Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ways to help an author

What are the best ways to help an author with a just-released book? A couple of people have asked me where is "best" for them to buy the book or what else they can do. In writing this, I'm borrowing some from what others have said or written, along with some thoughts of my own.

1. First, do buy the book. That matters more than where you buy it. There are advantages to the author wherever you buy it, so consult your own preferences and convenience. Here are the options:

- Ask for it at your local bookstore. Whether it's an independent or a chain bookstore, your request will make them more likely to stock the book. Urge them to take a look at it themselves. If you like the book, tell them the next time you visit.

- Buy it through the author's website. This brings the greatest financial reward to the author (nobody else taking a share), but it does not build recognition.

- Buy it on The book's Amazon ranking depends on how many people buy. While you're there, click on the tags that describe the book.

- Buy through another online supplier, such as Barnes & Noble. This is the best choice if you like the convenience of online but don't like Amazon for some reason.

2. Review the book. If you like the book, tell the world. Submit a well-written, non-gushing review to Amazon, complete with pluses and minuses. Who will like the book? Who won't? Help give guidance to prospective buyers. Besides Amazon, consider sites like,, and others.

3. Mention the book. Tell people about it. Link to the book website or author blog from your own blog or website. Suggest the book as a gift. Recommend it to book clubs and to your local library. If it's a children's book, recommend the author for school visits.

4. List the book. Again, on Amazon or Goodreads, as well as other online sites, you can create a list of books in a certain genre or for a certain audience. Listing the author's book with books that may attract a similar audience means that likely readers are more likely to find out the book exists.

5. Provide feedback to the author. Authors like to know that someone out there is reading and thinking about their book.

Looking back at this list, I think I said everything I want to except . . . Read the book! Enjoy it. Share it with your loved ones. After all, that's what the author wants most of all.


Charles Gale said...

I went for option #1c. Looking forward to the book's arrival at my doorstep the middle of this week. Penny, if you reported an Amazon ranking of over a million as of Friday, this Sunday morning it's "Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #368,146 in Books" - climbing nicely. Are you charting this? Have fun!

Penny said...

Thanks, Charles. Apparently the rating is very volatile at numbers above 100,000. A single buy may give the rating a significant boost, and then it drifts swiftly down again. It's based on a mysterious algorithm knows only to Amazon! I hope you enjoy the book.

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