So Your Friend Is an Author…


Amazing, Isn’t It?

Yes. It is.

How many authors do you actually know?

Now your friend is one.

The key word there is friend.

This was your friend before. Becoming an author doesn’t change that.

Sure, you can tease your friend about this, if your relationship ordinarily involves teasing.

But your friendship is based on more than just teasing:

  • You support one another. Even if one of you writes a book.
  • You’re honest with one another. Even if you think the book isn’t quite, well, you know.
  • You know each other well. How to get on one another’s nerves. How to put things gently. So you can figure out the right way to share honest feedback.
  • You motivate one another. So in addition to honest feedback, you’ll provide encouragement, motivation, and direction.

Your friend wrote a book. That’s a huge accomplishment. Treat it as such.

There are some things you should know about writers:

  • Writing is a lonely process. Literally: Alone with the computer, writing. Marketing can be lonely, too. This same author, all alone, is reading reviews, which sometimes tear down the author’s hard work. Friends can remind that author that he or she isn’t alone. They can help the author handle criticism, and prevent the author from doing anything rash.
  • Once in a while, the author needs to be dragged outdoors into the real world, kicking and screaming. But if you try this when the author’s muse has just shown up after a long absence, it could prove to be a fatal mistake. You have to judge how vigorous the kicking and screaming is.
  • Writers can be a little eccentric at times. Your friend has some personality. You’ll be occasionally entertained. What’s not to like about this?

There are many ways that you can support an author (and still be honest and scrupulous):

  • Read the book, especially if it’s a kind of book that you’d normally be interested in. But if it’s not your kind of book, you can still support the author without reading it.
  • Help spread the word, especially if you’ve read the book and enjoyed it. But even a “Hey, my friend, Joe, just wrote a mystery” mention is valuable advertising for your friend. Most authors feel uncomfortable with the necessity of promoting their own books (even if they do this, they often feel uncomfortable doing so). Readers, also, sometimes put more stock in what someone else says about the book than the author’s own self-promotion. Gee, if only that author had some wonderful friends who could help spread the news… Hint, hint.
  • Do you know someone who read the author’s book? Ask that person to write an honest review. Authors need reviews, but asking for reviews of your own book… can look unprofessional (and again, authors can feel uncomfortable doing that). But an author’s friend, taking the initiative to do this (i.e. the author didn’t ask you to ask for reviews)… you could be that secret helping hand. You’d be like a superhero with a secret identity.
  • Follow the author’s blog, tweets, and Facebook posts. Encourage the author to keep separate Facebook pages for personal and authorship (e.g. there are author and book pages at Facebook). You should follow both. Expect to get tired of hearing about your author’s book. Don’t feel obligated to read and comment on every one of the author’s book-related posts. Your name is there. You participate occasionally. This means a lot.
  • If you have your own blog or website… just imagine if you mention the author’s book. Don’t even tell the author. Let him or her happen to come across it someday. “Wow! When did you do that? That’s so cool!”
  • Check out your friend’s product page at Amazon. Vote on reviews. Offer some feedback to the author on the cover, description, and Look Inside.
  • Visit local libraries and bookstores. Ask them why they don’t have this most amazing book right there on the shelf.
  • Attend a signing or reading. Encourage your author friend to do these. If you don’t feel like attending yourself, you can still help spread the word and encourage other people to attend.

Your friend spent months finding a little extra time each week, typing tens of thousands of words, massaging those words into a book. That’s no small achievement.

Your friend has considered agents, publishing houses, and self-publishing. There is no easy answer, no clear road to success. It’s a challenge.

Your friend is navigating the deep waters of marketing. It’s a strange world, but necessary to share the book with others. It’s daunting.

A little support from a friend would go a long way.

Mix that with some patience and understanding.

Remind the author that there is a real world here, which the author is part of… which the author needs to physically seem be a part of from time to time.

Remind the author that friendship works both ways. You have needs, too. It’s not just all about the author.

Throw in a little teasing, perhaps.

If your friendship survives authorship, it’s mean to last forever.

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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49 comments on “So Your Friend Is an Author…

  1. I try to practice what this piece preaches. Making the leap from academic writing to memoir is no easy feat. While I’m honing my craft, I’m promoting others. Right now Kathy Pooler’s Ever Faithful to His Lead is on my bedside table to read and review. She’s also guest posted on my blog. It’s true: We develop our own talents perched on the shoulders of others.

  2. Very true, very nice post! Also, a nice reminder for those of us who are both authors, and friends of authors… there are things I can do even if I don’t generally read the type of books my friends write. Certainly, there are things I already do but… there’s always more🙂

  3. Reblogged this on Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing and commented:
    Thanks to The Story Reading Ape for reblogging and bringing Chris McMullen’s blog to my attention. If your friend is an author, here’s how you may support him or her when they’ve published a book. Reading, comments and reviews are always welcome, but Chris suggests so many other ways you can do your part to support your friend, the Author.

  4. As I new author struggling with friends not being as supportive as I thought, I love this. And I’m sharing it. Thanks…maybe some of my friends will actually read it and think hmmm… Probably not🙂

  5. Thanks for this post, Chris. Great advice to “friends” — and validation to writers. Just because your “real” friends show no interest in or respect for your work, that take away the true accomplishment you achieved. Hugs!

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