A few weeks ago I had dinner with a friend who we will call “Friend.” She was really excited I was putting my books out and she asked what someone could do to support a writer with a book they believed in.
That last bit was important once we started chatting.
Friend wrote her ideas on a napkin and told me to blog it. You should know that she’s a reader. She has nothing to do with writing or blogging or publishing or beta reading or anything. In what’s become a foreign idea to me, I’m the only person she knows who writes.
This is HER list of ways she’d go about supporting an author she believes in.
- Buy the book.
- Review the book.
- Buy the book for one other person who will love it.
- Suggest, if you love this, drop a review.
- Facebook or tweet an original statement about it — not a “like” or an “RT”
- Recommend it to people who would enjoy it
- When people ask you what you’re reading, always say one of your LOVE books, whether that’s what you’re reading right now or not
- Buy the paperback book and
I pointed out with that list supporting a few favorite authors might be a full time job! Not to mention, expensive. By my count she bought at least three copies of a book – even as an author I’m a little O.O about that.
Friend decided to go on a book promo adventure of her own and see what happens. She picked a book that wasn’t mine so she could report back without worrying about skewing the results.
This little interview came from all that:
BRIA: So, you decided to see what would happen if you became a proselytizer of a certain book. What made you try this?
FRIEND: Every day I recommend people get a fitbit (she’s one of my fitbit group members) I talk about it and show it off. I love my fitbit. It comes naturally. I feel like I used to talk about books all the time. I’d see people reading something and ask about it. Sometimes it was a friend, sometimes it was the woman next to me on the train. But now with all the ereaders you never get to see what people are out there reading and looking at ereaders to try to guess is just rude.
Also, you. Knowing an author made books more… real to me. I know that sounds stupid, but seeing a friend work so hard to put a book out there made me value books more.
BRIA: awwww *sniff* But, I mean,, are you really going to strike up a conversation with a stranger just to tell them about a book they may or may not like? ONE: Strangers. TWO: Talking. That pretty much is the end of the list of reasons not to for me.
FRIEND: We talk to strangers every day because of the right circumstances. Books should be something we never stop talking about.
BRIA: So, how’d this get going?
FRIEND: First, I bought a paper copy of one of my recent favorites. Which was easier than I was afraid it would be. My favorites list is pretty short. Then I carried it around with me for the rest of the week. On Saturday, I went to Starbucks with the sole intention of rereading the book (and enjoying non-roommate time *grin*). I was there just over 3 hours and reread the book.
Seven people mentioned the book. 2 commented that I was reading an actual book (there were a bunch of ereaders there that day) and 5 commented on the book itself (what is that, I like that cover, what’s that about, etc). 3 of the people I talked to sounded like someone who might enjoy it so I straight out said, “This is my second time reading it. I think you might really like it.”
1 woman looked at me like I was weird. 1 wrote it down and 1 added it to her TBR list.
BRIA: So, huh. 2 people who may actually pick up the book because of you.
FRIEND: I was feeling pretty darn good about myself at that point. I wanted to email the author an tell her I sold two books for her *snort*
BRIA: So, what was next for you?
FRIEND: I decided that while the book was fresh in my head, I should write a review.
BRIA: Was this starting to feel like work at this point, because it sounds a lot like work.
FRIEND: Nah. Don’t forget. I love this book. I’ll probably read it again in a few months. It’s not a book I liked a lot or enjoyed. I love this book. Most readers love nothing more than a chance to chat/gush about books they love.
BRIA: Have I introduced you to my friend Abby and her sister Emily? They are book gushers. I TBR whatever they gush about.
FRIEND: Ohhhh. I want that to be me! I want to be a trusted book recommender!
So, I wrote the review. I tried to be as honest as possible and not gushy since you said people don’t typically seem to believe gushy reviews as much as balanced ones. I even talked about the one thing I skimmed over this read because it kind of annoyed me. And, I copied my review onto Amazon (which I’ve never done). I typically just do starred ratings on GR to track my books.
BRIA: Did it feel like work now?
FRIEND: Nope. But, I’ll admit, it was harder than I thought to write something that I thought was a “good” review. Enough information and balanced while still being clear how much I loved the book. I’ve decided I’m going to do it for all my 5-stars. Which, when I looked back in my GR was between 2 and 7 a year.
BRIA: Cool. Did anyone “like” your reviews?
FRIEND: That was the next thing I was going to say! Yes! And I’m such a dork I was like, Oh, CHECK. ME. OUT. Lol I also found some people with similar tastes and am following their reviews to see recs for myself… which is them sharing the book love!
BRIA: I’ve heard people get annoyed by people who only review 5-stars. Do you think this is true? Did you see any of it?
