Since the earliest days of my novel-writing career, readers have written to me to thank me for my books and to ask how they can best support me and other writers whose work they enjoy. Nearly 15 years later, I have a pretty comprehensive answer for them!
Writers’ commercial and critical fortunes are intertwined: a writer whose books perform well is a writer whose publisher buys and promotes more books from them, creating a virtuous cycle, as promotions beget more sales and more promotions.
The most important time to support a writer is just after their latest book comes out — my novel, Walkaway, is in its first week of publication — because that is the make-or-break moment for that book, and, conceivably, for its writer.
Books that perform well in their first weeks become bestsellers. Bestsellers are more likely to be reviewed by major outlets, they are ordered in larger quantities by booksellers (a bookseller who takes five or more copies of a book will very likely place that book face-out in a new releases section and/or on a table at the front of the store). They are given close attention by collections-development staff in libraries, and are snapped up for translations by foreign publishers. They are read by production staffers for TV and movie studios. They renew interest in the author’s backlist, too.
Contrariwise, books that flop go into a death-spiral. They are returned by booksellers, their sales-figures are used to justify a smaller advance for the next book (and less promotions budget), and booksellers order fewer copies of the author’s next book. In really dire situations, a badly performing book can kill a writer’s career.
Thankfully, Walkaway looks to be on course to be a bestseller, judging from early numbers and indicators. You readers have helped me in innumerable ways to make this happen and I am very, very grateful to you for it. Here are ways that you can continue to support Walkaway, my career, and future books from me:
1. Buy Walkaway or check it out of the library. Either one sends a strong signal to my publisher, to reviewers, to foreign publishers and to the industry. This is the most important thing you can do.
2. Review the book and tell your friends. Put your recommendation in your social media, in an online bookseller’s page, on Goodreads. There is literally nothing that sells books better than personal recommendations. This is the second-most important thing you can do.
3. Buy Walkaway from an indie bookseller. The independent booksellers are the best friends authors can have. They support our tours, hand-sell our books, write shelf-reviews and talk the book up to other bookish people. I am visiting 30+ indie bookstores on my tour and leaving signed copies in my wake — any of the stores I’ve visited will be glad to send you one by mail-order (and you can always call a store with an upcoming event to request a personalized, inscribed copy). Indie bookstores are experiencing a renaissance and your custom gives them the stability they need to continue.
4. Come out for the tour! I’m in Chicago tonight at Volumes Bookcafe, with Max Temkin from Cards Against Humanity. Bring along your old books to sign, but buy the new one from the store that’s hosting the event, to help them recoup the cost of extra staff, promo, etc. Coming to a tour stop tells bookstores that you value their place in your community and encourages them to continue bringing authors in.
5. Buy a fair-trade ebook. I just launched the first-ever fair-trade ebook store. I am a retailer for my own ebooks and audiobooks, selling on behalf of my publishers worldwide. Buying direct from me doubles my royalties, and the book you get not only has no DRM, but it also comes without any kind of license agreement, and it is the only way to buy ebooks from a major publisher without having to sign away your legal rights in the bargain. Buying a book this way tells publishers and the industry that fair compensation for authors and fair legal bargain matter to you.
6. Buy the audiobook. The Walkaway audiobook is amazing, read by Wil Wheaton, Amber Benson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Amanda Palmer (The Dresden Dolls), Mirron Willis, Gabrielle de Cuir, Lisa Renee Pitts and Justine Eyre. I produced it independently and it is without question the best audio adaptation of any of my work, ever. Of course, it’s DRM-free, too.
I’ve been on the road for a week now and I’m just hitting my stride. I’ve met thousands of readers so far on this tour and every meeting has been a pleasure and an honor. You readers are what make my writing possible. Thank you so much for your support, I literally would not have a career without you.
(Photo: Ruth Copland)