This post is self-serving. Many of you know I have a book releasing in July called Help My Unbelief: Why Doubt Is Not the Enemy of Faith and released one last year called The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity. So yes, I am giving you pointers on how to support me. But I’m also asking you to support Stephen Altrogge, Ted Kluck, and Russ Ramsey who all contribute to The Blazing Center and have written multiple books themselves. And these tips apply to any author, whether they’re a NYT best seller or a self-published specialist in something. Some of the ideas are a bit obvious, but are you doing them? These three simple actions can have a remarkable collective effect on the success of authors and their books.
1. Buy their books
Thank you, Captain Obvious, you say. But think about it. You can borrow books. You can go to the library. You can have good intentions. But actually purchasing the books is the best way to support an author. It really doesn’t matter from where you buy from either. In these days of e-commerce, every sale drives more sales, bit-by-bit. The Amazon ranking goes up, more people see the book, more purchases are made, and the author gets his or her royalty. Buy the e-book, buy the print book, no matter – this is the single best way to support authors and books you enjoy.
2. Write reviews and rate the books
Aside from buying this is the most powerful tool you have to help authors. We live a day when customer reviews are enormously powerful. Think of apps like Yelp that help you determine where you will or won’t eat or Rotten Tomatoes that give guidance on which movies are fresh or rotten. The star rating and the reviews on Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, or Goodreads are equally as powerful. If a book has ten ratings we think the author’s mom and siblings rated it. If it has twenty-five his college classmates joined in. But if it has fifty, one hundred, or a thousand? Those matter. People read it and liked it, and they can’t all have bad taste. Add your voice and help the book get noticed. Major e-commerce sites have systems that rank books more highly and publicize them better if they get more ratings too, so you are doing more than offering an opinion. You are creating leverage for that book.
3. Talk about it
Two facts hold true for book sales. First, the greatest obstacle to an author having success is lack of awareness by readers. Second, the greatest incentive to buy a book is a recommendation from a trusted source. If you talk up books you overcome the first obstacle by being the trusted source. Think back to a book like The Help. The author, Kathryn Stockett, wasn’t well-known. The publisher didn’t invest big money up front. (If they had it wouldn’t have done much to build success; publishers can’t make small books big, but that’s an issue for a different day.) What made that book a national phenomena? Conversations which became purchases which became reviews and more conversations. Talking is exponentially powerful when it comes to promoting books. Talk in person. Talk on Twitter or Facebook. Talk on Instagram. Talk on your blog. Just talk.