7 Ways Friends Can Support Your Book (and How To Ask For Their Help)
by Sandra Beckwith
I recently read an article that detailed seven ways people could support their author friends. It was well-done and offered the type of specific information I'm always looking for, but honestly, it felt a little . . . well . . . self-centered. I mean, really, am I supposed to expect my friends to ask me how they can promote my book? Or, worse, am I self-absorbed enough to think that my friends are using Google to find ways they can support my book marketing? I could never send any of them a link to that article with a note saying, "Please read this and see what you can do.
I'm also one of those people who would never say, "Please buy my book." But that was one of the suggestions in this article - "buy the book." Most of my friends aren't interested in my book topics, so why would they buy any of them? Your book might be different, of course, but my books are on business topics and many of my friends are social workers, teachers, and so on.
In reality, while our friends think it's "cool" that we're authors, it probably doesn't even occur to most of them that they are in a position to help us get the word out. It's our responsibility to ask for that help. The challenge is in finding a way to make the request in a way that works for you - not me, not my friends, and not another author.
Here are some things you will want to consider asking friends to do along with suggestions for making your request something they can act on quickly and easily. You might not be comfortable with all of these suggestions, but there might also be a way for you to get the end result with a different approach.
1. Share information about your book with the "right" people in their e-mail address books.
Remember that you didn't write your book for everyone. You wrote it for a specialized audience, whether it's fiction or nonfiction. (Not everybody likes mysteries, right?) It's okay to ask your friends to share information about your book with their networks, but when doing so, make it clear that you realize .that they might want to be selective about who they share the information with. Send an e-mail that describes the book, explains who will find it interesting, details how they will benefit from reading it, and includes a link to an online purchase site. Suggest that they forward that information to appropriate people.
2. Provide information about organizations that might use you as a speaker.
A complimentary word or two from a friend who is a member could be all you need to be the luncheon speaker at the monthly gathering of a group that's perfect for your book.
3. Look for your book at bookstores and request that stores stock it if it's not available.
A lot of my friends are authors, so I do this for them at Barnes & Noble all the time. I also turn the cover face out on the shelf so it's easier to see, and when there's more than one copy, I add one to a display at the end of the shelf, too. If a friend's latest book isn't in stock, I ask the store to order it.
4. Use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networks to share a link to a purchase page.
Ask them to write a personal message with the link, such as "Can't wait to read my friend's new book about business etiquette" or "Nobody writes better science fiction than my friend Justin Brown - buying his latest book now!"
5. Share a review online.
Give a copy of your book to friends you can trust to actually read it, asking them to write a positive review on Amazon and other retail sites.
6. Interview you on their blog when it's a good fit.
This is a reasonable request only when the blog's target audience matches your book's. Otherwise, you're putting your friend in an awkward and unfair position.
7. Rate reviews on Amazon so the good ones show up first and the bad ones show up last.
At the end of each review, Amazon asks, "Was this review helpful to you?" Click "yes" for the four- and five-star reviews and "no" for anything with less than three stars. The "yes" clicks will help make sure that the positive reviews stay at the top.
What have you asked your friends to do to support your book, and how has that worked out for you? Please leave a comment below and tell me your story!About the Author
Former publicist Sandra Beckwith has won several national awards for publicity excellence. An author herself, she now teaches authors how to be their own book publicists. Learn more about her new ebook, Get Your Book in the News: How to Write a Press Release That Announces Your Book and subscribe to Sandra’s free bi-weekly newsletter, Build Book Buzz.