The Why of My Book Obsession
I’ve done a few interviews – radio programs, podcasts, newspaper interviews – over the past fifteen years. I love talking about books and my passion for the written word with anyone who is interested. Invariably, at some point, the same question arises… Why do you do all the stuff… virtual book festivals, community service anthologies, flash fiction contests, the podcast? As I spend this last week of January, preparing for the next virtual festival, I thought I’d take a little time and write about it.
I’m pleasantly addicted to the written word. Growing up, my family was not religious. I think I can remember going to church half a dozen or so times before I was twelve, with my grandparents; and then when I was thirteen, with my mother for a little while. But let’s be clear, I did it so I could work in the nursery and read stories to the children, not so much to sit in the pews. When I did sit in the pews, my nose was in The Book, rather than paying attention to the rituals. I read it twice before I turned eighteen.
Instead of church, my parents took me and my siblings to the local library on Sunday afternoons. It was expected that we would check out at least two books per week, read them, and return them the following Sunday. One of the best gifts my parents gave me was cultivating my love of literacy. For the record, my three siblings did not turn out to be adult readers. The thought of that befuddles me.
Some of my most memorable “family time” was focused in the library. It was our weekly pilgrimage. In winter, we drove. But in summer, we climbed on our bikes and rode the three miles to that hallowed space. I can still remember being four years old, riding in the little seat on the back of my dad's bike - working feverishly not to let my toes fall in between the spokes. Once we got there, I was usually right up front on the carpet for story hour, soaking up all I could. Sometimes, I was the only child sitting there, waiting. But the librarians never disappointed. They read. I listened; and together, we traveled through time and had grand adventures. I insisted my mother sign me up for the summer reading program each year, until it was deemed, I was “too old.” I remember feeling hurt when I learned that I could no longer get the nifty little tracking chart and add stickers to it with each book I read… not to mention attending the party in August, to celebrate all those digested pages.
As I grew older and could be trusted to make the bicycle journey without getting myself killed, I continued the practice, often making the trip a couple times a week (times were different then). There was never a penalty for taking out too many books (sometimes my eyes were bigger than my literary stomach). And, if I wasn’t able to read a book or two, I could return them… no questions asked, and no ridicule for the oversight. The pure freedom and joy in that – I was mesmerized. There was a safety and a comfort found inside books.
When I was in seventh or eighth grade, a new recreation center was built just a half mile from my house. Along with the swimming pool, snack bar, ice arena, playground, and golf course, they built a library annex. Officially, it was called “The Little Library.” It was about the size of your average high school classroom… perhaps a bit bigger. Because of the limited space, they only shelved paperback books. I didn’t care. Books were books, it didn’t really matter what their covers looked like; three ring binders, staples, spiral bindings… I didn’t care, as long as they had words in them. An added treat was a bin filled with cassette tapes – books on tape; or as we referred to them back then, “Talking Books.” They were intended for adults with failing eyesight – but I loved them, especially at night, before falling asleep. It was like sitting on that carpet all over again, listening to people read stories to me. Literary ecstasy! Listening to stories at bedtime is still an indulgence I relish. The best part about this Little Library was that it was so close to my house – a mere eight minutes by bicycle – instead of the hour it usually took. And the bonus? It was directly across the street from the ice cream shop. Swimming, books, and ice cream; what could be better on a summer afternoon?
With the advent of high school, I couldn’t get enough time with the written word. I was that kid with her nose in a book on the bus, while walking the halls for those seven minutes between class periods (no, I didn’t walk into walls or bump into people), and skipping Algebra only to spend that hour tucked in a back corner of the library where no one noticed me, reading or writing. (Not too long ago, I was seen standing in line waiting for my COVID vaccine, reading a book. I got some strange looks.) During high school summers, I asked my parents to give me topics. When I wasn’t doing summer stock theatre, I was at the library writing research papers. Yes, I was THAT weirdo. I miss the card catalogue. It was like a treasure hunt.
