For the past couple of weeks, writer friends and I have been talking about the ways we rely on each other as writers. We are a community in every sense, and so we lean hard into one another, which is good and important. But it also comes with expectations – some from within and some from without – that are hard to live up to.
For example, the more you connect to other writers, the more the weight of buying and reading each other’s books, supporting each other’s Patreon accounts, picking up each other’s t-shirts and crafts and courses. We simply can’t read (or buy) every book, give to every Patreon, or take every course, no matter how much we might want to for the sake of the writers we know. It’s just not feasible.
But we can still support each other in small but meaningful ways, and these are also ways we can encourage the other people in our life to support us, even if they will never read what we write.
10 FREE Ways You Can Support A Writer
- Subscribe to their email lists or podcast feeds. Email lists and podcast subscriber numbers are a big deal for writers, especially if we are trying to get traditionally published, because they give agents and publishers a sense of the number of people who are interested in what we have to say. You can even have the messages go into an “writer newsletter folder” or just let them pile up on your phone, but your subscription matters a lot.
- Share their work on social media. Share about it on Facebook (preferably, but not necessarily, with a sentence or two about why you’re sharing it). Tweet links to their books or articles. Instagram a photo of their book when you see it at a bookstore or library. Simple, quick actions make a big difference.
- Recommend their books (or even articles) to your local library, children’s school libraries, or local bookstore. Suggest that they add the book to their collection and why, and then, if they do, tell your local friends they can pick up the book at that location. This is a surprisingly powerful way to help a writer sell more books and garner more readers.
- Follow the writer’s social media accounts. If the writer has a Facebook business page, follow it. Find them on Twitter. Hunt them down on Instagram. Look for them on Tumblr, or Snapchat, or all those other social media platforms I’m not cool enough to know. Those numbers also matter to agents and publishers, and the more followers a writer has, the more the platform is likely to share their work with new people.
- Like the author’s social media posts. It will take you less than one second, but those little clicks to say you noticed and appreciate what they posted boost that writer’s presence on any social media platform, which brings them more readers and potentially buyers.
- Attend their readings. If an author you like is giving a reading in a place near you, go. Be in the crowd. Say Hi afterward. Your presence alone is bolstering, and sometimes, your presence will be the difference between that author sitting alone in a bookstore and having a lovely cup of coffee with you one-on-one. (It’s happened to me.)
- Suggest them as a reader or course teacher at a local bookstore, arts center, community center, school or home school co-op. Most writers can teach workshops on our craft, are happy to give readings most anywhere, love talking to kids about our work, and appreciate even the unpaid (although paid is awesome) work because it helps us meet new readers. My friend Ray recently introduced me to the director of our local arts center, and I am now teaching two workshops and giving a reading there in December. (You can get details about all those events here.)
- Join the launch teams for their books. As a launch team member, you’ll be asked to do a lot of these things, but you’ll also often get a free copy of the book, be privy to insider information about the book, and get to meet other readers.*
- Send them a note. Use email, messenger, text, Voxer, whatever to just tell them you appreciate what they do.
- Recommend their work personally to your friends and family. I saved this one for last because this is, by far, the most important thing you can do for the writers you know. Even if you don’t buy our books, learn a bit about them and then tell your people why they might want to read it. Think of who might like that book or article and send it to them via FB Messenger or email them the link. Those recommendations are the most powerful way you can help a writer find new readers and, hopefully, you’re helping a reader find a writer they love, too.
So as the MANY, MANY emails about things to buy come your way over the next week, know that you can help your fellow writers and the writers you love without having to spend a dollar. But of course, if you want to buy our books, we LOVE that, too.
And by the way, I want you to know I am grateful for you, my readers, more than you can imagine. If you have another suggestion for how we can support the writers in our lives without spending money, I would LOVE to hear it.
*My launch team for the third book in the Steele Secrets series is now forming. The book, tentatively entitled The Silence at the Lock, tells the story of Mary, a teenage girl who can see ghosts, and Sarah, the young woman whose ghost she meets at an old canal lock in their hometown of Terra Linda, Virginia. I’d LOVE your help in promoting it, and in exchange, you’ll get a free electronic copy of the book, get some of the inside stories about where this idea came from, and be entered into some fun giveaways for team members. JOIN US HERE!