How to Support a New Author (Namely Me)
I don’t know when it happened, but we are almost in the final two months before The Traitor’s Kiss is officially out in the world. I swear it was 6 months ago, like, yesterday, but that’s about how long ago I shaved my legs last and yep, it definitely wasn’t really yesterday.
So now it’s time to talk about how to support me, and I’m assuming since you are reading this article, that’s something you are interested in doing. Fortunately for you, not all of them involve spending money.
Buy the book. Okay, this one is obvious and involves money, and I know it doesn’t grow on trees.1 But there are several different kinds of purchases and each helps in a different way.
Preorder! This helps me by telling decision-making bigheads that there is an audience. Using Amazon tells the biggest bookseller in the world that maybe they could sell even more books if they made it a little more visible. Going through Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million does the same thing. Done online, it’s usually cheaper, but doing it at a store bypasses the computer algorithms and puts the book in a person’s head. They, in turn, might be inclined to check it out themselves, which can lead to them recommending it to their boss, who buys for the store, and to customers, who are already there expecting to spend money.
Buy it in the store. Usually the most expensive option, and though retailers like Target and Walmart and Costco are cheaper, they only stock a small selection of very popular titles. If, however, The Traitor’s Kiss makes it onto those discount store shelves, then buying it there can only help them think they can sell more, and they will order more. Same with bookstores.
Buy it for others. I know this requires even more money, but you were going to spend money on a Birthday/Christmas/Bris gift anyway, right? And what better way to celebrate Earth Day than by giving someone dead tree slices? In all seriousness, you can also donate it to your local library or school or various fund-raising raffles/auctions, and then it’s tax deductible! And I will sign any you put in front of me, which should raise the value by at least a dollar.2
Now that you have a copy, take it on the road. Tote it around and read it in public. I mean, don’t overdo it and look like a crazy person carrying a security blanket, but if you like to read in coffee shops or on your lunch break or in waiting rooms or in line for Confession or during your commute, then make it your book of choice.3
If I’m holding an event in your area, please come and bring a friend or twelve. Often this can require buying a book if it’s at a store, at least if you want to get an autograph and a picture. Also, if you hear I’m going somewhere and you have friends or enemies in the area, encourage them to go.4
Review it. There are many places to leave web reviews, namely GoodReads, Amazon, and Barnes&Noble, and you can copy and paste the same review onto every one. Fair warning, Amazon in particular is known for removing reviews from those who didn’t purchase through them or who they can see is connected to the author in some way – which can be as simple as seeing that you follow me on Twitter or Facebook. Yes, it’s silly, but they are trying to sort out the fluff reviews from authors’ friends. But the good news is you can still rate reviews as helpful or unhelpful or flag them as messed up somehow, and Amazon will sort them better in the order they appear. You can also “like” reviews on GoodReads and that puts them near the top of the queue. Please do not over-inflate my novel by saying it will soon replace Mao’s Little Red Book as the most-owned book in the world. Do be honest, but maybe don’t mention you’re friends with my mom.
Please DO NOT reply to those who give my book crappy reviews. Not everybody is going to like it (and it’s not perfect), and some will trash it out of jealousy or some weird misconception. Trolls in particular are not worth engaging because it only feeds them, though you can subtly counter wild claims in your own review. And watch for reviews that contain spoilers. I’ve already had a few of those – some out of gushing love, and some out of spite. Flag as appropriate for the site’s quality control and move on.
Also know that I do not go to my pages on these sites. Any author will tell you reading reviews never leads to anything good. I only read what my agent, editors, and a few select friends forward to me if they think I ought to see it. If you write a lovely review, you are welcome to tell me about it or tag me in social media if you post it there.
Like and follow me on your social media sites of choice. I am on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, plus this website. You can follow me as an author on Goodreads and Amazon, too. If you aren’t already on these sites, don’t think you need to sign up just for me. Frankly, I’m not very good at any of them, and I’m not particularly fond of most of them, either.5 When I’m overwhelmed or busy or just annoyed, which is often, I post even less.
Visit my book in bookstores and libraries. Simply ask the people who work there where you can find my book – you don’t even have to buy it! Reserve it at the library, and return it a few days later. This puts my book in the brains that matter: People have been asking about this book, I should learn more. And then when Uncle Joe comes to buy his niece Susie a book for a special Labor Day treat and he asks the clerk what kids are reading these days, they may think of The Traitor’s Kiss. It may start to get more prominent space in both the library and the store.
Also, you can stealth promote it by finding it on the shelf and turning it so the front cover is outward, making it more visible. Publishers pay extra money for that positioning, and other prominent placements, but booksellers and librarians do it themselves if something is moving.
But again, don’t go all crazy driving around town and reserving it at eight different libraries and the same store every other day. Just if you happen to be there.
Talk about it. Once more, not like a crazy person. Your 80-year-old neighbor who loves bass fishing magazines is not going to be impressed with my book. Your friend’s 15-year-old daughter may be impressed, but don’t get pushy because teenagers. Just sneak a copy into that bowl of fat-free guacamole you plan on offering her. Morse code and skywriting are also good tools. And it helps to be able to actually talk about it, not just say “My father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate wrote this book, and it’s totes groovy!”
Recommend/choose it for your book club. Not the one that normally prefers penguin erotica – there’s none of that in my novel.6
If you have a publicity connection, hook a sister up! Do you have a friend who works for a newspaper or a news-type show? If you think they’d be interested, let them know you know me. Have their people call my people, and we’ll make a play date.7
And lastly, this one doesn't help promote my book so much as make me feel good, but please send me notes on and photos of sightings in the wild. If you see a teen in Starbucks spew her double coconut caramel half-caff no-whip mochachino all over my book when she gets to page 251, tell me about it. If the grandma in the corner booth at Outback is fanning herself with a handful of bloomin’ onion straws as she reads that scene,8 I want pictures. Hell, saying you saw it lying in a ditch is a thrill because that means somebody bought it.
So that’s what you can do to support me or any author you like. And I truly appreciate it, even if all you do is send me a note of congratulations.
Though, technically, my book is MADE from trees, so that would be kind of ironically cool to buy dead trees with tree parts.
Less in Canada.
Not while driving, though, I’m pretty sure that’s illegal. And if it’s not illegal, it should be.
Enemies may require reverse psychology.
Except Amazon, our Benevolent Overlord, long may it reign!
Though the sequel…
Not The O’Reilly Factor, though. He only promotes his own books, and I kill no presidents in mine, so he definitely won’t be interested.
You know which one.