As our regular blog readers know, our debut novel appeared in bookstores earlier this month, so we’ve been working hard to get the word out. This can be a difficult task for new authors since the vast majority of readers have never heard of them. It’s a well-known fact that many of the old publishing publicity tricks simply don’t work in our new, digital age. Word of mouth and reviews are shaping up to be the best way to hear about new writers. In other words, current readers, rather than publishing houses, are now the most effective way of introducing authors to new readers.
So how can readers help new authors as they try to make a name for themselves?
- Write reviews on commercial sites: When I’m considering a new author, I often go to Goodreads or Amazon to look at reader reviews of their titles. Ratings are helpful, but reviews are the best because I get a feel for how the author writes and whether their books might be right for me. When current readers take the time to write a review on Amazon, Goodreads, Indigo/Chapters, or Barnes and Noble, it can really help convince a new reader to try a new author.
- Request the book from your local library: If you’re a little more cautious and want to test drive the author instead of making a purchase, ask your local library to purchase a copy. You get to read the book, and then other readers have a chance to discover the new author. Or, if you loved the book and just want to find a way to be supportive, requesting it from your library is a fantastic way to do so.
- Talk about the book on social media: If you really enjoyed the book, talk about it on social media and give reasons why you liked the book. Mention that you’re reading the book on Twitter or Facebook, even updating as you go if you’re comfortable with that. Or, if you are a visual person, pin the cover art on Pinterest.
- Add the book to a Goodreads Listopia list: Goodreads hosts lists of varying types here: https://www.goodreads.com/list. Adding a book you love to that list helps that author be seen by new readers.
- Offer to host the author on your blog: I’ve had a few people ask me to guest post on their blog and I’m always happy to do it. This allows the author to gain exposure to a new audience. Alternatively, write and publish a review of a debut novel on your site.
- Give the book as a gift: If you know someone who loves the same genre you do, purchase a new author’s book and give it as a birthday or Christmas gift (or just because!).
- Ask for the book at your local indie bookstore: Indie bookstores are a crucial part of the bookselling business, so order a copy from your local store instead of ordering it online. Healthy bookstores lead to healthy publishing, and so the cycle continues.
- Join a street team: This isn’t something I did for our debut novel, but I will be looking at this for A FLAME IN THE WIND OF DEATH next year. Interested readers join the author in promoting the book before it is released by writing reviews and visiting their local libraries and bookshops to spread the word. In exchange, those readers get ARCs (advanced reading copies) of the book months in advance as a thank you for their efforts.
Those are just some of the ways readers can help new authors get their books/series off the ground. So next time you come across a new author or discover a writer you really love, think about how you can help them with their new book. In doing so, you might just help convince them to write the next one as well.
Photo credit: ~lemasney