Mary's Minute: The Do's and Don'ts of Being Excited About A Book aka the Road to More Books

Recently I read a book that I ABSOLUTELY ADORED (Geekerella by Ashley Poston) and I wanted to tell everyone about it. The same day, author Adam Silvera posted on Twitter about the frustrations of books being placed on bookstore shelves and subsequently sold before their official release date. 

How are these two things connected? Well, one thing that is important to me is for the authors I love being able to write more books. And something that helps publishers pick up an author's future books (be it a sequel to an established book or another series or book altogether) is if that author's book hits the New York Times Bestseller list. USA Today is also good. Winning awards like the Newberry, National Book Award, or the Morris (etc etc) can also help, but many of those aren't necessarily reader controlled so let's save those for another discussion, maybe. Weirdly, the Goodreads Choice Awards can also help because it's reader picked (and most of those titles are bestsellers/end up on the bestseller list after they win). So I'd like to go over some do's and don'ts of being excited for a book that will hit both topics above.

DO tell the author! These magical literary creatures appreciate when people are excited about their work! It's nice to be appreciated.

DON'T beg the author for a copy. They probably don't have one to share with you, and also, I'll say it so the author doesn't have to: authors deserve to be paid for their work and they don't owe anyone a free copy. Except maybe their mom.

DO enter a giveaway or, if you have an outlet such as a blog, booktube channel, bookstagram, etc, DO request a copy from the publisher. You might win or the magical literary creatures known as publicists *may* send you a copy.

DON'T download illegal copies online. I can't say how sad and angry it makes me when I Google a book's title, and the auto-fill options include some form of "[book title] full pdf download," and I don't even have my own book. Imagine how the author feels. These are pirated books, and the author and publisher don't receive a penny. Not only are you committing THEFT by downloading, you're also encouraging the bad people who run those sites to steal MORE books from that author and others.

DON'T buy arcs. There's been much discussion about this hotly debated issue, but here's the thing: if you buy an arc from ebay or whatever, the author doesn't receive any percentage of that sale. They aren't being paid for their work. Even worse, the publisher won't count that sale. If you buy that arc but not a finished copy, you've effectively made a -1 sale because the publisher paid for the creation of that arc but they're not seeing any benefit from it. If everyone buys arcs instead final copies, not only is the author not getting paid, but the publisher thinks their books are not salable AND WILL STOP ACQUIRING BOOKS FROM THAT AUTHOR so that's a good way for you to contribute to your favorite authors losing their jobs and never writing anything again. We can have the full arc debate another day, but for now, let's just say no.

DO create reviews, playlists, book tags, videos, pictures, mood boards, cosplays, aesthetics, makeup looks, nail art, recipes, fanart, fancasts, snapchats, insta-stories, etc whether or not you have the book (well, if you're writing a review, you should definitely have read the book). Spreading the love for a book you're excited for is like Christmas for an author. These are concrete ways for the publisher to know there's interest. I will say this, though: try to post bigger things like reviews closer to release date because that has a bigger affect on sales 1-2 months pre- and post-release than 7 months in advance. Just keep that in mind.

If you have permission from the author, DO also create merchandise like themed candles, decor designs, beauty products, bookmarks, totes, etc! Same as above, but I'm including getting permission because there are some wibbly wobbly copyright laws that deal with licensing so cover your bases.

DON'T spam the author. I do think it's okay to talk to authors about their books and tell them how much you like it, but let's not go overboard.

I just think it's good social media etiquette not to tag the author in every single tweet about the book. Like how if you're in a group discussion and if someone's not responding, it's okay to drop their handle from the convo. In the thread where I talked about Geekerella, I included Ashley in the first tweet so people would know who the author is, but then I focused on the book.

DO preorder the book (if you are able). Preorders are excellent. The publisher and author can see how excitement and buzz literally translate to financial benefit. The publisher might give the author more promotion. They might do a preorder bonus (and we all love those!!). They might order more books in the first printing. They might plan a tour or any number of cool things. Also, preorders count toward the first week a book is out, which is one of the best opportunities it has to hit the bestseller list.