I continued reading into my adult life just as voraciously – but not at all quickly. I savored the pages, I ingested them slowly, working to lose myself in the white space as I heard the voices, imagined the scenes, and felt all the emotions of a story. I learned later that among my friends, I was indeed a speedy reader, going through two or three in a week. I still read steadily throughout the year, but other pursuits like writing, book festivals, editing… you get it… keep me from reading as much as I’d like. I’m still swimming deep in the written word, I’m just doing it now more as an active participant rather than just an observer. Okay, there’s really no “just” about reading, but you get what I mean. Still, I have friends who read hundreds of books in a year, and I envy them. I raised my son with books and regular visits to the library, too. I’m pleased to report that now, in his thirties, he still enjoys reading and is a spectacular storyteller.
I turn fifty-nine this year, and as I’m looking at the second half of my life, I can’t imagine what the first half would have been like without words, books, and libraries. My passion for those little squiggles on a page drives me toward sharing the wonderment I’ve found in literature with as many other people as possible. But I don’t just want people to have an “appreciation” for books – I want them to really get jazzed about them. Okay, maybe not as neurotic as I am about it, but close would be nice.
The Indie Author community is tremendously vibrant. I think more people in the world should experience them the way I do. I’m sure there are wonderful writers in the Traditional publishing arena. Indeed, I know there are, I’ve read their books, met them, and gushed over their writing in person (making a complete fool of myself). But I live here, with Indies, and every day I’m getting to know these people and their stories. I’m a devoted fan to so many of them that I want to share them with readers who perhaps wouldn’t discover them otherwise. I also have an insatiable curiosity to meet more Indies and learn about their work. So, I host a podcast, “Indie Reads Aloud.” It’s a storytelling podcast where I introduce listeners to Indie Authors, and they read from their books. I do this to help authors gain more exposure, and to help give readers more alternatives when searching for new books to read. But really, it’s all very self-serving. Because the truth of the matter is, I’m still that six-year-old little girl who loves to listen to people read stories out loud. Instead of suppressing that childhood whimsy, I’m celebrating it.
I spend time facilitating the creation of several short story Anthologies each year that serve charity. Why? Because I want to give back to the world the sense of amazement and adventure that it gave me when it gave me story. I can’t think of a better way to enrich a community than by giving them books filled with ideas to germinate in their brains; perhaps offering perspectives, cultures, and possibilities that they may not have considered on their own.
I also do it for the authors. Discovering the courage to publish your work can be a daunting task. I am hopeful that if I repeat the earwig of crafting story and sending it out into the world, encouraging every timid author I encounter, then maybe more people will follow through on that dream with confidence. Yes, this is also a little self-serving, too. I love story. The more of them we flood into the world, the better, as far as I’m concerned. My goal is to die with a To-Be-Read Pile that I’ll never complete. I’m addicted to story, and completely unashamed.
Finally, I host Virtual Book Festivals (and in-person Festivals pre-COVID, and perhaps again soon). Why? Because I’m committed to doing all I can to build the Indie Author Community. We have some spectacular people in our circles, and I feel that I should do all I can to help them further their careers. Any business person will tell you that networking is an important part of cultivating success. I heard someone once say, “If you want to become wealthy, hang out with people who have money and find out how they did it.” Whether there’s truth to that or not, I couldn’t tell you. Money has never been a focal point of my existence. But I do know that by spending time with other authors, I have learned more about my chosen preoccupation than any college course I sat through or book I’ve read (sacrilege, I know). The truth is that by enriching our network, we grow the possibility to gain exposure for our work, we learn tips and tricks about the “business of writing,” and – It’s Simply Fun. If I’m going to dedicate my life to something, to follow a passion that calls to me, it would be silly not to enjoy it, right?
Yes, the Festivals also serve as another way for readers to discover books that perhaps they might have missed. Yes, it’s a way for authors to perhaps gain new fans and build their revenue streams. But primarily, I do it because I love meeting with authors, making friends with like-minded souls, learning from them, and filling my world with the energy that we all share for a common predilection. My not-so-secret wish is that other authors see the value in building our community, too. I feel like I have a responsibility to do all I can to support this community that has given so much to me. Most days I feel I could be doing more. So I try to do more.
There you have it. I obsessed. I am unable to live comfortably without story, and so I am doing what I can to ensure that the written word doesn’t have an expiration date.
If you’d like to join me in my quest, here are a few links you might check out:
Resources, Including Bookshops, Author Websites, and Other Nifty Stuff
Pages Promotions Community Service Projects
The Page Promotions 2023 Virtual Book Festival
The Passionate Plotter Books & Mentoring Programs
The Indie Reads Aloud Podcast
Twenty-four children, between five and seven years old, and four adults. What could possibly go wrong?
