Supporting Indie Authors 101

Featured Article by Christina McMullen

Hey there fellow Indies! Christina here. You know, the mean mod. ;) 

I've noticed that once again the issue of support has been cropping up all over the Goodreads group. It seems as if a lot of friends and family just don't know what to make of us and therefore tend to either say the wrong thing or nothing at all. That, my friends, is why this article is for them, not you. Yep, that's right. I'm not writing to you, fellow author. I'm writing to your somewhat confused and slightly awkward family member or friend who wants to support you, but has no idea what to do. Go ahead, hand over the phone/tablet/computer, I'll wait.

Hi there supportive friend! My name is Christina and I am an indie author, just like your bud. Yes, the one who just handed you this to read. They think you're the bee's knees, by the way. And handsome. And smart too. I bet you're proud of the work your friend has done. I know I am. But like me, you might find it hard to express this without it sounding weird or thinking that you've suckered yourself into buying a book or something equally as panic-inducing. Believe it or not, your friend only wants your respect. 

You see, we understand that our books may not be to everyone's taste. Just because we're friends does not mean that we have to share all likes and dislikes. Your friend writes in one genre and you read another. Or even more likely, you don't read. Seriously, reading. Who has time for that? That's fine. You are not bound by the friendship contract to immediately run out and purchase a copy of your friend's book just because they wrote one. If that was the case, none of us would have friends and we'd all be sad.

But pretending they didn't write a book is pretty lousy, don't you think? Look, we're not going to ask you to read our book if it's clear you aren't interested, but you know, a congratulatory comment or even just a like on Facebook would go a long way toward letting us know we have your support. You liked that picture they put up of kittens eating a plate of bacon, so why not like the status update on how the editing process is going? Why not a ‘Way to go!’ when they update their employment status to ‘Author’?

If you're feeling super generous, you might even share a post. 

“But that's soliciting and I don't want my friends to think I'm shilling your book!”

Okay, sure, I can see where you might feel that way, but you can easily assuage your own guilt by adding a quick message. Something along the lines of:

“Hey, my buddy wrote this book. If you're into the blahblahblah genre, you might check it out.” 

There you go. You've supported your author friend without insinuating that everyone on your friend list is a potential customer. 

Now, perhaps you actually have read your friend's book and thought it was great. That's awesome and you should definitely tell them, but be mindful of how you word your compliment. Words that sound like praise to you, such as:

“Wow, this is good enough to be published through a major publishing house!”

-and-

“I can't believe this is self-published!”

...are not compliments. 

Self-publishing is not a consolation prize and it is not the easy route by any means. Chances are, if your friend's book is ‘worthy of a publisher’ then it's actually better than you thought. Authors who publish through traditional means are only responsible for the first draft. They have a team of editors, proofreaders, marketers, public relations specialists, you name it. Indies do not. 

Perhaps there are a handful of authors who still consider getting a publishing contract the sign that they have ‘made it’. But the majority of us do not think that way. Self-publishing is a viable option for authors now more than ever before and many, even household names that have ‘made it’, are embracing the DIY method. 

Okay, I've told you what not to say, so it's only fair that I tell you what you should say. Well, that's easy. Tell the truth. If you liked the book, say that you liked it. If it's truly one of the better books you have read recently, there is no need to qualify that with a comment about the traditional route. By all means, hold us to the same standards that you hold traditionally published books, but don't be surprised when we exceed them. After all, we're not shoehorned into writing the same old story now, are we?