Recently, I listened to a podcast in which the hosts discussed a recent quote from Fantasy Author Patrick Rothfuss. Frustrated by readers demands for the final book in his trilogy, Rothfuss said “It’s like, just F-off. Just die.”
I’ve been editing book two of my own Science Fiction Trilogy and starting to feel a bit of that pressure myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love my audience. And you will never hear me say anything like that about my readers. But it can be stressful, trying to live up to expectations.
I say this, fully knowing that most of the expectations I have for myself are there because I chose to take them on. Ratings for Malfunction and the prequel novella, Revelation, have so far been quite good. It's easy to overthink my writing, worry about every plot point and every chapter. Does it fit? Are my characters consistent? Is everything well-thought-through and believable? Does it have enough of`my often-remarked-on fast-paced action scenes?
I never want to view my readers as the “enemies” of my writing! I love my readers, and I write for them as much as I do myself. Yes, I want to produce quality work, but I don’t want the fear of failure to drive my career!
Authors need your support! I try my best to provide as much of that support to the writers that I love. To share their work, compliment their writing, give whatever I can feasibly give to help them towards their goals.
Why? What is so important about authors?
Let me cite another podcast. I was recently listening to the Hardcore History Podcast by Dan Carlin. He suggested that the emergence of more fiction and novels was connected to the end of the particularly cruel tortures and executions that the middle ages are well known for. A few historians have suggested that these fictional stories allowed the literate class to empathize with people of lower classes, taking away any aspect of entertainment in a long, torturous execution.
Studies have shown that fiction teaches empathy and compassion. Fiction has been a huge shaping force throughout history. And that continues today. Today it is easier than ever to create content and get it out there. But it’s still hard to be a writer. Publishing is emotionally exhausting, it demands a lot of time, and it can be difficult to be heard above all the noise. And books aren’t just competing against other books. Fewer people are reading than ever, and writers are forced to try to get readers attention when television, games, youtube, and all other sorts of entertainment are eating it up. That means that we need your help!
So, how can you support your favorite authors?
1.Buy their Books!
Yes, that should be obvious. But whether you are purchasing books from a bookstore, online, as an ebook, or even picking it up at a library, you are not only giving authors monetary support and getting a great product in return, but you are increasing demand for their books. Especially in cases of traditionally published authors, too many people buying pirated books can mean that their publisher won’t be willing to buy more books in the series. And for both self-published and traditionally published authors that depend on those paychecks, pirated books can take away their livelihood.
2. Leave Honest Reviews.
If you don’t like a book, you are not helping out an author by leaving a positive review. Yeah, it might hurt to get a bad review on a book you poured your heart into, but reviews are not for the author. They are for other readers. And if a book is not to your taste, you recommending it will just bring more readers who’s tastes don’t line up with a book. So buy and read the books you like or you think you might like, and leave honest reviews for them on Amazon, Goodreads, and other sites.
3. Seriously, Leave Reviews.
Reviews are the single most important thing you can do to help support an author you love. They aren’t just compliments you leave on an author’s sales page. Reviews help other readers make up their minds about reading. They also help sales platforms prioritize books to suggest to readers and allow authors to put their books up for certain advertisement opportunities. Even if you just say “I liked it”, that’s enough to be of help!
4. Sign up for newsletters.
Authors like to stay connected to their readers. Most of us can’t depend on publishers to market our books, which means we need a way to get word out when a new book is available. Most authors will have a newsletter, and often if you sign up you will get some free goodies. If you sign up for mine, for instance, you will get a free, exclusive short story from the Malfunction Universe. This is also a great way to just stay updated on what is going on in their lives.
5. Share their Work
Post a picture on Instagram, add it to your TBR list on Goodreads, mention it in a tweet. You can also shout out to the author themselves. Follow them on social media and encourage people who share your taste in books to do the same. Most social media requires authors to pay for adds if they want to reach a wide audience, but if you show interest in your work and if you are talking about them, not only are your friends and family more likely to try their products for themselves, but the author will be able to reach more people naturally on their social media platforms.
6. Let Them Know
There is nothing I love more than hearing from a reader who loved my book. I love knowing that all my hard work paid off, that someone appreciates the time and effort I put in. I revisit emails and tweets from readers time and again. But do keep in mind that pushing authors to write their next book faster, or tagging them in comments about how much you disliked a book or a certain aspect of their writing, is not just stressful for writers, it's downright depressing. Even the best of us have tendancies to attatch our worth to our writing. And people out there on the internet can be vicious. So please keep your words kind when you are interacting directly with an author. The encouraging words are what keep me going when writing is more work than joy.
There they are: six ways you can help support your favorite authors. Just knowing that you guys are out there, reading my books, is often enough for me. So thank you. Thank you so much.