We all have our favorite authors, living and dead. The dead are beyond any means we currently have of saying ‘thank you,’ but the living are still possible, and you can do it without going all stalkerish. I have been able to say ‘thanks, and when is the next book coming out?’ in person to a few of my favorites, and have had the pleasure of seeing them light up at the enthusiasm of a fan.
Because writing is a solitary chore. As an author myself, I know how much alone time there is, crouched over the keyboard trying to capture the story your characters are spinning out inside your head, and the frustration when they stop talking to you… and then the vast empty echoing feeling when the book is done, and launched out in the cold world to make its fortune and fame all alone. As I’m writing this, I’m thinking of the tragic death of one of my most-beloved authors, H Beam Piper. I do so wish I could have conveyed how much I enjoyed the Fuzzy books, not to mention all the other worlds he opened to me… but he was gone too early, believing himself unloved and alone.
I’m not saying your favorite author is in any danger of that malady. Simply that the best way to make sure an author keeps on writing and giving you more of your book-fix, is to encourage them. So you could do one or more of these things, and it’s win-win!
1. Say thanks. That sounds so simple, and yet it’s the thing that we seem to find hardest to do. A simple, not-too-effusive, thanks for the pleasure a book gave a reader. You might be able to find your author at their website, fan page, or some other social media venue, where you can say thanks.
2. Show up. Many authors can be found at conventions, signing or reading, and a full room with smiling faces will help them keep coming back to these events. Myself, I will be at Millennicon in a couple of weeks, and I know there will be a couple of people at my reading. Thanks, guys, you’re all that keeps me from hiding in the corner. Readers, you too can help an author out by showing up.
3. Share the wealth. If you enjoyed a book, let others know. Clicking ‘share’ on a book you liked takes little effort, and it’s a big help to an author. Plus, you let your friends in on the secret of who’s good.
4. Tip your Author: leave a review. I know some of you find the idea of leaving reviews difficult. Memories of childhood and delivering book reports aloud in class has scarred you. But you don’t need to be in-depth, or leave a long review, just touch on what you liked, and if you didn’t, be honest. “Remember, this is for posterity, so please, be honest.” – The Princess Bride
5. Vote in a contest. This can range from something like the CLFA 2014 Book of the Year Award in its inaugural year, which you can find here. A few of my favorite (living!) authors are on that finalist slate: Sarah Hoyt, Larry Correia, and Mackey Chandler. Bonus! You can use contest slates as reading recommendations when you run out of things to read. Once a year, you can find a bigger contest open to readers at Goodreads, which is always fun to participate in.
6. Vote in the Hugos, which is a little more in-depth than simply clicking a few buttons. You can find a lot more detail in one of Brad Torgerson’s Sad Puppies posts, like this one. Although there has been quite a bit of controversy about this, Sad Puppies is not at all about politics. It’s about putting storytelling first. Not whatever is supposed to be acceptable, and controversial, but the art of the story, that immersion you get into another world when the writer is really good. It will cost you about $40 to do this, so you’re really saying Thank You! in a big way. You can find more information here. Three of my favorite authors will be among my nominations for novel this year: Chuck Gannon, Larry Correia, and Jim Butcher. You really can’t lose reading any of them.
7. Reader’s Choice: How would you say thank you? Let us know in the comments!