During my pre-publication journey, I have been lucky enough to expand my circle of writerly friends, and with each pending book launch I have tried to find ways to support them. I have also been very touched by the support for my own book, with many of my lovely friends promising to make Facing the Wave their go-to gift for each and every child’s birthday party they have to attend from here to eternity.
This started me thinking about how I could best support fellow authors – and what I should be telling friends when they asked about buying my book. To that end, I asked around to find out if there are ‘better’ places to buy books from to support authors/illustrators, and what other ways we can support local books and creators.
Pre-order it or order it in
Many online booksellers will offer a pre-order service for many titles. Alternatively, you can ask your local ‘brick and mortar’ book store to pre-order a title you are excited about. Pre-ordering helps generate interest and buzz about the book.
If a book has already been released and you can’t see it in your local bookshop, ask them if they can order it in. Most bookshops are very happy to do this and by requesting the book you are bringing it to the store’s attention.
Where should I buy it?
Buying a copy of your author friend’s book is, naturally, going to be greatly appreciated (and if you buy enough copies of my book I’ll even pop out and get you some steak knives myself), but not all retailers are created equal and each has its own potential perks and quirks.
Direct from the publisher: For Facing the Wave, customers can order directly from the publisher. Buying the book directly from Larrikin House ultimately means more money in the pocket of the author and the publisher (which is a good thing because it allows them to keep signing authors and publishing wonderful books).
Independent bookshops: These are typically the smaller locally-owned shops, or small chains, where you can go in and actually chat to the staff about book recommendations. Supporting independent booksellers is worthy in its own right because they are typically a great source of support for local authors and the writing community, they offer a curated book browsing experience, and they are usually locally owned.
Purchasing from independent booksellers also helps authors because often the people working in the stores will have some influence over what is stocked and promoted, so by purchasing an author’s work you are bringing it to their attention.
Online retailers: Buying from online retailers such as Booktopia is also great. When you buy from larger retailers the small drop effect of your purchase is less likely to ripple as far because it requires a bigger volume of purchases to begin to impact their algorithms, whereas a just few sales at a smaller store is likely to see the book better stocked and possibly promoted.
However, lots of teeny drops can make a difference so if this is your preferred method of purchase then go for it… who knows, you could be helping your creator friend become the next Aaron Blaby (Pig the Pug) or Nick Bland (The Very Cranky Bear).
Borrow their book
Getting books into libraries is wonderful for creators for a number of reasons. Firstly, it provides exposure and gives a broad range of readers access to the book. While making money from a book is exciting, creators are usually just as (if not more) excited about the fact that their work will actually be read. Getting a book into the library has flow on effects for word of mouth promotion – perhaps that person who loved a book at the library will buy it for a friend down the track (or themselves if they really loved it).
Creators also make money from Educational Lending Rights and Public Lending Rights. This means that the government surveys public libraries and educational libraries to estimate how many copies of a book are available for lending, and the creators are compensated for potential lost income.
You can support creators by borrowing or placing a hold on books at your local library. If they don’t have the book in their catalogue, most libraries have a form you can complete to request they buy it.
Spread the good word
Most creators I know are happy to share a few posts about their work, but feel a certain level of discomfort at continually spruiking their literary wares. Feel free to post, tweet, share, (or even create a viral TikTok dance if that’s your thing) in support of your creative friends.
Be their wing-person
A lot of book promotion sits in the hands of the author and illustrator, and a lot of a book’s success starts with local connections. This means that authors benefit from opportunities to talk about their work through things like guest speaking, podcasts, school visits, and interviews. If you have a community or media connection that might genuinely be of value to both parties, then you can help put people in touch with the creator and their work.
Similarly, if you know someone with a business who might be interested in stocking some of the author’s books or working with them in some way, this can be incredibly valuable. If Best Friend A has written a book about yoga and Best Friend B owns a yoga studio, then consider stepping in as matchmaker. Don’t be afraid to hook an author friend up!
Reviews, reviews, reviews
Positive reviews make a big difference on many platforms, and it is something you can do really easily to support a book. Reviews on Goodreads are very helpful but you can also leave reviews on sites like Booktopia, Book Depository and QBD when you purchase a book, and/or if you have an account with them.
This is something a lot of people overlook, I try to set aside a few minutes every now and then to go and leave positive reviews for books I have enjoyed.
Turn up to their book launch
And finally… I know I am not the only author who is afraid that their mum and their kids will be the only people at their book launch (and kids are fickle at the best of times). Put their fears at ease and RSVP ‘yes’ with as many plus one’s as you can wrangle.