Writing is a bizarre occupation.
It can involve spending a ridiculous number of hours wrestling words into submission, gently crafting the perfect turn of phrase or shaping whole new worlds from thin air. It can involve visiting amazing locations to soak up the atmosphere and find inspiration or spending hours researching a topic or idea that fascinates the author. That’s the fun bit.
It can also involve hours in front of a computer screen editing, re-writing, deleting, and re-writing again. The hours of research aren’t always fascinating. Sometimes they result from the need to track down an obscure fact or detail that is vital to the plot of the story, only to have that entire chapter removed because it is no longer needed when the story takes a different path. That’s not so much fun.
Being a writer also involves a large investment of time in promoting books including but not limited to establishing and maintaining an online presence via social media, blogging, writing guest posts, giving interviews, running workshops, visiting schools and generally trying to keep your name and books prominent in the minds of booksellers, librarians and the reading public. This needs to be done in such a way that you don’t over promote yourself or become too pushy. It’s a fine line to walk.
The support of readers is vital to the ongoing success of writers. If you have an author whose books you particularly enjoy, there are a variety of things you can do to encourage them and promote their work. Your support could keep them going when the ‘not so much fun’ list seems unbearably long.
1. Buy Books
Okay. It seems a little obvious, but it’s true. If you like the work of a particular author, buy their books. Buy books for yourself. Buy books as gifts for Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Buy books to celebrate the arrival of a new baby, wish someone a speedy recovery from an illness or to simply let someone know you care. If you want to really get some bang for your book buying buck, buy books from your local independent bookseller.
2. Borrow Books
Does your local library stock books by your favourite author? Most libraries have a system in place so that you can request books that aren’t already part of their collection. You can also let your children’s school librarian know if you come across a book that you think is particularly useful or relevant to topics that are covered in the classroom. You can always donate a copy of the book if you are particularly keen to make sure that the library has a copy available (see point 1).
3. Write Reviews
You can rate and review books on Goodreads, a social media site that acts as a hub of bookish information and networking. Authors can easily share widgets on their websites and blogs with highlights from their Goodreads reviews, so comments shared here are particularly useful.
Most online bookstores have a facility to rate and review books. Genuine reviews from readers can play a significant role in encouraging others to purchase books online. Comments and reviews can also boost the profile of a particular title, moving it closer to the top of search results so that it features more prominently on websites.
It’s worth noting that reviews really only work if you are being genuine. Don’t rave about a book you only feel lukewarm about at best. Don’t write reviews that gush unnecessarily and, if you need to point out aspects of a story that you didn’t particularly like, remember that the story was written by someone who will quite possibly read your review. Be sensitive to their feelings as the creator of the work – discuss the issues, don’t attack the writer.
4. Talk About Books
If you’ve just read a book you loved, let people know. Simple.
If you’re looking for a more involved conversation, consider joining (or starting) a bookclub or check the list of events at your local library to see if they have a book discussion group.
5. Be Active on Social Media
Many authors now have a presence online, including websites, blogs, Facebook pages and accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. They use these platforms to share information about their latest books, events, workshops and projects.
Like, retweet, bookmark, pin, regram and share their updates and links to help promote their work. You can share links to reviews and articles about their work that you think share useful insights or information.
You can also use your own social media networks to chat about books. There are some great Twitter-based book discussion groups, numerous Facebook groups related to books and reading, and once again Goodreads offers a range of ways you can interact with other people who love chatting about books.
It’s not about spamming your network or going overboard. Just include books in the general mix of topics you chat about online. Consider taking a photo of whatever book you’re reading and sharing it on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook as a quick and easy way of starting a conversation. If you have a YouTube channel, you could share a video review of your favourite books.
6. Take Part in Reading Challenges
There are numerous reading challenges hosted by blogs and websites to encourage people to diversify their reading habits, to promote particular genres, or to simply help people network with like-minded readers. Google ‘2015 reading challenges for adults’ (adjust year as appropriate) and you should find a selection of blogs and websites to get you started or check out this list of Book Riot’s 2015 Reading Challenge Round-Up.
You can find a list of the reading challenges I’m taking part in here.
7. Chat with your Favourite Author Online
Many authors have a website, Facebook page and/or Twitter account. This makes it possible for readers to connect with their favourite writers easily to offer encouragement, let them know you’re reading their work or to simply say ‘Hello!’
From children’s picture books through to young adult and adult fiction, there are authors writing for most ages and genres present on social media and many of them are happy to indulge in bookish conversations with readers.
8. Read. Lots.
Another obvious point, but a valid one nonetheless. If you want to support writers, read. Encourage your kids to read. Ask librarians and friends for recommendations and chat with the staff at your local bookshop. Buy books, read books and recommend books. I like to think that every time I pick up a book and open the covers, an inspiration fairy lands on the shoulder of another author and whispers words of wit, wisdom, whimsy or wonder in their ear to spark another amazing story.
If you have more tips for supporting and encouraging writers, I’d love for you to share in a comment. I’m also happy to chat about books anytime and you can find me on Facebook and Twitter.
If you’re a writer as well as a reader, you might also enjoy this article by Walter Mason at The Writers’ Bloc: Good Literary Citizenship – Why Helping Other Writers Ultimately Benefits You