Tomorrow is National Author’s Day, so it seemed fitting to focus today’s post on how to appreciate the writers around us. If you’re a writer yourself, you might already be thinking about these things, but if you’re not–if you’re a family member or friend of a writer–then here are some tips for showing your appreciation for the authors who are important to you.
(For any family members reading this post: No, this is not a hint. XD)
Ask them about their projects
We authors often like to talk about what we’re working on. It might not seem like it when you ask us “What’s your book about?” and we stare like a deer in headlights, but I promise that once you get us going on what we really love about whatever project we’re working on… it might be hard to shut us up again, lol.
There is some wisdom to be exercised in this arena. First of all, you might have a reticent author who doesn’t know what you want to know about their work and is trying to avoid talking your ear off about something you’re not interested in. With these authors, you’ll have to get more specific with your questions; a simple “What’s your story about?” isn’t likely to get more than a couple sentences. Be specific about what you want to hear about. “What is your world like?” “Who are your characters?” “What excites you about this story?” And ask follow-up questions.
Alternatively, you may be dealing with an author who prefers to keep their plans close to their vest, in which case you don’t want to push too much or you might just end up with an irritated writer on your hands. Know your author, and, when in doubt, just ask whether or not they want to talk about their project.
Keep in mind, this latter category rarely applies the same way with published work, and if you start a conversation about an author’s published work then they’re likely to be 1) very excited that you read it and 2) much more excited to talk about it because they know you know all about it from having read it, or else that you could read it if the conversation between you is interesting enough. (This may make them very nervous as well as very excited because they also know they could lose your interest entirely if you haven’t read the book yet.)
Listen to their rambling
Whether you live with an author and they need an ear while they work out their latest chapter hangup or you’ve asked a writer about some of their work and they’ve started talking a little obsessively… just listen. Sometimes that’s all we need. And if you want to throw in some comments on things you find interesting in what they’ve said, that rarely hurts either. (Suggestions for their problems may be accepted gratefully or may receive a glare. This depends on how much you know about writing, the project at hand, and your writer’s present needs.) Regardless, we do appreciate when you listen (especially when you don’t have to, and we know that), and we appreciate knowing that you’re listening (hence the boost of dopamine we get from your supportive comments, nods, or noises).
Buy them a hot beverage and/or a snack
Or, y’know, a cold beverage if that’s their preference. This is good and helpful for a few reasons:
- We tend to like fancy beverages (and by “fancy” I mean the $4 chai tea that isn’t really that fancy, we just don’t always like to spend money).
- We don’t always remember to stay hydrated… or fed… It’s a problem. We’re working on it.
- In some cases, this gets us away from our keyboards and out into the fresh air of the real world with real humans instead of just the characters that live in our heads.
- Also, there’s just the question of who doesn’t like being bought food?
I will also mention that sometimes you don’t even have to be the one to make the actual purchase of said beverage or snack; if you invite an author to a coffee shop, sometimes we’ll just buy the drink and/or snack on our own but it’ll be as if it’s from you because they wouldn’t have been in the coffee shop to buy it without you. Does that make sense? (No, of course not, but we’re just going to move along.)
If you don’t know the author in person, see if they have a Ko-fi account and buy them a coffee (or tea) that way! For example:
Make sure they celebrate their successes
This might just be a “me” thing, but I have to remind myself to celebrate finishing things, hitting milestones, etc. Publishing is usually a little more celebratory, but generally speaking I forget to celebrate my successes. I just move onto the next thing too quickly. The problem with this is that then I forget that I’ve accomplished some pretty cool things and they’re worth celebrating.
So if you know an author with this same tendency, force them to slow down and celebrate. Take them out somewhere, send them a card, have a mini dance party together, etc. Use your judgment or ask what the author would like to do but hasn’t taken the time for, or something they’ve wanted to get but haven’t, and encourage them to do that thing or get that thing (or get the thing for them). Celebrate your author’s successes with them.
Leave a review of their work
This one applies not only to the authors directly in your life, but also the authors you appreciate and don’t know personally. Leaving a book review is a great way to support an author you admire. Reviews boost the visibility of our books, they help other readers determine whether or not our book is a good fit for them, and they can sometimes boost our confidence and encourage us to keep going (depending on whether or not we read our reviews–and whether or not the review is positive). Even if a book wasn’t your favorite, sharing an honest review still helps us out!
For those of you who don’t know, your review will be most helpful to the author if it’s posted on Amazon and Goodreads.
Tell other people about their work
This may be related to leaving a review, but it doesn’t have to be. We authors love finding new readers who are excited about our books–but there’s often a fear that we’ll come off as salesy if we talk about our own books too much. As a fellow reader, you can do authors a favor by recommending their books to other readers you think would enjoy them! This can be through a review, by posting about a book on social media, by bringing it up in face-to-face conversation, by including the book on a recommendations list, etc.
Word-of-mouth is a powerful help to authors, and it’s a great way to show how much you appreciate an author and their work.
So there you go! Six ways you can show appreciation for the author(s) in your life. I encourage you to choose one of these options and show your appreciation for an author tomorrow!
Plus, show your appreciation in the comments by telling us about the authors you most love to support.
Another great way to support an author is to join their mailing list! Plus, you get great content from them in the bargain. Sign up for my list below to get writing and/or reading content delivered straight to your inbox!