What did you do today to get someone else’s work discovered?

Reading in public is an act of literary citizenship

Q: Professor Day, how do I get published?

A:  Work to create a culture in which books can thrive.

Q: No, seriously. How do I get people to buy and read my work? How do I get discovered?

A: What did you do today to help get someone else’s work discovered?

This is the essence of literary citizenship. Or as Chuck Sambuchino says in  “How to Support an Author’s New Book: 11 Ideas for You,” a new post over at Writer Unboxed:

Help writers sell books. It’s that simple. Just help them and support the publishing industry. Good karma will befall you, and the hope is that others will help you in return as your big release day comes.

They are simple steps: Buy the book. Make sure it’s face-out on the bookstore shelf. Read the book in public. Request the book at your local library. Be an advocate for the book on social media, etc.

If you’re a part of the indielit world, the small press scene, these ideas and suggestions will be nothing new to you. These strategies are what have allowed the independent literary press world to explode and expand in recent years. (Go to the AWP Book Fair. You’ll see what I mean. 11,000 attendees. 650 exhibitors.)

But all authors need readers who will do these things, whether they’re publishing with a tiny micro press or the Big Five.

And all creative writing students need to know this is work they can (and should) do. 

In 1967, there were 13 creative writing programs. Today, there are more than 500. Every year, we generate thousands and thousands of graduates. We spend a lot of time and energy helping them to self-identify as writers. We are fools if we fail to show them how to self-identify as literary citizens, book buyers, lifelong readers, and lovers of books.

We’re creating a small army. Imagine what good work they could do.

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