I’ll admit it, I’m a fangirl. Not the standard sci-fi-ish kind, but a fangirl of authors–and literary agents (specifically those with hearts willing share knowledge gleaned from publishing experiences.) When an author’s amazing book inspires awe, when an agent teaches a class with the intention of improving and inspiring our burgeoning manuscripts, or either write a blogpost containing encouragement and advice for other writers–well, I want to return the favor of their generosity and give them a (virtual) hug.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t read JodyHedlund‘s book, The Preacher’s Bride. For my tastes, a period romance with (I’m assuming) religous themes is not something I would select at the bookstore. But, I can’t get enough of her blog, a vast compendium of rational, well-thought-out, organized and helpful advice on the craft of fiction writing. (She MUST teach a writing class. She must.) Her advice is so thorough, so intelligent, and in many cases so refreshing, that I’ve grown curious about reading The Preacher’s Bride–I’d like to witness the application of Hedlund’s fascinating writing theories. (And maybe I’ll love the story! Who am I to judge a book by its cover? Once, on a long flight, someone left behind a Nora Roberts paperback. Out of sheer boredom I picked it up… and read it cover to cover, greatly impressed by Roberts’ seamless story-telling prowess. I think I cried at end.)
It is in the spirit of gratitude that today’s guest-post features excerpts from Jody Hedlund’s 10 Simple Ways to Support Authors You Love. “Before I was published,” says Hedlund, “I didn’t realize how much authors appreciated readers taking the time to publicly support them. In fact, I didn’t know my support was important. And even if I had known, I wouldn’t have had a clue what kinds of things would help my favorite authors the most.”
What kinds of action can we fans take to lend support? “Yes, THE best support is actually reading the author’s book,” contends Hedlund, “But, if you enjoyed the book, you’ll do the author a big favor by taking the support one step further. That one step can make a huge difference.”
Here are Hedlund’s ideas for choosing which “one step” feels right for you:
1. Write a book review and post it on Amazon. If you’ve ever ordered on Amazon then you’re eligible to post a review. It’s very simple to do and incredibly helpful (if it’s a good review!). The Preacher’s Bride has garnered several #1 slots on Amazon’s Kindle store due to the positive ratings readers have taken the time to write. (SO THANK YOU to those who’ve done that already!) [Side Note: If you’re a writer, use your author name when writing reviews. This can give your name extra exposure. For example, Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont, put the first review for The Preacher’s Bride on Amazon (and she did a fantastic job with the review!). Now her name and book are the first that people see when they visit the Amazon page for The Preacher's Bride.]
2. Copy and paste your review onto other online bookstores. There’s nothing wrong with copying your Amazon review and using it on other sites, like GoodReads, Shelfari, Barnes&Noble.com or CBD.com.
3. Click the “Like” button on a book’s Amazon page. (You’ll find it near the top of your fave book’s page.)
4. Click on the “Tags People Associate With This Product” on Amazon. If you scroll down on The Preacher’s Bride Amazon page, you’ll see approximately 32 tags. The more tags and the more clicks, the better a book will come up in search results.
5. Tweet about the book. Recently Pamela Trawick tweeted a noteworthy tweet about The Preacher’s Bride. In 140 characters she managed to capture the essence of her reading experience: The Preacher’s Bride is outstanding. Great tension, good pace, fabulous plot. Read it. (Thanks, Pamela, for a fantastic shout out about the book!)
6. Make a short comment of praise about the book on Facebook (or copy the one from Twitter). Twitter streams move quickly, and so tweets come and go. But on facebook, news has the ability to stick around a bit longer. Be sure to include the author’s name (when you use an @ in front of any name, it will make the comment show up your facebook wall and theirs).
7. Pass along the book to a friend or to family. And ask them to pass it along when they’re done.
8. Buy the book as a gift for friends and family. Publishing houses keep track of every book sale. And each purchase is important to an author. [Side note: If you win a book or get a free influencer copy, you can still buy a copy of the book and give away one copy as a blog prize or gift to someone.
9. Ask your local library to carry the book. First check if they have the book (you can usually look it up online). And if they don’t, next time you’re at your library, personally request the book.
10. Make an effort to pass on your love of the book. Somehow, someway tell someone how much you liked the book. Word-of-mouth is the best way to help support an author! The more times a person hears about or sees a book, the greater the chances that they’ll pick it up and read it.
What other practical ideas have you done to help support authors? Have you taken the time to publicly support a book or author you’ve liked? Or haven’t you given it much thought before now?
Marketing is part of the job description of the modern author. Whether we’ve gone with self-publishing, small indie press, or the traditional route, all authors must market. However, writers tend to be happier working quietly, alone. There aren’t many gleefully self-promoting writers , eager to talk endlessly about him/herself and his/her book.
How can we avoid turning our marketing and promotion efforts into a litany to ourselves? Here are Jody Hedlund’s three ways:
1. Connect With Readers: Pay attention to what they’re saying on our blogs, facebook, and twitter. Be available. Make sure do the best we can to answer personal emails and messages.
2. Engage Readers: Don’t stand on the sidelines. Instead jump into social media conversations. Ask questions on Facebook or Twitter. Discover what people think or how they feel about issues.
3. Care For Readers: Find ways to let them know we appreciate them. Offer encouragement. Be real and open so they feel comfortable sharing their concerns and problems with us.
In one word: LOVE. Yes, love your readers.
I was recently having a phone conversation with Founder/Senior Designer, Kelli Standish of PulsePoint Design. We were brainstorming website marketing ideas for The Doctor’s Lady (Jody Hedlund’s second book, releasing Sept. 1, 2011). She gave me a number of fantastic ideas—strategies I plan to implement in the days leading up to my book’s release.
However, in the middle of all our planning she said something profound and very key: “If you love your readers, they’ll promote the heck out of you.”
I’m sure we can all think of an author we’ve met online (or in person), one we’ve grown to admire and respect because of how personable and kind they are. I know it makes a huge impact on me when an author is down-to-earth, chats with me, retweets something I say, leaves a comment on my blog, etc.
I may have already liked that particular author. But my admiration rises even higher when they take the extra effort to connect with me. In fact, I recently wanted to help James Scott Bell get the news out about his newest e-book, Writing Fiction For All Your Worth, simply because he’s connected with me online in such a genuine way.
On the reverse side, our admiration for authors diminishes when they act too busy for us, don’t respond to something we say, or only chat within a certain circle of author friends.
My point is that if we as writers grow to appreciate other writers/authors who connect with us, imagine how much that means to our readers when we make an effort to relate to them.
Marketing 101: Start by loving the readers we already have (including followers on social media sites). We may want more. But first we have learn to take care of those that are already sitting in our stadium. We need to figure out ways to bless and encourage the audience that’s before us.
When we’re loving and taking care of the readers and followers we have, they’ll WANT to support us. They may even go out of their way to help us and shout out the news about our books. They’ll be excited to promote for us, essentially taking a large part of “self” out of self-promotion.
We won’t need to toot our own horns so loudly because our readers will do the tooting for us.
What do you think? Have you supported authors because you’ve learned to like and appreciate them? Is “loving your readers” a good strategy? Or do you think it’s lame? If so, what do you think can work better?
Isn’t Jody Hedlund fantastic? If you would like to read more of her ideas, I’ve posted Hedlund‘s 5 Transformational Story Elements here. She offers a goldmine of excellent advice for polishing your WIP until story shines.