Traditionally published authors usually have a huge audience. Because of the volume of supporters they also tend to don’t appreciate your individual support. Bah! Sometimes, overwhelmed by the adoration, they even hide from their readers!
Indie authors are hungry for contact with their readers—and I mean “hungry” like a werewolf on a full moon night.
In the case of books you – the reader – are the judge. As an author, I don’t want market analysis, I want the feedback from my readers, both negative – because it helps me improve – and positive, because it helps me persevere.
Your author needs you.
There is a multitude of relatively easy ways to support your favorite author.
1. Encourage him, praise him or give him thanks.
It’s better than an enthusiastic review. It’s better than buying his books.
Real, honest praise is worth more than gold to an indie author unsure of his potential, who write alone without feedback, not knowing if his writing is worth anything whatsoever.
You can’t imagine how lonely writing is. It’s just you and the emptiness of a sheet of paper (text processor doc). You struggle for weeks or months to publish your piece and then you are nervous, like a parent whose child is taking their first serious exam.
Nothing, NO SINGLE THING, is better at that time than an encouraging message from the satisfied reader.
If you enjoyed a book, communicate this fact to its author. The pro indie author will always leave his contact information in the book.
If he is a newbie who hasn’t, you can always leave a message on the Amazon forum on his author’s page.
If he doesn’t even have the Amazon profile, then you can always use the common reader’s power—a review.
A well written review can be as good as an encouraging message, plus a lot of other people will get to know your positive opinion about the author.
It may not make a difference to you, but it can make a great difference to him.
What does a good review look like? It’s not just praise and flowers, far from that. It needs to include at least one of three elements:
a) What you’ve learned from the book
b) How it affected your life in some detail (God forbid empty slogans like “It was a life changer for me. Thank you, bye.”)
c) What you would say to someone who is on the fence about reading the book
If you leave such a review you will score big in the author’s eyes.
Oh, and remember that your review has greater weight if you bought or downloaded the book from Amazon on the same account, it’s an “Amazon Verified Purchase” then.
3. Use your social power.
The next big thing is to share your admiration of the author’s work with your network. You can review his book on your blog, tell your family and mates about the book and, of course, share on the social media. The least you can do in that regard is to like his author page and book’s page on Amazon.
Each time you do one of those things you act as his ambassador. You do the job directly for him, even if he has no clue you are doing it. You act as his marketing agency.
Reportedly, a prospect needs to hear more or less 27 times about a product, service or brand to be interested enough to make a purchase. So if you share your opinion about the book with your friend, you are making it easier for the writer; he has to demonstrate his brand in front of this friend only 26 more times.
4. Throw the weight of your opinion into the equation.
You may present your opinion about the author and his works, but you can also argue with anyone who doesn’t respect his hard work.
You can comment on the reviews of other readers. Each time you feel that a negative opinion has no substance – like this one where a guy judged a book by its title – you can intervene.
Amazon also has a clever system of evaluating other reviews. Whenever you feel like a review is fair and useful you click the ‘Yes’ button next to the “Was this review helpful to you?” question.
Amazon’s system promotes the most helpful reviews at the top of the book’s page. If there are more than 5 reviews for the book, only the top 5 most helpful will be visible.
And you can vote all biased, unfair, bad reviews down. You can even report them as abusive.
Your evaluating power over other reviews is not restricted to negative reviews. Don’t hesitate to ‘vote down’ any review with no substance. You know the type: “Yeah, great book, fascinating reading”—you don’t even need to have read the book to write something like this.
Authors hate them as much as any other sane person. An ’empty’ positive review at the top of my book page is terrible. I much prefer a solid 3 star review than any 5-star shallow fluff.
And one more thing… Amazon displays sometimes (when the number of reviews and votes on them allows) the most helpful negative review next to the best positive one. So if enough readers vote for a good 3 star review, then in the effect the book can hold an excellent 5 star review and solid 3 star simultaneously.
