- Brandi Bradley
Sharing Stories is the Most Fun
A few mornings ago, I woke to a text message from my friend Em. I go to bed early. I don’t allow messages to wake me from my sleep – not that they would; Hubs loves to tell stories about my deep sleeping, sleep talking, and loud snoring. My routine is to wake up and check the “overnights”. This was far more fun back when Slone and I were binge-watching Supernatural in different time zones and I would wake to 30 texts about her thoughts and feelings about the level of hotness each of the characters had achieved while saving the world. My overnight messages are far less fun these days: check-in for your upcoming hair appointment, your FedEx package will arrive tomorrow, your kid owes $5 to the lunch lady (which we learned was happening more often because Behr was treating his friends to bags of Doritos and ice cream sandwiches every day for a week).
I rolled over and bleary-eyed saw a text message from my friend Em, which made me happy. She asked, “Can I get a signed copy of your book through Barnes and Noble pre-order?”
That was not something I could do, but it was a sweet request. Em was one of the people who got a first glimpse of the novel when I had completed the first draft – right before its evisceration and renewal in a particularly intense, infuriating, and overall helpful workshop. She liked it in the beginning, and now all I can think about is how I hope it isn’t ruined for her now.
So I texted back, “If you join my street team, then I will send you a free signed copy and all you have to do is say nice things about the book if you like it.”
She tells me, “I’m just not on social media that much. So it felt like lying because my word doesn’t spread very far.”
Another type of person might sign up just for the free book. I’d been warned that giveaways brought out people looking to score free items. Even Hubs was skeptical when I told him each Boots on the Street Team Member would receive a free copy of the books. His response was, “You know the goal is to get people to buy the book.”
“No,” I said. “The goal is to get the book out there so people can read it.”
So I told Em that she could help me in a myriad of ways that had nothing to do with social media.
Yes, advertising on social media is a thing. For years, I have been warned to build up my writer's platform as soon as possible, so I would have a built-in audience when I finally published. I have listened to a lot of good advice about promoting a book. I’ve read blog posts and articles. I have read books and listened to podcasts. I’ve hung around Reddit reading posts, and I’ve had many, many conference calls with Slone.
BookTok, GoodReads, ARCs, launch parties, live readings, make more content, build up your newsletter, speak to more people, join a Discord group, buy ads, boost posts … so much good advice.
I spend a lot of time right now asking myself, How do I get people’s attention? How do I get people to care?
And here I had someone who did care. I have a friend who wants the book, wants to read it, and wants to know how she can help.
It felt precious.
I told Em she’d have a book in the mail soon and if she liked it, please share it with others.
That’s all it takes. That’s what books are for – sharing. All my favorite books, the ones that are stuck in my heart, are the ones I shared with others. It wasn’t a complete experience until I could share my reading experience with someone.
When I was in grad school slogging through The Literary Canon, I blogged about those books and posted images of what I was reading on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.
But the time I spent slogging through the great books with the beautiful language can’t compare to the juicy summer that I devoured VC Andrews Heaven series and dished about it with L. every afternoon like we were recapping our favorite soap operas. Or the weekend I was browsing books on a tiny rack in the EW James and Sons grocery store and found a romance novel set in West Tennessee; I sped-read it so I could share it with my soon-to-be sister-in-law Kelly, who was working the flea market with me that day. Or loaning my tiny copy of Delta of Venus to Slone only for her to share with me that she’d read its most erotic sections on the deck of our favorite lunch spot. Or even when I texted “I’m broken” to Hubs when I reached the end of The Half-Blood Prince.
Stories are meant to be shared. Books are meant to be shared. As long as we are willing to share, then we can be on the team.
If you love books and want to support writers, how can you help without a social media presence?
Tell your friends what you are reading. Just talk about it. I read the entire Twilight series because my coworker would not shut up about it. I have no regrets (well, except for Breaking Dawn. I couldn’t finish it). People like discussing books as much as the latest can’t-miss limited series on Netflix.
Read in public. Seeing students on my campus holding actual books and reading them in the hallway always makes me think, “I wish I was reading right now. What are they reading? Is it any good?” Anyone sitting around reading a book looks 10% calmer and more peaceful than someone scrolling on their phone. Rory Gilmore said always to carry a book.
Ask your library to order a specific book. Many libraries want to cater to their audience and have a place on their websites for recommendations. Tell them you want to see more of your favorite writer’s books on their shelves.
Start or join a book club. Gather your friends, recommend your favorite book, and get buzzed on rosé while talking about your favorite writers.
Talk to someone at your local bookstore. Even big chains like Barnes and Noble will stock a book if enough people request it. But you can also use this as an opportunity to support your favorite indie booksellers.
But the most important way to support writers is to keep reading.
After I told Em that the book was on its way, she texted, “I do spend time with a group of women who like to read and talk about books.”
To which I replied, “You’re a solid gold resource!”
I am still accepting people to be in the Boots on the Street Team! Members get a free signed copy of the book as well as other perks.
It's launch month! Currently, Mothers of the Missing Mermaid is available for pre-order from major booksellers. Go to brandibradley.com/newrelease to see if your favorite bookseller is listed.
XOXO Read Books. Wear Boots.