Ten More Ways To Support Authors You Love

This past week, I caught an article that ping-ponged around the Intersphere where author Jody Hedlund explains — nicely and wisely — ten ways to support authors you love.

It’s a great post. Hedlund lists a lot of strong ways that speak toward what I was saying a few weeks back (“The Care And Feeding Of Your Favorite Authors“). Even still, I thought, “Surely that can’t be it, right? Readers and fans don’t need to stop there. Writers are needy little sumbitches. Yes, good, leave a review. Sure, okay, get the local library to stock the book. All great ideas. But the author is a fragile orchid under glass. The author needs special attention.”

And so, I thought, let’s add some options to that list.

Thus I give unto you:

Ten more ways to support the authors you love.

Beginning now.

1. Backrubs And Sponge Baths

Writers have all the posture of Gollum after a tequila bender. We’re basically cave crickets. Blind. Pale. Bent over. Covered in the excrement of the bats that dangle above us. This is not conducive to producing good writing. Science Fact: ideas start in the brain, then travel down the spine (via Monorail, like at Disney World) and are then carried out to our dominant arm and hand where we take the idea and write it down. This is science. This is medical truth. If we’re all hunched over like some kind of Scoliosis Monster (one of Jim Henson’s less-popular Muppets), then the Monorail crashes. The idea is left bleating like a lost llama, unable to reach our hand.

We need backrubs, people. Shoulders. Neck. Deep-tissue. Hot rocks. Happy endings. And a sponge bath wouldn’t hurt, either. Someone needs to wash the Dorito powder out of our hair. It’s not a good look.

If you don’t want to be the giver of the massage, no worries. Hook us up with a gift certificate to the nearest shady Asian Massage Parlor. I’m sure Groupon has a deal going.

2. Lay Gifts At Our Feet

Have you ever met a writer? Sure you have. They’re the guys sitting in subways ranting at you about “reptile overlords” and trying to get you to drop some change in their quivering palms. We’re not wealthy people. The latest average advance on a novel is $17 and a pack of Virginia Slims cigarettes.

We need your support. So buy us stuff, for Chrissakes. Shower us with presents.

A nice casserole, maybe? (We’re surely hungry.) Some warm socks so our toes don’t freeze (and get eaten by rats)? Printer ink? (We like to huff it.) New MacBook? (Cult of Apple!) A pony? (Like I said: hungry.)

3. Build A Fan Page

Authors like to know they have fans out there — not just readers, but full-on fanatics who tilt their ears so that they may hear our every brilliant whisper. Build us a fan page to show your love and, more importantly, ceaseless devotion. I’m not just talking about, say, a page on Facebook. That’s nice and all, but c’mon, really? That’s amateur karaoke right there. No, we’d like something… bigger. Buy a web address. Get a host. Put up a whole sycophantic Tiger Beat spread of us online. Pay the hosting fees. Hire a web designer. And for Sid and Marty Krofft’s sake, get some Flash animation up in that bizzotch.

Flash animation is all the rage. It’s like, boom, intro cartoon. Violins. A phat breakbeat. A chorus of angel MCs slinging a rap about how awesome we are. The sun rises. Becomes our head. Our mouth opens. Rays of word power shine out. Destroy the world. Then we eat the stars. Finally, the whole thing morphs into an advertisement announcing our latest book, movie, blog post, pamphlet, or tweet.

4. Take Over Bookstore Displays

You go into… well, I was going to say Borders, but you go into a Borders you’ll be attacked by troglodytes and killed for your meat. Those are dead zones, now. Let’s go with Barnes & Noble. You go into a B&N and there, all around you, are book displays offering the hottest new releases of the world’s most mediocre authors. Dan Brown’s The Giuseppe Conundrum. Nicholas Sparks’ Song In A Bottle To Remember. Snooki’s Hot Homunculus Nights. The book displays are like idols built for blind, idiot gods.

Those authors don’t need book displays, though. When Mitch Albom releases The Five People You Pee On In Hell, people know it’s out. They’re coming there to buy it. They don’t need a special display.

You know who needs those displays? Your favorite mid-list authors, that’s who. Go to the store. When nobody’s looking, clear out the latest “someone-who’s-not-Tom-Clancy-wrote-a-book-with-Tom-Clancy’s-name-on-it” book. Hide them in the self-help section. Then take your favorite author’s books and re-fill the display. With some markers, duct tape and construction paper you can complete the advertisement.

Your favored author will thank you.

