Wednesday, February 15, 2017

LIVING LIFE AUTHORLY

No. 3


Hello Readers!  Here is the third edition of my Living Life Authorly reflection.  In this piece, I talk about what you, the reader, can do to help your favorite authors and their books find success.  Readers play a very important role in the life of a book and its creator, especially for us indie authors.  If you've always wondered how you can take an active part in making a book more popular, read on!  And as always, happy reading and writing ;)!
- J.E. Johnson



The Care and Feeding of your Favorite Authors

For the most part, authors are strange, reclusive creatures by nature.  We lock ourselves away in our writing caves and glare through the blinds should a neighbor dare to mow the lawn whilst we are trying to concentrate on a scene.  We thrive on caffeine, chocolate and the perfect soundtrack for our writing time.  During the day when we must skip off to our day jobs (yes, most of us need day jobs in order to stay afloat), we do our best to pretend to be normal.  Fortunately, we can pull this off because we know about characters and how play the part.  In a nutshell, we are odd creatures who live to tell you a story and I'm going to go out on a limb and claim that 100% of us dream of the day we can do this book writing thing full time.  Unfortunately, it is very difficult for authors (especially the many of us who are independently published) to make a mark in the world of literature.  Even with a great story, wonderful editing, superb formatting and a gorgeous book cover, it can be difficult to get our books seen if we don't have the money for marketing.

I know, that's a lot to take in and all you probably want to do is read our books and not worry about the business end of things (and believe me, most of us authors are in the same boat - we just want to write those books for you and not have to worry about marketing and getting the word out).  But, for those of you who would like to help, there are ways to do so without spending a dime.  In this edition of Living Life Authorly, I am going to focus on two ways you, as a reader, can help out your favorite authors.

1.) WRITE A REVIEW

Let's say you've read a new book by a new author and you really liked it.  You know purchasing their next book is the best way to keep supporting them (more book sales = more royalties = author getting closer to their dream of writing full time), but you can't afford to get their next book just yet.  Don't fret.  Writing a review is just as important, if not more so, as purchasing their next books.  By writing a review, you are telling other potential readers that this book, this author, is worth checking out.  It's free and doesn't have to take a lot of your time.

If you want to keep it simple, ask yourself these two questions: 1.) Did you enjoy the book?  2.) Would you recommend it to others?

Your review does not have to be spectacular.  It can be one sentence long, or several.  And writing a review does not have to take more than a few minutes to complete, and those few minutes can really help a book's visibility.  I've read a few articles stating that once a book receives 50 or more reviews on Amazon.com, it starts getting more exposure.  So the more reviews, the better.

Short reviews are great, but if you really want to expand on your review, I always follow this outline: 1.) In one to three sentences, what was the book about?  2.) What did you like/what did the author do well?  3.) What did you dislike/what could the author have done better?  More detailed reviews tend to be more helpful and helpful reviews are even more appreciated by potential readers.

Whether or not you write a quick or detailed review is entirely up to you and what you feel comfortable with.  Like I said above, ANY review is appreciated (even the negative ones :)).  The fact that you took the time to give feedback tells me the story had some impact on you and that alone is a great encouragement.

Another thing to consider is if you have accounts on multiple sites where books are sold/discussed, you can post the same review in all those places.  If you purchased your book on Amazon, you can leave your review there as well as Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, Google Play and Goodreads.  You can also rate the book on Wattpad if you are a member on that site as well.   

2.) SPREAD THE WORD

If you discover a new book, share that news with your friends.  Tell them why you liked it, let them know it would be perfect for their son/daughter/niece/nephew/cousin/aunt/uncle.  Inform them their next book boyfriend lives in that book and, OMG, they just HAVE to read about him! . . . You get the picture ;).

You can tell your friends in person when you meet up for your weekly coffee date.  Suggest it as the next book to read in your book club.  Donate the book to your local library when you've finished reading it or give it to someone on the subway or the bus who looks like they might enjoy it.  There are so many ways you can help spread the word about a book.

Another easy way to help share the love is, if you follow your authors on social media, share their links and posts.  On your own wall, on a Book Lovers' page, by tagging a friend who might find the book interesting ...  Pin their book cover art to your Pinterest page or share images of places and things that remind you of the book or series.

Of course, I'm sure there are many other ways you can help your favorite authors, but hopefully these are some good places to start.  Before I sign off, I want to express how much I already appreciate you all and everything you do to help me and my other author friends become the best writers we can be.  When you believe in our stories and characters as much as we do, it gives us even more purpose and drive to finish that next book or to begin a new one.  To not give up on that dream we can see so clearly in our minds.  I am forever honored to have you all as members of my readership and I hope to bring you even greater stories in the future.  Until next time, happy reading!

- Jenna

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