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Fours Things You Can Do for an Author

The other day someone reading one of my books asked what she could do to “say thanks”. It was a funny kind of question. People either say nothing about reading my books or they say things like “Really enjoying your book.” They don’t every ask what they can do for me because they are enjoying my book. However, I did not hesitate in answering her. Here’s gist of what I said.

One, if you actually know the author simply tell him or her that you like the book and thank them. Even a short comment feels good and is appreciated. If you really feel inspired, engage in a conversation, ask the author a question. Last Sunday a man told me he was really enjoying The Girl in the Silver Mask and then asked if I had been to New Orleans – the book takes place in that city. I said that I had, that I had made two visits to the city for research staying several weeks at a time. He then asked if I had been to Ghana – Chapter 3 is about a visit to the Cape Coast slave castle in Ghana. I said I have been to Ghana several times and, of course, visited the slave castle. My answers confirmed what he had thought saying as he reads he feels as though he were in New Orleans and Ghana himself. We talked about the need for information about a place and having a “feeling” for a place, though I did tell him Google maps is also a great tool. My point is, I enjoyed talking to him about the book and welcome such conversations.

If you don’t know the author, which is usually the case, you can try and track him or her down. Most authors have blogs or websites and are more than not on Tweeter, Facebook, Instagram. It’s not hard to find a way to leave a message and perhaps strike up a conversation.

Two, tell your friends about the book. Or even buy them a copy. Even authors who publish with traditional publishers have to do their own marketing these days. There are a million books, articles, websites, blogs, DVD’s, and courses promising to teach authors how to sell their books. There are a million websites that promise to give an author’s book exposure through the website, Facebook, Tweeter, etc., and increase its sales. Most of us read some of the books, visited the blogs, signed up for the courses. Most of us have tried the exposure websites. And most of us are lousy at marketing. However, from what I’ve read, when it comes down to it, word of mouth is still the best marketing in town. If someone is selling a lot of books, it more than likely is because people are telling their friends what a great or interesting or significant book it is.

Also in the category of “tell a friend” you can suggest the book for your book club. If you know the author, you can hold a book reading and signing evening in your home or church or community center and invite friends and acquaintances. A little wine never hurt book sales.

Three is easy, the easiest of my four suggestions. Don’t lend your copy of the book to your friends and family. Either encourage them to buy their own copy or buy one for them. If you lend your copy to three friends, that’s three sales lost to the author. Yes, it’s true, most of us write because we enjoy writing. And most of us do not have delusions of grandeur and are pretty sure we are not going to get rich, or even comfortable, writing books. One of the days a royalties check arrive in the mail I told my wife I was going to take her out to dinner and then asked where the closed McDonald’s was. I excitedly added this time she could have a drink with her meal. No, wealth is probably not in the cards, but that’s not to say we don’t enjoy making some money. Sales are nice.

Four, write a review on Amazon. Reviews really can help. 88% of customers say they trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations, and 85% say they read up to ten reviews. People tend to trust Amazon reviews because Amazon actively defends the integrity of reviews. 

There’s a lot of talk about how reviews impact Amazon’s ranking, but some things seem pretty clear. Amazon’s algorithm weighs newer reviews, reviews from verified Amazon customers, and reviews voted most helpful by other customers more highly. As a result the number of 5 Star reviews is important. Anything below 4 Stars is considered “not recommended.” A book’s ranking is affected by the number of clicks a book gets, but at bottom line the ranking is mostly determined by the number of books sold each day (downloads, paperbacks and hardcovers). In addition, once a book has ten reviews, it’s eligible to be included in the “also bought” listing that you see when you look at a book – you know, the “customers who bought The Woman in White Marble also bought The Girl in the Silver Mask.”

A book’s ranking determines its visibility. Your review helps a book sell, which increases the its visibility, which increases its sales.

You don’t need to be a professional review/critic. You just need to be honest. You don’t need to write a long review. Short is okay. You do have to be an Amazon customer who has spent at least $50.00, but most of us are. So give it a shot. Write a review. An author will be very grateful. And if you do and have the time, don’t forget Amazon is in the US, UK, Australia, etc. If you’re a US customer, also post your review in the UK, for example.

So, it’s simple really. If you want to help an author:

  • Thank him or her and engage in conversation;
  • Tell your friends and family about the book;
  • Don’t’ lend your copy out, but encourage others to purchase their own;
  • Write a review.

Copyright © 2017 Dale Rominger

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