Tuesday, June 21, 2016

How to Help a Debut Author

You know what's crazy? I AM DRUMS is out in less than 90 days.

You know what's crazier? A lot of people are asking how they can help. Friends and acquaintances want to give the book an extra boost in any way they can! Color me flattered and excited!

I couldn't be more thankful. The debut author adventure is exciting, but it's also terrifying. My publisher took a chance on me, and I want to show them it wasn't a mistake.

Unfortunately, nobody (not even publicists, and they admit as much) knows why some books are successful while others aren't. There are, however, a few proven tactics an author's support system can do to support a new book, and I am eternally thankful for any level of help.

1) Purchase/ask about the book at your local bookstore.

If there's an indie bookstore in your neighborhood, walk inside, find an employee, and ask about the book. Can they preorder it? If it's already out, where is it shelved? Indie bookstores can preorder and/or special order the same as Amazon, and they're more likely than the Mighty Bezos to mention it to another customer.* A bookseller's ability to hand-sell titles is a magical thing to behold.

2) Request it at your local library.

You have no idea how much this helps, and it's 100% free to do! Just walk into your library's children's section and request the book. Some libraries have this option right on their website. If one person in every state walked into a library tomorrow and requested I AM DRUMS, it would do amazing things for the book's buzz and exposure.

Librarians are superheroes of children's literature. They are centaurs with glasses fighting a war of words with progressive lenses. They're human beings wielding twenty-six weapons of literary fury with a supporting array of punctuation. And they're super loving, cool people if you bring your books back on time without dogearing the pages.

3) Attend the author's launch party and events

Author events don't generate the same kind of foot traffic as rock shows, so it's doubly amazing when you support an author by attending their launch party, panel, or event.

Did I mention the I AM DRUMS launch party is at 2pm on Saturday, September 10, 2016 at Magic Tree Bookstore in Oak Park, IL?

4) Write a review on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, etc.

Nobody really knows how Amazon's algorithms work, but evidence points to the quantity of reviews playing a huge role in a book's visibility on the site. Even if you didn't purchase a book from a particular website, you can still post a review.**

And it helps. Really. It doesn't have to be long. Leave the word-count-worrying to me.

5) Tell a friend

Remember how I said publicists don't know why some books sell and others don't? There's one exception to that. Most people try a new book because someone they trust suggested it. This is especially true in middle grade literature, where authors rarely get a chance to sell directly to their target audience -- middle grade kids. We have to sell to people who sell books to kids -- school librarians, children's booksellers, and sometimes, if we're lucky, parents.

If this goes well, Person A tells Person B about an amazing book they stayed up all night reading. Person B tells Person C and D, and they tell Person E, F, G, and H, and so on...

So if you've read an advance reader copy of I AM DRUMS, tell someone how much you (hopefully) enjoyed it! If you know someone who will find the synopsis intriguing, tell them!

6) Read the book somewhere people will see you.

This one might sound weird, but it helps! If you commute by train or bus, or are waiting for an appointment somewhere, imagine how cool (or bizarre) you will look with this cover...

... hovering in front of your face. I'll bet you feel cooler just thinking about it. No? Whatever.
These are just a few ways you can help I AM DRUMS (or any book you love) to be as successful as possible. I have no delusions of grandeur. I don't expect to get on any bestseller lists or get a movie deal. I just want to keep doing this writing thing as long as you'll let me.

I'm thankful for anything you can do.

* To be clear, I'm not trying to bash Amazon or their customers. A sale on Amazon is great. Just know that local bookstores are extremely important to a debut author's success, and stopping by one and requesting I AM DRUMS is a great way to get it on their radar.

** It should be noted that many sites (with one exception being Goodreads) won't let you post a review before the book releases. For example, Amazon won't let anyone post reviews of I AM DRUMS until 9/6/2016. The one exception is Alison DeCamp's review, which went live due to a weird glitch with the cancelled Egmont USA edition. It's a sweet review, so hooray for Alison! For the record, her book, MY NEAR DEATH ADVENTURES, is the funniest book of 2015.***

*** I was telling people this long before she gave a glowing review of my book.