I recently posted an item on social media which gave a checklist entitled How to Support Authors Without Spending Any Money and I thought I would reproduce it here and then expand upon it a little.
The original went like this:
Check their book out at your local library
Ask your library to add the book to their collection
Review the book on Goodreads/Amazon
Follow the author on social media and share their posts
Take a picture of the book and share to on Instagram
Suggest the book for your book club
Recommend the author as a speaker or workshop leader
Add a link to the book in your email newsletter
Tell your friends about the book
Include the book in a blog past about your favourite books
Ask your local indie store to stock the book
Add the book to your Goodreads ‘To Read’ list
It’s a great list and we should all try to do more of these actions for our fellow authors, but it struck me that it presupposes that we have a lot going on, namely:
We visit our local library
We’re on Instagram and other social media
We are part of a book club
We have a newsletter
We have a blog
We have a local indie store
It’s a pretty safe bet, I suppose, that we are on social media these days, but I hardly ever get to my local library (last time I went, they were closed - they seem to keep strange hours) and we don’t have even a big chain bookstore for miles, let alone an independent one. Those things on the list should still be done, they are still good ideas, but it got me thinking about some kind of minimalist list even simpler than the above which we could all do on a regular basis for each other. I was looking for a way to reduce effort even further while still boosting support; I was also looking around at some examples in my immediate vicinity to see what I could glean.
This is one list I came up with:
•Set up a regular time, perhaps the same day every week, where we post on social media about books we’ve enjoyed, and mention our other authors’ books each week, on some kind of loose rotation.
•Comment positively on other authors’ book postings, if we have read the book, and share when we think it’s appropriate.
•Think of three friends who might like the book and mention it to them.
These steps involve doing no more than using our minds and hands. We do not have to actually talk to anyone, or go anywhere, or have any kind of prolonged discussion about anything. And yet doing them would probably result in more actual forward motion than many other suggestions that might be made.
In Frank Herbert’s science fiction epic novel Dune, they have a technology of personal shields which are force fields which an individual can wear to protect themselves from weapons of various kinds. They are impenetrable except when the attack is slowed down to below a certain speed — in other words, fast objects are repelled, but slower objects can get through the shield and wound or kill its wearer. It’s an interesting science fiction idea, but the same principles can apply sometimes in marketing: fast and loud ‘attacks’ are often blocked by the recipients, while slower and more organic motions succeed in penetrating the defences and securing footholds.
In other words, smaller, organic conversations held between friends as a result of the simple three steps outlined above can achieve more sometimes than big, organised campaigns aimed at thousands of people. The trick is to be consistent and organised but on a small scale. It’s also important to recognise that smaller, more ‘natural’ marketing campaigns like this take longer to build. In the end, though, they are more successful because the ground that they conquer is secure, whereas louder and flashier efforts tend to be fleeting and less effective in the long term.
Try some of these things today — you will hardly have to think, and will only have to move your fingers across a keyboard.