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If You Love a Writer

After ten years of writing around my children’s schedules, I have a book coming out soon, and friends have been asking what they can do to support me. I’ve been touched by their offers and yet reticent to ask too much, especially of busy people in a tough economy. At the same time, the online writers groups I belong to are a buzz day and night with authors trying to figure out how to publicize their work before the entire publishing industry goes bankrupt. So, as a community service, I’ve decided to write up ten suggestions for all the people who love a book author who’s been fighting the publicity odds (Fellow writers, feel free to forward this link or add your own suggestions in the comment section.):

1.   Buy your friend’s book. If you can afford it, buy it for everyone in your extended family. If you can’t afford it, ask your local librarian to order a copy. In fact, you can suggest it to your librarian whether you buy a copy yourself or not.

2.   Don’t wait until Christmas or Hanukkah to pick up a copy. How it does in its first weeks determines whether a book will stay on the bookstore shelves or be sent back to the warehouse to be shredded (along with your friend’s ego). Try to buy it as soon as it’s published, or better yet pre-order a copy, which makes your friend look good and gets your friend’s publisher excited about the book’s prospects. An excited publisher will invest more in publicity, while a bookstore that is getting advanced orders is more likely to stock the book on its shelves.

3.   Friends often ask where they should get the book, which is a tricky question. In the long-term, it is in every writer’s best interest to support independent booksellers (reader’s too, actually). If you don’t have a favorite one yourself, you can go to IndieBound to find one near you. When a book is newly released, however, it may help your writer friend more to buy it through a big chain, so they keep it stocked where the most people can find it. Likewise, a high sales rate on Amazon can get people’s attention, and if your friend’s website links directly to Amazon, she may be part of a program where she makes extra money when someone enters Amazon through the link on her website and then makes a purchase. I personally have links to several booksellers,  on the theory that it’s good to spread the love around.

4.   If you genuinely like your friend’s book, write a review on Amazon or Goodreads, mention it on Facebook and Twitter, and recommend it to your book group.

5.   If your friend’s book is sci fi, and you’re more of a Jhumpa Lahiri fan, say something like, “I’m so proud of you for following your passion,” and skip writing the review.

6.   If your friend is a good public speaker, recommend her to your church, synagogue, mosque, ashram, kid’s school, Rotary club, etc. If you live far away, your friend might get to come visit you and write it off her taxes.

7.   If you have a website or blog, link to your friend’s website. The more people who link to her, the better she looks to the search engines, which may help people who don’t already love her to find her book. To be really helpful, don’t link on the words “my friend,” but on whatever keywords your friend might be using to find her target audience. (For example, I would especially appreciate people using the phrase “Serenity Prayer” to link to my page About the Serenity Prayer.)

8.   If your friend could legitimately be a reference on some Wikipedia page, add her as one, with a link to the most relevant page of her website. Authors can’t tout themselves on Wikipedia without getting a “conflict of interest” badge of shame, but there is nothing more fun for a writer than discovering a spike in her search engine traffic due to a link posted on Wikipedia. It’s kind of like having a secret Santa.

9.   Don’t ask your friend if she has thought about trying to get on Oprah. Trust me– she’s thought of that.

    10. If you pray, go ahead. It couldn’t hurt to pray she gets on Oprah.

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    If you genuinely like your friend’s book, write a review on Amazon
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    If You Love a Writer - Blog | Quaker Writer, Speaker & Activist - Eileen Flanagan
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    Eileen Flanagan's blog, Imperfect Serenity, about Quakerism, environmental justice, activism, spirituality, living each day with peace and more.
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Reader Comments (42)

Dating a writer myself, I think this is extremely good advice. Aspiring writers need all the help they can get, especially if they deserve it!

Sandra Scarlett
Dating Articles

August 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSandra Scarlett

You have mention good post above I really enjoy the information. I wish to come again on your site in future

August 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter传世私服


This is great information for those of of us who are struggling with this process. Thank you for this helpful information and the reminder about the Serenity Prayer.

