Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Three Ways to Pay It Forward (Even If You're Pre-Published):
1. Introductions -- To Good Critique Partners
Sure, pre-published folks want to meet editors and agents, but you know who they need to meet? A good critique partner / beta reader. Heck, two or three CPs are really nice to have for balanced feedback. Each person and personality brings something different to the tale. The tricksy bit is matching complimentary personalities of the writer and the CP. If the writer is a delicate flower, then having a CP who pulls no punches is not going to end well for anyone. Similarly, we all want a CP who has a strength where we know we have a weakness. For some, it's grammar, for others it's world-building, for still others it's sex scenes. Whatever the need, do what you can for creative matchmaking.
2. Upsell -- Old Fashion Word of Mouth Sales
Parties, this the season...and they're this introvert's Third Circle of Hell. Small talk is painful and it gets worse once the words "I'm a writer" are uttered. But I don't despair! Saying I'm a writer opens the doorway for the priceless and elusive Word of Mouth sales. Here's how the typcial conversation goes down:
Sam: "So what do you do?"
Me: "I'm a writer."
Sam: "What do you write?"
Me: "Epic fantasy. Star Wars meets Game of Thrones."
Sam: "I don't really like that stuff. You hear about 50 Shades? I read some of that."
Me: "That's great! If you liked 50 Shades, you should try Sapphire by Jeffe Kennedy or Voyeur by Lacey Alexander. There's a whole lotta steam in those books and great writing too."
Easy peasy. The author will probably never know. But Sam just might remember and buy a book you mentioned. Works with the "I don't read crowd" too--take a TV show they like and match the genre to a book. Oh, and no matter how much you hated a book, don't admit it. Choose the higher ground of: "XYZ book is similar to that, and I really liked how XYZ did this particular thing really well."
3. Book Signings -- Let 'Em Know They're Not Alone
This might seem inconvenient or awkward, but try to attend book signings, especially for folks of whom you've never heard. The odds are high that the author is sitting at a table alone, being studiously avoided by shoppers, and receiving those pitiful glances from sales folks. Even if you don't buy their book (sure, it's nicer if you do), just stop and say hi. Maybe ask them a little about their process or their lessons learned along the way. It's maybe three minutes of your time, but you've done wonders for making the book signing less painful for the author. (And sometimes, there are even free baked goods ... just sayin')
There you have it, dear readers, whether you're published or pre-published, three ways to help a fellow author.