DO request your library purchase a copy—yes, even if you preorder a copy. I can't say how good this is. People always wonder how libraries can be good since like with used bookstores, authors won't see money from checkouts aside from the initial purchase (I've heard in England authors DO receive money from each checkout, which is super awesome & I wish that could be a thing in the US). But libraries offer exposure to readers. Library staff make lists and newsletters and displays directly aimed at our patrons and their tastes. We booktalk a LOT and do tons of readers advisory (helping library patrons find books) on a regular basis. If a book is popular, we'll buy lots of copies for all our branches in every format available AND we'll make a note to keep buying that author's books in the future. If we're on a committee, we might nominate that book for a library award or some such. Trust me: request request request! Your library probably has a request form on their website or at their customer service desks OR (and I know this might be crazy talk) you CAN actually talk to library staff people about the books you like/want to read. *gasp* I KNOW. Sounds super weird, but it WORKS.

DO request that your local bookstore (be it indie or B&N or anything else) carry it. Not only with the store order a copy for you, they'll probably get at least a couple extras. After all, since one person is asking, they assume others will too! This is SUCH an important step for mid-list and small-press authors. Your bestsellers—your Veronica Roths, Leigh Bardugos, John Greens, Sarah J. Maases, Marissa Meyers, Kiera Casses, etc—the bookstore will typically order those. But the "smaller" authors, the haven't-hit-the-list-yet authors, those guys may not have prime placement in a store or even at all. Your passion and your request can help get their books on the shelf and in front of readers. Because if readers who aren't deeply involved in the online community probably won't be aware. They go to the store and they want to buy the book in front of them; they don't want to wait. Do the work for them. Make sure your author's books are on that shelf! This is also good to do after a book is out. If you don't see it on the shelf, ask! It may be in the back or again, the store may have to order it, but they'll probably grab an extra copy or two.

If you see the book on the shelf early, DON'T buy it. If the book releases on Tuesday, February 21, it doesn't matter if you find it on the shelf on Friday, February 17 or Wednesday, January 18, buying that book early is not good! I know it's hard to wait. I KNOW. But as Adam said, if you buy that book early, the sale of that book won't be counted in the first week of sales the way preorders and actual first week sales will be. This is important because it could hurt the book's chances of listing. If you see a copy early, DO tell the bookstore it's out early and request they place it in the back until release date. They may not accommodate your request, but it never hurts to ask. It may have just been a mistake!

Once the book has released, DO post reviews on consumer websites. Goodreads is great and all, but posting reviews to consumer sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble can DIRECTLY influence shoppers' purchasing decisions. Someone who is on the fence about The Tales of Marg might scroll down to the reviews on Amazon to see if they want to buy it or not. Also, once a title reaches certain milestones on Amazon, those books get put in an algorithm that helps sell them better.

Basically: DON'T keep your excitement to yourself! DO tell your friends, family, coworkers, next-door neighbors, dog walkers, cousin's hairdresser's llama! Again, you're helping to spread the word which creates real interest. When I closed Geekerella's back cover, I immediately took to Twitter to tell EVERYONE about this amazing new book I adored and it led to some great conversations between people who have already read and loved it, people currently reading and loving it, people who were maybe on the fence about it before, and some people who hadn't heard about it at all. I felt fantastic spreading word about a book I adored, and readers' TBRs grew three sizes (okay, well one book) that day.

One thing I want to make clear is that I'm not accusing anyone of "bad behavior." We've all made errors because we didn't know doing something (like buying a book early) was not the best idea. If you buy a book early, you're doing a good thing. If you buy a book after it releases, you're doing a great thing. But if you can preorder or at least buy a book during the first week after it releases, you're doing an awesome thing. Just keep in mind that there are a lot of ways to support books, support authors, and you could always help your fave sell more books!


  1. This is a really good post! I think it's important to be aware of what helps and hurts authors. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Excellent and very detailed post. I enjoyed reading this and learning too. I already knew most of these points, but especially wasn't awarre of the chance bookstores would sell a book before the release date or that if they sold books then that it didn't count for first week sales. So many people I know need this information, so I'm going to share your post!

    1. Thank you, Danielle! I know I always get excited seeing a book early, but once I found out that sale didn't "count", I stopped buying early books. I think a lot of people would if they knew.

  3. This is an awesome post!!! Love all the insights you have. I've started requesting so many more books at the library because they seem to listen to my suggestions, which is awesome. And yes I still request even if I've preordered sometimes. I'm definitely a shout it from the rooftops sort of person on twitter as you know haha. Definitely feel you on the tagging too, although sometimes it weirds me out if the author finds and likes it without any tags/hashtags haha. Good thing it's mostly positive stuff ;)

    1. I'm glad your library is really responsive. I know a lot of people get upset when their library doesn't listen, but the only way to fix that is actually to keep requesting.