Class Acts You’ll Want to Follow

by Kathryn Craft

If you are an avid reader, this post is for you.

Last week my debut novel, The Art of Falling, turned one year old. Since then my life has been like one long gratitude-filled surprise party and I wanted to share some of my experiences here. Watch out—I will be naming names!

Fan mail

I have to admit that until I became one, I had never written to an author before in my life. Granted, I became an author in an era when author contact is now much easier, thanks to websites, Facebook author pages and Goodreads. But truly, shame on me. I had no idea what incredible joy a short note would bring.

This excerpt is from my favorite note so far, because the reader was so far outside

I went through the library’s new release section and left with a pile of books, having chosen yours without even reading the back. I just liked the cover. When last night I couldn’t fall asleep I reached for the nearest book, yours, to help me along. It did not have the intended effect.

I was up most the night reading. Every now and then you read a book so true you just want to stand on the rooftops and shout to the world about it. I felt that way about The Art of Falling. Thank you.

My husband couldn't stop reading The Art of Falling even after the power went out.

My husband couldn’t stop reading The Art of Falling even after the power went out.

Facebook Likes, Amazon Reviews, and Newsletter Subscriptions

These are so incredibly important to an author! Goodreads reviews are super to create buzz for a title, but think about it: someone impressed with a review at Amazon can purchase the book with one additional click. If you only review on Goodreads, considering copying and pasting your review at Amazon as well. I have way too many to thank for doing this to single anyone out, but you all have my undying gratitude! And even if you follow your favorite authors on Facebook, subscribing to their newsletter means you won’t accidentally bypass an important post.

Street team support

These days authors rely upon “social influencers” to help them spread the word about their book, sometimes even organizing what they call “street teams” to help them in this regard. So how cool is it when you have some readers who so love your book, and so want to help give it wings, that they assume this role on their very own?

Yes, Nancey Brackett, I’m talking about you. Until my final road to publication, I only knew Nancey because her husband bought a motorboat from me. Then suddenly she became my greatest champion, and such a good friend I wonder what I would have done without her. She told all her friends about my book, once ferrying a buyer across the lake right to my dock. She held a dinner in my honor and invited friends she thought would like the book. She recommended it to her book club (and other clubs!) and hosted me as a guest when they discussed it. Nancey’s been invaluable.

Another lake friend, Amy Van Kirk, had no book club—but that didn’t stop her! She told some dozen friends they would love my book, ordered in enough copies to her local Barnes & Noble so they could buy and read it, then held a high tea for me in her house in Syracuse, NY, so we could gather and discuss it. That was so much fun!

Published author support

We authors can support one another in similar ways. Internationally bestselling author Catherine McKenzie, for instance, was a woman I’d never met until I read her book Hidden this summer. It was great, and I wrote a Goodreads review and a glowing post on Facebook about it. Next thing you know she had purchased The Art of Falling, consumed it in a day, and posted reviews to Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon. She then went on to include it in her Huffington Post article, Ten Books You Might Not Have Read in 2014 (But You Really Should Read in 2015). Then reprinted the same list in her author newsletter. And then she ran her own giveaway of all those books on her Facebook Author page! Catherine is a dynamo and her support, for which I am so incredibly thankful, was a huge, delightful surprise.

Ann Garvin, founder of the Tall Poppy Writers <link> cooperative of women’s fiction writers I belong to, helped me add “Likes” by going to my Facebook author page and then, from among her own friends shown at the top, picked some she thought would like my work and invited them to also like my page! I hadn’t even known you could do that—she off-handedly said she did it while watching TV one night—but what a wonderful way to support a writer you like! All of my fellow Poppies, especially Sonja Yoerg, have helped spread my news through Facebook shares and retweets, along with so many other women’s fiction enthusiasts.

Joint (ad)ventures

From Meet the Author events on a Skaneateles Lake cruise boat to a signing in a tasting barn at a Thousand Islands winery, I had a lot of fun this summer cooking up schemes with fellow NY authors Therese Walsh and Ellen Marie Wiseman, women I knew only from Facebook yet who I now call good friends. Ellen invited me to share her table at the Lyme Community Days in her hometown of Chaumont, NY. That town may be tiny but they love Ellen! Fans of The Plum Tree had her second title, What She Left Behind, flying off the table all day and with each purchase this gracious author said, “Here’s my friend Kathryn Craft. Let her tell you about her debut novel.” Therese, author of The Moon Sisters, which I adored, invited me to join in on a retreat on top of a mountain north of lovely Asheville, NC with Catherine McKenzie and New York Times bestselling author Therese Anne Fowler, where I was able to complete my copyedits in peace by day, and in the evenings, steep myself in real-life publishing industry scenarios from women farther down the path than I.

Have you ever loved a book so much that you wanted to help the author in any way you can? What other ways have you found to do so? If you haven’t yet thought to do so but would like to, these are some class acts you can follow.