Sunday, December 17, 2006

50 ways to help your author

50 ways to help an author
(without buying her book)

Originally I had a longer and more accurate title, but I can’t get the song “Fifty ways to leave your lover out of my head”. I’d love feedback, or additional suggestions. The idea is to share all the things that authors can do to help each other, and that authors’ friends and family could do, might like to do, but may never think of doing. For the sake of argument, all authors for the purpose of this blog will be considered female. (No sexism intended).

Help the search engines find her:

1. Google your friend.
2. Ask Jeeves about her.
3. Dogpile her.
4. A9 search her. (That’s the Amazon search engine)
5. Does Yahoo have a search feature?

Even if you know where to find your friend, her blog, and her books, “hits” help. The more visitors the search engine spiders find, the more priority the author's website gets.

6. Visit her website… not just the home page.
7. Visit her blogs.
8. Find her Amazon Connect page

This link is to the alphabetical directory by author’s last name. Click on the name (which is blue, underlined and therefore a live link) and you will go to the author’s Amazon page. From there you can:

9. Invite her as an Amazon Friend
10. Add to your list of Interesting People
11. E-mail the page (about her… to your other friends)
12. Add her posts to your plog

As you explore her Amazon Connect page, you will find:

On the left, under her picture, links to any reviews she has written.
13. Click on them. Read her reviews. If you like them, click on Helpful.
14. If you see an opportunity to comment on her review, do so if you have something nice to say.

If authors write reviews, their books are advertised free in the attribution line, and their links to their page and their books are seen by people who are interested in the products that your friend reviewed.
There’s a link to her own web site.
15. Click on that… just to bump up the site and give it traffic. Then go back to Amazon.

If the author has blogged (written a note about what she is doing/thinking/ or given an insight into her books), there is a blue link to Comment.

16. Comment! Vote that you liked her post (it’s encouraging feedback)

If the author clicked “product” as she wrote her blog, there will be a live link on her blog to one of her books.

17. Click on the cover. Give her book page traffic. Or scroll on down and see her bibliography, who your author friend’s friends are, what reviews she has written, what search suggestions she has made, what “tags” she has created for each of her books, and what tags her readers have added. See her Reminders.

18. If you live near to the author, and she has a reminder on the calendar for a booksigning near you, click on Remind Me Too. Support at a booksigning is always wonderful.

19. While checking out her friends, maybe click on the image of other authors whose books you like. Amazon often pairs up two books by different authors and suggests “Buy Both”.

When you are on a book page, without buying that book, click on links to:

20. Put it on your wish list. It’s extra, free advertising.
21. Tell a friend

Scroll down the book page to Tag this product. (or make a search suggestion)
22. Add a tag. (Loved it! Can’t wait to read it! Soooo romantic! Etc)

23. Join in the Customer discussions. Ask a question. Start a discussion. The search engines pick up on the discussions, and quote interesting responses.

If you have read her book:
24. Write a customer review. It doesn’t have to be long or scholarly. Be as generous with the star rating as you can. Try to be specific about what you liked best about the story or one of the characters. Don’t give away the ending.

25. Ditto all of the above for Barnes and Noble, E-Bay, Borders, Chapters Indigo, Waterstone’s, Amazon uk, Amazon ca, or any other bookstore chain that allows customer reviews, comments, discussions etc. Or, simply search for her name, titles, reviews.

26. If you have a MySpace page (and if you don’t, but really want to help, get one… it’s free) invite your author friends to be your friends there.
27. Write a bulletin about your friend or her book.
28. Add a comment on their profile page’s comments section. Your comment is their opportunity to say something about their book without the appearance of soliciting.
29. Review their book on your MySpace blog.

30. If her publisher has a forum, join it and ask her questions. For instance, Dorchester publishing (home of Leisure and LoveSpell authors) has

Again, your comment will be seen by hundreds, if not thousands, and it will give your friend a reason to post something interesting and quotable about her book without seeming to be self-promoting.

31. If you see a good review—on any bookselling site that allows customers and visitors to comment on reviews-- click Helpful if it is a helpful review.

Votes help both the reviewer and the author (especially the reviewer’s rankings ).

