Thursday, April 7, 2016

Help a Writer Out

By Alex Segura

Launching a book is stressful. We all know this. I don’t even want to get into how it’s stressful because I’m in the thick of it.

But there's something you can do in situations like these to alleviate the stress. And, if you'll allow me to get a bit New Age-y here, Ill tell you: help another writer. I've found that helping another author is the guaranteed best way to get my mind off whatever's jamming me up in my own head and it puts whatever I'm dealing with in the right perspective.

I try to be mindful of this concept, especially on social media. It’s probably because I do publicity for a living, but I’m always thinking about spreading the word on books or authors. Word of mouth trumps a lot of traditional means of generating “buzz,” because it, well, is buzz.

So, when you’re stressing out about that middling Goodreads review or waiting impatiently for your agent/editor/collaborator to email you back about that Major Thing, take a minute and do a few of these things for another author. I guarantee you’ll feel better.

Leave a review. Did you enjoy their book? Why not cobble together 3-4 sentences and let it be known somewhere? Amazon, Barnes & Noble, your blog - whatever. Believe it or not, these things move the needle, and help customers decide if they’re going to shell out cash for someone’s book.

Plug, plug, plug. Let people know you’re reading something and (hopefully) enjoying it. I usually mention a book a few times if I’m liking it. Sometimes, it even starts a discussion with people who feel the same way. It gets the social media conversation going, and that helps the author. It could be something as simple as posting a photo of a book you just bought or taking part in #fridayreads - anything that mentions an author you’re a fan of helps.

Be a reader. Publicity is part of any book launch. You’ll have to do interviews, guest blogs, live-tweets, AMAs, you name it. But if given the opportunity, you can diverge from your default answers and tip your hat to authors you admire or books you’re immersed in. All writers (well, all good ones) are readers - and they’ll appreciate you mentioning their work. Plus, it might turn a few new people onto their books.

Team up. Solo events can be a little daunting. They’re an important part of the promotional process, but every once in a while, it doesn’t hurt to pool your fans with a fellow writer and do a joint event. This way, you not only open yourself up to potentially new fans, but also return the favor. Noir at the Bars are a good, multi-author example of this, as are panels at conventions. But it can also just be a two-author event at a bookstore. Anything to help cross-pollinate.

This isn’t meant to sound like a concentrated plan. You should do this stuff naturally and if the mood strikes. You don’t want it to seem forced. Be honest - talk about the books you like, the books that inspired you to do what you do as a writer and the books you want to read. Getting people chatting about books is never a bad thing, and if it gets your mind off your own book stress, all the better.


Steph Post said...

Yes, yes, yes. So true and so good to hear people saying it! Great piece.

Alex Segura said...

Thanks, Steph!

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