Sunday, May 8, 2016
Being a Good Literary Citizen
Readers as well as aspiring and even experienced writers are often eager to be a part of the literary world, but might not realize exactly how they can contribute and support their favorite authors. Yet there are a number of ways to participate in a literary community. Think there’s not much you can do or that you’re too busy? Here are some practical ways to pay it forward and be a good literary citizen.
~ Use the “Like” Button on Facebook – It’s so easy to click on “like” on a Facebook post and it takes very little time out of your busy day. The more likes a post receives, the more traction it gets, and the more people will see it. So if your favorite author or a fellow writer has posted a blog post, some news about a new book or a reading, just click “like.” And clicking like doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you literally like something or “endorse” it. It can also just mean: I’m here, supporting you.
~ Favoriting and RT’ing on Twitter – In the same vein, you can easily select to make a post a favorite on Twitter. It only takes a second. Retweeting an author’s tweet is also an easy way to show your support without having to take the time to come up with your own tweet. And you can even retweet a writer’s tweet about another writer. The possibilities are endless and the time it takes is minimal.
~ Attend a Reading (But It’s Ok To Not Attend Every Reading) – There’s a lot of pressure on writers to support fellow writers by attending readings at bookstores, literary festivals, events, etc. And we writers do appreciate anyone and everyone who shows up. But sometimes we’re just overwhelmed with work and life or, frankly, just burnt out on literary events and can’t make that one more trek to the big book launch party. But you can still buy the author’s book. Or you can try making it to an event that’s later on down the line after the book’s been out awhile; the one at the venue that might not attract as many people, or at the odd time of day, the one on a rainy night at Christmas time when everyone’s too busy. The writer will surely appreciate this.
~ Take Photos – And if you do attend a reading or event, take some photos of the writer in action and post them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or your social media of choice. It’s another easy thing to do. You might not have time to write a book review or blog an interview, but this can give an author another valuable boost.
~ Buy the Book – Yes, buy the book if at all possible, but don’t buy it at a used bookstore—the author will get nothing out of that. And avoid borrowing the book from a friend or loaning your copy to your mom. Encourage people to buy their own copies to support the writer. If you can’t buy the book, request your library to stock it and check it out there. And if you can purchase the book, ask the writer what type of purchase will most benefit her. Yes, we want to support independent bookstores, but perhaps buying off the publisher’s online store (in the case of small and independent publishers, for example) might be more helpful in certain cases. Or if Amazon rankings are vitally important, it might be best to purchase the book there. Or buy a copy at a book signing at Costco. You never know. Ask the author what will help her the most.
~ Don’t Feel Guilty – We all get overwhelmed from time to time and have to take the time to care of ourselves. Don’t feel guilty if you just don’t have the time, money, energy, etc. If you can’t manage that blurb, tell the writer quickly so she won’t get her hopes raised. Give her a nice shout-out on social media instead. Don’t feel people are judging you or that you aren’t a good enough literary citizen. We’re all doing the best that we can and that’s what counts.