Four Ways to Support Your Favorite Authors This Holiday Season

Four Ways to Support Your Favorite Authors This Holiday Season

If you read my blog, odds are you’re a book lover. And like most book lovers, we all have our favorite writers—folks whose next book we’re eagerly awaiting, authors we reference to exhaustion, and people whose books we’ve read over and over and over. (As of today, for me, that’s Daniel Price’s final chapter in his Silvers trilogy, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, and all of China Miéville Bas-Lag books.) The holiday season is the perfect time to continue to support your favorite creators. Below I’ve listed four ways to further support your favorite storyteller (and only one costs money.)

Buy Their Books as Gifts1. Buy Their Books as Gifts

You already own the book yourself, and you probably don’t need two copies on your shelf. But, if you love a book, chances are someone else will as well! Why not gift your friends and family the work of your favorite author? It’s a great way to help influence the growth of an author’s audience, and the added sales will look great when they pitch their next novel to publishers.

Leave Reviews2. Leave Reviews

Reviews are vital to the author/reader relationship. But reviews aren’t for the writer, reviews are for other readers. Your honest thoughts and opinions can convince other readers to pick up the work of your favorite author, and in turn, it can help grow a fanbase. More reviews also unlock opportunities for authors to connect with new markets. They don’t have to be long detailed book reports; a quick review of a few sentences works as well as a long one. (As a reader, I actually prefer them.) So fire up Goodreads or pop over to the ol’ Amazon and let the world know how you felt about your favorite books.

Share Their Work Online3. Share Their Work Online

Most people are active on social media. Be it Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, or perhaps you run a blog like this one. No matter your follower count, you can help out the creators you admire by share their work with others. Talk about your favorite books over the years. Share a passage you love. Draw fan art! Do interviews! Like reviews, sharing can help expand an author’s audience.

Request Their Books at Your Local Library4. Request Their Books at Your Local Library

Libraries want books people want to read! If your favorite author isn’t there, why not ask the library to stock their books? Many people rely on libraries for discovering new work, and you can help widen your favorite author’s reach with a simple request. Your library will appreciate the effort, and so will your fellow readers.

That’s it! If you’re looking for a way to continue to support your favorite author this holiday season, why not try one of these simple tips? Three of them don’t even cost money, they take very little time, and all of them can have a significant impact on an author’s success. This holiday season, take time to support the creators you appreciate.


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The King Ain’t Dead

The King Ain't Dead
If anything tragic has come from the Hachette/Amazon fight it’s been the fracturing of the writing community as a whole. While neither side is disclosing details we know the argument is centered around e-book pricing. As far as I can tell Amazon wants to charge what it wants at retail, and Hachette is demanding they follow their MSRP. Amazon has responded by inserting artificial purchase delays into the book buying process, and as a result Hachette will see a slump in sales. The LA Times has a good (if not somewhat biased) write up on the whole situation, if you’re not caught up you can check it out here.

Among authors new lines are being drawn in the sand. Some folks are calling for unions. Others are filling out petitions. We have authors like David Baldacci, Donna Tartt, and James Patterson taking sides with publishers and indie powerhouses like Hugh Howey, J. A. Konrath, and Barry Eisler siding with Amazon. Recently Amazon has tried to sway the Hachette authors by offering them 100% of their ebook commissions while the dispute continues—an offer Hachette rejected. This offer was quickly dismissed by Roxana Robinson, president of the Authors Guild because it “encourages authors to take sides against their publishers.” Even Stephen Colbert is getting involved. Long story short: the whole thing is a mess and it’s getting messier.

Because, Reasons

Obviously we can all see where everyone is coming from: the authors we see choosing sides have skin in the game. Hachette and other big publishers have helped make Baldacci, Tartt, and Patterson very successful through traditional avenues while Amazon has allowed guys like Howey, Konrath, and Eisler to reach their audiences in new and exciting ways. The reasoning from each side makes sense and there’s a knee jerk reaction in all of us to defend the platform which has empowered our success. But author’s joining sides in a fight over positioning and distribution seems like a waste of time when, in reality, the platform doesn’t matter, it’s content that does.

Content Is Born Platform Agnostic

At our core author’s are content creators, and content reigns supreme. The beauty of our creation is it can (and should) live anywhere. With the arrival of eReaders, smartphones, tablets, and print-on-demand services it has only gotten easier for our readers to access the content we produce in a format of their choice. If one distribution channel disappears there are literally hundreds of other ways for readers to get ahold of the content they want, and there are more opening every day. It’s important to do what we can to embrace those new platforms, after all do you care how a reader reads your book? No. You just want them to read it and enjoy it.

Problems arise when an author isn’t the sole owner of their content, when they allow another company to control distribution, and that company refuses to be platform agnostic. Sometimes this is advantageous for the author: they get a big advance, they don’t have to hire a freelance editor, they don’t have to worry about cover art, and someone else handles promotion, etc. If that’s what they want, then by all means go for it, there’s certainly a lot to be said for removing all those extra distractions and focusing only on your art but making that decision does come with a cost. We’re seeing that cost first hand in the Amazon/Hachette dispute.

Long Live The King

Unfortunately, this fight isn’t going to be resolved anytime soon, and this won’t be the last time this happens. These sort of disputes have happened before, they’ll continue to happen. Locking oneself into one camp or the other feels like a mistake. If you’re willing to do the work try to remaining as agile as possible. It is beneficial for not only you, but also for your readers, and the content you create.

