Open Letter to Friends of Authors

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Writers, this isn't really a post for you; it's a post for your friends; it's a post you can print out and give to your friends.

Dear Friend of an Author:
Congratulations! You have an author for a friend. And you want to know how you can best support your friend in her career. There are definitely some solid ways to do this.

  1. Attend. When your friend has an event, attend. It might be a book signing at a book store, a party to celebrate the release of a new book, or just a talk at your local church. Attend. Please. And bring other friends with you. You've gone before, you've heard it already. So? Go again. It's about being a friend.

    Writing is a lonely profession. We lock ourselves up in our caves and pour our hearts onto paper and revise and revise and if we are lucky, there's a book at the end of the process. But writing is odd. Our work is not complete without readers. It's both a very private profession and a very public one. And often, we recluses need help with the public portion of this profession.

    • Do not ask: Do you want me to come?

    • What your writer friend hears: I don't want to come, but if you insist, I will.

    • What your writer friend will say: No, no. There's no need for you to come.

    • What your writer friend is hoping: You will come. Period.

  2. Buy. Yes, it's a layout of a few bucks. The equivalent of buying them a cheap fast-food meal. A couple burgers, a fry and a coke. It's important that you buy a book. Why does this matter?
    • Writing isn't complete without the reader (see above).
    • Most writers are paid a royalty, which means it's a percentage of total sales. If a book sells billions, the writer is rich. If it sells only dozens, all that work, all that hope--there's no reward. We are self-employed: no insurance, no paid vacation, no salary, no monetary reward at all. It's not your problem and we don't expect it to ever be your worry. But please, if you are a true friend, buy the book.

    Where to buy?
    Amazon. Unless your friend has a preference, buying on Amazon means the sales rank will go up, which helps other people to find the book. The biggest difficulty we have it reaching people and letting them know our book is available. Buying on Amazon helps.
    At book signings. On the other hand, if there's a book signing you can attend, go. (See above: Attend.)
  3. Read. Do I have to say it? Apparently, yes. Read the book. At the least, you'll find out something about your friend that you never knew. At best, you may be totally amazed.

  4. Talk. Just as important as buying and perhaps even more important, tell someone about the book. Tell LOTS of someones. Word of mouth--a person telling an acquaintance about a fabulous book--is still the best way to sell books. It has to start somewhere. Why not with you, the Friend of the Author? If your writer friend has postcards, take them and pass them out. Know a librarian, a teacher, or someone in a field related to your friend's book? Combine #2 with this one--give that influential friend a book. Wow. That would be a kind thing for you to do for your writer friend.

    Book Review. Specifically, talk about your friend's book on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads or other social media sites by doing a book review. I know. It's a bit techie to figure out how to post a review. And I know that it's a bit of writing that you would have to do and YOU are not the writer here anyway. But that bit of writing would be greatly appreciated and could really help your friend. If twenty of MY friends wrote reviews of my recent book, I would cry. What a kindness.
  5. Support. In many other small ways, you can support your friend. Listen to them complain about the editorial revisions. Just like when you complain about the technical details of your engineering project, it doesn't matter that you understand. Mostly, your writer friend just needs a friendly ear, just like you need one for your daily woes.

    Ask about progress on a project. Join the writer in dissing the editor who rejected the latest project. Stop by with a cup of coffee and make the writer leave her cave for a 15 minute visit with a real person. Send her a $10 gift certificate to her favorite bookstore, so she can buy that novel that is making the rounds right now. Take an early morning walk with her. Meet her at the library where you will both just sit and read; companionship is important. Take her for a drive in your Miata. Do pedicures together. Sit in a hot tub and drink margaritas. In short, BE a friend. Talk is cheap; friendship costs. The rewards? A true friend (who just might put you in a book some day).

Friend of an Author, you don't know how much that author needs you. Authors are too good at hiding in their caves, at being recluse. But I guarantee: that author needs YOU. Today. Please. Go and be a Friend.


Darcy Pattison

Novelist, picture book author, blogger, article writer, letter writer, list writer, and hopefully, your friend.


Darcy Pattison blogs about how-to-write at Fiction Notes.


Linda Hoye said...

Love this post!

By the way, Prairie Storms sounds great. I'm going to get it for my grandchildren.

Laura W. said...

