Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How Best to Support Your Favorite Writers and Make Sure the Books You Love Keep Coming

This is a piece I posted to Writers Who Kill a couple of weeks ago. I'm reposting it here because I think it has important information that I didn't know until recently and that others have since told me they also didn't know. I'm also adding to this list "likes" and "tags" on Amazon and retweets about authors' books. Nancy Cohen reminded me about these. I think I'd missed them because I was already doing all those.

 The publishing business still offers a steep learning curve to me. However, some of the things I’ve learned as a published novelist are turning me into a better fan of my own favorite authors. I’ve written on here before about pre-ordering and how I learned of its importance to writers. Instead of waiting for the books of my favorite author to be published, I pre-order now, knowing I’m contributing to their success as well as assuring I’ll have their book as soon as it’s available.

I thought I was already helping with reviews. On my blog, www.LindaRodriguezWrites.blogspot.com, I try to spotlight books by literary writers of color who might be hard for the average reader to find, as well as mystery novelists who are writing high-quality fiction. I do this with profiles, interviews, and sometimes reviews of individual books. However, I’ve learned that reviews on Amazon and Goodreads count more toward sales than those longer ones on my blog or elsewhere. 

I’ve always just given stars to books on Goodreads. I’ve read so many books that I didn’t think I had time for more than that. I was wrong. Those stars don’t do much good. It’s the reviews that make others decide to pick up the book to read. It’s the same with Amazon—reviews lead to sales. Even for authors who seem to have it made! Often even famous writers are just a breath or two away from tumbling down the slopes in the fickle game of publishing, and success is even more volatile for midlist authors. I try not to buy much on Amazon, so I’ve not done much except hit the ‘Like” button for a book/author I enjoy.

I’ve learned about how important these reviews can be to authors, and now I’ve set myself a goal to post a daily review of a novelist whose work I enjoy on either Amazon or Goodreads. I’m also going to learn how to link them so a review on my blog will post to Amazon or Goodreads. This is one thing I can do to make sure the writers I love don’t disappear on me.

I’ve always been a person others ask for book recommendations, primarily because I read so much in so many areas. Now that I’ve learned how important that word-of-mouth advice on books can be, I’ll be doing a lot more book recommendations and not just waiting for folks to ask me. I have occasionally requested my library system buy a book I want that they don’t have. Now, as soon as I know a book is coming out by one of my favorite writers, I will request my library system order that book—and my own pre-orders for those books will be through local bookstores because that helps them decide whether or not to order in that book to have on the shelves.

The publishing business is in deep flux right now, and authors are being required to do more than ever to promote their books. Every novelist I know, famous or unknown, is buried in a mountain of promotion efforts while still trying to write the books we fans love and wait for breathlessly. The influx of millions of ebooks by people who haven’t bothered to learn to be either good writers or good editors—and this is not meant to describe the many self-published writers who have worked hard at both—makes it hard for the potential buyer to find the writers who have worked for many years to hone their craft. Everything we, as fans of good writing in whatever genre, can do to make our favorite authors successful ensures that in the volatile atmosphere of publishing today these favorite novelists will survive and thrive—and continue providing us with our favorite addiction, their good books.

Do you know of other strategies we fans can do to help ensure the success of the book and authors we love?


  1. This is a great post, Linda. I might add that when we order books from our local bookstore, we tell them what we like about it and why it might be a good fit for the store.
    You've inspired me--I'm going to try to work harder at some of these (goodreads & Amazon reviews especially).

  2. Janet, it's great to see you here. That's an excellent suggestion about telling bookstores what we like about the book because that gives them ammunition to use in recommending books to customers.

    So glad to hear I've inspired you. I recently got RED WEATHER and am so looking forward to losing myself in it as soon as I can.