A Call to Preorder
I hear quite a bit of talk about supporting writers by penning reviews of their work at places like Amazon. I suppose it does help a little, even though neither I, nor anyone I know, puts any stock in that sort of thing. I know that there are legitimate reviews out there, but there are also kiss-ass pieces by friends of the subject, just as there are hatchet jobs by those who dislike the author. Sometimes an author will have the temerity to voice an unpopular political opinion, or perhaps write a bitchy Facebook post. I’ve seen jackals gather ’round to defecate upon books by these writers as a form of revenge. As insane as it sounds, it really happens.
You see really idiotic negative reviews that give a one star rating to a book because the USPS took too long to deliver it. Or that it happened to arrive damaged.
Maybe customer reviews do help more than I think they do. I don’t know, but it just doesn’t seem to me to do all that much. Not that I am suggesting that anyone not write them. By all means, it certainly can’t hurt, and it probably does help a bit.
The very best way, of course, to help a writer is to buy their books. Buy them, read them, and spread the word. I still think that word of mouth is more powerful than any storefront review.
If you ask me, the way to really help out a writer is to preorder the books when they are made available.
It particularly helps in the small press arena. I know that a lot of people don’t like to shell out their hard-won dollars for books that they won’t see for a while. I understand that. I do it myself quite a bit. But I also do my best to preorder when I am in a position to do so.
Small press publishers are generally in the biz because they love this stuff. Some might do well at it, but most would probably bring home more bacon if they were a plumber. It’s a constant hustle for them, and many of them offer up books in advance of the publication date in order to help finance their ventures. We need these publishers. No one else will bring these books to us, and they are usually done in luxurious editions. They are labors of love, and those of us who love the books and authors should make the extra effort to help out.
Crowdfunding is another ball game. It’s still a new force in publishing, and a lot of people seem to bristle at the notion of funding a Kickstarter campaign. Me, I think it is a pretty cool way for creators to eliminate the middleman, which allows them more freedom. You might dislike it when a favorite writer continues on with a long-running series, or writes a trendy book. He or she might not have a whole lot of choice if they are working with a major publisher. I mostly have funded drives by musicians, but I have kicked in for books.
Patreon is another terrific way to not only support, but to be on the front line of your favorites. To be a part of the creative process.
It also helps a lot to preorder mass market books. Putting in an early order at Amazon or Barnes and Noble requires no money up front, but it is a pledge to purchase the book. Publishers look at this sort of thing, and it could make a crucial difference in the career of a writer.
Unless you are some sort of tourist, you are here because you love writing and publishing in your bones. As I do. I have my struggles just as everyone else does, but a new book by a treasured author is a bright spot in my life. If I can contribute a little more by preordering, I will do so. I wish that I could do it more, but financial necessities often require me to borrow books from the public library. If i could, I would definitely buy every book by every writer whose work I love. That’s a long list, so I have to do what I can.
I hope I have not come across as preachy here. It’s just that I am passionate about this stuff, and I believe in the process, whether I am buying books, going to the movies, or purchasing music. The delivery systems for some of this stuff might be far from perfect, but we can tweak our activities to go that extra mile to help out. The best way to start is to preorder your purchases.
Mark Sieber learned to love horror with Universal, Hammer, and AIP movies, a Scholastic edition of Poe’s Eight Tales of Terror, Sir Graves Ghastly Presents, The Twilight Zone, Shirley Jackson’s The Daemon Lover, The Night Stalker, and a hundred other dark influences. He came into his own in the great horror boom of the 1980’s, reading Charles L. Grant, F. Paul Wilson, Ray Russell, Skipp and Spector, David J. Schow, Stephen King, and countless others. Meanwhile he spent as many hours as possible at drive-in theaters, watching slasher sequels, horror comedies, monster movies, and every other imaginable type of exploitation movie. When the VHS revolution hit, he discovered the joys of Italian and other international horror gems. Trends come and go, but he still enjoys having the living crap scared out of him. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and at www.horrordrive-in.com.