Those of us on the sidelines who aren’t getting involved, who are focused on our craft, and watching this all play out without picking sides, we’re the real winners. Platforms change, and there’s always something new that we don’t see coming. Amazon is a significant portion of my own sales, but Hachette and Amazon could disappear tomorrow and I know something else will step in and fill the space they’d leave behind. History sides with those who are prepared to take advantage of whatever is next.

In the end your book doesn’t care where it lives, and readers rarely care how they get your book, they just want to be able to acquire it as easily as possible. Who ever wins this fight won’t matter because, in the long run, as Bill Gates wrote in 1996: “content is king.” That puts content creators in a good position, so, long live the king.

More Bookquisitions!

books books books! yay!

Productive weekend is productive: I’m now over 30% complete with book three’s rough draft, I’m getting things finalized for some con appearances, and getting some financials sorted out. (Taxes reminded me that I needed to do this sooner rather than wade through trouble later.)

However, I did acquire some new books and my stack has grown (both virtually and IRL.) So as I have done before, I figured I’d fill you all in on my recent bookquisitions:

Fourth Uncle in the Mountain: A Memoir of a Barefoot Doctor in VietnamFourth Uncle in the Mountain: A Memoir of a Barefoot Doctor in Vietnam
by: Marjorie Pivar & Quang Van Nguyen
My friend Steve recommend this to me, and since he was the guy who recommended I pick up Cormac Mccarthy’s Blood Meridian last year—now my 2nd favorite book of all time—I am chomping at the bit to dive into this as well. The pitch for it sounded very fascinating, part memoir and part magical realism set in Vietnam during the French and American war. Excited to get into this one.

Flight of the SilversThe Flight of the Silvers
by Daniel Price
My friend Ben pointed this one out to me. The pitch for this sounds fascinating. It’s part science fiction, part end of the world, and part esoteric afterlife story. It’s set in what sounds like a cool and unique world and got bonus points for having such a rad cover.

The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed AmericaThe Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
This has been on my to-read list forever. I love history and try to read a lot of it. I hear nothing but good things about Larson’s treatment of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and the murders committed by Dr. Henry H. Holmes. Glad to finally have a chance to read it.

Half BadHalf Bad by Sally Green
I try to mix YA into my pile, and I have heard good reviews about Green’s urban fantasy YA Half Bad, I wasn’t sure if it’d be my cup of tea but it’s damn fine book trailer helped seal the deal.

I’m always looking for new books. Currently I am hunting for some recommendations on romance novels, and as always, I’m looking for recommended indie titles. If you have a book recommendation for me please leave a comment! Don’t want to leave a comment? Shoot me an email: and let me know what you think I should add to the stack.

Friday Link Pack

Famous Scifi And Fantasy Authors In Their Workspaces
It’s Friday so I figured why not take the time to share a few interesting links I have found throughout the week. (I will fully admit I am stealing this idea from
Swiss Miss.) Some of these I mention on twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do!


A Recipe for Great Characters
Author Dave Farland shares some advice on how to make a character engrossing. It’s a quick read and really solid advice.

Famous Scifi And Fantasy Authors In Their Workspaces
I always love stuff like this. It’s cool to the space where authors I respect spend the majority of their time.

Writing in Public Project
Author Dean Wesley Smith is detailing his life as a writer by blogging about it every day for a year. Word counts. Emails. Everything. It’s been fun to follow along.


“The Last of Us” Title Sequence
Awesome post by the good folks over at Art of the Title (@WilliamHPerkins and @lolamachine) detailing how the titles for the game “The Last of Us” was created. It’s a great read.

Abandoned Places
A tumblr sharing photos of abandoned (and sometimes creepy) places. Great location inspiration. (Thanks Margit Sage for sharing this.)

Daddy Cool by Boney M
This is my favorite song in the world right now. Everything about this video is perfect: the song, the awkward white people, everything.

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

The Cats of Ulthar
Moral of the story: be nice to cats.

Farewell Gif(s) of the Week:

Hello. How are you? Let's be friends.


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Goodreads doubles its membership

I saw this on The Passive Voice (mentioned in my last post) but it was originally announced on the Goodreads blog. Goodreads has passed 20 million members, doubling its membership in one year. Huge growth which is great for readers and for the authors. I bet we’ll see some really exciting things coming from them in the near future.

If you’re not on Goodreads and you’re a writer, get on Goodreads, it’s an amazing resource to communicate with readers and promote your book. If you’re a reader and you’re not on Goodreads, get on Goodreads, it’s an amazing resource to communicate with authors you love and other readers who love the same books as you. (You should also add me, and add The Stars Were Right to your to-read list, since it drops in less than a month. Announcement for that coming soon.)

Okay, I am done promoting Goodreads. (For what it’s worth: I’m not getting paid for this, I just really like the service. For now I’ll avoid talking at length about their UX issues.)

Common Errors of Indie Authors

Train wreck at Montparnasse 1895

In my recent hunt for a copy editor I came across Lisa Kelly-Wilson’s website. Lisa worked as an editor for indie authors like: Hugh Howey, Robert Brumm, and David Simpson. Her site is a collection of tips and tricks for dealing with everything from editors, publishers, even covering cover design. I could see it becomes a  solid resource for every new author out there.

She created a pretty handy guide I wanted to share: Lisa Kelly-Wilson’s Common Errors of Indie Authors (70kb PDF). Download it, and do your best to follow it. Your readers and editor will thank you.

(The image above has nothing to do with anything other than the word “error.” While looking for an image for this article I hit this wikipedia article and the image associated made me laugh. Talk about an error.)