Contrary to popular belief, most authors are not millionaires. In 2013, half of UK authors made below £10,500, proving that finding prosperity within the publishing industry is incredibly rare. Even if it is achieved, there is no guarantee that an author will maintain their success. Not every writer becomes a household name overnight, which makes it so important to support the authors you care about.
Buy their books
This may seem obvious, but it is worth mentioning. Buying books in any format helps publishers know that people are interested in works by that author. The amount of money authors make per sale varies largely depending on the deal offered by the publisher. But whether it be hardback, paperback, ebook or audiobook, every sale counts towards ensuring that book remains in print, and makes that author more desirable for future book deals.
Buy hardcovers and special editions
If you have the money to spare, consider splurging on a hardcover book. Although expensive, authors typically generate more profit from hardcover sales in comparison to paperback sales. As a result, many publishers choose to print new releases in hardcover format, until they begin mass-producing the paperback edition the following year.
Buying special editions of books is also a good way to support your favourite authors. For a slightly greater price, you can have a pretty signed edition of a book, sometimes in a fancy hardcover and potentially including exclusive artwork or stained edges. Authors often make more money per sale with these editions, and if enough sales are made, there is a higher chance that the author’s other books will get the special edition treatment as well.
Pre-order their books
Pre-orders are particularly important in the US publishing industry, as they count towards first-week sales which determine a book’s ranking on lists such as the New York Times Bestseller List. However, they still serve a purpose here in the UK too. A large number of pre-orders can lead to retailers increasing the number of orders they make, which can help improve sales in the future beyond the book’s release date. Furthermore, by pre-ordering a book, you are showing the publisher that you are invested in this author and excited by their work. This means the publisher may be more interested in investing in the author’s future works.
Leave a review
Websites such as Amazon promote books to other site users once the book hits a set number of reviews. Reviews can be anything from a quick star rating and a “loved it” to an essay about how much you adored your latest read, and they are a great way to help books reach more audiences.
Don’t pirate books
Authors make very little per individual book sale. Every sale counts in the business of books, and with 17% of all ebooks being pirated, book piracy can seriously damage careers. When something doesn’t have a physical form, like ebooks or music or movies, it’s easy to not see piracy as theft. But by pirating these things, not only is it taking money away from everyone who worked on them, but it also encourages the idea that artists don’t deserve to be paid for the work they’ve done. People in artistic industries have livelihoods to maintain as much as individuals in any other industry, and they deserve the money that they have earned.
Request books in library
Requesting books in the library is a great alternative to buying books if you can’t afford them right now. It may take a month or two for the book to come in depending on your library, but it will be worth the wait. Plus, if you are the one to make the request, you will be put at the top of the waiting list, meaning that you’ll be the first to get your hand on that book when it comes in. Library books help increase exposure for that author, and evidence suggests that they also increase sales, with over 60% of frequent library users having bought a book written by an author they first read in a library. Even if you already own and love a book that your library doesn’t stock, it can be worth requesting it too, as it means your favourite book will be introduced to new readers.
Watch the movie adaptations
If a film adaptation of their book is a success it can be excellent exposure for an author and their books. Not only does it bring the story to a new art form for people to appreciate, but it also makes people aware of the book and bring forward new readers. Plus, if the film is a large enough box office hit, it increases the likelihood that the book’s sequels will also be adapted for film.
Go to their events
Book events can be a lot of fun, so it’s always worth checking out the Waterstones Events page to see if any authors on your radar are holding an event near you. The travel for these events is often paid out of the author’s own pocket, so it makes the whole process so much more worth it if you go and tell them how much their work means to you. You also get to meet other fans at these events, making attending a double win.
Recommend their books to people
Word of mouth is incredibly powerful. Simply talking about your most recent read to your friends or even tweeting about it can raise an author’s profile. If you’re particularly passionate about a book, consider buying it as a gift to give for loved ones at birthdays or for the holidays. A recommendation that big is difficult to resist, and it gives the author new readers, as well as giving you more people to share your love with.