“The wheels on the buss go round and round, round and round, round and round…” I never thought I could enjoy a song less than “Baby Shark”, but here it was, in surround sound, volume on stun, in six-part un-harmony. The drive from the school to the zoo was only eight miles, but I think I heard that chorus at least twelve-dozen times because repetition, evidently, is the foundation of entertainment. In fact, I didn’t realize it actually was a chorus until I found myself surrounded by tiny people who clearly understood the vast complexity of juvenile music more than I did. It turns out, there are about ten different stanzas in between each chorus. Who knew?
When thankfully, the wheels on the bus stopped, an entirely different experience awaited. With squeals of joy, best friends for life grabbed hands and escaped the confines of seats to the adventure of the parking lot. When asked to form two lines, one by one, they balanced precariously upon the thin yellow parking lines that led to the entrance gate. They jumped with kangaroo precision over the vast six-inch blacktop expanses between each line. The adults flanked the children, reinforcing the goal of avoiding the tar. Sometimes, you have to play the game that’s already started if you want to win without tears.
A sallow march of tiny feet proceeded through the gate, a gag order firmly in place, lest the offenders become invisibly shackled to the closest adult for the remainder of the trip. I was mesmerized by the instant compliance when threatening fun hung in the balance. In my extremely limited experience, bribery worked… but this… this was far more effective. I wondered if it would have the same impact in the boardroom. After a moment of reflection, I decided to abandon the idea. Punishing an unruly executive by velcroing them to me for the duration of an already interminable meeting felt a lot more like punishing me than them.
Once inside the gated community, we created break-out groups and headed in various directions with a promise to meet at the train station at the back of the park in two hours’ time. Two hours? I doubted I could last that long without my ever-present triple-shot espresso, but I’d give it the old college try. As the minions surrounded me, I distributed colorful, informative maps which instantly became origami projects for nimble fingers. What had I gotten myself into?
Over the course of the next two hours, tiny, yet remarkably loud voices giggled, screamed, howled, crowed, trumpeted, and quacked as we walked, waddled, slithered, trotted, and mimicked flight through the arctic tundra, the humid rainforest, the dry desert expanses, and deepest darkest jungles. A few paces ahead of our small group, I noticed a couple with the foresight of magicians. Their toddler walked happily in front, wearing a monkey backpack, which was surreptitiously, conveniently, at the end of a leash. The man held it deftly in his hand, not a bit of tension on the chord nor his face as his companion smiled broadly. I envied them. I envied them a lot.
My small band of… what were we now?... Flamingos… met up with another of our troop as together, they counted the total number of humps. They shrieked with delight when they realized, with their far more adept adult’s humor, that it was indeed Wednesday. The comedian shot a glance at me, giggling herself. I returned a weak smile, trying hard to feign amused composure. The rigors of a hostile takeover did not prepare me for this degree of overwhelm from a deluge of silliness in the sunshine. I was doomed.
When at last, we arrived at the train station and combined our tiny bands of adrenaline bunnies, a sigh of relief washed over me as I slumped into a nearby bench. The seasoned educator, the maestro of mayhem, took over once again. Appearing no worse for the wear, the power she wielded over the mob was beyond impressive. She commanded instant silence and total attention by simply raising one gentle hand into the air. The effect was hypnotic and a little scary. The children stood in a line, two by two and talked quietly. The adults, with the exception of the comedian from our camel encounter, stood near their groups, using the metal line stations as crutches to our aching bodies and muddled brains. We spoke not a word but shared our misery in silence. The comedian laughed affably with the scholar, both clearly veterans of the field trip circuit.
The trip back to the front of the park was a welcome respite for my body, if not my ears. Tiny voices are accelerated when traveling at speeds faster than they can walk. They echo through every tunnel with the resonance of dynamite in a coal mine. How I longed for the annoying bedlam of office cubicles and telephones that never stopped ringing. At least those sounds I could process into something that led to tangible reasons to endure them; namely, several zeros at the end of my bank balance. This? This was just pandemonium without reason. Why would anyone choose this?
