It’s entirely possible that you love this book. It’s entirely possible that you will buy it, hard cover, hot off the stands, read it and tell everyone you love it, etc etc etc.
It’s also entirely possible that you won’t like it much. That it’s not really your genre, not your cup of tea, not what you love in a book.
But you love that person, or like that person, and you want to be supportive somehow.
Here are some tips on how to support the writers you love, and the books they write (which you may also love).
Buy the book
This is one of the first, best things you can do. Support your writing friend by putting your money where your mouth is. Buy the paperback, or buy the ebook (or buy both). And if it’s not really your thing? Psst. You don’t really have to read it.
I mean, yes, of course, read it. Books are written to be read, and the writer in your life hopes you’ll read it, and hopes you’ll love it, or like it, or at least not hate it. But if it’s really not your thing, you’re at least helping to boost the signal. It’s still worth something.
I can’t afford to buy the book; and it’s not my kind of book; and isn’t buying it and not reading it a bit shifty?
Well, yes, there are reasons both financial and personal that can bar you from buying your friend’s book. But there’s a really cool standby technique for this:
Get your library to buy the book!
If you lack funds, or bookshelf space, there’s a cool thing you can do that will support that writer with sales (and therefore income) and still give you a chance to read the book (or not read it, as the case may be).
GO TO YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY AND REQUEST IT.
In fact, I’ve just done that with The Day They Met. (Despite the fact I already have the e-book and have the paperback coming!)
I went to my local library, found out how to request books, then I logged in and I asked for that book! I used all the necessary details I could find on Amazon (Full title, publisher, publication date, ISBN etc) and put that in the system and said HIT ME UP WITH THIS AWESOME SHERLOCK HOLMES BOOK, IT’S WHAT MY TAXES PAY FOR BABY, GIMME GIMME GIMME. Only in more formal language.
You can even do this if you already own the book, because it’s a great way to help people who do not know and love your friend to be exposed to their work. This can be especially important if their book is not your cup of tea – people who really love that lapsang souchong stuff are out there this minute, scouring libraries for their delicious beverage of choice!! HELP THEM FIND IT!!
Hell, if you can, go to your siblings’ libraries, your parents’ library, your school or uni, GO TO ALL THE LIBRARIES AND ASK THEM TO GET IT IN FOR YOU.
This sells books for publishers and authors. This exposes books you love to wider audiences who may not hear of it otherwise but might see it on the shelf or in a search.
Feedback Do’s and Don’ts
Of course your writer friend would love to know that you loved the book but… yeah, sometimes you don’t. What to do?
Well, don’t lie. Dishonesty isn’t a great thing, and it’s a downhill road for a friendship. (Especially when you might feel you’re expected to support your gushing with quote from favourite bits.
(And here’s a word of advice for writers – don’t ask people what they thought of the book. If they love you but they don’t love your book, it puts both of you in an awkward position. Here is the only occasion on which Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell is an acceptable policy.)
However, you can say how proud you are of your friend, or comment on how great they must feel. Comment on the effort if not the words in question.
And for goodness’s sake, if you spot an error in the text, a typo or a factual error in the final published work, DON’T SAY ANYTHING.
There will be plenty of people who have no emotional investment in the personal relationship who won’t hesitate to bring those things up. The thing to remember is that you are supporting a friend here, and errors that have slipped through the editing and proofreading and all those things to be in the final product are there for keeps now. The book has been published. It’s too late to fix them. You can’t recall the entire print run to fix a bloody typo! Leave it to those whose job it is to review and critique to do that. Chances are your writer has already seen that goddamned typo on page 47 and is praying like billy-o that no-one else has noticed. Don’t be the one to burst their hapless bubble.
If, on the other hand, you really really loved the book, and you have honest to god things to say about it – by all means, give some encouraging feedback or, better yet – write a review. On Amazon, Goodreads, on your blog, whatever site is selling the book. Reviews help people who are, once more, looking for their particular literary beverage, find that book and decide whether or not to buy it. You don’t have to write a long analysis, though if you feel it’s in you, go for it.
(I should add here that there are many books I’ve loved but not reviewed because my time is finite, so lack of feedback on my part is not necessarily lack of literary love. Just lack of literal time.)
Support means you get new work by writers you love!
And whether or not you know the writer, if you love a book, support it. Spruik it and review it and share the love, because the noise-to-signal ratio out there is high, and every little boost helps. Very few of the thousands of writers out there make a living out of writing fiction. Help a few of them at least make enough to buy a celebratory cupcake.
More importantly, good reviews and good sales will encourage them to write another book, and encourage publishers to publish it as well, so you can enjoy a new book by the writer you love! EVERYBODY WINS!
In short – support every writer whose books you love. Especially new writers, those out there for the very first time.
SPREAD THE WORD.
SPREAD THE LOVE.
Some hot recommendations
These are books by people I know, and like and love – and whose books I do, in fact, love. I’ve bought said books in paperback and in ebook form (and in both when they’re available sometimes). I’ve reviewed them on Amazon and Goodreads (or this blog) and I’ve asked my local library to get copies in. And now here I am, spreading the word and spreading the love.
And remember my motto – I may be biased, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong!
- The Day They Met by Wendy C Fries – 50 short stories on alternative ways Sherlock Holmes and John Watson may have met. Each and every story a gem, and many that had me laughing madly on the tram to work.
- Mind the Gap by Tim Richards – a fantasy action-adventure with Egyptology, dreamscapes and trains. Snappy pacing, real serial-adventure with cliffhangers stuff and engaging characters.
- Nil By Mouth by LynC – one man’s experience of an alien invasion of earth. Thoughtful, unexpected, human, compassionate, horrifying and deeply humane in turns.
- The Devil’s Mixtape by Mary Borsellino – Part horror story, part declaration of love for non-conformists, especially those who embrace being outside the norm.
- f2m: The Boy Within by Hazel Edwards and Ryan Kennedy, the story of a transgendered boy learning how to be true to himself.
Take this opportunity to support the writers you love and tell me your hot recommendations!
Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer. Find out more about her books, smartphone apps, public speaking and other activities at www.narrellemharris.com.