How to Help an Author …

Buy/Borrow, Read, Promote to other readers
… those books you enjoy.


Never expect the author to give you a free copy. But, if they offer to do so, you shouldn’t feel you are under any obligation to either read the book or give it a rave review. Unless you truly enjoyed reading that book. (As far as I’m concerned, I’m always thrilled to death with the thought that someone else may be reading my book!)

Buying or borrowing a copy from the library is the best show of support. (And if your local library does not have the book in their collection or the bookstore doesn’t have it in stock then this is a good time to mention the book to them. Did you know that most libraries encourage their patrons to recommend books that may be added to their collections? Both print and eBooks in most cases … )

If you can’t find the book to purchase or borrow then write to the author and ask if you may purchase direct. (I’ve supplied a number of print copies of my novel to readers worldwide, outside of Canada, who wrote to request them.)

Read – If you enjoyed the book, tell everyone you know about it! Word-of-mouth marketing really does work.

If you didn’t enjoy the book, tell the author and list all the reasons why. This is how authors learn to write better books. (I remember seeing a sign in a fast food outlet that read: If you like us, tell your friends. If you don’t like us, tell us!) We know that not every book will appeal to all readers – we get that. But we do definitely appreciate receiving constructive criticism.

Sometimes that lack of enjoyment can result from the author not having been clear in their writing. In the case of my own writing, I would appreciate hearing whether someone has misunderstood any aspect of my stories or just not enjoyed the way I’ve written them. That way, I will be sure to make my writing crystal clear in the future. (And the beauty of eBooks is that authors can easily go back and correct any mistakes discovered after publication, and anyone who has already purchased a copy will receive the updated version as soon as it’s uploaded.)

Promoting can be as simple as telling a friend that you enjoyed a book. Reviews online are always welcome, but not necessary if you don’t feel comfortable posting your opinions online. If you are a member of Goodreads, even just listing the book as “currently reading” or “read” and assigning it a number of stars is enough to make me happy. (Please do go that one step further though and mark the book as “currently reading” or “read” when you have finished reading. At the moment, there are 1027 readers listing my novel Island in the Clouds as “to-read”. Imagine if only half of those actually followed through to read and rate that novel. I’d be a very happy author, indeed! Heck! I’d be happy if only 10 readers did this!)

It all seems very simple, doesn’t it? I wonder whether sometimes Readers don’t realize how important they are to Authors. Speaking for myself, you are the reason I write. It’s never been about stroking my ego, fulfilling a dream, or selling lots of books and making a fortune (Yeah, Ha! Ha! As if … ), but about telling a story as well as I can tell it, having it read, and enjoyed, by as many Readers as possible. As long as I know Readers are reading and enjoying what I write then I will keep writing more stories.

So I ask you to think about the authors whose books you’ve enjoyed reading … Would you be willing to do the above to keep them writing more books?

I hope that your answer is YES!

And, on behalf of all Authors, I thank you for wanting to read what we write …

We would not be Authors without READERS!

32 responses

  1. If you’re going to reach readers with this advice: please, mention what you love about a book – or what you don’t, but it is not the reader’s job to tell the author 1) what is wrong with the book, 2) how to fix it, or, worse, 3) what’s wrong with the author for having written such a book!

    Even if the reader is an author, “I found this book too long (followed by example)” is always preferable to “this book needs a good edit, and to be made 1/3 shorter.”

    “This book advocates violence (followed by example)” rather than “this author is a psychopath.”

    “I don’t like books which spend many pages discussing something trivial (followed by example)” rather than “this author spends the whole book gazing at her navel.”

    The difference will also make the reader appear (and be) a better person, a more objective critic, and willing to admit that different people like different kinds of books (which is not WRONG, only different).

    And it will make the world of difference to the WRITER to have an honest difference of opinion expressed instead of her capability as an author gutted. Trust me on that one.

    1. All of this will be covered in the “How” section of my new series on Reading that will run on my blog. (The intro post to that ran yesterday: No One Ever Died From Reading Too Muchโ€ฆ ) Learning how to read a book is a very important aspect of being a good reader.