32. If you see a bad review, click Not Helpful.
33. If you see a personal attack disguised as a “review” click Report This, and tell the author. If enough people click to report ugly remarks, bad reviews come down in 50-60% of the time

If you see your favorite author’s books in a supermarket or bookstore:

34. Facing her books (if there is room, turn one so the cover shows)
35. Tell store personnel how much you like that book, or that the author is local.

36. If you don’t see her books, especially when they ought to be there, ask about them.

37. If you have a blog, publicize your friend’s upcoming signings/author talks/workshops on your blog. Mention her website URL.
38 Link to your author friend’s website or blog on yours
39. Offer a quote if asked--or volunteer if you’re not asked.
40. Do a review for her, asked or not. It doesn’t matter if some people think that you are friends. More often than not, you became friends because you like and respect each other’s talent, or sense of humor, or something you bring to your writing. People do respect recommendations

41. If you belong to readers’ group sites, or book chat sites, or special interest sites, post what you are reading. Plugs never hurt. These are also picked up on RSS feeds and the search engines.
42. Link to other writers. It drives everyone up in the search engine.

43. Ask your library to order your friend's book.

44. Join your favorite author’s yahoo group, let her know where you’ve seen her book in stores, or where you’ve seen discussions of her book, or reviews of her book.

45. Drop in on her online chat to say how you enjoyed her book. Supportive friends at chats are cool because chats can be chaotic, and typing answers takes time.

46. Put her book as a 'must read' on your own Web site, or in your own newsletter.

47. Send e-mails to your entire address list recommending the book.

48. Be her 'friend' on You Tube.

49. Offer to take a bunch of her bookmarks to conventions, or conferences, and make sure they are put in goodie bags, or on promo tables. Or simply visit her table at a convention, and sign up for her newsletter, or pick up her bookmark and tell someone else how good the book is.

50 Offer to slip her bookmarks into your own correspondence when you pay bills, taxes, etc.

51. Instead of quoting Goethe in your sig file, try quoting a line from your friend’s blurb in the week of her launch.

With thanks to the following for their help and suggestions:

Kathleen Bacus,

Diana Groe,

Joyce Henderson,

Diane Wylie, author of "Secrets and Sacrifices"

Jacquie Rogers,,

Deborah Anne MacGillivray, author of The Legend of Falgannon Isle, Dorchester Love Spell, Kensington's Zebra Historicals

Charlotte Maclay, author of Make No Promises,

Rowena Cherry, author of Insufficient Mating Material, available 1/30/2007.

Rowena Cherry.


Rosario said...

"31. If you see a good review—on any bookselling site that allows customers and visitors to comment on reviews-- click Helpful if it is a helpful review.

32. If you see a bad review, click Not Helpful.

33. If you see a personal attack disguised as a “review” click Report This, and tell the author. If enough people click to report ugly remarks, bad reviews come down in 50-60% of the time"

As a reader, I have a problem with these suggestions. The first two I think are especially bad, because reviews should really be marked "helpful" or "unhelpful" on the basis of whether they offer thoughtful analysis. This is not "do you agree / disagree with this review?", after all! I've often purchased books because of details mentioned in negative reviews, because the reviewer provided enough information to make me realize that what had bothered me was actually something I would like.

The third suggestion, well, on the surface, it's fine. Of course a personal attack should be reported and removed. It's just that many fans have strange ideas about what a personal attack is. Many think simply saying you thought a book was awful is a personal attack.

Rowena Cherry said...

Hi, Rosario,

You are absolutely right, I agree with you wholeheartedly and I wondered at the time of compiling the list whether or not I ought to make exactly the points you kindly draw attention to.

Thank you for doing that.

I did not mean to suggest that a negative review is necessarily a bad review.

In the interests of keeping the list as a list, instead of an essay, I stopped short in point 31 at "click Helpful if it is a helpful review".

I should have defined "a good review" as a review that gives a fair assessment of the story, and that shows that the reviewer has read the entire book and has something helpful to other readers to say.

With hindsight, I probably should not have used the word "a good review" in the same sentence as "Helpful".

Or perhaps 31 would have been fine if it had not been followed by 32. I think my mistake lay there.

Thank you very much indeed for your thoughtful and helpful comment.

Best wishes,
Rowena Cherry