If You Love a Writer

After ten years of writing around my children’s schedules, I have a book coming out soon, and friends have been asking what they can do to support me. I’ve been touched by their offers and yet reticent to ask too much, especially of busy people in a tough economy. At the same time, the online writers groups I belong to are a buzz day and night with authors trying to figure out how to publicize their work before the entire publishing industry goes bankrupt. So, as a community service, I’ve decided to write up ten suggestions for all the people who love a book author who’s been fighting the publicity odds (Fellow writers, feel free to forward this link or add your own suggestions in the comment section.):

1.   Buy your friend’s book. If you can afford it, buy it for everyone in your extended family. If you can’t afford it, ask your local librarian to order a copy. In fact, you can suggest it to your librarian whether you buy a copy yourself or not.

2.   Don’t wait until Christmas or Hanukkah to pick up a copy. How it does in its first weeks determines whether a book will stay on the bookstore shelves or be sent back to the warehouse to be shredded (along with your friend’s ego). Try to buy it as soon as it’s published, or better yet pre-order a copy, which makes your friend look good and gets your friend’s publisher excited about the book’s prospects. An excited publisher will invest more in publicity, while a bookstore that is getting advanced orders is more likely to stock the book on its shelves.

3.   Friends often ask where they should get the book, which is a tricky question. In the long-term, it is in every writer’s best interest to support independent booksellers (reader’s too, actually). If you don’t have a favorite one yourself, you can go to IndieBound to find one near you. When a book is newly released, however, it may help your writer friend more to buy it through a big chain, so they keep it stocked where the most people can find it. Likewise, a high sales rate on Amazon can get people’s attention, and if your friend’s website links directly to Amazon, she may be part of a program where she makes extra money when someone enters Amazon through the link on her website and then makes a purchase. I personally have links to several booksellers,  on the theory that it’s good to spread the love around.

4.   If you genuinely like your friend’s book, write a review on Amazon or Goodreads, mention it on Facebook and Twitter, and recommend it to your book group.

5.   If your friend’s book is sci fi, and you’re more of a Jhumpa Lahiri fan, say something like, “I’m so proud of you for following your passion,” and skip writing the review.

6.   If your friend is a good public speaker, recommend her to your church, synagogue, mosque, ashram, kid’s school, Rotary club, etc. If you live far away, your friend might get to come visit you and write it off her taxes.

7.   If you have a website or blog, link to your friend’s website. The more people who link to her, the better she looks to the search engines, which may help people who don’t already love her to find her book. To be really helpful, don’t link on the words “my friend,” but on whatever keywords your friend might be using to find her target audience. (For example, I would especially appreciate people using the phrase “Serenity Prayer” to link to my page About the Serenity Prayer.)

8.   If your friend could legitimately be a reference on some Wikipedia page, add her as one, with a link to the most relevant page of her website. Authors can’t tout themselves on Wikipedia without getting a “conflict of interest” badge of shame, but there is nothing more fun for a writer than discovering a spike in her search engine traffic due to a link posted on Wikipedia. It’s kind of like having a secret Santa.

9.   Don’t ask your friend if she has thought about trying to get on Oprah. Trust me– she’s thought of that.

    10. If you pray, go ahead. It couldn’t hurt to pray she gets on Oprah.

2019-01-29T17:55:51+00:00July 24th, 2009|Writing|


  1. Michelle Cameron July 24, 2009 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    Eileen, thank you for writing such a thoughtful piece. I am forwarding it, posting it on Facebook and Twitter, and hoping it will make a difference! Here’s to our successful September ’09 launches!

  2. Dee Thompson July 24, 2009 at 6:51 pm - Reply

    This is wonderful! I just published my second book [Adopting Alesia] and I’ve been asking friends for help. I will link to this, though, so they can be reminded once again! Thanks.

  3. Eileen July 24, 2009 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    Thanks, Dee and Michelle!

  4. Phil Jones July 25, 2009 at 2:45 am - Reply

    11. If your friend is pals with the Dolly Lama, don’t imply that his blurb on the cover of her book is bogus. That hurts her feelings.

  5. Tamar Chansky July 25, 2009 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    Eileen– I love the way you think! You are really in a peaceful place with balancing the art and business of writing and that is something to which I aspire!

  6. Randy Susan Meyers July 27, 2009 at 4:10 pm - Reply

    What a great, great post. Thank you! I will now post the link AND as soon as it possible, I will pre-order your book.

    My book, a dark drama about the aftermath of domestic violence (THE MURDERER’S DAUGHTERS) will be released by St. Martin’s Press in January. Your post is a blessing!!!