Our final stop, before the bus ride back to normalcy, was the mercantile of memories, where itty-bitty hands moving faster than New York City bicycle messengers touched everything within reach, and miraculously, broke absolutely nothing. Each teensy-weensy negotiator worked hard to secure the deal from their teacher, who was endowed with a budget that allowed for equal distribution of funds among the throng. To my amazement, not one child was left disappointed. That was a trick I needed to learn. Holding the title, “World’s Favorite Uncle” may be distinguished, but it in no way prepares one for the unknown exploits of chaperoning a field trip.
As I slouched in my seat, listening to the sixteenth chorus of “This is the song that never ends…” I looked to my nephew, a miniscule copy of my brother, and asked him, “Why did you get the river otter?”
He looked at me with gigantic blue eyes, completely relaxed after his day of pure elation, and gently placed the slender stuffy on my lap. “Everything that’s cute is better.”
I smiled at the wisdom of his words. He would get no argument from me.
LISTENER ADVISORY: REFERENCE TO TEEN SUICIDE
About The Author: Australian Jennifer Raines writes contemporary romances set mainly, but not exclusively, in Australia – think Malta, Finland, New Zealand. A dreamer and an optimist, her stories are a delicious cocktail of mutual respect, passion and loyalty because she still believes in happy-ever-afters. Jennifer lives in inner-city Sydney, Australia, with the requisite number of partners (1) and animals (2). Her desk overlooks a park which nourishes her soul when she raises her head from her keyboard. She gets some of her best ideas during long yin yoga poses or walking – anywhere. While Jennifer adores historical romance, she chose to write contemporary because she thought (wrongly) it needed less research while she was holding down a full-time job.
Title: Grace Under Fire
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Book Synopsis: Artisan cheese-maker GRACE ANDERSON lost her closest friend to suicide, then saw her father swindled out of prime dairy land. Abandonment and mistrust cemented her determination to become the fifth generation on the family farm and to do it alone. A deterioration in her mother’s health starts the clock. Grace has three months to buy her parents out—a decade sooner than planned—or lose the farm.
Neighbour RYAN WILSON is haunted by the belief he failed to prevent his younger brother Danny’s suicide. He’s returned to sell his mother’s farm. In eight years away, he’s built a fortune flipping farm properties and doesn’t do attachment—to land or people.
The bank plays hard ball, forcing Grace to consider Ryan’s offer to buy part of her land. The sizzling attraction simmering between them is an unwelcome complication. She doesn’t want a business partner, he doesn’t want to care, but when someone tries to sabotage her purchase, she finds herself turning to Ryan for more than financial help.
Can Ryan convince her accepting help is not failure? Can Grace escape her legacy of mistrust and teach him how to care again?
Find The Book HERE!
Visit Jennifer’s Website HERE!
Watch The YouTube Video HERE!
LISTENER ADVISORY: MATURE LANGUAGE & SITUATIONS
About The Author: Chloe Holiday is a physician who is evolving as a novelist. She writes the things she loves to read: steamy, fun stories about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, smart women and men who aren’t jerks. She likes to read about friendships, either close women or a good bromance. She wants all the feels: the thrill of a smoldering gaze or the barest brush of fingertips, the shocked gasp at the underhanded villain, the angst of heartbreak, the joy of reunion, and of course, happily ever after!
She enjoys a sneak peek into intriguing groups, whether that be military personnel, medicine, or another culture like Greece. It’s fun to live vicariously and go sailing, diving, or rock climbing. A bit of danger always gets her going, so many of her Romances have a thriller subplot. She also writes thrillers with a slow-burn romantic subplot.
She loves humor and is partial to witty banter and embarrassing situations! Love is funny sometimes!
She hates to read the same old thing, with only the names and places changed, so her goal is to bring you a fresh, fun, NEW story every time, with NO CLIFFHANGERS!
More than anything, she wants a rollicking, great story that she can’t put down, one where love prevails in the end, one that will whisk her away from her own tribulations.
Title: Submerged Hopes
Book Synopsis: Nerissa lives in a world of silence, Deaf since tragedy robbed her of her parents and hearing in a single week. Her aunt wants her to settle down, but Nerissa would rather be alone than “settle.” She catalogues museum artifacts, a far cry from her dreams of running on her own archaeological dig, but she’s determined to forge a career despite her disability. She’s thrilled at the chance to supervise the excavation of an ancient shipwreck, until disastrous encounter with a hot Navy man at a networking function mortifies her. It gets worse: he’s been assigned as her new sign language interpreter.