Michele Marie Tate
author: Blood, Money, Power

August 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichele Marie Tate

I have written a book, "Think different", about the Italian contemporary situation and not only.
It's on sale in Lulu.com

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMonica Ravalico

This is brilliant - thank you so much. Posting it on Facebook and sending it around. I've got my first novel for 13 years coming out this Fall and this is going to be such a help (My usual books are factual/theology). Great stuff. Maggy

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaggy Whitehouse

I really enjoyed reading your article, as my Christian self-help book , "7 Pathways to Hope" is due to be published this fall. Your suggestions are very helpful and will go a long way in helping my friends and family answer the question, "What can we do to help?" I wish you much success with your book, the Wisdom to know the Difference." May it touch the hearts of many!

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAdele M. Gill

You, Eileen, are a gift in my July stocking! What a fantastic post, and one I will be sure to link on my blog. You've covered almost every thought a writer might have or want to say about supporting our authors! May Santa come down your chimney with lots of neat gifts!
Sylvia Dickey Smith

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSylvia Dickey Smith

THANK YOU! I just launched a book in June called Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget (2010, Norlights Press, www.brandingbasics.info) and this post could not be any more timely! Great roundup of tips (I've already shared with my community). Best of luck on all of your book launches.

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaria Ross

Thanks Eileen. I work in marketing and publicity for a small publisher in Australia. I try and give my authors this kind of advice and yours is spot on. Even here they ask how to get on 'Oprah' or at least how to get on 'Mornings with Kerri-Anne'. Again and again I stress that word of mouth through networks, family and friends can push up sales of your book, particularly through good reviews. #2 is soooo important. Authors need to realise that the book needs to be marketed before it comes out, not only after. Create hype on your webpage, Facebook or Twitter. Don't stop talking about your book and make sure your family and friends don't stop either. I will happily pass your post onto my readers at: http://bookszeus.wordpress.com

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDonna Munro

May I post a link to my blog at nancigravill.wordpress.com? I would explain about your blog article and then have them check out the link. BUT, BUT ~ I'd rather just post the entire article on my blog. What do you think?

My book "Fresh Hope ... Cleveland: Resources to Help You Navigate Through Unsettled Times" is due out in November. I would post it around that time -- in late October. My Web site will be up in October at www.nancig.com. Thank you!

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNanci J. Gravill

Thanks to all the recent commenters, and good luck with your own projects!

August 25, 2010 | Registered CommenterEileen Flanagan

This is awesome and something every writer loves to read about; THE LOVE OF BOOKS AND AUTHORS. Great information which I will put to use in January when my book, SALTWATER TAFFY hits shelves through PERSEUS DISTRIBUTION. Thanks again. Eric

August 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEric DelaBarre

I enjoyed reading your list. Very helpful....... My fantasy novel.. Fawcetta (Voices and Echoes of The Coliseum) Vol. 1
Has been picking up pace for the past year, I do agree with what I read for I myself have done a few things on this list. I would like to add one more thing on the list.... do a book trailer... I've had many responses and people have bought my book more after seeing my book trailer. Again, thank you...

Dalian Artanian

August 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDalian Artanian

Silvia Dickey Smith sent me... she told me to say that!
I love all the points you made, and we never know just how far one of those connections might take us.
About seven years ago, one took me halfway around the world, but that's a whole 'nuther kettle of kittens.
I just might have to bookmark you and drop by now and again.
Take care of your Self and your Heart.

August 25, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterwiddershins

Eileen, this is an incredible post and timely too as I am going to release my second book. I would love to repost this on my blog: Journey Thoughts http://lynndove.wordpress.com/
With your permission.
Please get back to me.
Lynn Dove - author

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLynn Dove

Thank you so much, Eileen, for sharing your expertise and knowledge. It's a wonderful article on a topic that is so important to me right now. My new book pubs September 26, 2010 and I'm grateful for any and all insights into how to spread the word.

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVivian Kirkfield

I love all your suggestions. Keep them coming!

October 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBook Publicity

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