5. Become An Enabler

Writers need writer juice. If it’s before 9am, we need coffee. If it’s after 9am, we need liquor. If it’s after 9pm, we need pulverized Ambien stirred around a glass of lemonade (aka “Daddy’s Special Tonic”).

So for the sake of bibliophiles everywhere, buy us a cup of coffee. Get us a drink. Slide us a kilo of snow-white Columbian nose candy. Procure for us a phial of rare dodo’s blood.

Enable us. Only then can we write the words you want us to write.

And when that goes awry…

6. Now You’re An Addiction Counselor

When you find us slumbering in a sleeping bag filled with our own vomit, it might be time to get us off the “stuff.” We might need someone to sit with us as we detox. We’re definitely going to need someone to empty the bucket. It won’t empty itself. (Well, it might, like if our leg spasms and we kick it over.) Who else is going to help us navigate the ever-trembling line between hallucination and reality? Who will scrape the milky remnants of our dodo’s blood high as it exudes from our pores?

Oh, and when we get back on our feet, all cleaned up and loving Jesus, you’re going to need to buy our lame duck never-as-good-as-it-used-to-be-when-we-were-tripping-balls-on-dodo-blood books.

7. Be Like Annie Wilkes

We should be writing.

We’re probably not writing.

Whatever we’re doing, it’s the wrong thing. You know how George R.R. Martin’s not our bitch? Well, maybe he could use to be somebody’s bitch is all I’m saying. Authors need motivation.

And that’s where you come in. Ever read Stephen King’s Misery? Then you’ve got the right idea. Call us a dirty birdy. Cut off our thumb, pop it on a cake. Chop off a foot and hobble us like an escaped miner.

8. Get Your Wallets Out

I heard an apocryphal bit of data that suggests authors rarely sell a thousand copies of each book. You sell a thousand, that’s a good sign. So, help an author out, and buy a thousand copies. Be a pal.

If our book is, mm, say, ten bucks, then it’s no thing for you to buy a thousand copies, right? What, you don’t have a spare ten thousand clams hanging around? Were you gonna buy a boat or something? Ohh, must be nice. Mister Boat-Buyer over here doesn’t want to support literacy. You’re out there on the frothy churn-capped tides, guzzling Pernod Fils and getting sexual favors from mermaids. Meanwhile, we’re eating Chef Boyaredee out of a can.

A can that will soon become our only toilet.

Way to go. Way to destroy an author’s dreams just because you won’t shell out ten grand. WHATEVS.

9. The Cult Of Personality

It’s one thing to toss us a kind word. Maybe say something nice about our books. Our hair. Our creamy, majestic thighs. It’s another thing entirely to recruit cult members to live in a compound in the woods, a “church” where you worship the center of your religion: us. That’s right. Time to get serious. You want to do something really special for your favorite author? Two words: Jones. Town. That ended well, right? I’ll admit I kind of faded out by the end of that story, but I’m sure it involved them all sipping Kool-Aid in the jungle and singing campfire songs. So nice!

Point is, we need your love. We need your adoration. We need you to build hollow wooden effigies of us, trap our enemies inside, and burn the whole thing on a sacrificial pyre.

Don’t be afraid to get inventive. Pyramid schemes. Mind-control drugs. Book clubs.

10. Pre-Order The Book

Okay, fine, fine, here’s a real one that Hedlund didn’t cover: pre-order the author’s books (says the author with a book on pre-order). I’ll just be lazy and repeat what I wrote last month:

“Why pre-order, you might be asking? Pre-ordering is good for the publisher and great for the writer. The publisher gets an idea of preliminary demand and can produce accordingly. The writer also gets a boost — your pre-orders send a signal to the publisher that, hey, this writer is worth holding on to. So, we author-types appreciate your commitment.”

And there you have it.

Ten more ways to rain adoration and adulation upon your favorite authors.

If you have more ideas, toss ‘em into the comments.

25 comments

  • Here’s one for you: Resist the urge to call the authorities when the author goes mad. It is, after all, a part of the authorial cycle, like the cocoon of a butterfly. Or the death of a cockroach as wasp babies burrow out of it’s body.

    Alternatively: Provide well meaning snark to the author, then send booze.

    Seriously though: The new books look awesome, can’t wait to read Double Dead. (and Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey)

    • @Sparky:

      Evocative, no doubt. “Wasp Babies.” I think I used to watch that Saturday morning cartoon.