Lieutenant Nick Griffith enjoys Navy life, traveling the world and all it has to offer, especially the women. He didn’t sign up to babysit some professor scratching at the sea floor. He’s shocked to find it's the woman who dissed him at the party. Sparks fly, yet somehow she resists him. What the hell?
As the dig uncovers priceless artifacts and stirs the ghosts of her past, Nerissa is beset with offers of “collaboration” from peers who want in. She falls hard for Nick, who’s happy to bed her, but can she count on him if the wreck is spectacular enough to provoke murder?
Find The Book HERE!
Visit Chloe’s Website HERE!
Watch The YouTube Video HERE!
About The Author: Mark Love lived for many years in the metropolitan Detroit area, where crime and corruption are always prevalent. As a former freelance reporter, Mark honed his writing skills covering features and hard news. He is the author of the Jamie Richmond romance mysteries, Devious, Vanishing Act and Fleeing Beauty, and the novella Stealing Haven. The short story, Don’t Mess with the Gods, was written with Elle Nina Castle and was included in the Magic & Mischief anthology. Mark also wrote the Jefferson Chene mystery series, including WHY 319? and Your Turn to Die, and the latest Chene novel The Wayward Path has just recently been released. Mark now resides in West Michigan, where he enjoys a wide variety of music, books, travel, cooking, and the great outdoors.
Book Synopsis: Jamie Richmond, reporter turned author, is doing research for her next book. Attempting to capture the realism of a police officer’s duties while on patrol, she manages to tag along for a shift with a state police trooper. A few traffic stops and a high speed chase later, Jamie’s ride takes an unexpected turn when she witnesses the trooper being shot. Although it is not a fatal injury, Jamie becomes obsessed with unraveling the facts behind this violent act. While she is trying to sort out this puzzle, she becomes romantically involved with Malone, another trooper with a few mysteries of his own. Now Jamie’s attention is divided between a blooming romance and solving the crime which is haunting her. Jamie begins to question the events that took place and exactly who could be behind the shooting. It was a devious mind. But who?
Find The Book HERE!
Visit Mark’s Website HERE!
Watch The YouTube Video HERE!
Since first becoming an Indie Author in 2010, I’ve focused on not only building my writing career, but I’ve also worked to share the creative wonderment of my Author Friends. I hope that they will choose to do the same. I never expect it, but it is Nice when it happens.
This idea of Reciprocity truly is the easiest thing to build into an Indie Author’s Marketing Plan. In common use, we understand Reciprocity to mean “You give, I gain; I give, you gain.” When we do things in celebration of our Friends, the impulse is for our Friends to celebrate us in return. It harkens back to that old “Golden Rule” thing. It is a moral most of us were taught in our childhood, or at least some version of it… “Do unto others as you would wish they would do unto you.” My grandfather simplified it to the two-word command: “Be Nice.”
When I looked up Reciprocity in the dictionary, I found nine different interpretations of its meaning. In my first surprise of the 2023 New Year, I was drawn to the ninth definition. It is a mathematical use for the term, and I was quite taken by it. I’m usually extremely allergic to math. But this particular definition spoke to me for its specificity.
“The ratio of unity to a given quantity or expression; that by which the given quantity or expression is multiplied to produce unity.” ~Dictionary.com
The idea of Unity being multiplied out of giving a quantity of something or by the expression of it, is phenomenal. When I considered this idea of Unity as I thought about the Indie Author community, it made complete sense to me. Think about it… we are all searching for a way to expand our reach and sell more books. Simultaneously, we have a strong desire to find a commonality within our community that lends support emotionally, intellectually, and financially. If we apply the mathematical definition of Reciprocity as a story problem (because, let’s face it, stories are what we do), this is the answer I've come to:
Unity can be best created within our community when we multiply our willingness to give our spotlight to another Indie Author for a brief time.
What an extraordinarily exceptional concept! By simply sharing what we love about our Author Friends, we accomplish three mutual goals...
1. We help to promote our Friends and ascribe respectful meaning to their life's ambitions.
2. We help to promote our creativity by comparing it to the wonderment of our Friends’ work.
3. We create Unity and strength within our community simply because we’re being Nice.
The simplicity of Reciprocity is so seductive. Frankly, I’m astonished to see so many Indie Authors avoiding or neglecting it. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Reciprocity is easy. Reciprocity is painless. Reciprocity is innocuous. Reciprocity is inexpensive. Reciprocity is patient. Reciprocity is emotionally intelligent.
