Why Community Matters to Local Authors
My tiny little Southern Oregon town brims with at least a dozen New York Times best-selling authors. I happen to know several of them personally. Since we live in a small town, it’s very easy to meet people, contribute to the community, and support the locals. But it’s not the best sellers who need my community support. Best-selling-author support, while obviously vital, is built from their national fan base. The “local support” benefit belongs to new authors, in my opinion. And I’ve had the great good fortune to work with many of them, too.
How does a small town and its citizens support its authors? Since I live in a cultural and literary town (Ashland is the home of the world-famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Ashland Independent Film Festival, and a dozen bookstores), it’s easy to find venues where authors are offering book-signings, readings, and other events. I love going to these gatherings, particularly in support of authors whose works I’ve copy edited. As is found in many small towns, every event offers an opportunity to connect with other locals, to support local talent, and to enjoy a wide variety of cultural entertainment.
Our “big” bookstore frequently holds book signings and readings by local authors. They affix small signs to their bookshelves to highlight the books written by locals. They also display a sandwich board that lets the public know when a reading is coming up. It’s quite nice, really. And because Ashland is such a small town, first-time authors may have significant connections with business owners who are happy to carry, even feature, their new books.
The use of social networking can’t be overlooked when an author is locally promoting a new book. This is the number one way I like to support local authors—by helping them get the word out about a book launch or other event. Using the viral quality of social media is one of the best ways to spread the word. By using Facebook’s “Events” feature, an author can create a page for any number of events and ask their followers to share with friends. Social media also makes it easy for an author to let fans know how to purchase a book through the author’s online store. Followers can then share, retweet, or post the information. Of course, having Facebook posts linked to a Twitter account makes sharing even easier.
Naturally, these events don’t work unless people show up. I’m going to my next local author book release party tomorrow:
If you have the opportunity to go to a local author’s event, then please, go. Bring a friend. Show support for the people who work so hard to bring literature to the masses. Buy their books. Buy several of them for gifts. Everybody loves a little love, especially this time of year.