      Yes, a good one is definitely to ignore our madness. Or even help us find a place for the bodies!

      — c.

  • Gods! Filamena is spot on!

    Anyway, just wanted to say that I consider these tips far more helpful than the ten you linked to. Coffee. Backrubs. Tough love. Bacon. Fine, fine whiskies. Ponyflesh. These are the things that help.

    • That image is… thankfully not a heart-shaped fleshlight.

      My Fleshlight is shaped like a Star of Baphomet.

      (It’s actually a heart-shaped Slinky.)

      (I mean, sure, you can still stick your dick in it. But there’s no, erm, mechanism.)

      I am also now sad that I did not include “bacon” as a specific line-item on this list.

      Let’s assume that bacon gets nicely folded into the “gifts at your feet” portion.

      — c.

  • With the average advance coming in around $17 and a pack of Virginia Slims, perhaps asking the author, “What’s your brand?” and then buying them a pack of smokes. After all, $17 only buys about 2 packs of smokes anyway.

  • On the Cult of Personality point, I have that well in-hand: When I dig an author, I go to extremes about it. I follow updates and news, I post, repost, Tweet, Retweet, and totally fangirl out. Everyone around me is just SO SICK AND TIRED of hearing about Neil Gaiman. But, in all of the onslaught, I’ve converted some people over, and then used Gaiman as a gateway drug to Terry Pratchett (actually, once, it was the other way around). I’ve started working on my friends who are fans of Christopher Moore to get them to read your stuff, because they’ll take to it really fast. I have an Amazon gift card waiting for me to use for Double Dead (uh, and the ‘Bunnicula’ series for my son :P), so you’ll have another pre-order pretty soon…ish.

  • Now that is a fine list. In the categories of backrubs and gifts, I would add toe sucking, and lingerie, of course. What? You’ve never pranced around the house in lingerie? Let me tell you something Chuck, you’re missing out. Does wonders for the writing. Add a tiara if you’re writing romance or a Darth Vader helmet if you’re writing SciFi.

    Also, I don’t have time for all these bullshit cleanliness errands. If someone would do my laundry, fold it, put it away and buy some groceries cause there’s no fucking food in the house that would be delightful. Damn, I’m hungry. Where are my dancing boys?

    “You there! With the manly good looks! Make me some bacon… ”

    (Did I mention dancing boys are a lovely addition to any writer’s support system?

    • @Heidi —

      I don’t know that I require dancing boys.

      But the Darth Vader helmet and the lingerie, count me in. Better if I get to chase the dog around wearing those. For, uhh, “inspiration.”

      — c.

  • -Take everything in a writers blog literally. If they tell you to do something. Do it. Videotape it and upload to Youtube. Show them their blog is your bible.

    Disclaimer: Suing said writer for injuries occured during said show of devotion is not valid.

  • As both an Agent of Chaos and an insatiable pyromaniac, I will accept burnt offerings on the altars of my minions. Strangely enough, one can kill two birds with one stone by taking suggestion #4 and combining it with the cult option.

    I approve of this plan. Go forth, wreak some havoc and start some fires in the name of your zombie-writing-goddess.

  • I nearly choked to death on my coffee. Clearly, I did not learn not to read you while drinking anything.

    Back rubs. Sweet Fancy Java. YES. Right now, I might sacrifice a monkey for a shoulder rub. (Why a monkey? I don’t know. It sounded good at the time. Moving along…)

    Also, if someone were to volunteer to vacuum, I will do a dance of joy. Eventually. When I’m doing trying to decide which font looks better on my cover.

    Anyway, great post. Very, very funny.

  • My Fleshlight is shaped like a Mobius Strip.

    Snuffing out critics who pan your favorite author is the ultimate act of love. It’s worth the 25 years you’ll get, with a decent lawyer. It’s just more time to read.

  • Dancing boys! I’ll take all I can get! This edit is kicking my ass, but gimme a few dancing boys for inspiration, and I’ll take it down yet.

  • Great post!! Thanks for a good laugh. I think I’ll have to encourage my readers to clear off the Amish section and display my books there. And casseroles. I’m sure my readers can start sending me frozen meals to stock my freezer. :-)

  • Huh. Kinda surprised to not see Fred Hicks or Rob Donoghue on here. That bit about changing around the book store displays? They did that for the early Dresden Files novels. Well, they didn’t actually vandalize any displays. But, they would go in and rearrange the books so that the Jim Butcher books were facing out and attracting attention.

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