Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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March 30, 2015

How You Can Help Your Favorite Authors

Penny Sansevieri

Okay readers, listen up. This one is for you. Being an author isn't easy - in fact it’s a pretty tough job. It’s not easy being an author in a world where everyone can get published.We write our books for you and, in return, we’d love a little help now and again.

Most of my articles focus on advising authors on marketing and social media. I am sure authors read these pieces and feel like they need a nap. Yes, there’s a lot to be done, but you shouldn't go it alone. Your readers can be your best ally to help you market to other readers.

Often readers do want to help, but aren’t really sure what to do. There’s a bit of a mystique around authors. Many readers think, “Well, the book has been published, they probably don’t need my help.” But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Authors (especially those who are starting out) do need our help.

Here are 10 things you can do to help support your favorite author.

And authors, don’t hesitate to post this list somewhere on your website. If you need help (and who doesn’t) you need to ask for it.

1. Review the book

I've been doing an experiment with a book that I published anonymously. I included an email address for readers, to write and share their thoughts on the book. I was shocked at all of the emails I got. Most of them complimentary (whew) and many of them asking when I’d write another book (something every author wants to hear). I would write them, thank the, and ask if they had the time, would they consider reviewing it on Amazon? This has netted me over fifty reader reviews.

Authentic opinions about the book, written by a reader. Fantastic, yes? Readers are some of the best resources for reviews. If you are an author, ask for a review. You might even include a note at the end of the book to your readers inviting them to review it and telling them why. I’m surprised that many readers don’t write reviews, it’s not because they’re lazy but because they wonder if their opinion matters. Guess what? It does!

Like a book? Please review it. Even if you don’t like it review it, too. Most authors welcome feedback if it’s constructive. Always be positive.

2. Video reviews 

If you’re ready to take this a step further, why not offer a video review? Amazon lets you do this and I know, as an author, I would be thrilled if someone reviewed my book on video! If you do this, send the video clip via Dropbox or YouSendit and keep the clip to under a minute. Hold up the book and smile!

3. Photo sharing

This is another thing that I would love so much. A reader holding up my book, snapping a picture and posting it on social media! This is a fun, visual way to share your love for a book. Even better, snap a picture where you’re reading it. Taking a book on vacation? Why not show yourself enjoying the book (cover out!) laying in a hammock or sitting somewhere sipping espresso (Paris?). If you don’t have any travel planned, take a picture anyway. Authors love, love this so much!

4. Local bookstores

Though it may seem like every author who is published gets a shot at bookstore shelf space, the truth is, most don’t. If you’ve found a book you love and had to buy it on Amazon because your local store didn’t carry it, tell them. Bookstore managers have told me if they get multiple requests for a book they will consider stocking it.

5. Reading groups

This is often a tough one for authors to get into. Reading groups are a fantastic way to get the word out about your book but many are tough to reach and often pick their books months in advance. Unlike The Pulpwood Queens, which has a website and a strong online presence, most local book clubs don’t have that kind of exposure -  but their regional reach can be fantastic.

If you know of a local book club, let them know about this book and put them in touch with the author. It’s a quick thing to do and I speak from experience when I say that any author would be very, very grateful to have this kind of a connection.

6. Buy the book for a friend

This is pretty basic. If you love the book you just read, buy a copy for a friend. I do this almost every year for Christmas. If I love a book, I gift it. When you do, remind the person to review it.

7. Social Media

Sharing has become part of our lives. We share good and bad news, but when was the last time you shared what you are reading? Here’s where that great picture you just took of you reading a book can come in handy. Or even better, hop on over to Goodread,s or Library Thing and share your love for this author to the millions listening there.


Most authors will get things printed, like bookmarks, postcards, etc. Bookmarks are especially fun because despite the eBook surge, many of us are still reading printed books. Email the author and see if he or she will send you a stack that you can share with your local library or bookstore. Leave them at the counter or pop them inside of similar books. Sort of like Amazon’s, “Other customers also bought…”

I know of a few times when this has happened, the authors are blown away and grateful. Ask for the bookmarks and the next time you’re at a bookstore drop them off. Easy, and the authors will really appreciate the local exposure.

9. Authors on tour

It’s not often that authors tour anymore but if you have someone coming to your area, why not offer to help them get the word out? Maybe drop off fliers, or if you are so inclined, call your local paper and let them know this author is coming to town and as a reader, you’d love for the paper to do a story on them.

Getting a heads up about an author coming to town from a reader can be ten times more effective than even a well-polished pitch. Why? Because the media is serving the local community and if a resident is sharing an idea, they’re bound to listen.

10. Libraries 

Authors can have a tough time getting their books into libraries, so why not buy an extra book and donate it? Then let the author know that you did this so they can let readers know where they can check out the book at a local library. I know most authors would love to have a reader do this. It’s impossible to reach everyone and most authors don’t have the budget to do a library pitch on top of everything else. Many will submit their books to publications that librarians read and hope for the best. Having a local connection is a fantastic way to get a book some local exposure.

