We had our first non-family guests the other day—a colleague of both mine and my husband's from my marine mammal conference days, his wife and his mother. They were interested in my writing and asked if they could buy a book, and if I'd autograph it. (No brainer, eh?). But what one said when I signed their books surprised me. She said she probably wouldn't get around to reading it, but she thought it was special to have a book signed by someone she knew.
(Reality intervenes here—while I'd like her to read the book, and like it enough to recommend it to others and maybe even buy another one, I took her money without hesitating.)
One thing I learned was that although writers are very supportive of each other, you can't expect reciprocity. When I first joined my local RWA chapter, authors would show off their new releases, and I'd gladly buy them, regardless of sub-genre, because these were my immediate writing colleagues. It didn't really matter that I probably wouldn't have picked up their books if I didn't know them personally.
But just because that's how I operated didn't mean others did. When I finally had my first book published, a very small percentage of the authors I'd bought books from actually bought mine. And that's fine. I wasn't buying their books to support me I was buying to support them. Support takes more forms than the monetary.
I think there's a universal insecurity among writers. "Will this be good enough?" "Will people like my book?" "Can I write another one?" "Is anybody actually aware I exist?"
So, what are some supportive things you can do? Let them know you're around. How do we know? We have hit counters, and we watch them. Visit blogs. Just clicking onto a blog helps make us feel our efforts aren't going out to blind eyes. Comments are great. Not required, but it's definitely another ego boost. We know it takes time (and I'm experimenting by taking off the spam filter. If I don't get robo-comments, I'll leave it off, thus saving you a step.) so it's greatly appreciated.
How many blog posts do you mention to others? Share via the social media? If you do, you're sending new faces by, and that's another ego-boost. Same goes for reading a book you like. Do you pass the word to friends? Word of mouth is still the best marketing tool. While I don't like doing reviews (an entirely different topic) I do report every book I read here.
If you belong to the social media sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, do you follow/friend/whatever these folks? Do you share/retweet? There are all those links at the bottom of so many blogs. Do you ever use them?
Have you ever sent a 'fan' e-mail or letter? It doesn't take long, doesn't cost anything, and trust me, those are like gold to a writer.
Do you join in "outside the blog" activities such as contests? Again, seeing contest entries stokes the ego. It means someone has taken a few minutes to enter (and might even want the prize).
And, down the line, it's likely your name will be remembered. Someone will visit your website or blog, or re-tweet, or share. And who knows? Someday you might get to meet these cyber-supporters face to face, and you'll find you have a new friend. Which is definitely golden.
What kind of support means the most to you? What kinds of support do you give others?
Causes Terry Odell Supports
Pro Literacy Worldwide, The Nature Conservancy, The Adult Literacy League, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society