. I remember the first time someone DM'd me to tell me they liked my book - it was a fine and glorious moment in my career *wipes away a tear.*
It's really one of the best feelings in the world to get a message or email from someone who not only read our published books, but also cared enough to actively reach out to us and connect. I'm not even that social and I absolutely love it.
If you're a reader who actually gives a sh**, nerd out with us. Tell us anything! Your hopes and dreams, your weird fanfiction, vague existential questions you thought of while reading our sex scenes...whatever comes to mind. The conversations you have with your authors have so much value that goes beyond the marketing and reach side of the equation, and it's a central part of our integrity as both artists and as patrons of that art.
Sending fan mail is possibly the nicest, easiest way to make an author feel the love - which means we'll be more inspired to push out those books you adore.
In Conclusion - Be A Big Nerd With Us.
Authors tend to be, on the whole, big fat nerds. And nothing makes us happier than when a reader comes along to nerd out with us in any context or locale! Be as weird, niche, or bold as you want when you decide to help us out - we love it.
By finding us in multiple places, reviewing our work, and connecting with us on multiple levels, you elevate yourself from "someone who read our book" to an actual reader. Someone who not only absorbed words on a page, but who went deeper and felt the author's personality in the pages and decided it was a personality they wanted to know better.
What could be more validating than that? And although it's awesome to see sales boosted due to engagement and a fanbase, I truly do believe it's the longterm connections that benefit authors the most. It's so easy to pump out good work when you know for a fact that there are people out there who will bond with it.
And, yeah, the money is good too. Gotta buy all those fancy pens and journals, am I right?
If you are a reader with a capital R and love to engage with authors, drop some links and suggestions in the comments and share this post! If you want to send me hate or fan mail, or just regular mail, please do. I swear I'll open it AND respond with something witty.
Keep reading, keep writing, and I'll catch you next time, everyone!