Your small ‘yes’ or ‘no’ can have great power and may be used to move up or down any positive or negative review.
Going back to #3, you can invite your friends (preferably also fans of your author) to create a “weapon of mass destruction”, voting up or down any review multiple times.
You are not restricted to act only in the realm of your author’s books. There are a lot of competitors out there and you can work on their books too ^_^. You can give their books negative or moderately enthusiastic reviews if they deserved that.
You can vote up or down other people’s reviews when, in your opinion, they are worthy to be featured or forgotten. In one word, you can use all the range of options Amazon gives its users.
I am not talking about some kind of purposeful vendetta here. Just remember that you can represent your author’s interests wherever you share your opinion.
6. Spread the seeds on Amazon.
If you are really dedicated to help him, you can use another secret weapon—put links to his books in your comments or reviews.
For example, in my review of the children’s book I inserted the links to other books of the author.
You can do the same for your favorite author. Let’s say you write a review of a weak book about the same subject that your author wrote about. You criticize the shoddy piece and then you mention at the end, but I recommend a much better book upon this subject:—and you provide the link.
Or you can write his book’s review and say, “and I also loved this one and that one” and provide links to them.
You need dedication for it, because it’s not a one-click solution. You need the book’s ASIN. It’s a ten character long identifier. It can be found in the book’s page URL after “/dp/”:
Then, writing a comment or review you need to use the “Insert a product link” (1) button. Press it, paste the ASIN (2), run the search (3) and then choose the book from the search results (4).
If you read your author’s book on Kindle device or application, highlight some wise or fun quotations. Shared and most popular highlights are featured at the bottom of the book’s page. Normally no one goes that far, but there is always the chance…
8. Buy his book.
In my eyes, this way of helping out your author is secondary to all the support you can give in other ways.
It’s nice to have the food on the table, but most of the independent authors are able to support themselves, doing something else other than writing (for example, my royalties are around 33-50% of the salary I got from my IT job).
What we really want is to influence the lives of our readers, but we cannot know how we have done till someone tells us so.
So, I encourage you to support your favorite indie author right now! Your feedback means a lot to him!
6 thoughts on “8 Easy Ways to Help Your Indie Author on Amazon”
Hi Michal. Great read and definitely some good points out there. I reckon it applies very well to blogging as well, especially when it comes to reaching out to your favourite blogger. Absolutely agree that real, honest feedback (praise or otherwise) is worth more to a writer than gold. At the end of it all, it give us the power to push through more writing. We all need support some time, and the best ones comes from our readers themselves.
You right Aqilah, but bloggers have the shortcuts – comments. In case of the author it’s a level up harder.
I know, because I am both.
As a new author myself, I understand the need for reviews. This past year I began keeping track of all the books I read and have made a point to post reviews. Doing so has helped me appreciate just how much I read, and has also made me feel like I’m providing assistance to those looking for books to read, in addition to supporting other authors. It feels good.
That’s awesome Jeanne!
I don’t review enough, I lag behind with this. The only good thing about this is that I had no fixed writing schedule, so sometimes when I don’t have idea what to write I flip through my Kindle, pick a few books and write their reviews.
My friend who sold much more books than me said that writing reviews is one of the surest way to get more reviews.
I think this is a terrific article overall, but the first paragraph under number 5 makes me very uneasy. In my initial reading of it, I thought it implied that people should seek out the author’s competors and give them bad reviews, something I’d consider highly unethical. Later in the post, you make clear you’re not talking about vendettas, but there are people who will get to point 5 and stop reading if they infer that meaning, and there are others who might think it’s not a vendetta if they’re acting without malice toward the negatively reviewed authors.
I’d feel much more comfortable linking to this post if that paragraph clearly said to leave honest negative reviews on books we happen to read, rather than leaving it open to the interpretation that an author’s fans should make a program of leaving negative reviews.
Excellent job other than that, though. There’s a lot of very helpful advice here.
Thanks for feedback Ian.
I tweaked that paragraph a bit.