Want to help an author out? It’s pretty easy!

Lauri Chandler and SOPHIE'S SQUASHDo you know a real, live author? Or, is there an author you’ve never met but whose work you admire?

You may never have thought about it, but there are things you can do to help that author succeed. And most are at low or no cost to you.

In general, authors are shy, retiring people. They don’t want to give you a sales pitch for their book, but they are extremely grateful for any support you provide.

So I’ve compiled a quick list of way to help a favorite author out that anyone can do, whether they have cash on hand or not.

Most books are relatively inexpensive compared to other pleasures in life, so I’ll start with …


Buy a copy of the book. This might seem really obvious. But it is, by far, the most useful thing you can do for your author friend. March yourself into a bookstore or go online and by the book. Publishers judge an author’s success and future potential by sales, so your copy, and the few moments you spent purchasing it, makes a difference.

As a newly published author, I’ve been surprised by how many people have asked me, “Where can I get a copy?” Most books are available online at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com or powells.com. And, almost any bookstore will be able to order a traditionally published book if it isn’t already on their shelves. Some will even have it shipped directly to you.

Don’t think that your author friend’s book fits your interests or demographic? Think creatively.

  • Would it interest a family member?
  • Could it be a donation to your local public library or a school or church library? (Then, you’d get a tax-deduction, too.)
  • Could you give it to a day care, a Toys for Tots Drive or a Boys’ and Girls’ Club?
  • Might you save it for a future holiday, birthday or baby shower gift?

Don’t be one of those people who, every time they see the author in question, says, “Oh, I’ve been meaning to buy a copy of your book. I’ll have to do that sometime.” There’s no good way for the author to respond, except to smile awkwardly and say, “That would be great …”

Instead, be the person who can honestly say, “I bought a copy of your book. It was awesome!” (And, if you can be a person like my cousin, Kris Schmidt — who emailed me to say she’d bought TWELVE COPIES for current children in her life and future babies to be born — you just might get a hug.)

And if you want to know more about the importance of buying the book of an author you like, see this illuminating post on the From the Write Angle blog.

But, I know, sometimes cash is scarce. If that’s the case, you still can support your author friend by doing…


Ask your local public library to order the book. Most libraries have purchase request forms you can fill out online — or paper versions you can fill out in the library. They’ll usually ask for:

  • The title (Like, for example, SOPHIE’S SQUASH).
  • The author (Pat Zietlow Miller).
  • The publisher and publish date (Schwartz & Wade / August 2013)
  • The ISBN (978-0-307-97896-7).

Check it out or request it from your public library. If enough people want to check out the book, the library may order extra copies.

Post a review. You can share your thoughts on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com or goodreads. If you say positive things, that’s a bonus.

Post something on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn about the book. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Something like this is fine. “My friend _ADD NAME HERE_ wrote a book called _ADD TITLE HERE_. It’s awesome. You can check it out at: _ADD LINK TO AUTHOR’S WEBSITE OR BOOKSELLER HERE_.”

Of course, if you want to wax poetic about the author’s or the book’s many virtues, that’s wonderful, too. Lauri Chandler, a librarian from Indiana, posted this photo of herself celebrating the release of SOPHIE’S SQUASH. And while we’ve never met in person, she’s definitely on my list of people to hug someday.

Attend the book launch party or book-signing event. Authors always secretly fear that no one will show up and they’ll be left sitting all alone feeling unloved. So stop by and say “hi.” Even if you don’t buy a copy, the author will be thrilled to see you.

What other things have you done to support authors?

Share them in the comments below.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me. I’m off to buy books by some fellow EMU’s Debut authors.


Filed under Advice, Book Promotion, Promotion

19 responses to “Want to help an author out? It’s pretty easy!

  1. Sometimes when I am reading a good book I will tweet that I am really enjoying it as I am reading it. I will also tweet when I just get done reading a book. I sometimes find the author’s facebook page (if they have one) and comment that I enjoyed it. 🙂
    PS I really enjoyed Sophie’s Squash and will be reviewing it 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Lindsey Lane

    Pat, what a great list. I love it when a reader finds me on line and posts on my blog or social media sites. They may me feel great and boosts the traffic which has some algorithmic effect on sales.