  7. Randy Susan Meyers July 27, 2009 at 4:12 pm - Reply


  8. Thomas Taylor July 28, 2009 at 2:17 am - Reply

    I’m looking forward to reading your book!

    If you feel like you’ve got space for another bookseller in your link list, Powell’s is a good one. They’re a good employer, have a real commitment to green principles, offer a partner program more generous than Amazon’s, and are currently accepting preorders for The Wisdom to Know the Difference.

  9. Mindy Withrow July 28, 2009 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    Great tips! Especially love #5, a situation we have all been in and want to handle graciously! (Reminds me of some advice to book reviewers by PD James that I posted to my blog a few weeks ago.) I’m going to pass this on to all my family and friends who ask this question about promoting my books. Thanks, Eileen!

  10. Eileen Flanagan July 29, 2009 at 8:14 am - Reply

    Thanks, everyone! I’ve fixed the broken link and plan to check out Powell’s tomorrow.

  11. C.J. Ellisson August 2, 2009 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    GREAT great ideas. Thanks so much for sharing this! I’m sending everyone I know all ten of these when my book is ready to order!

  12. Jeffe Kennedy August 3, 2009 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    I have to laugh — when my essay collection came out, a number of people earnestly suggested I get on Oprah. I would just agree and tell them to put it in the hands of one of Oprah’s people if they got the chance! Great list.

  13. Rachee August 8, 2009 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    Hi Eileen!
    Of course Iw ill not only buy a copy but make a purchase suggestion at work.
    Congrtas! I am so happy for you!

  14. J.L. Powers August 21, 2009 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    Great tips. I might add that first-time authors feel particularly shaky about book signings. It’s really helpful to have friends and family show up, just to be a smiling face in the crowd…or just so there’s a face in the crowd! I remember when my book came out, and I went to a few bookstores in towns where I didn’t know many people, and those booksignings were *hard* on the psyche. I should have done my hometown first….it would have given me the boost to carry me through those 1-person in the crowd signings in other places.

  15. Kathy Holmes August 30, 2009 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    What a great article – love it – one I should keep for reference.

  16. Laura Martone September 1, 2009 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    Found my way here through Nathan Bransford’s blog… and I just want to say… Terrific advice, thanks! And good luck with your book. Although I’m an atheist, I love the serenity prayer – and wish I were self-actualized enough to apply its wisdom at all times.

  17. Jen C September 1, 2009 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    Haha, have you thought about trying to get on Oprah? Classic!

    Great post!

  18. jz September 1, 2009 at 10:51 pm - Reply

    Oddly enough, one of my clients has been on Oprah multiple times. As someone who mostly writes science fiction, I’m fairly confident that I won’t ever get on Oprah.

  19. Christy Pinheiro September 1, 2009 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    I just wanted to let you know that I followed a link on Nathan Bransford’s blog and I’m so glad I did. What a wonderful blog and what a great post! I am going to make sure I link to it on my blog too. Thanks for giving us some hope and positive words of encouragement, even in these hard times.

  20. Eileen September 2, 2009 at 12:14 am - Reply

    Thanks, everyone. The traction this blog post is getting shows me how much we all need help from our friends!

  21. Gail Handler September 2, 2009 at 12:15 am - Reply

    This is great!! As a children’s book author in the process of submitting manuscripts and keeping my fingers crossed that an agent or editor will connect with my words and help bring about publication, I so appreciate these ideas. I will pass them on to my writing/critique groups and keep a copy to resend when publication day arrives! Thanks

  22. Danish reader September 2, 2009 at 10:30 am - Reply

    Also, if you can’t afford to buy your friend’s book, ask your library to order it for you. Or ask your friend for book leaflets and distribute them to libraries around you.

  23. Judith Mercado September 2, 2009 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    You demystified the process of jump starting the promotion of one’s book, and you did it in such an elegant way. This is the most user friendly how-to-promote list I’ve ever come across. Thank you!
    Judiith Mercado

  24. Miriam Pia September 5, 2009 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    This is a blessing.

  25. Sheryl Karas November 10, 2009 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    Thank you.

  26. Sandra Scarlett August 8, 2010 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    Dating a writer myself, I think this is extremely good advice. Aspiring writers need all the help they can get, especially if they deserve it!

    Sandra Scarlett
    Dating Articles

  27. 传世私服 August 12, 2010 at 5:23 am - Reply

    You have mention good post above I really enjoy the information. I wish to come again on your site in future

  28. Michele Marie Tate August 20, 2010 at 4:15 pm - Reply


    This is great information for those of of us who are struggling with this process. Thank you for this helpful information and the reminder about the Serenity Prayer.

