I still remember the day I finished Stephanie Garber’s Legendary, the sequel to Caraval. I DEVOURED Caraval on a trip to Colorado in 2017 and just about withered up waiting for the sequel. Once Legendary hit shelves, I gobbled it up like the absolute delectable treat it was, and yet that didn’t feel like enough. I wanted to do more to express my love for this book, dang it! I wanted EVERYONE to read it!!
And this was when I became very aware of the crucial role audiences play in helping market and promote the books they love.
There are numerous ways you can help a beloved book gain traction and new readers, but here are a couple big ones:
1) Talk It Up!
We’re not all cut out to be Bookstagrammers who post zealously about our latest 5-star reads, but it’s nevertheless super helpful to post about books you love from time to time on your social media of choice. I have a friend who is in fact a big Bookstagrammer and she did an Insta Story recently about how her criteria of selecting books to read has shifted since her college days; she now chooses a lot more on books she sees recommended online or ‘Grammed about.
This is just the nature of marketing and of how we ingest our data in the Age of Information. I think of books like Evalene’s Number, The Stormlight Archives, or Throne of Glass, which for me personally gained a ton of traction based on seeing people across Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and in my circle of friends posting relentlessly about them.
Talking about a book you love with all your natural enthusiasm for it is one of the greatest helps you can give for getting that book into other people’s hands.
2) Leave a Review
I’ll be honest, I did not get the hype about leaving reviews for a long time. Mostly because I had my own experience with reviews – negative ones included – from my fanfiction days and I felt like they were mostly between the reader and writer. Who else really cared what I thought of books X, Y and Z?
Then I started talking to indie-published authors.
This is a truth universal to the entire publishing spectrum, but I’m going to drill down on the indie side of things for a second: not all books have 7,000 reviews on Goodreads that you have to parse through, landing somewhere in between the shrieking 5-star praise and lambasting 1-star rants for an honest summary. In the indie side of publishing in particular, there tend to be fewer reviews, which carry more weight. There are a ton of readers in the indie genre who may pick up a book solely based on audience reviews because they tend to be fewer and more frank than for Big 5 publications.
But whether you love a book that is indie, trad, or somewhere between, the universal truth I mentioned is this: reviews are important! There are many people who do not pick up a book until they have gotten some audience insight on it. There are books where I wish I’d read the reviews before I spent my money on them. There are those I’ve bought BECAUSE of reviews.
Your. Reviews. Matter. Even if the author may not weed through the 7,000 reviews on Goodreads or even the 5 on Amazon, you’re communicating your thoughts on a book you loved to a broader audience. And that is super DUPER helpful to getting some publicity for a story you truly enjoyed!
(There’s also a whole thing about algorithms etc. on sites like Amazon, which is somewhat above my current knowledge standard, but just trust me y’all YOUR REVIEWS MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO AUTHORS ALL ACROSS THE SPECTRUM)
3) Support Author Endeavors
Back to the social media side of things! I think about this one a lot, because I often see authors I love running giveaways, opening Patreons, striking up livestreams and Q&A’s with fans, etc. We can’t all buy a billion copies of a book, we may not be able to financially support through Patreon, etc. But think of ways you can support the author of your favorite book, even through tagging friends in a giveaway, retweeting or reblogging or sharing posts about what they’re doing in your Insta stories, etc.! Being an advocate for the effort the author is already making for their own story is encouraging both to the writer behind the book and to the collective spread of the book’s notoriety.
Like with reviews and making your own social media posts, inviting people into your enthusiasm for this beloved story is one of the greatest testimonies ever. Some of the books I’ve been most excited to pick up – like Fawkes by Nadine Brandes or A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews – were because of the enthusiasm of others. And not only that, but I saw how hard the authors were working to get their books out there and how individuals stepped up to help spread the word.
Ultimately, what sold me on these books was the sense of community. Not the blurb on the back cover.
What’s a book YOU read purely on the merits of other people’s support of it on social media or in person? Let us know in the comments below!