  3. Love, love, love this post, Pat. I’ve had my knickers in a twist lately about the cutesie, hipstery list-article that’s been buzzing around social media about why we should always buy used books (cuz they *smell* good! and they’re *cheap*!). I’m just like, “But what about supporting the authors???” THANK YOU for putting a human face on the business of writing! 🙂


  4. Alexa

    I’ve been curious if keeping a book beyond its due date helps an author out by telling the library “this book was so good, I had to hang onto it for three more weeks!” Hypothetically speaking…


    • Christine

      As a children’s librarian, I can answer that with a big “NO”. Keeping a book beyond its due date prevents it from being checked out by other patrons, and libraries usually look at individual circulations when evaluating popularity. Based on my experience, the vast number of late returns are due to forgetfulness, not love of the book. (If you return it and then check it out again, however, that would help.)

      I did purchase Sophie’s Squash for my library and it is circulating well, FYI.


  5. Great list, Pat! So glad you included the library order request, which is something I like to tell other writers about. (Happy to report the Seattle Public Library carries all published EMU Debut titles and will let patrons make purchase requests up to three months before publication.)

    Other cost free ways to support authors include liking Facebook author pages, signing up for blogs and newsletters, and mentioning books to school librarians and teachers. You never know when they’ll end up on an awards committee, e.g., at ALA, for state awards, etc…


  6. abbynies

    I’m on a Sophie’s Squash book buying binge, and we can’t wait to get them signed (either them or the squash we are bringing with us to Books and Co. on Sat.). I also got our children’s librarian excited about the book–she is ordering one for our library. Great list–such a great book! We are some of your biggest fans!


  7. abbynies

    Have to add that the other book I buy in bulk is Lisa Moser’s Railroad Hank. We are lucky to live in a sate with such talented children’s authors.


  8. What a great list! I’ve found greatest satisfaction when I receive orders for my book (7 Habits of Deeply Fulfilled Artists: Your Aesthetic Needs & How to Meet Them) as the result of word of mouth recommendations, tributes (and, yes, tweets) from those readers with whom the book strikes a chord. There’s nothing like knowing your words have made a positive impression!


  9. Get on your library website and place a hold on the books you like best. Many libraries will purchase an additional copy if several holds are placed. For example – I recently recommended Sophie’s Squash to a family member in Wisconsin. She told me that she went to the library and it was checked out and she placed her name on the hold list with several people in front of her. Usually there is a policy something like “an additional copy will be purchased for every 4 holds on the book”. That way the library understands the demand and will be happy to buy more copies to satisfy their customers 🙂


  10. Thanks for all these tips, Pat. Just this week I shared Sophie’s Squash with the librarian at the school where I taught for 24 years. She loved it! I was substituting in Kindergarten…they loved it, too. I have requested books for our public library to purchase, but I am going to do better about it and request more. Thanks for the reminder.


  11. The best thing I’ve done to help an author out is to buy a copy of his or her book. Another thing I’ve done was to interview authors on my blog. That’s one of my favorite things to do. Another favorite thing to do is to go to book signings.


  12. joyce rosselli

    I am a big reader and have purchased children’s books for my art classes as motivation during my long career. I am retiring soon and hope to keep up my tradition of giving real books as gifts to my large family. I like the information about the library requests and will try to pursue that as well.


  13. A lovely list! I’ll be directing curious people to this post for sure… 🙂


  14. Pat! What a truly AWESOME post! I’m sending this link to everyone I know! 🙂 Also, to add to your list, even if it might not help sales, a fan letter or note of appreciation directly to the author is always welcome. I’ve saved every note/email.


  15. I know this is an old list, but it just popped up in my facebook feed, and it’s totally useful and pertinent to my life right now. Thanks so much for writing this up!
    Also, I’m a big fan of Sophie and her butternut squash. 🙂


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