Most authors cringe at the idea of telling their readers what they need to become more successful and to write more books. As an experienced writer myself, I know what that’s like. You’re afraid to ask anyone for anything because you’re afraid that you’ll scare readers away.
You need not fear! Your readers like what you do and a few of them will help if they have time. If you ask nicely, or with a little humour, no reader worth your time will be offended.
Now, you, dear reader can help your author. If you have time, you want to do this because most authors will write even more, even faster when they’re more successful. I have no research to back that up, just my own experience and that of a few other authors I know. When we got to do this full time, our output doubled, quadrupled and sometimes MORE! More books! Better books! That’s the reward you get (usually), for helping your author achieve their dream. I wrote five books as a hobby writer and it took a decade. As a full-time writer, I completed and published over thirty.
So… how can you help (for free)?
Download ALL THE (free) BOOKS!
You can download the non-free ones too, but that’s not what this article is about. Every independent author should have one or more free books out there. It helps people see what their writing is like without great risk, it’s their invitation to you. The higher these freebies are on any of the top download charts, the more people will discover them. If you want to be really cool about this, download a copy from all he sites that offer their work for free, every download helps. If there is an opportunity to share news of your download or purchase on social media, do that too.
Review the books!
A brief and honest review of the book you most recently read or remember best helps other readers decide whether or not to download or buy your author’s book. Sure, your author would rather see a purely positive review, but a few honest words about what you liked about the book are better than an overly hyperbolic love-fest. If you feel their book was worth four or five stars, please give them that gift. Whatever you do, be honest with your review and try to stay away from spoilers. You’re doing this as much for your author as for fellow readers, after all.
Share Your Experience!
If you find yourself loving a story, or a character, or the world your author has introduced you to, talk about them (without spoilers if possible) on social media. You don’t have to link the book, just make sure you mention the whole title and author, interested people will find it. If you love the story, mention why. Did it surprise you? Does it sound fresh and new? Did you experience something similar or do you wish it was happening to you? How about the characters? Do you have a favourite? Do you wish you could meet one of them? Does their journey seem exciting, even enviable? How about the world: is it somewhere you’d like to go? Is it particularly scary, or have realistic depth? People want to hear good stories, feel like they’ve met interesting characters or taken a trip somewhere using pages in a book. You’re sending them to a new world when you show them a new book or author.
Meet Them Online!
Some authors are very accessible online though Facebook, Blogs, Goodreads, Twitter and other social media. Sure, you’ll be able to find out when new books are coming by being present on these platforms, but they’ll benefit by having you along. Try to participate by responding to posts, asking questions about their books (if they tell you they can’t answer for spoiler reasons, please be patient), and greet newbies as they come. Authors with healthy social media presences have a much higher chance at landing TV and Movie deals, and you benefit by having other readers to hang out with.
Recommend the Freebies!
If you’re part of an online or real world group that’s related to what your favourite author writes, they might want to hear about their work. For example: If you’re a member of a fantasy gaming forum, like Elder Scrolls, talk about how you’re enjoying the work of your fantasy author. If you’re a member of a Vampire Live Action Troupe (LARP), a couple friends there might want to know about the Vampire or Urban Fantasy novels you’re reading (but it might be best to share that before or after the game). Friends with similar interests are obvious choices too, and you’ll be able to talk to someone about what you’re reading, which is a reward in itself.
Become A Beta Reader!
Sometimes an author will ask readers to step forward to proofread and offer opinions on an unfinished, or unpolished book. This is a great way to get a look at an early version of an unreleased work and to help them. By offering your notes and answering their questions, you’re helping them refine their work.
Can you think of another way?
I’d love to hear your ideas about helping a favourite author while spending zero dollars, so pop them into the comments below.