Every week, I hear from authors who are disappointed that friends aren’t buying their books.
I get it. It feels personal when you don’t get that kind of tangible support from people who are important to you.
Even so, it’s important to remember that we all have our own taste in books. You might love to read and write science fiction while your work or college or neighbor friends prefer to read memoirs or mysteries.
Are you being fair to your friends?
So . . . if your pals don’t generally read the kinds of books you write, is it fair to expect them to buy your book, even if they’ll never open it?
Some say, “Yes.”
I say, “No.”
I’m not here to convince you that I’m right and you’re wrong, though. Instead, I’d like to propose other ways your friends can support your books. Truth is, while they probably think it’s cool that you’re an author, most probably don’t realize that they are in a position to help you get the word out about your book.
It’s your responsibility to ask for that help.
How friends can help promote your book
Here are six things you can ask friends to do. Each includes suggestions for making your request something they can act on quickly and easily.
Select a few that work for you and ask for help making things happen. Their friendship is worth it.
1. Use Facebook, Twitter, 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 project management!” or “Nobody writes better cozy mysteries than my friend Betsy Bowen – buying her latest book now!”
And make it easy for them to do this. Provide a “clean” link to the book’s Amazon sales page (here’s how to create it), images with the book that they can share, and sample text they can consider using.
The easier you make it for people to help you, the more likely they are to take action.
The easier you make it for people to help you, the more likely they are to take action.Click to tweet
2. Email information about your book to appropriate people they know.
Send your friends an e-mail that they can forward to people they know who might be interested.
The e-mail message should describe the book, explain who will find it interesting, detail how readers will benefit from reading it, and include a link to an online purchase site.
(For more on how to announce your book via email, read, “How to announce your book with an email blast.“)
3. Share a review online.
Give a copy of your book to friends you can count on to read it. Ask them to write an honest review on Amazon and other retail sites. Point out that they need to note in their review that they received a free copy in exchange for that honest review.
Make it easy for them to write that review by giving them a copy of the Build Book Buzz Reader Book Review Form. With it, they can write something meaningful in less than 10 minutes. (And be sure to thank your friends when they do!)
A word of caution: Sometimes Amazon removes reviews when it suspects the reviewer has a connection to the book’s author. Don’t let that stop you, but be prepared for it if it happens.
If it does? Eat cookies and move on.
4. Provide information about organizations that might use you as a speaker.
There are many, many different types of organizations that meet locally. More and more are starting to move back to in-person meetings after going virtual during the pandemic.
Ask friends if they belong to groups that use guest speakers and might consider you for that role.
Even better, ask if they’ll connect you to the group’s leader or meeting planner. A complimentary word or two from your friend might be all you need to secure a slot as the luncheon speaker at the monthly gathering of a group that’s perfect for your book.
5. Look for your book in stores and libraries and request that they 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 you catch me doing this, I might even smile and tell you, “My friend wrote this book! It’s great!”
When the book isn’t in stock, I ask the store to order it. Your friends can do this, too.
Friends can also request your book at their local library branch. Libraries like to know there’s demand for a book before they buy it, so ask friends to help create that demand.Libraries like to know there's demand for a book before they buy it, so ask friends to help create that demand.Click to tweet
6. Interview you on their blog or podcast when it’s a good fit.
This is a reasonable request only when the blog or podcast’s target audience matches your book’s. Otherwise, you’re putting your friend in an awkward and unfair position.
While some of your friends might not be able to do any of these things, others might be able to do one or two.
Finally, please be sure you express gratitude for any support you get. We all like to know our contributions are appreciated.
What have you asked your friends to do to support your book, and how has that worked out for you? Please comment below.
(Editor’s note: This article was first published in March 2014. It has been updated and expanded.)
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