Monday, July 7, 2014

Top Five Ways to Support Your Author Friends (Even If You Don't Read Their Genre)

When switching to writing full time recently I garnered some interesting reactions from my friends and family. It's probably worth a whole other post to address the various reactions and the thinking behind them, but today I want to focus on two main categories: 1. The people who said, "holy crap, that's amazing, I can't wait to read your stuff!" and 2. The people who said, "Holy crap, that's amazing! I feel bad though, I don't read ____ (fill in blank with fiction/fantasy/scifi/adventure/for fun)."

Let's address group 2 first.

First of all, I find it very sweet that you feel bad that you don't read the type of thing that I write, but let me be perfectly clear here. I don't take it personally! You shouldn't feel bad at all.

Feeling bad about not liking the genre in which I write would be like feeling bad about not liking sushi when your friend opens a sushi restaurant. Sure, it's probably not a bad idea to try it once, just to be nice and make sure that the reason you don't like sushi isn't just because you've only had bad sushi or because you've never had it at all because you were afraid to try it... But, if you're certain that you don't like sushi, no one should be upset by the fact that you continue to dislike it even after someone you love has decided to make their living selling it.

Having a friend who is a writer who writes in a genre that you don't enjoy is just the same. You don't like fantasy? No problem. I have absolutely zero expectation that you will read my stuff (or my stuff that's fantasy anyway). And, unlike with sushi, I won't even encourage you to try it once just to make sure (you can if you want to, but you'll get no pestering from me). But I appreciate those friends and family who still feel like they want to be supportive and are wondering how.

So, I present the Top Five Ways to Support Your Author Friends (Even if You Don't Read Their Genre):

  1. Help spread the word: These days marketing is all about social media and word of mouth, especially if your author friend is self-publishing. The most helpful thing you can do even if you don't read your friend's work is to pass along whatever project they are currently marketing to people who might read it. If that means posting to your blog, or facebook page, or tweeting (or retweeting) announcements for their new book or book tour, or kickstarter, or whatever spreading the word is the most important thing you can do.
  2. Be encouraging: Writing is hard work. It takes a lot of time and energy, and then marketing takes even more, and then the writer sits around while no one reads their stuff for a while and feels bad about herself/the work/people who aren't reading it etc. (until people do start to read it and then they feel better). The more people who are encouraging the author in their time of need the better. 
  3. Support Crowdfunding: Producing a quality book without funds (or even with funds) is difficult. It takes money to buy good cover art, and to get copyediting and formatting work done. These days a number of authors are using Kickstarter and Indiegogo to fund their projects upfront so they don't have to foot the cost of these services alone and only recoup their money once their book starts selling. The great thing about a crowdfunding project is that the rewards aren't just a copy of the book (though they usually include that). You can get other great rewards, or no reward, and so it doesn't matter that you don't read your friend's work. You still supported them in a very real way, and didn't have to read a word of a genre you don't enjoy. Everybody wins!
  4. Ask about the latest project and listen to the answer: Writers work alone, but that doesn't mean they like to live that way! Lots of people like to talk about work that they're excited about, or what's not going well at the office or new challenges that they're facing. Writers are no different, but we don't have a water fountain to gossip around with all our other writer friends during the breaks. Sometimes it's nice to have a friendly ear to explain the latest goings on to, even (sometimes especially) if that ear doesn't read our work.
  5. Hugs! (and then help spread the word again): When we write we basically live in a cave. That cave is our mind. Don't worry, it's a freaking AWESOME cave. It has unicorns, manticores, dragons, griffins, aliens, dolphins, wolves, brownies, forests, castles, sharks with frickin' laser beams, and whole other civilizations that exist nowhere else but in that cave (until we put them on paper). Still, it's a cave, and it can get kind of lonely in there. So hug your author friend whenever you see her/him and then... GO HELP SPREAD THE WORD AGAIN! (I seriously can't emphasize enough how important that bit is). 

So, now I'm sure all the folks who fit into Category 1 are thinking, "Well, that's great for the people who don't read your work, but what can I do?"

To which I say,  "Please read the earlier list and do all of that, with one change: Read and enjoy the author's work AND...

There is one critically important task that you can do that our friends who don't read our stuff cannot...

Please leave reviews on every forum where reviews are able to be left."

Reviews are critical to an author's success these days and if you read and enjoy the work of your author friends you can give no better gift than to leave a thoughtful commentary on amazon, goodreads or other sites where such things are possible. 

So, thank you to all the supportive friends and family of all the writers everywhere! I hope that you find this information useful. 

Just a quick reminder that the kindle version of Rain on a Summer's Afternoon comes out TOMORROW!

And, finally, I leave you with this adorable picture of my dog (kindly putting up with my antics in order to cheer up a friend) to make your monday better:

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