I have two theories that could explain why more Indie Authors aren’t taking an opportunity to expand their writing careers by being regularly Reciprocal. Either…
1. An Indie Author is generally ego-centric, and they don’t want to put forth the effort it takes to do something that doesn’t directly, instantly benefit them. Or…
2. Indie Authors don’t know how to be Reciprocal. They truly don’t know what specific steps they can take to encourage Reciprocity with their Author Friends.
If you’re an Indie Author who fits into the first hypothesis, well, there’s not much I can say except… I wish you well in all your writing endeavors and I sincerely hope your career attains the vision you have for success.
If you are an Indie Author who fits into the second theory, or perhaps you’re planning to change your approach, you may find some of the following suggestions helpful. One very important thing to remember is that Reciprocity requires consistent attention. Although you may be able to “set it,” you shouldn’t ever “forget it” if you hope to see positive results for both you and your Author Friends.
WHY SHOULD YOU BE RECIPROCAL? LET'S USE SOCIAL MEDIA AS AN EXAMPLE.
Yup, most of us participate on one type of social media platform or another. Some of us are deeply embroiled in more than one… some of us just dance around in a few, randomly poking in and out. No matter the frequency, the associations we affirm in this very public space is how we train others to define us.
Everything you post teaches people about you and your values. Each digital piece of art or phrase remains accessible forever. They become like Sharpie permanent markers upon our subconscious’ whiteboard. Once you put something out there, it never disappears (not even if you think you’ve deleted it). It’s forever floating around in the grey matter of decision makers. What you put out there may be overlooked or sometimes pushed aside, but it never actually goes away. It’ll reappear in the form of a “tip of the tongue” memory, at some point.
Of course, we’re all going to use Social Media as a self-promotion platform some of the time, and we should. Strangers can’t discover us or our work if we don’t tell them who we are and what we create. No one will toot our own horn louder, longer, or with nearly as much passion as we will. Social Media is an incredible tool for that purpose. But it is also a powerful influencer that you can use to help others discover your Indie Author Friends as more than a passing curiosity.
When you share a post directly from your Author Friend’s feed, you’re creating a “stereo” introduction. First, you’re introducing yourself to the people inside your Author Friend’s circles. You’re saying, “Hey, nice to meet you. This person and I share the same opinion/value/humor.” You’re establishing a connection to someone they already trust, and you hope that trust will trickle down (eventually) to you and your career, simply by association. Second, you’re also standing up inside your circle of Friends and proclaiming, “Hey you guys, check out this really nifty person and what they have to share. I think you’ll be happy to meet them.” Likewise, your Friends will come to trust the person you introduced to them simply because they already trust you.
Now, if you post something that is altruistic – something that intends to only promote another Author, without bringing you or your work into the post at all – you’re telling everyone that you believe in your Author Friend and value their work. People who are looking in from the outside, perhaps for the first time, learn that you’re a Nice person because you’re a supportive Friend. They see that you take time to do something that focuses on someone else.
I don’t know about you but seeing that makes me want to get to know those people more. When given the option to follow a self-absorbed luminary through the dank, dark, uncertain literary forest, or walk side by side with a Friend who will be there to cheer me on, wouldn’t you rather walk with the Friend? I know I would.
The end result? People come to trust you through your associations with those they already trust, and through that process, they will come to take a risk with someone new because you’ve recommended them to the world. It costs you nothing. It gives you strength in your reputation and helps build Unity and integrity within the Indie Author community.
OKAY... SO, HOW CAN YOU BE RECIPROCAL?
Below is a list of five things you can do that cost you nothing or very little to build Reciprocity into your marketing plan. Remember, if you notice that your Author Friends are doing some of these things for you, return the kindness. That’s the point.
1. Social Media… I’ll avoid the temptation to be bombastic, and just assume you get it.
2. Newsletters… At the bottom of your newsletter, consider recommending a book or two, written by an Author Friend, and include a link to the Author’s website. It’s especially Nice, if you know an Author Friend is publishing a new book soon, so you can include that teaser. Perhaps with your help, the Author will see a surge in first-day sales. This costs you nothing; you were sending out your newsletter, anyway.
