A reader named Sarah sent me this photo with the accompanying message:
"My friend wanted to go Black Friday shopping and I couldn't help manipulating this shelf."
It means a great deal when a reader helps me sell books. In addition to this rogue redesign of the shelf so that my books are facing out, there are a few other things you can do to help an author:
1. Buy the book. Don't wait for a copy to be available in the local library. Just buy the damn thing. I can't tell you how many people - friends and family included - who have told me that they can't wait to read my book just as soon as it's returned to the library.
Buy the book. Please. Or at least tell me you did.
2. Give the book away as a gift. Books are easy to wrap and make outstanding gifts. In the case of my books, I invite readers who don't live locally to forge my signature so that they can give a prized "signed copy" as a gift.
I'll never tell.
3. If you discover that a bookstore is not carrying an author's titles or has run out of an author's books, mention the book and/or author to one or more of the employees. Tell them about the book. Tell them about the author. Tell them that they lost a sale today by not having the book available.
4. Preorder the author's next book. I'll be asking you to do that shortly for one of my upcoming books. Preorders help to boost production orders and increase the chances of a book landing on bestsellers' lists during its first week in print.
5. Leave a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, or all of them. It takes just a minute to rate a book and offer a review, but the benefits to the author are enormous.
This last thing won't help sell any books, but it will make an author feel good:
Write to the author if you loved the book. Just this week, I heard from readers in Guatemala, France, Mexico, and Florida. These emails mean the world to me. It's remarkable that a story once in my head is now being appreciated by people around the globe.
Stephen King calls it telepathy, and he's right. I had a thought, and now that thought is entering the mind of someone in Central America or Europe.
This is the kind of thing that sends me back to the manuscript every day with enthusiasm and excitement.
Here's something unusual that I do with my books that has unintentionally increased sales:
I occasionally drop real people into my fictional worlds rather than inventing new characters. I'm not talking about starting with a person who I know and transforming then into a fictionalized version of themselves. I insert the entirety of a human being into my worlds, making no attempt to alter them from their real life version in any way, and this has oddly generated additional book sales.
In Memoirs of an Imagery Friend, Mrs. Gosk is an actual teacher and friend who I worked with for years before she recently retired. The Mrs. Gosk in the novel is exactly like the Mrs. Gosk in real life, right down the mentions of her husband and children. As a result, friends and fans of Mrs. Gosk have bought the book just to read about their friend
In The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs, a man named Eric Feeney makes a brief appearance on the first couple pages of the book. He's the most minor of characters imaginable, but Eric, a teacher in my school, has made the most of his fame. He has attended my book signing and offered to sign alongside me. He has directed friends, family, and complete strangers to purchase the book. He has even signed stock in bookstores after telling the booksellers that he is featured in the novel.
He's worked so hard that I'm looking to include him in the next novel in another very minor role.
Anything to increase the telepathy.