*  *  *

When I’ve offered these tips in a session, someone will pop up and say, “But big named authors don’t need this kind of help.” That’s possibly quite true, but if you’re only reading big names, you’re missing out on a whole crop of wonderful new writers. And, frankly, authors, no matter how big, will appreciate the help. The publishing world isn’t just shrinking for the little guy, it’s shrinking for every author.

As a reader, you have a unique opportunity to make a difference and help out an author who has poured their heart and soul into a book. As an author, if you need help from your readers, ask. Post this article on your website or excerpt pieces of it that you feel best fit your needs. Even better, create your own list. When you ask for help, you might be very pleasantly surprised by the results.

Well, WITS followers, what points would you add to the list? Have you ever tried any of these?


About Penny

Author MarkketingPenny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert and an Adjunct Professor with NYU. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. She is the author of fourteen books, including How to Sell Books by the Truckload. AME is the first marketing and publicity firm to use Internet promotion to its full impact through online promotion and their signature program called: The Virtual Author Tour™

To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at http://www.amarketingexpert.com. To subscribe to her free newsletter, send a blank email to: mailto:subscribe@amarketingexpert.com

Copyright @2015 Penny C. Sansevieri


Top photo by Rachel James (Flickr) - CC License



34 comments on “How You Can Help Your Favorite Authors”

  1. This is great! Many authors are introverts and just can't bring themselves to ask for help, so to have readers stepping up would be amazing! I'm going to post it on my site! Thanks!!!

  2. Great list! I am always amazed how many books are left out of my library system's collection. Most people don't realized most libraries have a "suggest a book" option. (Check your library website!) If a reader checks out your first book and loves it, they might be excited to buy the second, or recommended them all to others. And one of the joys of having a library day job is featuring books by my favorite author friends on the end caps. When I see them checked out, I do a happy dance—silently, of course.

  3. Excellent advice, Penny. I always love seeing the books of authors I know on shelves, and turning them out! Word of mouth is one of the most powerful forces in the Universe. I try to unleash it for books I like, whether I know the author or not!

    1. WOM is *the* way to gain traction for a book - really. It's a big deal now, especially with 4,500 books published each day. We must engage readers to help spread the word!

  4. Thanks for the ideas, Penny! I also routinely donate books to the library that I've read, and take stacks of promo from reader events to the library for their distribution. I'm going to compile my own list and share! Thanks for that idea, too!

  5. This is all great advice, Penny. The other thing I'd add is going out to see authors who come to bookstores for signings. Even the most popular authors sometimes only get a handful of people. By attending an author event, you'll not only learn about the author and his or her approach to writing--you'll also be supporting the bookstore, especially if you buy something while you're at the event.

    1. Holly that's exactly right --- go and support your local author and the events they do. This is also a great signal to the bookstore that events work. And while you're at the event, buy not only the author's book but a little something else, too. Super important to support our local bookstores!

  6. These are fantastic ideas, Penny. I'm reblogging your list, (and thanks for permission). I think readers want to help out, they simply don't know how.

  7. Great tips! Just like my Grandma always said, "If you don't ask, the answer is automatically no." Thanks for sharing.

  8. Great ideas!! I never thought about donating a book to the library ... that was a headslap, duh moment. 🙂
    Thanks for posting with us!

  9. Great post, Penny. I especially love your suggestion about buying books you've enjoyed for friends. Last Christmas I bought a friend of mine a book that I loved and thought she would also enjoy. Immediately after she read it she went to the bookstore to buy the second book in the trilogy. I also like to tweet about what books I'm reading, and I often by books based on suggestions from trusted Twitter friends.

    1. Denise spreading the love that way is fantastic. We really must help each other out when it comes to promoting our books. With 4,500 books published each day it's a rough road sometimes and authors spend a lot of their time fighting obscurity.

  10. This is fantastic! I am happy to help out the authors I love (and one day soon I hope others will be helping me out with my own published book!) For now I love offering book reviews, being part of virtual book tours and author interviews on my blog Historical Fiction Addicts (at kellylynnereimer.wordpress.com). Please, for any historical fiction authors out there, come by my blog, drop me a line, and I will do my best to help you out!

  11. Other ideas that are easy and quick: follow the author on Amazon, sign up for their newsletter or blog, and add them to their TBR list on Goodreads.

  12. Very good advice! As an indie author and also an avid reader, I couldn't agree more. I try to review as many books by indie authors as I can (I'm a top reviewer at Amazon). As for my own books, I REALLY appreciate all the people who write reviews for me. 🙂

  13. […] Those days when the weather gets gloomy provide a great time for taking out a book and enjoying an imaginary journey to another place. If those of us who are writers hadn’t enjoyed reading, we would never have taken up writing. Penny Sansevieri lists 10 things readers can do to help their favorite authors. […]

  14. Hi Penny. A useful article, thanks. I'm interested in your no. 1 tip. When you say you included an email, what exactly did you do? Did you put the email in the blurb, or on Amazon? I might experiment too 🙂

  15. There is another suggestion I could make. I run 4 e-zines. Now, granted, I am positive not ALL of them have identical tastes. LOL But.. dropping a line or two, could result in an inquiry as to "Where did you receive that idea?"
    It could be passed on to them, and then the curiosity has been piqued -- providing all other criteria are satisfactory for the inquirer's line of interest!

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