J. Zachary Pike's

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Indie Publishing

10 Ways to Support Authors You Love

I was on r/fantasy this morning when I came across a question I get asked a lot: “what’s the best way to support authors?” I know the feeling; you’re passionate about an author’s works and you’re wondering how you can help them spin these wonderful worlds out of random thoughts. There are a lot of things you can do to help authors, and some of them are free. Here are the ten ways I find most helpful to help keep authors creatively inspired and financially solvent.

  1. Buy their books. ( $ ) Obviously, this is the primary way most fiction authors want to make their money. But a lot of folks also ask a follow-up: “where should I buy books to help the author most?” The honest answer is that you should buy them in the format you’re most likely to read and enjoy. Seriously – the difference in royalties is less important than a happy reader, so buy it where you’ll love reading it.

    If format doesn’t matter to you at all, then authors do make different amounts of money based on how you buy. Every author is different, but here’s how the profit margins run for my indie platform, from highest margin (most money for me) to lowest margin (least money for me):

    1. Buy a signed book from me directly on my website. This is by far my best margin. It’s also the most expensive for you as a reader.

    2. Buy a paperback book through Amazon – direct, not from a reseller or used book. This gives me about 1/3 to 1/2 what a signed book does.

    3. Buy a full-priced ebook. Generally, I get ~65% of the cover price when you buy an ebook on Amazon. That’s a very good royalty.

    4. Buy an audiobook with an audible credit. This gives me almost as much as a full-priced ebook.

    5. Read an entire book of mine in KU. This gives almost as much as a full-priced ebook.

    6. Buy an audiobook with money. This varies a lot – sometimes this is better than a full-priced ebook. Audible sets ebook prices through ACX without my input, so I can’t always predict or know what the price is.

    7. Buy a paperback or hardcover through a non-Amazon bookseller, like Barnes and Noble or your local bookstore. The bookseller takes a big cut of the book (they gotta make money), and after that and printing fees there’s not as much left over for me. But it’s important to support other booksellers – especially local ones – and having local bookstores aware of my work is great exposure, which is a good tradeoff for earning a couple less bucks.

    8. Buy an ebook on sale. Obviously, I make less money this way. But if I am running a sale, I am doing it for exposure, and you buying it helps give it the exposure through search algorithms.

    9. I hope it’s clear that however you buy a book is amazing and helpful – If a channel wasn’t good for authors, not many people would sell books in that channel. What matters most is for you to love the book, not how you bought it. That’s because the 2nd most helpful thing you can do for an author is…

  2. Write honest, thoughtful reviews of books you love. (Free) Reviews do more than feed the ego (although they do that). They provide social proof that helps other buyers decide to buy a book. They’re most critical for books with fewer reviews, but no matter how many any author has, they always would like more positive ones. This. Is. Huge.

  3. Tell your friends / bookclub / co-workers about books they’d enjoy. (Free) Advertisers and tech companies have invested billions into figuring out how to tell people specifically about the products they’d like, while minimizing products they don’t care about. You have that power stored up there in that mushy gray stuff between your ears. If any of your social circle like the same books you do, tell them about more books you’d like. Word of mouth is the best advertising.

  4. Buy their merchandise. ( $ – $$$ ) If an author sells merchandise, buy it. If you can get it directly from the author, great! But as long as the seller isn’t bootlegging, this gives money to the author. Better still, a lot of merchandise can be worn / displayed, which means your friends will see it. Maybe that awesome book-based t-shirt strikes up a conversation that becomes word-of-mouth advertising.

  5. Support them on Patreon. ( $ – $$$ ) If an author sets up a Patreon, it’s a way for you to directly support them. It’s not for everyone, but if you can afford it and want to do so, becoming a Patron is a great income stream for authors. Speaking personally, my Patreon has become an important part of my business.

  6. Talk about the author’s books or sales on social media. (Free) This is like word of mouth, though usually less targeted – your Great Aunt Millie probably doesn’t care about how awesome the wizard’s fight with the liche was. Still, it’s great social proof, helps spread the word, and you never know – Great Aunt Millie may have been hiding her obsession with fantasy from you because she knows you’re a LARPER and she’s more into min-maxxing on World of Warcraft.

  7. Like / Retweet / Comment / Upvote. (Free) Interacting with comments by an author or about their work helps drive exposure and provide social proof. If someone is talking about a book you love, take a moment to show the world you agree.

  8. Ask your local library for the books, and borrow it if they have it. (Free) This doesn’t directly pay the author, but a library still has to buy the book. Library copies generally cost a bit more as well, so it’s a good sale. And if you borrow a book, you’re telling the library that it was a good purchase, and increasing the chance they’ll buy more from the author. And making more books available to more readers mean more word of mouth.

  9. Tell your favorite podcast / Goodreads group / book club you’d like to hear more from the author. (Free). Listen to a genre podcast? Tell them you’d like to hear from your favorite author. Follow a bookstagrammer or book reviewer? Let them know you’d like their thoughts on the author’s books. Authors – especially new or indie authors – often have trouble getting influencers or the press to engage with them. Your requests to bloggers, booktubers, review sites, etc. helps the content creators find great content, and the author get some exposure.

  10. Write a note. (Free) Honestly, sometimes its nice to just get a little note of appreciation and encouragement. Throw some love to your favorite author (and please be forgiving if they’re slow to respond.)

That’s my list. Speaking for myself, I appreciate whenever anyone does these things. If you’re looking to help your favorite author out, try any and all of them!

Which of these things do you do for authors you love? What other ways can you support them? Let me know in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “10 Ways to Support Authors You Love”

  1. Well, I’ve done most of these. I’ve bought your signed copies PLUS ebooks, for example. And I’ve done almost all of the rest of these, as well. However, I have yet to support you on Patreon, though I’m thinking about it.

    Unfortunately, I’m already 50% above my self-imposed monthly limit on Patreon. 🙂 It’s just too easy, because lots of people deserve my support on Patreon. (And in an election year, it’s even worse, because lots of candidates deserve my support, too.)

    But I’m still tempted. That’s all I can say right now.

    PS. I hope your next book is going well. I’m eagerly awaiting the purchase of that one, too, you know. 🙂

    1. Thanks Bill! I always appreciate your support (and comments!)

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