      1. Sail on! A great aim. Will attempt to keep up with the rest of the posts.

  2. Tricia Drammeh

    Reblogged this on Tricia Drammeh and commented:
    I love this article by Susan Toy! There are so many easy ways to support your creative friends. Much of this article can be applied to all form of art, not just writing.

  3. […] of the subject, both from my own perspective and that of other readers. My recent blog post, How to Help an Author received an incredible number (for me) of views, likes, shares, and reblogs – plus many […]

  4. You hit on something I hadn’t thought about – simply going back and listing a book as “read” after “currently reading” does make a difference. Who thinks of going back in? – apparently not enough of us.
    Libraries are key – librarians talk among themselves at meetings/conferences – looking for recommendations and “discovered authors” – one book well placed with a chatty librarian can open new markets and capture new readers. Also worth considering, the cities and counties systems have multiple libraries in each system – and they have meetings to talk about books.
    Word of mouth is one of the best ways to chase readers

    1. It just struck me, after reading your comment, phil mouse, that librarians are the most passionate of readers, because why else would they have become librarians in the first place?

      1. Yes. That was the best job in the world – all I did was visit with people who wanted to talk books. Sigh.

      2. I too preferred selling to librarians, as they were all about the book and the author and not whether it would sell or not. That’s why when I went back to Canada in 2008 I ended up quitting repping and instead set up displays for authors (and a few publishers) of their books at library conferences. The librarians were always excited to hear about the local publications (Alberta books) that might not have otherwise come to their attention. I also managed to organize a few gigs at those conferences for myself and the authors I was promoting to talk to the librarians about books. I miss those times!

  5. A Wonderful post. Thank you!

  6. Libraries are a brilliant source to find future purchases. I read some books from a library recently, loved them so much I bought them afterwards!! I love that last quote ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Excellent read. I hadn’t thought about encouraging readers to ask for a book at the library.

    1. Library patrons also tend to be book buyers – that’s what the statistics tell us. So, contrary to what most think, having your book(s) available to be borrowed from a library can lead to future sales, if that’s what you’re looking for. It certainly leads to finding new readers!

  8. Reblogged this on MorgEn Bailey – Editor, Comp Columnist/Judge, Writing Guru and commented:
    If 50 Shades of Grey can do it…

  9. Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
    Don’t sit on your hands doing nothing! Support your local author!!!

  10. Excellent post! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. You said excellently what we all vaguely feel. A thought provoking read. Thanks

  12. A great post and some wonderful advice for readers. I do agree about receiving constructive criticism from a reader – just tell us if something wasn’t clear or didn’t make sense, or if there was some other reason that you didn’t enjoy the book. I would just mention though, that while it’s easy enough for a self-published author to change an e-book, this is usually not possible for those of us published with traditional and small publishers, but at lease having feedback will mean we can do our best to ensure the next book will avoid the same problems!

    1. oops – that should be ‘at least’ of course! (Blush)

    2. All eBooks can be edited and reposted, even those published by trad. publishers. It’s whether those publishers wish to go to the added expense of correcting that’s the real problem. My eBook formatter has had to provide this service to me when I failed to catch a few typos in the initial proofing of my second novel and, while she charged me extra (CDN$35., I think it was) for her work on it, she had the files all corrected and uploaded to all the sales sites by the next day. And the lesson I learned from this was not to be so quick to hit send before proofing the files just one more time. Thanks for your comment!

    1. “… And the lesson I learned from this was not to be so quick to hit send before proofing the files ” – or even a comment on a blog! ๐Ÿ™‚ So easy to do!

  13. Amen, sister!

    I just wish more people walked the walk in addition to talking the talk. Reciprocal altruism only works when it’s a two-way street. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Thanks, Kevin! We can only hope that more will read and heed each time we post like this.

  14. Reblogged this on wworleyblog and commented:
    Simple: Buy/borrow, READ, review and recommend to other readers – then repeat – brilliant advice.

%d bloggers like this: