Columns > Published on April 18th, 2017

13 Ways to Support an Author Without Ever Spending a Dime

I may be an author myself, but I still get it: books can be expensive. I read like a fiend and have made it a personal mission to support as many of my favorite books and authors as possible, but it can be tricky at times on an author/teacher paycheck. There are so many ways, however, to show an author some love without having to drop $25 for every hardback on the shelf. Here are just a few suggestions to help get you started.

1. Check out a book from the library

I used to feel really guilty about doing this, until I realized how incredible it was so have my own novel carried in my local library. Authors love it when readers post pictures of library books, because it means that their books have made it all the way to backwoods Florida or wherever you might be located. Anyone, anywhere, can purchase a book on Amazon. A library book can give an author a sense of how far their book has traveled.

2. Recommend a book to the library

If an author's book isn't carried at your library, recommend it. Many libraries have an online feature where you can suggest the purchase of a book and all librarians love reader recommendations. Requesting a hold on the book is a plus, too, especially right before the book is made available. This indicates reader interest and enough holds will prompt a library to order more copies.

3. Request a book to review

Many review sites, such as Necessary Fiction and Small Press Book Review, run lists of books available to review. The website, author or publisher will provide you a copy of the book in order for you to write the review. This is a win-win for everyone, as your review supports the author and you, in return, receive a free copy of the book and exposure if you are a budding author or book reviewer. More experienced reviewers can also request advanced copies of books from sites such as NetGalley or Edelweiss.

4. Talk to your local bookseller

Even if you already have your trusty library copy and don't plan to buy the book, recommend the book to your local bookseller. If they don't already carry the book, the store may consider ordering it, and if they do already have it in stock, your recommendation could move it up to a staff pick. You can also suggest that the bookstore create a featured book display. In short, your enthusiasm for a book will be contagious to booksellers. 

5. Review a book on Amazon or Goodreads

Anyone, anywhere, can purchase a book on Amazon. A library book can give an author a sense of how far their book has traveled.

Yes, these reviews really do help authors. Both sites allow you to simply rate a book if you'd rather not write a review and those ratings help as well. 

6. Face a book out on bookshelves

Again, you don't have to actually buy the book to help an author out at your local bookstore. If you see a book on the shelves that you want to support, simply pull it out and display it so that it is more visible to potential buyers. This little bit of extra exposure could help sell the book and generate interest and new readers. And like rating a book online, it only takes about ten seconds to do.

7. Take a book-selfie

Post of a picture of the book, yourself reading the book, your dog sleeping on the book, the book displayed in interesting places... you get the idea. The world of social media is a jungle and sometimes just a simple photo will sell more books than any written review.

8. Nominate a book

Many awards now are reader driven, so be sure to nominate your favorite book for both local contests, such as those run by newspapers, and larger contests such as the Goodreads Choice Awards. And, of course, be sure to vote for the book when the time comes.

9. Host an author

If you run a blog, be sure to give your favorite author some online love. Post a book review, conduct an author interview or reach out to the author to see if they'd be interested in writing a guest blog post. This is another one of those win-win symbiotic situations for both you and the author. 

10. Share

Retweeting, reposting links and sharing book news is another quick and easy way to support your favorite author. This is also a great way to personally connect with an author if you're interested in doing so. Contrary to popular opinion, most authors are actually nice, genuine people who want to get to know their fans. 

11. Recommend a book to a book club

If you're part of a book club yourself, definitely recommend your favorite book for an upcoming month. You may even consider contacting the publisher and checking to see if they offer book club discounts. If book clubs aren't your cup of tea, you can still recommend the book to local clubs at your bookstore or to someone you know who does thrive on the book club scene.

12. Connect an author with speaking opportunities

If you work at a school, for example, recommend that the media center specialist reach out to an author for a speaking engagement. If you have connections with local festivals or conferences, see if you can recommend your favorite author or connect them with someone in charge of booking. 

13. Go public

Talk about a book to your friends in public places where you can be overheard. The same goes for reading. Read your favorite book in airports, train stations or while waiting in line. Just making a book visible to others can help an author out in unexpected ways. 

About the author

Steph Post is the author of the novels Lightwood and A Tree Born Crooked and her short fiction has most recently appeared in Haunted Waters: From the Depths, Nonbinary Review and the anthology Stephen King’s Contemporary Classics. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, a Rhysling Award and was a semi-finalist for The Big Moose Prize. She is currently the writing coach at Howard W. Blake High School in Tampa, Florida.

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