It feels like there are a lot of different preferences when it comes to Christmas gift giving. This time of year, you start to see people asking if you’re finished with your shopping or if you haven’t started yet. Or if you shop in stores or online. Or if you wrap things as they come in or do one massive wrapping extravaganza. For myself, I tend to shop year round and then spend the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas kicking myself for paying full price for something in September only to see it 40% off as a special Christmas sale. And yet, I don’t change my habits, because I sincerely despise feeling rushed and panicked about getting the task taken care of.
Of course, as a year-round shopper, I also tend to give people gifts throughout the year. So there are little notes under our tree as well that say, “Hey, remember that concert we went to in July? Wasn’t it amazing? This is the photo we took while we were there – Merry Christmas!” Generally speaking, my kids have been okay with that (since that’s not all they’re finding under the tree), but sometimes I have a tiny tendril of guilt about it.
That said, if you have an author or two who you enjoy reading, the idea of year-round gift giving is one that we can absolutely get behind. Because there are several little things you can do that take only tiny bits of your time and resources – and those things? They mean the world to us.
So, for my last post of 2017, I thought I’d give you a top ten best gifts for authors as something to carry into the New Year as, if nothing else, food for thought. Here goes:
10. Sign up for our newsletter – Just about every author I know has a newsletter. Some folks send them monthly, some bi-monthly, some quarterly, some only when they have a new release. Usually, we’re pretty good about letting you know the frequency when you sign up. And yes, I know, not-another-email-itis, I have it too, but we really really really want you on our
lists! Why? A number of factors – some publishers look at newsletter size when they’re considering an author’s platform, and that, in turn, and mean the difference between a contract or no contract. But we also love being able to share special goodies with our fans — our real fans — which means generally newsletter subscribers get perks that aren’t available anywhere else. So maybe consider making room in your inbox for another email or two?
9. Actually open and read our newsletters – I know, I know, I talked you into signing up and that’s huge – THANK YOU! But see, most of us also obsessively check our stats when we send out an email and we get sad and wonder what we’re doing wrong when we see that only 40% of our list opened the thing. So if you did sign up? Take that extra second to click on the email and make sure it’s open (not just in a preview pane) and scroll through. Who knows, you might just find something you didn’t know you needed in there!
8. Read – and comment on – our blogs. So, you’re here. Yay! You’re reading an author blog (do I dare another all caps thank you? Probably not. Please consider that you saw one though, k?) Leave a little note before you go. I know, I know, “I don’t have anything to say!” And sure, some of that might be our fault, after all, if we didn’t leave you a question or interaction prompt in the post then, well, I know it can feel silly to say “Hey, I enjoyed this – thanks!” but something like that can totally make our day.
7. Hit reply on a newsletter and say hi. What? Back to newsletters? You thought I was finished, I know. But nope – one more. You know how when you were little you’d dance around the mailbox while Mom or Dad fished out the day’s delivery and try to peek as they flipped through it, hoping to see something addressed to you? That’s us after we send out a newsletter. It’s kind of like Christmas cards — you send out a whole bunch of them and then wait with bated breath to see who’s going to reciprocate.
6. Like our Facebook page – This ties back into that whole idea of reach that can be important to folks looking for a traditional publisher. But you know what, indies really like this too — because we want to be able to tell you about our books and our lives and what’s happening and hey, Facebook is good for that.
5. Like and share the things we post on Facebook – No big surprise here, but that stuff we put on Facebook? We’d really like a lot of people to get to see it. But Facebook has their own little way of doing things, and their algorithm is one of those incomprehensible bits of computer code that most mortals aren’t allowed to understand. What we do know is that posts that are liked and shared get shown to more people. Don’t feel like sharing it? That’s cool. I get that — but go ahead and hit like and maybe leave a comment (cause comments help too!) if you would. Two seconds of your time, max, but a super big help to us.
4. Tell your friends and family about our books – This probably seems like a no-brainer, but telling a friend about a book you’ve read and enjoyed is HUGE. This is how I, as a reader, get the majority of my new books because I know I can trust the person who told me about it (although, I’ll say, there have been a few head scratchers after the fact – but that’s brought about some really fun conversations between me and my friend, so no harm no foul!) You know how when you meet someone and they’re so amazing and fun and you think, “Oh! You’d love my other friend so-and-so, let’s all get together for coffee!” Do that, but with books.
3. Add our books to your “Want to Read”list on Goodreads. Now, I know a lot of authors are probably frowning right now, because Goodreads is one of those places that authors seem to either love or hate. But the fact of the matter is, adding a book to a list there shows that you want to read that book to all the people you’re friends with. And so it’s kind of like doing #4, but online, because you’ve said, effectively, “Hey, this book looks interesting. I want to read it.” And so then your friends will see that and they’ll go look at the book and then they might say, “Ooh, me too.” And then, before you know it, you’ve basically got a book club ready to go. (If you just absolutely don’t want to do Goodreads, maybe try Pinterest instead.)
2. Nominate your favorite books and authors for reader-nominated awards. Starting in January, there are a handful of book awards for the past year, and many of them are reader-nominated. If you’ve read something that you simply adored this year, why not keep an eye out for a place to give it a mention?
1. Write a review. Post it everywhere. You knew this was coming, right? Reviews are our lifeblood. Reviews on Goodreads and Amazon in particular, but other retailers too if you have the extra few minutes. I know a lot of people feel like writing a review takes too much time, but I promise you it doesn’t have to. A review can be as simple as as 2nd grade book report: I enjoyed this book because X. (Where X is 5-7 words about your favorite thing in the book — realistic characters, it made you cry, it didn’t make you cry, it was unique, it had a satisfying HEA, whatever. Just don’t give away any spoilers.) That’s it. But you know what? We even like reviews from people who didn’t necessarily like our books! A well-written, thoughtful negative review maybe isn’t cause for as much celebration as a positive one, but we’re eating cake either way, because we got another review. If you want to leave a less positive review, try to use the squeeze a lemon/pick a cherry method — so balance out what you didn’t like with something you did, e.g. “This books was very well written. I felt like the heroine was a jerk because the hero apologized and she didn’t admit any of her fault in the situation, but I still mostly enjoyed the read.” Pop 2 or 3 stars on that puppy, and I promise the author isn’t going to cry for more than ten minutes.
So there you have it – my list of the top ten gifts you can give authors all year long. Leave a comment and let me know what you’ll be adding to your list – or what you don’t think belongs on there!
As my gift to you — two lucky commenters will be given their choice of any of my e-books from Amazon.