Here are some ways you can help authors whose work you like, with varying levels of costs incurred. Obviously, some are more or less applicable to various authors.
- Buy the book. If you can, buy it from a brick-and-mortar bookstore. If you want to buy it online or in e-pub format, order it from one of the links on the author’s website.
- Give them money (besides buying the book). Some writers, especially those whose work is free online, sell accompanying merch. Consider buying some if you can afford it, or ask for it as gifts during a holiday season (that’s how I get all my cool swag).
- Give other writers money. Lots of writers and lit mags use websites like Kickstarter to fund writing projects (here’s just one). When you’re in a charitable mood, check those out! Some writers also sell their work on Etsy and other sites. Consider also donating to Duotrope or any other local or online organizations that support authors, libraries, literacy programs, etc.
- Promote the book. Recommend it to friends. Give it as a gift. Review it for a local publication. Request that your library or local bookstore order it. Read it with a book club. If you’re in school, suggest that professors consider using it for a class.
- Get involved in online promotion. This is big for authors right now. “Like” the author’s or book’s Facebook page. Follow them on Twitter & “retweet” promotional stuff. “Pin” about the book. Tumbl it, post to r/books, add it on goodreads, use whatever corner of the internet you prefer. Always link to their website and purchasing links for the book. Check out and support their online projects. If the author has a blog or forums, leave some comments.
- Tell them they’re awesome. Writers don’t get the star treatment and they’re generally pretty accessible. Send them an email, tweet at them, or otherwise drop them a line to say you loved their work.
- Hire them. If you go to school or live near a library or bookstore, request that they invite the writer to come do a reading or signing. This might take a ton of legwork on your part if you want to actually organize the event, but sometimes just letting people know there’s interest in a particular writer can get something rolling.
- Help out. If you’re a writer yourself, give your buddies a leg up. Volunteer with a literacy or writing organization like 826 National or Girls Write Now. Share good feedback where it’s requested, from r/writing to Scribophile.
- Fight piracy. Don’t pirate books. If you see a link to a pirated book, pass it along to the author. Get educated about copyright law, creative commons licenses, and the effects of book piracy on authors. Make it a point to support publishers, writers and distributors whose copyright policies you agree with and to avoid those you see as part of the problem. In your own projects, be purposeful with your own copyright policies.