    Michele Marie Tate
    author: Blood, Money, Power

  29. Monica Ravalico August 24, 2010 at 9:35 am - Reply

    I have written a book, "Think different", about the Italian contemporary situation and not only.
    It's on sale in Lulu.com

  30. Maggy Whitehouse August 24, 2010 at 10:04 am - Reply

    This is brilliant – thank you so much. Posting it on Facebook and sending it around. I've got my first novel for 13 years coming out this Fall and this is going to be such a help (My usual books are factual/theology). Great stuff. Maggy

  31. Adele M. Gill August 24, 2010 at 12:32 pm - Reply

    I really enjoyed reading your article, as my Christian self-help book , "7 Pathways to Hope" is due to be published this fall. Your suggestions are very helpful and will go a long way in helping my friends and family answer the question, "What can we do to help?" I wish you much success with your book, the Wisdom to know the Difference." May it touch the hearts of many!

  32. Sylvia Dickey Smith August 24, 2010 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    You, Eileen, are a gift in my July stocking! What a fantastic post, and one I will be sure to link on my blog. You've covered almost every thought a writer might have or want to say about supporting our authors! May Santa come down your chimney with lots of neat gifts!
    Sylvia Dickey Smith

  33. Maria Ross August 24, 2010 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    THANK YOU! I just launched a book in June called Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget (2010, Norlights Press, http://www.brandingbasics.info) and this post could not be any more timely! Great roundup of tips (I've already shared with my community). Best of luck on all of your book launches.

  34. Donna Munro August 25, 2010 at 1:13 am - Reply

    Thanks Eileen. I work in marketing and publicity for a small publisher in Australia. I try and give my authors this kind of advice and yours is spot on. Even here they ask how to get on 'Oprah' or at least how to get on 'Mornings with Kerri-Anne'. Again and again I stress that word of mouth through networks, family and friends can push up sales of your book, particularly through good reviews. #2 is soooo important. Authors need to realise that the book needs to be marketed before it comes out, not only after. Create hype on your webpage, Facebook or Twitter. Don't stop talking about your book and make sure your family and friends don't stop either. I will happily pass your post onto my readers at: http://bookszeus.wordpress.com

  35. Nanci J. Gravill August 25, 2010 at 3:58 am - Reply

    May I post a link to my blog at nancigravill.wordpress.com? I would explain about your blog article and then have them check out the link. BUT, BUT ~ I'd rather just post the entire article on my blog. What do you think?

    My book "Fresh Hope … Cleveland: Resources to Help You Navigate Through Unsettled Times" is due out in November. I would post it around that time — in late October. My Web site will be up in October at http://www.nancig.com. Thank you!

  36. Eileen Flanagan August 25, 2010 at 11:54 am - Reply

    Thanks to all the recent commenters, and good luck with your own projects!

  37. Eric DelaBarre August 25, 2010 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    This is awesome and something every writer loves to read about; THE LOVE OF BOOKS AND AUTHORS. Great information which I will put to use in January when my book, SALTWATER TAFFY hits shelves through PERSEUS DISTRIBUTION. Thanks again. Eric

  38. Dalian Artanian August 26, 2010 at 12:44 am - Reply

    I enjoyed reading your list. Very helpful……. My fantasy novel.. Fawcetta (Voices and Echoes of The Coliseum) Vol. 1
    Has been picking up pace for the past year, I do agree with what I read for I myself have done a few things on this list. I would like to add one more thing on the list…. do a book trailer… I've had many responses and people have bought my book more after seeing my book trailer. Again, thank you…

    Dalian Artanian

  39. widdershins August 26, 2010 at 3:50 am - Reply

    Silvia Dickey Smith sent me… she told me to say that!
    I love all the points you made, and we never know just how far one of those connections might take us.
    About seven years ago, one took me halfway around the world, but that's a whole 'nuther kettle of kittens.
    I just might have to bookmark you and drop by now and again.
    Take care of your Self and your Heart.

  40. Lynn Dove September 10, 2010 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    Eileen, this is an incredible post and timely too as I am going to release my second book. I would love to repost this on my blog: Journey Thoughts http://lynndove.wordpress.com/
    With your permission.
    Please get back to me.
    Lynn Dove – author

  41. Vivian Kirkfield September 10, 2010 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much, Eileen, for sharing your expertise and knowledge. It's a wonderful article on a topic that is so important to me right now. My new book pubs September 26, 2010 and I'm grateful for any and all insights into how to spread the word.

  42. Book Publicity October 12, 2010 at 8:13 am - Reply

    I love all your suggestions. Keep them coming!

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