#ContactForm1 { display: none ! important; }

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Can I support an author without buying their book?


I recently joined an online writer's circle. I've made new friends, and I want to be supportive, but some of them publish in genres I don't read. Do I have to buy their books because they're my friends, or is their a loophole where I can be supportive without buying a book I don't want?
- Semi-Supportive

Dear Supportive,

I think every writer involved with a social network of some kind has run into this dilemma. Your new friend publishes a book, gushes to everyone they know, and hints that buying the book would do wonders for their sanity and career.
What kind of heartless person could say no?
Well, I would be that heartless person.
If there is a good reason for not buying, I won't.

Bad Reasons for Not Buying a Friend's Book:
1- Not my genre.
2- I did an alpha-read of the book and know the story.
3- I was going to get my nails done.

Good Reasons for Not Buying a Friend's Book:
1- I find the subject matter abhorrent, insulting, grotesque, unedited, or otherwise morally objectionable.
2- I have $20 left in my bank account and need to feed my kids.
3- Buying this book will open the Gates of Hell in my local dog park and the canine community will be decimated.

1- The book is titled Robbie Rides the Train, and is a picture book for toddlers. Even if I'm kidless, I can buy the book and donate it to the local library or Women's Shelter. Good deed done all around.

2- The book is titled Why Your Beliefs Brainwash You, and is a 1000 page tome with one period, three commas, and a rant against your preferred method of thinking (religious, athesitic, listening to sea shells, ect). Short of needing fodder for the next solstice bonfire there's no reason to support books of hate, or haters, even if they belong to your social circle. In fact, you might want to unfriend this person. Just a thought.

Suppose your problem with the book is the hardcover price, your general lack of funds, or the fact that it's only published in a foreign country. There are ways to support an author without shelling out cash for international postage.

Ways to Support An Author Without Buying:
1- Congragulate them sincerely.
... When someone posts on a forum, Twitter, Facebook, or elsewhere that they've just sold their book be happy for them! Keeping the publishing industry alive is always good, it doesn't matter what they wrote.

2- Spread the word.
... Seriously, a retweet won't kill you.

3- Recommend the Book
... If someone stops you on the street (or asks on the internet) where they can find a good book in Genre X feel free to point them in your friend's direction. Something along the lines of, "I haven't read Book Z, but I've heard it's really good. You should check it out."

4- Host a Blog Tour
... If you don't object to the book's content hosting the author on your blog or newsletter is a great way to introduce them to new readers and support their career.

5- Request the Book
... The awesome novel your writing buddy had you alpha read is only getting published in Faroverthere in a language you've never heard of? Consider writing a note to the publisher or other powers that be requesting your language's translation. In the future, remind your buddy that there are publishers in your country too.

Added from the comments:
6- Leave an Amazon review
... Maybe you only read the opening chapter, you can still leave a positive review for that!

7- Tag Party!
... Tag your friend's book on Amazon and make sure it has all the genres labeled correctly. Is it historical/historical steampunk? Make sure you list both of those, or check both if they are already listed. The more tags, the more likely a browsing shopper will stumble on your writing buddy's book.

Any other suggestions? Besides buying the book, how do you support your writing friends?


  1. Excellent answer, and great suggestions! Passing this post along now... :-)

  2. Great post. I love the suggestions. Thanks for sharing!

  3. so here's my problem - both of these authors are new to me and i've friended them on facebook, goodreads, etc. one book is fantasy, my genre, and i'd heard great things about it. i bought a kindle version of it and couldn't get past the first page because of her stilted writing style.

    the second one i got as a freebie from the author and she asked me to review it. it was romance, also my genre. i didn't like the way she made the story drag on. what do i do now?

    how do i support an author who's story i don't like?

  4. Thank you, Jamie. :o)

    K - :o) Thank you for reading.

    Michelle - oh, boy. That's a whole new level isn't it. I'll be perfectly honest, I've been in a similar situation. I danced around the issue until corned, and told the author it just wasn't the style I preferred. No harm or foul, just not me. We have very different reading styles, so she understood.

    For the Kindle book you bought, just pass along that you bought the book. Find one positive note (I love the cover/FMC name/font!) and move on. Make a mental note not to buy again.

    For the review, find out if the author is expecting an honest review, or a promotion review. Be honest in the review, note the problems you had, but try to find something the author did right.

    Or just go with "Congrats!" for both them. Give them a cyber-cookie for publishing and move on.

    You can support the author, and be a supportive friend, without liking the book.

  5. Great post, Liana! It's hard to buy every book your friends put out. But, as someone with a book out, I can tell you that tweets, reposts or a good word (or two) is worth a sale any day!

    And if you do buy the book, and do like it, am Amazon review is a wonderful thing to do! :)

  6. Yeah, have you bought Cinders yet? Hmmmm???? ;)

    This really is a great post. :)

  7. Amy - I should add that to the list! Amazon reviews are a wonderful way to help a friend. SFR Brigade (Google us!) hosts a tag party on Thursdays. We hit all the books on our tag list and make sure they are labeled as SFR and sci-fi. If we have the book, we add a positive review. It's a great way to help friends get readers even when you're strapped for cash.

    Michelle - I love you.

    I should put Cinders on my shelf and take a picture. :P

  8. Very good post. Glad to have found this blog.

  9. I have no writing "friend" who is published. But when an author that I know of has a book release I do support by spreading the word if I can't buy (yet). The same goes for debut novels.

  10. I mostly only buy when I like the genre or at least have a mild interest in it. I'm not sure it does the author any good for me to be reading something I'm not into or takes me three months to read because it's not my thing.

    But, yeah, spread the word on FB, your blog--lots of people are doing interviews on their blogs now. You can get creative with promotions without reading a whole book. On "You're Write, even when You're Rong"--Elena hosts a vlog every Friday where she takes 500 word submissions from authors and reads them aloud. This past week's was super cool--like a mini-movie.

  11. Good post! This is one of the reasons held on doing guest blogs and book features. I wanted to make sure I was following repectful etiquette and supporting my writer buddies.

    Good job on this one!

  12. Dolly - Welcome to the blog. :o)

    Akoss - That's exactly what you should do. I don't buy into the idea that other authors are competition. Anything that gets a reader in the store and near my book is a good thing.

    Mysti - Some authors would tell you any sale is a good one, but if you can't find anything nice to say... That's not the kind of word-of-mouth an author wants. If I don't like the genre I at least look around to see if there is someone I could give a copy to.

    Ar - I should probably host more. I do review for Nayu's Reading Corner, and I will review friend's books there (if the other reviewers don't scoop me).

  13. Great suggestions Liana. You've made some good points. Thanks for posting.

  14. These are wonderful suggestions, many of which I do. Have a great weekend.

  15. Liz and Medeia: Thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you liked the post. :o)