FRIEND: Well, obviously that was my first review. No one called me on that, but I have something like 600 books rated over the years, so I probably look pretty valid. Also, I’m not a book blogger or anything. I’m only going to write reviews I feel strongly about. I’m not out to guide readers, only to share my love of books that I adore. And, giving a fair/honest/balanced review to a 5-star to me is about saying thank you to the author who gave me something I’ll read over and over again.
BRIA: WOW. I loved that. I’m sure that’s not the normal reason for reviewing a book (or, maybe I’m wrong!) but I really loved the comment. What happened next?
FRIEND: I brought the book to work.
BRIA: Ok, folks, you should know that Friend works with some of the snobbiest people I’ve ever met. She asked me to go to a drinks and mingle thing with her once… and I went…and told her never again. I know the book she read is a contemporary romance by a mid-list author. This should be interesting.
FRIEND: I set the book on the edge of my desk as if I’d tossed it there and waited to see what would happen.
The first day 8 people asked me if I always read “that junk” or was it just a “summer beach read” (BRIA SIDE NOTE: I now have a whole blog in my head about this). 1 person tried to give me a biography on an unheard of physicist, most people just looked at me like “eh” — but one person was convinced through my hard core defense of genre fiction and this specific book to give it a try. SPREAD THE LOVE MOMENT #3!
The next day, a person she never interacted with stopped me in the kitchen when she saw the book to gush about how much she loved it. We’ve actually now exchanged 3 books. We’ll see how that goes.
BRIA: Wow, you took this really seriously.
FRIEND: Well, don’t forget, we talked initially about this in May. I haven’t had another 5-star read since then and I do most of my reading in the summer, so it was good to see I wouldn’t feel like doing this all the time.
BRIA: Did it begin to feel like an obligation? I mean, promoting authors isn’t your job since you are a pleasure-reader.
FRIEND: Not really. I was thinking about when I’d first read the book and kept wishing I had someone to talk to about it since I loved it so much. I wish I’d done all this then for myself. I think, if I gave myself permission to talk about the book because *I* wanted to, it would have let me enjoy the book even longer. And, I got a new book friend out of this. Who knows how many people I might know who share similar taste in books but I can’t see into their e-reader.
BRIA: So, what will you do next time you have a 5-star read?
FRIEND: I see what you mean about my initial list being a little out of control LOL
I also see what you mean about the “obligated” thing and I don’t think I’ll ever get to that point. Don’t forget, I don’t have a 5-star read that often. But, I think I’ll cut back on the buying LOL I’ll give my copy away instead of buying a new copy for someone. The facebook thing is easy. My facebook people are all normal people –
BRIA: Um, you mean non-writers?
FRIEND: Yeah. That’s what I said.
BRIA: *ponders what Friend thinks of me for real*
FRIEND: So, a lot of them might be hearing about my favorite books for the first time. I’m hoping it might open up some of my friends to talking about books more. Which would be great because my book club fell apart right after college and I really want a new one and a place to talk about books. Plus, the review will be easy. I’ll write it while I’m still excited but I’m not a great at steamlining (Bria had to cut about ½ of my sentences so that this interview made sense) – so I’ll let it sit for a day or two before posting it.
BRIA: So, what did you take away from your promotion experiment?
FRIEND: One, that I love talking about books. I had forgotten how much. Two, that talking to people about books is easier than you think. Three, that there’s a whole book culture out there but you need to find it bc it’s hidden now. Four, I feel great when someone says they’ll try a book I recommend. I feel like I did something for that reader to help them find something awesome and I’m sharing the love for whoever gave me the gift of that story.
BRIA: Sooooo… maybe one day you’ll come back and tell us about the next time you have a 5-star read.
FRIEND: You’re not trying to make me a blogger, are you?
BRIA: Oh, I hadn’t thought of that LOL — No. I was just curious if when it’s not part of an experiment if it feels like work.
FRIEND: Reading is not work. *glares*
BRIA: Okay! Got it! It was fun! You met people and got book recommendations and shared the love. Backing off the whole work thing.
FRIEND: To be honest. I’m not shy. I love to talk to people and hear their stories and share mine. Being a book-sharer might not be fun for everyone. But, I definitely want to have an outlet ready to go next time I love a book.
BRIA: You can always call me 😉
So, that was interesting. While I know I still read like a reader (I’m always shocked by writers who make it sound like they’re separate or above reading-like-a-reader) I know I don’t think about talking about books like a reader. This was a lot o f fun for me even though Friend did all the work!
I’m curious how other people feel about all this – do ereaders cut down on our book interactions? Do you feel like not seeing books out in the world makes you less likely to find books you might not have tried otherwise – or talk about books less?
As a writer I feel like all I do is talk about books, so it was really refreshing to hear the other side. THANKS FRIEND!