How Can We Help? - Joanna Campbell Slan

How Can We Help?

I had a lovely luncheon today at the home of my friends Denise and Craig. The occasion was a book club get together that Denise arranged, and I was the feature author. It’s always a joy to be asked to talk about Paper, Scissors, Death–and particularly, I love hearing different readers’ reactions to the book. I was curious about how Denise’s friends felt about the humor in PSD, specifically how much that did or did not matter to them. I wondered what they would ask regarding the plot. Of course, I won’t tell what happens in Cut, Cut & Die, book two in the series, but I could assure them that Detweiler and Kiki and the gang will be back. I was thrilled at being compared to Janet Evanovich. (Hey, that was almost as heavenly as Denise’s soups, the terrific salad and the fabulous bread.) And I was stumped by the question, “Which revives your creative juices more: scrapbooking or writing?”

But the biggest surprise came when the readers asked me, “How can we help you?”

Whoa. I was suddenly transported back in time to when networking was big. We women would meet together to share job possibilities, ideas for being more professional, and support. Back then, we knew we’d only make it if we helped each other.

So I haven’t heard those precious words in years: “How can we help?”

Maybe you have a friend who’s an author. Or maybe you’re a fan. Perhaps you’ve wondered, “Can I make a different in an author’s career?”

The answer is a resounding, “YES!”

Here are a few suggestions:

1. Go to Amazon and Barnes & Noble and post a review. The more reviews, the more stars, the more their internal logic systems will recommend the books you favor. (Yep, I don’t know exactly how it works, but it does.)

2. Suggest the book to another book club. In my experience, book clubbers tend to belong to more than one club. So, tell your second club about the book your first club liked.

3. Call your local library. If they don’t have copies of the book, ask them to get them. If they do, check out the book, even if you have already read it. I’m not suggesting you take out the book and keep another reader from her chance at it, but I am suggesting that the more a book is checked out, the more likely a library is to buy more copies. (And in some libraries, if a book isn’t being checked out regularly, they may sell it to make room for more popular works.)

4. Order copies of the book as gifts. Readers love to swap and share. Especially mystery readers. But, book sales are what keep an author writing. So, consider giving books as gifts.

5. Introduce the author to other people who are influence leaders. That might mean other business people who could purchase copies, English or creative writing teachers, book club leaders, or other club leaders. That’s the essence of networking: Introducing Person A to Person B because A and B might be able to do business together.

6. Ask your business library to carry a copy of the book. Some books won’t be appropriate, but some might. When I worked at Illinois Farm Bureau, we had a huge corporate library. If the book you read is appropriate for your corporate/association library, suggest they purchase a copy.

7. Schedule the author to come make a presentation at a corporate/association lunch. Many companies have meeting rooms where folks can get together at lunch. Schedule a meeting room, and invite your local author to come chat about his/her work.

Any other suggestions? Please share them!

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