Of course the operative word here is support - while publishing a book is exciting, it's also nerve wracking and scary. Your writer friend is putting something they likely spent years developing out into the world for others to critique, and that can sometimes leave them feeling naked and vulnerable. So if you only do one thing, be supportive and remember that publishing a book doesn't mean overnight success. It's hard, stressful and often scary work.
How you can help before the book launches:
1. Add their book to your to-read shelf on Goodreads.
2. Vote for it on Goodreads lists.
Goodreads' Listopia has a list for just about everything - from "the best YA books" to "where for art thou grass," a list dedicated to covers featuring grass on the front (no joke). Any Goodreads member can start a list, add a book to an existing list, or vote for an already added book to move it further up in the rankings.
To find out which lists their book is on, search for the title, click onto their page, and scroll about halfway down to the section "lists with this book." For each list that includes your friend's book, click the "vote for this book" button next to the cover image. And viola! You've just helped potential readers discover your friend's book.
3. Post their cover to your social media sites.
When the cover for my debut was released in September, I was blown away by all the support I got from my friends. I posted it to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, and within hours I had dozens of friends sharing it on their pages as well. It was minimal work on their end, but it meant the world to me not only because of the extra exposure, but also because of the outpouring of support.
4. Retweet their promotional tweets.
A simple retweet goes a long way, and only takes a second.
5. Like the author's Facebook page.
Ditto to liking their author page - liking their page is an easy way to show support, and more likes also helps them establish legitimacy when potential readers stop by their fan pages.
How you can help after the book launches:
6. Buy their book (don't ask for a free copy.)
This one is always a little touchy, but here's the thing you may not know: your friend is only going to get about 10 copies of their book. That's it. And every book they give away to a friend is a book they can't use for promotional purposes.
That free book they just gave you could have been used for a Goodreads contest that would have resulted in 50+ new readers. She could have sent that copy to a local library to ensure her book gets added to the new release lists, or to a local independent bookstore to drum up interest in a book signing.
I get it. We all love to get free things. But it's important to remember that book publishing is a business, and publishing houses don't give authors very many copies for a reason. If your friend has any hope of making it as an author she's going to need to sell books, and every sale counts.
7. Review their Book on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.
When it comes to book sales, word of mouth is the name of the game. And every positive review helps increase your friends book sales. It's also not just the star rating that matters, but the number of ratings. It helps legitimize the author and their book. A review is a gift that keeps on giving, and the more places you leave it, the more exposure you'll give.
8. Reserve a copy at your local library and/or ask your local library to carry it.
When a library starts to get a long list of reservation requests for a book, it can lead to them ordering
9. Ask your local bookstore where it's located.This drums up attention for the book, and could even lead to a staff member selecting it for their monthly staff recommendations section. And if your friend is with a smaller press, the book store may not have a physical copy in the store. If enough people ask about it, it could lead to them ordering the book and even displaying it in a prominent area of the store.
10. Recommend it to a book club.
If you or a friend belong to a book club who reads within the genre your friend wrote, why not pick their book for your monthly meeting? You could even invite the author to the discussion for a live or Skyped Q&A session.
11. Recommend it to your friends.
What's the number one way you've discovered a good book? Probably through a friend's recommendation. If you read and liked your friend's book, there is no greater gift than encouraging others to give it a try. That, and #7.
12. Be a supportive shoulder to cry on.
Publishing a book is scary. These days simply having a publishing deal does not guarantee success - far from it in fact. There are over one million books published each year, which can make the task of promotion and breaking through the clutter feel damn near impossible. Your writer friend will be inundated with examples of other, more successful writers. They will receive negative reviews. They may not outsell their advance. Their second book might not get picked up. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to simply be a supportive friend, and even if that doesn't feel like much, know that your friend will be eternally grateful.