Monday, November 22, 2010

Be a patron of the arts

A well-known South African author whom I’m friends with has been incredibly encouraging of my initial faltering footsteps into the world of publishing. She imparted these words of wisdom: “You know, it doesn’t matter who you’re published with, it’s word-of-mouth promotion that will get people reading your novels.”

And, if one looks at the success of authors such as JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer and Stieg Larsson, it’s definitely been a case of readers raving to each other about a particular novel until such point that just about everyone either knows of the titles or are intending to borrow or buy copies.

Granted, not all authors are going to write novels that are universally popular, but sometimes, just sometimes, an author has the ability to tap into an “X-factor” as I call it, that offers almost universal appeal to a large cross-section of readers. It’s almost like a snowball that turns into an avalanche and, face it, most of us who’re starting out with the small presses dream of one day “making it big”.

Most of us, however, if we are diligent in our craft and, if we’re lucky, build a small, dedicated clique of readers who will rabidly follow our releases. That’s great, but there’s quite a bit we can do as passionate readers and author to help each other.

One of the most important methods is to review each other’s writing. And, I’m not talking only blogging about each other, but also posting reviews at sites such as Amazon or Goodreads, that attract a good deal of traffic. I know that if I am considering buying a book, I visit these two sites to see what others have written about the book I’m about to purchase. Every person will read a story and come away with some opinion and I find it fascinating to see who likes what.

So, write those reviews! Then, Tweet them and paste links on your other social networking sites such as Facebook or forums where you participate. Spread the word. If there’s an author you really like, the best thanks you can give them after enjoying their story is to let the world know.

Or, if you’re a passionate blogger, add to this by interviewing your favourite author. Nowadays there is so much information out there it’s sometimes difficult for an up-and-coming author to be heard above the thousands of others who are competing for the same piece of the pie.

And, lastly, a small word on piracy. There are numerous sites out there that offer pirated ebooks for sale or download. Don’t support them. Sure, an ebook may cost you around $9 but that money goes to support people who work very hard to ensure that they bring you only the best in the latest novels.

Just like I make a point of purchasing music directly from my favourite musicians, I like to support my favourite authors by purchasing legal copies of their works.

In the old days, artists, musicians and authors often had to have a rich patron supporting them, nobles who took pride in the fact that they had the likes of JS Bach or Handel “on their books” so to speak. Nowadays, you can do the same, and even brag about the fact that you’re supporting a particular creative. And, really, it is something worth bragging about, and you’re taking a small but positive step to encourage the arts and investing in our cultural heritage.

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South Africans can now purchase my Khepera series (books one and two) directly from one of our largest national retailers, Exclusive Books. See:;jsessionid=B494300F895DECF94658936C0BA53381?q=khepera+&submit.x=10&submit.y=15

1 comment:

Amos Keppler said...

Storytelling is a great art and should indeed by championed.