3. Book Reviews… This suggestion is redundant to the point of nausea. Just… Put them everywhere. You’re probably reading books anyway, right? Why not share a few positive thoughts and help a fellow Author in the process. Put them in your blog. Put them on Amazon and Goodreads. Share them on Social Media. Add them to the content of your Newsletter. If you’re looking for extra content for your podcast, book reviews make a great “intermission” between major segments. Your review doesn’t have to be poetic or terribly long. Say something Nice and watch how the world changes. It costs you nothing except a few minutes of your time, but it helps another Author more than you will ever realize.
4. Book Comparisons… Let’s suppose you’re sharing your books at a local fair or festival. If you have an Author Friend who writes in the same genre (and also has a booth at the event), make a comparison between your books, and throw it out into the world – along with directions to their booth. For example, “Thank you for buying my book. If you enjoy short stories and you’re also interested in something with a little more suspense than A Duck Quacks, check out Andrew Allen Smith’s A Slice of Fear series. You can find him right over there – yup, he’s the super-happy, very tall guy.” Or “I appreciate that you bought my novel, A Tryst of Fate. It’s a thoughtful romance with a sprinkle of mystery. It you also enjoy super twisty mysteries with a bit more steam, try Mark Love’s Fleeing Beauty. He’s wonderful. His booth is three down that way, on the right.” Keep in mind that making recommendations to readers in support of your Author Friends is a Nice thing to do when visitors to your booth aren’t interested in what you have to offer. You weren’t going to make a sale anyway, so why not support your Author Friends?
Want to go one better? Exchange a few bookmarks with your Author Friends at the beginning of the day and offer them to visitors at your booth. Not only will it reinforce your kind gesture of helping a reader find more fun books, but you’ll also support your Author Friends with a reminder for those visitors who didn’t have time to stop by their booth, to check them out online when they get home. Remember, your books are not exactly like my books, even if we write in the same genre. We are not competitors, we are colleagues. Being Nice doesn’t eliminate sales. Being Nice enhances sales.
5. A Referral Page On Your Website… Have you ever wondered how you could possibly be Nice to ALL of the Author Friends in your life? Why not make a list? It is easy to add a page to your website that links your fan base with your Author Friends. You could have tons of fun and add graphics of their book covers, or their logos… but you don’t have to go too overboard with it, you can keep it simple. You can make your list alphabetically or maybe by genre. Just list the names and either link them out to the Author’s website or type out the URL to make it easy to copy and paste.
And… if you keep a list like this on your website, you’ll be reminding yourself, too, about the people with whom you are Reciprocal. If ever you’re at a loss for a Social Media post or a book review to write, just go to your website and check your list. If you don’t have back-end design access to your website, or don’t know how to do all that magical digital stuff, this new page might cost you a little bit to have your web master build. But it shouldn’t be excessive. The small fee to have this added to your website is worth every bit of Unity and support it creates for the Indie Author community.
Bonus... Every time you add new content to your website, even if it’s just one name and the URL of another Author Friend, the web spiders perk up to your changes, and make your website interesting to other web spiders. This creates relevancy for your brand and will keep you nearer to the top of search engines.
And... If there’s Reciprocity… it makes even more bored web spiders sit up and take notice, and everyone benefits.
Now, is it critical that you do ALL of these things, ALL the time? No, of course not. We all know that marketing is important, but it can’t overshadow the prerequisite of writing books. But it’s easy enough to build some of these things into your marketing plan. Sprinkle them in once a month or so. Remember, consistency is the goal. Anything that’s done “flash in the pan” extinguishes it’s flame quickly. Your goal should be to nurture the warm, red glow of a slow burn when it comes to Reciprocity. Take some time, over time, and make it part of your regular routine.
ONE MORE THOUGHT...
By definition, Reciprocity is a practice that requires at least two people who are engaged in the process to make it work. Like a teeter-totter, if all the weight is on just one side, there is an unbalance and Unity will never be achieved.
If that happens, then our writing careers are no better off than the life of the Pacific Salmon, swimming upstream, doing our best to survive, but knowing death is inevitable. How many of us, given the option, will continue that lonely, frustrating route?
Personally, I think it’s far more fun to be a dolphin, playing happily with all my Author Friends, in the warm waters of creation and Reciprocal success… Enjoying the Nice.
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