This applies to all authors, traditionally published, indie or any other type that might be out there. It could just as easily apply in the basic context to all kinds of areas, not just authors, but authors and books are my focus for this list. You would think some of these would be common sense things, but, apparently not always, so I thought I’d highlight them.
Do’s: Things You Can Do To Support An Author Or A Book
- Read their book(s): Kind of a “Duh!” statement, but… I’ve seen that this isn’t as obvious to everyone. This can be done in any number of ways. Buying them outright is always a plus. If you are someone on a budget or don’t feel like spending money on something you aren’t sure you are even going to like, check it out at the library. If the library doesn’t have it, most of them have the ability to request books and if it is in their ability/budget, they are often more than happy to get it for you. Authors still make money off of these purchases and it helps them. Plus side is that you aren’t out hard earned money for a book you might end up hating, especially if it is an author that is new to you. Other options are getting a legitimate copy from a used book store or even borrowing from a friend, just don’t forget to return it when you are done.
- Recommend books to others. On blogs. On ANY social media platform. In conversations with other book friends (yes, the raging introvert just recommended you actually open your mouth and speak to others) or if someone asks.
- Rate the books you’ve read. Most of the time, it doesn’t take but a second or two to click a star rating. Many places don’t even require that you write a review to leave a rating (though some do). I know my local library even has a star rating available for all their online books.
- Write reviews. The more places the better, but, at bare minimum, where you got the book. For the most part, this doesn’t have to be anything really huge. Something as simple as “I love it!” or even “Eh, it was okay, but not my cup of tea” with maybe a touch of why is all you ever really need. These show that the book is drawing people in and they are looking at it. No, those not so great or even negative reviews don’t to a lot to help, but sometimes something you say you don’t like about a book is actually what someone else does like and that can pull in another reader. This is something I am consciously trying to do better myself because I don’t always feel I have anything to say, but I do understand more how important doing so really is.
Don’ts: Things That Actively Work Against Supporting An Author Or A Book
- Don’t download books for free from pirating sites. Yes, this really should be another “Duh!” listing, but apparently this is a major problem, especially for your bigger, traditionally published authors. If you found a site where you can get your favorite author’s latest release for free, sometimes even before the release date, chances are it is a pirate sight. People that do this are actively hurting authors. Funnily enough, too often those that do are also supposed major fans of said authors. What they don’t realize is that if they love the work so much and are looking forward to future books, they are part of the reason said authors may not produce more books in the future. This is straight up theft. This falls strongly into my Life Rule #4: Don’t be an asshole.
- Don’t expect to get or ask for free books. Now, this falls close to the first item in this Don’ts list, but slightly different. I can’t say for certain how much a traditionally published author experiences this, but I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen people specifically ask for authors to send them links to their free books. And ONLY their free books. Again, if you don’t actually pay for it or get it from a legitimate source (Do’s list item#1), you aren’t helping the author. Now, that doesn’t count for authors providing books in exchange for reviews or those that are doing limited time promos or whatever. I don’t know what it is, but anyone in pretty much any creative field is somehow expected to just give their hard work away for very little to nothing. I’ve seen this so much, but I wasn’t aware it was such a huge issue in the publishing world as well.
- Don’t play the “Epic Hero Adventure” like/follow me game. This is something I’ve seen a lot recently, almost exclusively on Twitter. Basically asking authors to walk through fire, backwards, on one foot, while juggling running chainsaws on the off chance that they MIGHT read your book and then, if you are blessed by 7 ancient dieties, they will think about writing a review. But… only when they reach 70 bazillion followers. And they are currently at 5. Okay, so slight exaggeration there, but you get the point. If you are interested in a book or author, see the “Do’s” list above.
- Don’t get review copies (ARC or otherwise) you don’t intend to actually review. I don’t have personal experience with this, but I’ve seen that it is something that people occasionally do. I don’t know how big of an impact that is on some authors, but I can imagine your much smaller, indie authors could be really hurt by this as they probably only have so many in their budget to hand out, especially if you are talking physical copies.
- Don’t get eARC copies and them post them on the internet. Again, not something I’ve dealt with personally, but is yet another problem. One that can make Don’ts item #1 even worse. Seriously, why are people that way?! This absolutely makes you an asshole.
Really much of this is common sense, but I have seen so much stuff since I started on this path and I’m kinda floored at how necessary a list like this is in some cases. I know not everyone needs a list like this, but it is kinda scary that some do. I’ve lost count at the number of times I’ve seen people demanding free books and all I want to do is yell “Go to the damn library!”
It all really boils down to… If you like the work someone does, support it. Get it legitimately in ways that help them. Let them know you like it. And above all, don’t be an asshole.