When you see an author with a new book out you probably think: “Damn, that person has made it! They have a published book!” Of course getting a book published is a huge accomplishment. And in many ways the author is a success story, having accomplished a life-long dream. But that’s not the whole picture. The truth is many authors are not making a living off writing.
Author Cecil Castellucci recently wrote an excellent blog post on this topic. In her post she writes:
“Sadly, about 90% of artists are struggling and barely making a living wage. Most have full-time day jobs on top of their full-time art careers.
It is getting harder and harder for everyone who isn’t in the top 5% of their industry to get the word out about work they are doing. Because of the way the industries are now, many artists are not getting the marketing and push that they deserve or need. Much of that promotion and publicity now falls on the artist’s shoulder. Your artist friend may have a good career, but unless they are crazy lucky, or have the “it” thing of the moment, your artist friend is probably really struggling.”
There’s a romanticized idea that once an author has published a book they are a stunning success. Movies and television depict authors lazily drinking coffee and dabbling at writing as they live off their outstanding royalties or huge advances. But I’ve seen novel advances as low as $6000. And advances are paid in increments, over the course of a year, or even multiple years.
How is an author to say afloat? They answer is simple. People need to buy their books. And for people to buy their books, people need to know the book exists!
Cecil Castellucci put together an outstanding list of ways you can help your artist friend. It takes a community to help promote a book. Even if you only do two or three things on this list, it’s going to help make an impact. Here’s a quick look at the items on her list, but please go to her post and read WHY these actions are important.
Cecil’s “How to Be a Great Art Ally” List:
- Pre-order the book.
- Show up to the author’s book events.
- When you’re at the event, buy the book (even if you’ve already pre-ordered it).
- Signal boost the book.
- Rate and review the book.
- Make sure your local library carries the book.
- Many books have reader/teacher guides. Use it in your classroom.
- Make it your book club book.
- Ask your author friend to speak at an event.
- Vote and nominate the book for awards.
- Hand sell the book.
- Support the artist’s Kickstarter campaign.
- Be a good literary citizen.
- Invite your friend over to dinner.
Again, read Cecil’s full blog post here. This list isn’t exclusive to authors. This is a struggle all artists, musicians, and creatives must bear. If you have any artist friends, apply this list to their medium and support them in every way you can!
Do you know of other ways to help authors and artists get the word out on their books? If so, please share your ideas in the comments. The more tools we have to help each other, the better!
And from all your artist friends, we thank you for helping out!