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.
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.