So accurate! I might actually print and give this to some people, haha. :)

Ann Marquette said...

Great post Darcy...and so true. Here is an example...I thought I had friends :-) Back in the early 2000s I received notification that my first story had been accepted to become a published book. Of course I was excited and told the world. But at one point in the process something else wonderful happened and I wanted so much to sit with someone face to face over a cup of coffee to tell them about it. I called a few different "friends!" and not one could or would even find some little time to spare for me. I wrote a poem about it.

Hope Clark said...

Excellent advice and a very honest, sincere, spot-on post. Enjoyed it and passed it on to my Twitter and FB readers. Thanks.

Hope Clark

Lisa said...

Great post! I can see it especially helpful if writers provided the link for this in emails to friends/family. Give them a little nudge. :)

Anonymous said...

Such a great post! My daughter and I have written 2 eBooks together as a project that we can share. My friends have been so great about writing reviews after buying and reading it but HER friends - all adult women - won't mention it, won't support her by participating in giveaways and never even ask how it is doing in the rankings. I don't think they have any idea how much it hurts her feelings that the people she has supported since college, won't even ask how she's doing. Excellent post!

Sharon Stanley said...

Wow! what a sweet it!

Darcy Pattison said...

Wow, Ann. IF no one can spare the time, they aren't true friends.
Hope, glad it resonates with you.
Lisa, yes, I hope people will include a link in emails to friends!
Kellie, people DON"T realize they are hurting your feeling sometimes. I don't know HOW they don't realize it, but hopefully passing this along will help.

Dot Hearn said...

Thank you. Excellent!

Cresta McGowan said...

This really hit home for me. I've had a lot of trouble with people understanding that I want to write, why I want to write, and what it means to write. Thank you for sharing this post - it mattered!

LuAnn Schindler said...

I've said before that writing is such a lonely business - really appreciate the line about writing being both a very private life and a very public one.

About 5 years ago, a magazine hired me to write a story about two dining trains/dinner theaters that ran through Nebraska. When I told my best friend I landed that job, her response was "What do you know about trains?" Told her nothing yet, but WE are going to find out! And I took her with me on one of the trips. After that, she always supported my career path.

Thanks for a great reminder that can be shared with friends....AND FAMILY!!

Sheila Good said...

Thank you. I'm passing this on.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had the nerve to give this to my friends. I guess I don't want to seem needy. (Although I am obviously needy as seen by the number of times I check my blog stats and Amazon ratings.) Sometimes I feel like a firefly and my non-writing friends and acquaintances wonder how in the world I do such a strange thing--(Look! Her bottom lights up. How does she do that?). Always nice to read your posts and know how much you get it.

Susi Gregg Fowler said...

You nailed it, Darcy. Thanks. I only beg to differ in the matter of asking people to buy on Amazon -- that's where i bought Wisdom, true, because i could get it there, but when my new book comes out next spring, i want people to buy from independent bookstores. If we all urge buying from Amazon for the sake of our sales ranks -- if even authors aren't supporting independents -- independents really will be a thing of the past.

Jarm Del Boccio said...

How perfect...I'm going to pass this one on! Thanks...

QuinnC said...

Darcy, you are a wellspring of writing wisdom! Since most of my friends, relatives, and day job colleagues don't like to write, they often don't support or even think about my writing "successes" (e.g. getting a manuscript back with very few revisions, new blog followers, a new contract, or attending an awesome writer's conference) as anything out of the ordinary. They don't understand the enormity of what writers are up against. Now if if I won the lottery...

Carrie Pearson said...

This is a mind-opening post, Darcy, and it makes me wonder if I'm being a good friend to my non-author friends! Thanks for the nudge out of the cave I needed.

Sandra Stiles said...

Spot On! When my book came out last year I had our media specialist and technology person who constantly asked about it. They promoted it at the school and to their friends. So many of the teachers wanted to know if I would give them a free copy. My students on the other hand told their parents who purchased the book. Those same students, when giving tours around our school stop in my room and introduce me as one of two 6th grade Language Arts teachers and the schools published author. It hurts to think of how I support my fellow teachers and friends and then they don't come to local books signings, read the book or even acknowledge it. This was such an uplifting article. Thank you.

Anne R. Allen said...

What a great post! So many people are unaware how a few things can help a writer friend in major ways!

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