Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How to Help a Starving Author 3: Authors Helping Authors

Remember my How to Help a Starving Author posts? The first was the DOs, and the second the DON'Ts, and they were aimed at readers and fans who wanted to support their favourite authors so they could continue enjoying their books. Today's post is aimed at authors. In the current independent-spirited publishing climate, authors need each other like never before. Without authors spreading the word about other authors' books, there is little chance of the books being noticed, sold and read. 

So what can an author do to help fellow authors? The answer is: A lot:

1. Befriend each other on Facebook.
2. Like each other's Facebook pages.
3. Follow each other on Twitter.
4. Like each other's author pages on Amazon. (Garner enough 'likes' and the Amazon algorithm kicks in to improve visibility of the books.)
5. Like each other's books on Amazon. (Ditto the algorithm stuff.)
6. Download members' free books during promotions. (You don't need to own an e-reader; Kindle apps, for instance, are free for most devices. Download an app here.)
7. Tag each other's books on Amazon. If the books already have tags just clicking the boxes will do.
8. Host each other on author blogs.
9. Comment on each other's posts, not forgetting posts in blog tours.
10. Write reviews. The bottom line is that reviews are more effective than anything else when it comes to selling books. Take the time to write reviews, keeping the following in mind:
  • Never review a book you haven't read.
  • Always give an honest review. 
  • Avoid spoilers! Giving away the plot spoils the reading experience for others.
  • Don't insult the intelligence of shoppers. Most experienced shoppers can tell when reviews are less than authentic. I can. We have learned to read the signs, like the reams of 5 star reviews from people named 'A Customer' and reviewers who have reviewed nothing else on the site. 
These are the basics; there is much more that authors can do collectively: readings, book signings, advertising, printing of promotional items. There is strength in numbers; the reach of a group is often far greater than the sum of the reach of individuals operating on their own. Cross promotion works. We have seen it happen time after time where authors get together and do all of the above and their books break out of the ranks to become bestsellers. Buzz creates buzz, and buzz sells books. Much of the buzz behind the breakout books these days is created by... other authors.

Do you have a cross-promoting success story? Please share it in the comments.

Liane Spicer


Anonymous said...

Great and practical ideas. Thanks for sharing. I'd also like to suggest becoming involved in Writers 4 Writers, a great effort to promote authors and increase their marketing efforts (see their Facebook page).

Happy Thanksgiving.

William Doonan said...

Great post, Liane. One thing I noticed, and I'm sure you have too, is that most reviews tend to be positive. Sure, the occasional crabby rant gets by, but we are probably looking at some review inflation. And it's easy to see why. I'm more than happy to give great reviews of books that I liked, but I'm not going to pan a book I didn't like, especially if I know the author. Any thoughts?

Liane Spicer said...

Julie, I'll definitely visit Writers 4 Writers. Thank you for the suggestion.

Liane Spicer said...

William, whenever I see a book with only great reviews, red flags start fluttering. I should have put the word 'honest reviews' in caps, because I've seen far too much manipulating of ratings by authors and their networks. I actually think people should ignore ALL book reviews and just read the sample to make up their own minds. Subversive, eh.

I've reviewed dozens of items on Amazon but only two or three are books. Part of the reason is that I had a policy of never reviewing books by writers I know because I don't trust myself to be objective. I recently decided that if I enjoyed a book and would like to review it, the fact that I know the writer should not keep me from doing just that.

But I'm definitely not going to pan a book by a writer I know. To me, you just don't do that. I would simply not review/rate it. There are millions of other readers out there who are free to pan it if they wish.

Liane Spicer said...

...the WORDS 'honest reviews'... @@

Eugenia O'Neal said...

A great post, Liane! I honestly need to do more reviews, even if they're just a couple lines.

I've noticed that some authors don't reciprocate but, I believe, this is balanced out by the other authors who do unexpected and random acts of promotional kindness.

Charles Gramlich said...

Excellent! Good specific points and suggestions.

The Divorced Lady's Companion to Living in Italy said...

Great post and such true points. I also think that attending writers' festivals can be useful for networking, as can coming prepared with your own promotional material. People love to do business with someone who presents their projects well and who knows how to synthesise their work. A couple of years ago I met another Australian writer at a fiction festival and next summer I'll be speaking at her writers' retreat. I think it's so true -especially in the climate you are talking about- that what goes around, comes around. If you put in good positive energy, opportunities will arise and your sales will increase. You will enjoy the whole experience more! Ciao cat

Liane Spicer said...

Eugenia, thankee! I also need to do more book reviews. I don't really expect reciprocation, and I've never found the nerve to suggest a review exchange to anyone, but it's the least I can do if I really enjoy a book.

As for the random acts of kindness from other authors and from readers... I've received so many that it's humbling. Pay it forward, I say.

Liane Spicer said...

Charles, thank you. I know authors who have made an art form of this cross-promotion business. I'm always learning from them.

Liane Spicer said...

Hi Cat! Festivals sound great and that's one experience I'm looking forward to, along with a writers' retreat and a convention.

Sue Guiney said...

Thanks for this. Lots of these I now do automatically, but there are others I forget about at times and that I can really do more of. Thanks for the reminder!