In this day and age of social media interaction between author and reader, there is far more discussion about the writing process and the publishing industry than ever before. A reader's knowledge base on these matters has grown expotentially just in the last few years. Authors have had to learn to weave through the sticky web of promotion, knowing they couldn't rely on their publishers to accomplish the task adequately. Indeed, we hold on with cracked and bleeding fingernails to the publishers we already have, knowing it can all be over with the stroke of the keyboard. Or at least over with that publisher. On to the next. Or to "indie" publishing, today's euphemism for self-publishing. Besides navigating the blogosphere, an author tweets, posts on Facebook, reviews on GoodReads, chats on an endless parade of forums, and meets in person the readers and readers-to-be in bookstores, libraries, conventions, and anywhere else they can book a gig. And we still have to write, too.
The author has to stay out of (for the most part) discussions of politics, religion, and anything controversial in order not to offend readers. They must continue to write the best book they can, keeping it interesting and exciting; a tightrope for an already harried writer slogging away at a series that she hopes will be long-lived.
She writes and promotes without much expectation of true compensation for all the work involved. In the end, it's done for the love of the thing, for creating her worlds and her own characters who inhabit it, and the satisfaction of seeing her books on bookshelves.
But what might be repsectifully expected of the reader in return?
Here's some suggestions from a socially interactive author on this subject.
1) Buy the book. This seems simple enough but it is far from it. Readers are on a budget. I know, because I'm a reader, too, and boy, am I on a budget. (It's a myth that writers are rich. Far from it. Only one tenth of one percent can even make a decent living from writing. And there's an even smaller percentage of those who are making a mega-living. Go ahead. I bet you can name them, the list is that small.) The fact is, that if readers don't buy the books from authors they love and appreciate, then authors can't get more contracts to continue to write those books you so love. I know I'm well beyond the time that I write purely for fun. This is a business for me, and if the contracts aren't there, I move on to something that will pay me. That's how it goes.
Libraries are great sales for me. When your local library buys my books, it might mean they buy several, one for each branch, and one of each of the series for each branch. If the books are checked out a lot and get well-used, then the library has to order replacements. So I appreciate libraries. But I also apprectiate when individual sales are made directly from bookstores to purchase the book in any form it shows up, whether print or ebook.
What doesn't benefit an author is readers buying used books. There's the argument that it builds readership like a loan from a library. But the difference is the library bought the book, sending funds back to the publisher and consequently the author. Libraries base their purchases on price per borrow and when it reaches maximum, they sell them in their bookstore to buy more books and, hopefully, reorder that book again from the publisher. Whereas a used book provides no compensation back to the source as it can be sold again and again.
If it's not in your library's database, request that your library order it. (I even have a large print edition for THE DEMON'S PARCHMENT and all my novels will soon be available in audio). Libraries only make a guess on what the public will want based on what's currently in their stacks. And you can almost never go wrong with a mystery, which usually has its own section in a library.
2) Tell others. You've just closed the cover on another book. And now you are waiting anxiously for the next in the series. Show your appreciation for what you just read by using word of mouth, the best source of promotion. How to do that, besides actually speaking to your friends? Go online (yeah, that's where it's all happening). Tweet about it. Join GoodReads or LibraryThing. These are both social interaction sites for book lovers to talk about books on forums or review books. But it's also one of the many places readers now go (instead of reviews in newspapers and magazines, since those are disappearing) to hear what people are saying about books and to get recommnendations. Rate the book by the number of stars. Mark the book "To Read" or "To Get" or "Read." The more ratings, the more attention it gets. You can also "Friend" the author when they have author pages on these sites.
And of course, go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble and write a brief review. Reviews--and even more nebulous, the number of reviews--add cache to the book. If there is a "Like" button, click on it. More reviews and more "Likes" help boost the book in the ratings algorithm and gets the book more visibility. Which brings us also to...
3) "Like" the author's page. On Amazon, most authors have pages (click on the link of the author's name when you bring up one of their books and it will take you there. Sometimes you have to keep clicking on the author name until it takes you there.) "Liking" an author's page on Amazon also boosts the author and their books higher in the ranks. It shows people are "talking" about it and is therefore more worthy of a place where more and more people can see it. These are all places where your vote counts!
4) Friend on FACEBOOK. The number of friends makes a good showing. Some authors have fan pages or other professional pages, where there is less interaction. I still have a regular page (once you reach 5,000 friends, Facebook automatically switches you to a fan page--I'm not even close to that yet). But I'd prefer to keep the regular page so I can easily chat with readers and other writers. But in order to keep getting posts from your author "Friends" on the news feed, you have to interact. The Facebook algorithm plots your interaction either by your "Like" clicks on comments or the comments you make on the news feed and therefore keeps you connected. But just being a "Friend" of someone doesn't mean you will get their posts. You may have to go directly to their wall to see what's happening. So start commenting on their comments an posts. It's the "social" part of social media. Do interact with me. I try to keep it interesting and entertaining.
5) Buy the next book. Whether the author is writing a series or writing standalones, they need you to show your appreciation by buying their next book. Pre-ordering books or buying the book the first week of release are excellent ways to show publishers that their authors' books are worthy to keep in their stables. Notihng says love like sales numbers.
Below are the links to my author pages on the sites mentioned. Do "click" by and leave your "Like" behind. It is very much appreciated.
MY OTHER (GROUP) BLOG (besides the one you're now reading): Poe's Deadly Daughters
MY WEBSITE: www.JeriWesterson.com