Five ways readers can help an author succeed

Writing for a popular audience can be really tough, and to succeed you need all the help you can get.

When I set out to write my first science and technology book for a popular audience, I knew I had a tough road ahead of me. But I had no ideas just how difficult it would be to have the impact I was hoping for.

What I did discover though is how important it is to have the full support and backing of people who are excited about what you’re writing about, and are willing to act to help you succeed.

Like many writers I suspect, I’m surrounded by people who are supportive of what I’m doing. But what has surprised me is how little of that support translates into actions that help me have the impact I’m looking for.

This is not helped of course by an aversion to asking for help — something I suspect that most writers suffer from. But what I didn’t anticipate when I set out was how many people assumed my book would be a success without them.

As I’ve discovered though, for an author and their book to succeed, they need more than kind words and encouraging sentiments — they depend on meaningful actions.

Fortunately, with a little thought, it’s surprisingly easy to support authors in ways that genuinely make a difference.

Here are just five:

1. Pre-order their book

Many people I’ve spoken with prefer to wait until a book’s been published before they order it. But those early pre-sales are critical for driving momentum and propelling a new book onto best seller lists.

Pre-order, and you’ll be doing an author a massive service — probably more than you could ever imagine!

2. Buy their book

OK, so this is a bit of a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how many people I’ve come across who are enthusiastic about an author, but assume that they’re so successful that they don’t need to actually buy their book.

Believe me, most authors rely on every sale they can get, and are deeply grateful for every single person who purchases a copy of the book they’ve sunk a good slice of their life into.

3. Encourage others to buy their book

Sales matter. But the rate at which a book sells is just as important — especially just after it’s been published. Sales rates can make the difference between moving up the best-sellers lists and getting on the radar of major influencers, and dying a long, slow literary death.

Unfortunately because most authors feel a icky about self-promotion, they don’t do a good job of encouraging others to buy their book. This is where you can make a profound difference though by simply spreading the word and encouraging others to check out what your author’s written — preferably sooner rather than later!

4. Write reviews

Online reviews are important. In fact, it’s hard to over-stress how important reviews on websites like Amazon and Goodreads are.

As with sales, the rate at which new reviews are posted makes a huge difference. 25 Amazon reviews in he first week has a markedly greater impact on visibility and sales than 50 reviews over the first year. And yet getting reviews from most readers is like drawing blood from a stone!

Believe me, if you take a few minutes to write a timely and honest review on Amazon or elsewhere, you’ll be doing your author a massive favor.

5. Spread the word on social media

Finally, posting about a book on social media like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others, is a really powerful way to support an author. Even better if you include a photo of the book!

And if you can, please do tag the author — you’d be surprised how affirming it is as a writer to discover someone’s actually read and enjoyed your work!

Of course, these represent just a slice of what it takes to help an author succeed. But they’re more important than most people realize.

The bottom line is, if you have an author that you’d like to see succeed, or there’s a book that you think it’s important that others read, please do take the time to follow these guideline and actively support them.

You may be surprised at how grateful they are!

Author of Future Rising: A Journey from the Past to the Edge of Tomorrow, and Associate Dean in the ASU College of Global Futures

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