If you have friend or family member who is an indie or aspiring author, we have some pretty good gift suggestions. Whether you’re looking for ideas for Christmas, if you celebrate, Hannukah, or for a birthday, anniversary or any other special occasion, these indie author gift ideas are timeless.
Now, indie author gift ideas often include things like a new computer, or the latest writing prompt, or grammar-checking software, or perhaps a hardback dictionary, gold-tipped fountain pen, or book store gift card. Those may be appreciated, of course.
What I’m talking about, however, are seven important things that every author – aspiring, indie or otherwise – can never get enough of. Indie authors need them from everyone they know. And with the exception of #6 below, these suggestions literally won’t cost you a penny.
Let them know that you respect their drive, their determination, and the fact that they’re following a dream. Check your bias about traditional publishing versus indie or self-publishing, and even if you can’t shed the misconceptions altogether, make it clear you respect their choice about what’s best for them in terms of how they publish their work. (If you’d like a little help shedding any misconceptions about publishing methods, check out this blog about self-publishing. Or this one discussing vanity versus self-publishing.)
Look for opportunities to write public reviews about their work. This could be on Amazon, Goodreads, their Facebook author page or website, or anywhere else their writing and/or books are showcased. Anywhere other readers have the opportunity to make buying decisions based on this valuable social proof.
If, deep down, you honestly think their work stinks, your review may not actually be helpful. Reviews must be honest, true, and your negative review may not be what your indie author friend needs.
Otherwise, if you do enjoy their work and want to give the gift of review, you don’t want to break any rules. Amazon, for example, has pretty strict parameters around its customer review system. Read more about Amazon’s review policies. If you’ve actually purchased the book via the platform on which you plan to write the review, you’re probably on safe ground.
Recommend them and their work to others! Think about your sphere of influence in your personal, professional and volunteer worlds. Tell others across your sphere of influence about your indie author friend or family member and their work. Share links to their books: do you have a bulletin board at the office where you could pin a bookmark, postcard, or other promotional material the indie author may have?
Do you have an active social network, such as Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter, etcetera, where you can share and promote links to their books? If you’re already doing this, GREAT. Perhaps now you can add in a direct request for others to share the information too. Pay it forward.
No! Don’t do it. This is the one thing to avoid giving to the indie author in your life, unless you fit one of two very specific criterion. You may think you know writing, or that you know a thing or two about books. The fact is that unless you are a) precisely matched to the audience for their book, or b) a professional editor or writer yourself, you stand to do more harm than good.
Why? Let’s start here. Think about your own home. Something happens with your electrical wiring and you want to know what’s wrong and how to fix it: do you grab the first person you see off the street? Ask a friend just because they’re a friend? No. You call an electrician. You take your car to a mechanic, get your hair cut by a trained stylist, and you see a doctor when you’re sick.
Writing is the same. Feedback for an author’s work should come from trained professionals in the field.
You can make a big difference here. The life of an indie author is fraught with peril, real and imagined, internal and external. You can encourage them to write, write, write: when they feel like writing, when they don’t feel like writing. Encourage them to write when they are struck with an epiphany and when they have no clue what’s going to happen next.
Encourage them to embrace rejection. There’s a lot of that to contend with in the life of an indie author, especially in the early stages of their author career.
Encourage them to appreciate that their struggle is evidence that things are going exactly as they should. Struggle is part of the indie author package.
And, encourage them in their self-care regimens. It often happens that the indie author and aspiring writer can spend hour after uninterrupted hour at the computer, clacking away, forgetting to eat or drink water or move. Encourage them to drink lots of water, get plenty of sleep, take stretching and moving breaks at regular intervals (and no, I don’t mean every eight hours!), and to build in regular exercise.
Encourage them not to give up, even when it feels like a lonely slog full of self-doubt and self-loathing.
Ok, this is the only one of the indie author gift ideas on our list that might cost you a wee little bit. However, it is an important one: buy their books! Don’t always expect to get a freebie. Buy their books to give to others as gifts. While it is possible for indie authors to make a decent living through their writing, very few of us have much money to spare. So every book sale makes a difference!
Once you have the copy of the book, read it in public: on the train or bus, sitting in your coffee break room at work, in the park. Don’t be shy about letting others see that gorgeous cover.
OMG. This is huge. (Maybe the most valuable of our indie author gift ideas.) Go into your favourite book store and ask if they stock the book. Then go into every other book store you happen upon and do the same thing. Next visit the local library, and ask them if they carry the book.
This might seem like a fruitless waste of your time, but believe me, it isn’t. Raising awareness with book store owners and librarians by asking for the indie author’s book is going to make it more likely they will, in future, stock the book. On the shelves. Maybe they’ll even slate it for display in the front window… ahhh!!
If you don’t believe these are actually super cool indie author gift ideas, run this list by your indie author friend or family member and just see what they think. I bet they’ll agree :-).
What could we add to this list? Share your thoughts and ideas!
Boni is co-founder of Ingenium Books. She's author of One Million Readers: The Definitive Strategy to a Nonfiction Book Marketing Strategy that Saves Time, Money, and Sells More Books. Boni is an author coach, editor, and ghostwriter. As an award-winning former Canadian television reporter, news anchor, producer, and talk show host, working under the names Boni Fox and Boni Fox Gray (it's a long story), Boni covered politics, government, the economy, health, First Nations, and crime. She won several Canadian Association of Broadcaster (CAB) awards and a Jack Webster Award for best documentary. Boni also held senior management roles in government, leading teams responsible for editorial, issues management, media relations, and strategic communications planning. Boni is co-author of Rock Your Business: 26 Essential Lessons to Start, Run, and Grow Your New Business From the Ground Up and, like any good author, has several books in progress.
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