Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Twelve Ways to Bless an Author

Writers write. It's what we do.

We write because we have a story or message that aches to be told. We write because we can't NOT write. It is a part of our DNA.

We also write to connect with others. We want our words to bring joy, knowledge, and/or healing to those who find themselves in a similar situation or season in life. We may write in solitude, but we envision our audience as we pen our next work.

Most writers I know are introverts. We enjoy this time alone, in a room of our own, staring at our computer screen while our fingers tap away at the keyboard. This is our comfort zone. When we finish our book, we release it into the universe hoping it will magically find its way to readers.

Writers are not marketers. And yet, we must embrace this aspect of the job. If we write to connect with others, we must let them know our work is available.

For the introvert, this is painstakingly difficult. For the budding author, this is nearly impossible. Our sphere of influence is small. We cringe at the thought of self-promotion. Hiring a PR firm is out of the question.

So we humbly ask for your assistance.

How can you bless an author? Form a partnership.

1. Buy the book. There, I said it. It's hard to ask for the sale, but necessary. Authors do not typically write for the money - but sales help us continue to follow our passion.

2. Buy the book for others. Not all books appeal to all people. While my book may not appeal to you, perhaps you know someone who could benefit from reading it. Buy the book for them and bless two people at once.

3. Recommend the book. You don't have to make a purchase.. a sincere recommendation is just as effective. Word-of-Mouth continues to be the best marketing tool.

4. Read the book. As silly as this sounds, find the time to read the book. We write to connect. A book that sits on a shelf fails to accomplish this goal.

5. Add the book to your "Want to Read" list. Are you familiar with GoodReads? If you enjoy reading books, then you MUST become a member of this book lovers' community. GoodReads allows you to inventory books you've read as well as develop a list of books you want to read. Connect with other like-minded bibliophiles. By adding a book to your "want to read" shelf they are notified and may add the book as well.

6. Rate the book. GoodReads, as well as Amazon, thrive on reader ratings. The more four-and-five star ratings, the more promotion it receives on these websites. It takes just a few seconds and is an invaluable support to an author.

7. Review the book. While ratings are helpful, reviews are powerful. Reviews need not be long or detailed... just a sentence or two as to why you would recommend the book to others. Fifty reviews on Amazon is an important threshold.

** a word of caution regarding reviews... honesty is always the best policy. If you thoroughly enjoyed the book, by all means, give it a five-star rating a glowing recommendation. However, if the book did not meet your expectations, ask yourself if you were the intended audience. Write an honest review, of course, but consider including who might benefit from reading the book.

8. Write a FaceBook post (or tweet). Social media is an indie-author's best friend because it can quickly build a reader audience. Consider writing three book-related posts: one when you first buy the book (excited to read my newest acquisition, Journaling Toward Wholeness) ... one while reading the book perhaps using a quote (reading Ellie's Paris Adventure makes me want to plan a visit to my local museum) ... one when you finish the book (just finished Italian Family Christmas and I'm excited to try the recipe for Bishop's Bread).

9. Like an author's FaceBook post. Typically writers maintain a personal page as well as an author page. We are responsible for posting quality content for our readers. Unfortunately, only those who like our author page see these posts. Our outreach increases simply by you liking our post. Your friends see what you like - and they may, in turn, like it as well.

10. Share an author's FaceBook post. While "likes" are good - "shares" are exponentially helpful. Sharing our posts ensures more of your friends will see it. And if you share it, they may be likely to share it as well. Word-of-Mouth now transcends my sphere of influence and truly becomes global. That's the power of social media.

11. Tell the author you liked the book. While I can't speak for all writers, I can speak for myself. I am insecure. Just because you bought the book, I do not assume you liked it. In fact, if I don't hear from you, I assume you didn't like the book and are embarrassed to tell me. One encouraging word is all I need to continue writing for weeks on end.

12. Give constructive feedback. While criticism is hard to accept, it is necessary for an author to improve and grow. If you find issues with the work, consider writing a private email to the author. As I instruct my writing students, try the "Oreo" approach. Begin the correspondence on a positive note - what worked well for you. Then transition to the criticism. A kind, encouraging tone is most helpful. Finally, end the note with a positive affirmation.

I hope you find this list of suggestions useful as you partner with your favorite authors to help them reach their intended audience. We love our readers - and are truly blessed to have you in our lives.

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