Twitter began as a way for me to sell books, quite frankly. I'm brand new at this and I just knew that I needed to have a social media presence. I had no idea that I would meet tons of amazing writers and become part of this strong, amazing community - and I don't mean JUST indie authors, either.
There are traditionally published authors conversing with and supporting indies, book bloggers (who I think are angels in disguise) supporting and talking with writers who are published through tiny pub houses, indie writers who are shouting from the rooftops about their favorite traditionally published book, and so much more. It's incredible.
The outpouring of support from those people inspires me daily. They're my heroes, and they make me proud to be part of this community. With that in mind, I started thinking about what I could do to help support my fellow indie authors, the book bloggers I adore, and the traditionally published authors that I think are amazing. I thought they might be useful for you too, so here they are:
1. Buy books. Sounds pretty obvious, right? But here's what I mean. Maybe you win a book from a contest (ebook or print) and you LOVE it. Why not go buy a copy for a friend? Did you know that the majority of indie authors I've been conversing with pour their hearts and souls into a book they've created just for you, and then they sell it for super low prices - like $.99 to $3.99? That makes it easy to pick up a few indie books a week and you'll be doing a HUGE thing for the indie community!
2. Be a Book's Cheerleader. Have you read a self-published or traditionally published book that you couldn't put down? One that sticks in your mind and that you really enjoyed? Tell everyone you can possibly think of! Post it in forums, tweet it, link to it from your Facebook account, recommend it to friends, etc. Word of mouth is one of the most important types of marketing for authors and books.
3. Tell YOUR Customers. Maybe you have signed books for sale on your website. Why not put a bookmark or a trading card inside the book before you ship it out, so your customers can discover a book by another author that you love? If you're e-published, ask permission to put a small excerpt from one of your favorite books inside your book so those who buy yours can learn about the other.
4. Write a Review...or Two. If you've read a book that you really love, write a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or Smashwords for the author. This helps because it tells others (who may be considering purchasing the book) that someone else thought it was really great. A lot of people make decisions on books or music based on reviews from past customers.
5. Donating to Book Bloggers. None of the book bloggers I've worked with (or have communicated with on Twitter) ever charge for their services. They accept a free book in order to read it and provide their review to their readers. Has a book blogger done a particularly great job with a thorough review and helped by pointing people to your other works/website? Stop by their blog and make a little donation if they have a button. Most of them will use this for shipping fees for books and other swag that they give out, because those costs come straight out of their pockets. A small donation can help a lot!
6. Include Others on Your Blog Tour. You can really do this with any type of marketing you do. Offer to give out bookmarks or cards with your own giveaway items for your blog tours or other contests. This allows new readers to get to know other authors while they're getting to know you.
7. Join Indie Book Clubs. There are a ton of book clubs for traditionally published authors, and with the way the industry is changing, more and more indie book clubs are sprouting up. Join one, and then tell your friends about it. This is a great way to learn about recently released indie books you might be interested in.
8. Don't Discriminate. I can't tell you how many times I've seen comments like, "A self-published book is just a book that no serious agent or publisher would take." Or, "Self-published books give other authors a bad name." Not true. Yes, some people self-publish because they've had a difficult time finding an agent, but that doesn't mean their book isn't good; fantastic, even. When you think about the ratio of agents to aspiring writers, you'll easily see how agents are a bit like funnels that lead to publishers. With so many writers coming at them, things can get clogged pretty easily and amazing books get skipped over.
Of course you're going to run into self-published books that are just not good; or at least not in your opinion. However, the very same could be said about traditionally published books. I have read a few that I absolutely couldn't make it through. I felt like the book was a waste of paper and energy! But there will be other self-published books that you won't be able to forget. Don't discriminate!
9. Words of Praise. Have you read a book recently that you loved? Write the author an e-mail or a message on Facebook and let them know. I don't know about other authors, but when someone tells me they loved my book, I can't stop smiling. I'll float through the entire day with a big grin on my face. It makes it all worth it. You might not think a writer needs to hear words of praise, but in my experience, no one needs to hear them more than a writer. When he or she gives a book to the world, they're putting part of their soul out there and that's scary! If you love it, tell them.
10. Don't Give Up. Finally, if you're a writer, never give up. It might take you one book to make it. It might take you fourteen. If you're going the traditional route, you might have written so many query letters that their total words far outweigh that of the novel you've created. If you're self-published, you might be on the computer 18 hours a day building up a community and trying to create a readership. Let's face it; you won't be able to stop writing, anyway. Stories and characters and possibilities will nag at the back of your mind until you're forced to get it into a Word doc. So, why give up? Show them what you're made of.
Don't listen to statistics from naysayers because quite frankly, they don't know what they're talking about. No one (not even NY publishing houses) can 100% accurately predict the success of a writer or book. If you believe in yourself, and you have faith in YOU, no one can stop you!
Support your writer/reader community today! Do you have tips and info for how to support writers and readers? Would love to hear them; leave them in the comments below. =)