Two years ago, I read Chuck Sambuchino’s post (Writers in the Storm Blog) titled, “How to Support an Author’s New Book: Eleven Ideas for You.” I found myself jumping out of my chair with arms lifted high, shouting “Amen, Brother!”
I think about this topic all the time. I call it, “The Golden Rule of Writing,” which is, “Do unto other writers as you would have them do unto you.” It’s about reciprocity—please help me get the word out about my book, and when your next book is released, I’ll do the same for you.
Don’t get me wrong—most of my friends and fellow writers have been extremely caring and helpful as I‘ve worked tirelessly to promote Project Keepsake. But a few of my friends and writing buddies have not helped at all. In fact, a few of my writer friends have vanished from the face of the earth, and I’ve been wondering why.
But as I read Sambuchino’s post, I had some revelatory thoughts—maybe a few of my friends think I’m upset that they haven’t bought a book, and maybe they just don’t know how they can help me, aside from making a purchase. I’ve tried very hard not to push any of my friends into purchasing my book, because I know the content of Project Keepsake doesn’t appeal to everyone. I’m fine with friends not buying a book. Really.
But there’re are many other ways to help a writer/author/friend promote his or her projects other than buying the product. I’ve listed Sambuchino’s suggestions below, and I’ve added a few more to his list.
HAND OUT YOUR FRIEND’S PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL—Give her business cards, her book marks, her sell sheets, her postcards to your other friends, family members, and coworkers who may be interested in her book or scheduling her for a presentation at club or church meetings.
SHARE CONTACTS—Hook your friend up with your other friends in the media business (newspaper editors, feature writers, radio personalities, television hosts, etc). Introduce them. It’s very hard to cold call a media contact and get noticed, so your introduction could make the difference. I also share names of contacts at bookstores and libraries with my other writing buddies. It saves them time.
SHARE INFORMATION—Clubs are always looking for interesting speakers. If you hear that Rotary, Kiwanis, or a book club is looking for an interesting speaker or guest, share that information with your friend. If you learn of an upcoming writers conference that fits your friend’s project, send her the link or remember to tell her about it.
ATTEND AN EVENT—Whether it is a book launch party or a reading at the public library, attend at least one of your friend’s events and bring someone along. I once had a poorly-attended book signing at the Barnes & Noble in Rome, Georgia, along with ten other local authors. I was pleasantly surprised when two of my writing friends—the late Wayne Minshew, and founder of Calhoun Area Writers, Karli Land—showed up to hang out with me. It would have been a lonely two hours without them.
CRAFT AN EFFECTIVE ELEVATOR PITCH FOR YOUR FRIEND’S BOOK—Don’t just tell your other friends, “My friend has a new book out.” Give them a little more meat. Say, “My friend, Amber, just published a collection of stories about keepsakes—a quilt, a pocket knife, a cake pan, a ring. It’s a really interesting book. She was recently on a magazine cover. The article talked about the whole project. The name of the book is Project Keepsake. It’s great!”
BUG A BOOKSTORE EMPLOYEE—Don’t look for your friend’s book. Go to the bookstore clerk and ask him about the book. They will find it in their system and lead you to the book. Your action will cause the bookstore employees to take notice of your friend’s title, and who knows? One of the employees may select it for their “Pick of the Month.”
FACE THE BOOK OUT AT BOOKSTORES—When you are at the bookstore, rearrange the books on theshelf so that your friend’s book faces out. This will help your friend’s book get noticed by passersby.
WRITE ONLINE REVIEWS—So many times, if a reader is on the fence about a book, a well-written, positive review will seal the deal. So take five minutes and post great reviews for your friend’s book on online sites at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, etc. I’m not suggesting you lie. I am suggesting that accentuate some positive aspect of your friend’s book.
BE SEEN WITH YOUR FRIEND’S BOOK—If you have a copy of your friend’s book, carry it around with you sometimes and mention it to friends. Read it at the doctor’s office. Read it at the DMV. Read it at your kid’s soccer practice. Read it on the plane. Make sure that others see your friend’s book.
“LIKE” YOUR FRIEND’S FACEBOOK PAGES—The more “likes,” the better because strangers navigating to the Facebook walls will think, “Wow, I need to know more about this author and her book.”
SHARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA SITES—Merely “liking” a post is not enough sometimes. When the author mentions the book or an event on Facebook, share the news with your social circles and include a small note about what the book is and why they should buy it. Sharing is an act of endorsing. My friend, Ruth Demeter, shared my post about the book event in Rome with her friends who live in the Rome area. I am appreciative. It’s all about exposure. And consider retweeting a friend’s book-related post with appropriate hashtags.
RESERVE A COPY AT THE LIBRARY—Again, the library employees will take notice of your friend’s book and may order additional copies or suggest it to readers.
CONSIDER SHARING EVENTS—If you are also a writer, consider sharing an event with another writer. I have shared my events with other writers/authors, when applicable. And I recently shared a fifteen-minute radio spot with another writer. I still had plenty of time to promote my book, and quite frankly, I think that including her made the radio spot more interesting.
BE ENCOURAGING—Being kind and encouraging is just what friends do. Ask your friend about her events. Ask how book sales are going. Ask if there is anything you can do to help promote your friend’s book. And then, just listen. Sometimes, new authors just need to know that their friends care.
Amber Lanier Nagle is the author of Project Keepsake (www.ProjectKeepsake.com) and two eBooks (Southern Exposure and Have a Seat). She’s also the editor of Northwest Georgia’s Good Life Magazines and contributes to many national and regional magazines. Learn more at www.AmberNagle.com.