A lot of new authors go into Indie publishing or the small press thinking their friends and family are going to support them. And most often times certain people will. They’ll give you the encouragement you need to keep going, congratulate you when the book comes out, and even help you set up the book release party.
However – don’t expect them all to race out the door to buy a copy. There are three members of my immediate family I can count on to actually read what I write, and one person in my extended family who has continually purchased my novels and supported my work. Very few others in the family read, or like to read what I write. So if, on the off chance, they even own copies of my books it’s because they got them for free.
Now in the friend department I’m a bit luckier. Most of my friends are readers (not writers, writers have too many published writer friends to read the work of every writer they come across, which is why I never market my work to writers) and they like to read the same kind of stuff I’m writing. Many of them do get free copies because they’ll beta read for me and even help with editing before a MS goes to my publisher/editor. However – they’ll also RECOMMEND my books to other people if they liked them.
The people who really support you and your work will go beyond writing a thorough 4 star review on Amazon (if it’s just a 5 star gush on how great you or your books are – that’s not likely to attract strangers to your work) will help you market and pimp your books by recommending them to other readers who *don’t* know you.
But for the most part I’ve learned that extended family and friends who don’t read will very rarely buy, let alone read, your work or recommend it to anyone beyond bragging that one of their family members or freinds is a published writer. I’ve written and had published 12+ books in the time I’ve been with my husband and he’s never read a single one of them. Nor do I expect him to, and it doesn’t hurt my feelings that he doesn’t. The same goes with other family members and certain friends. To be honest – I’d be more shocked if certain people *did* read my work and ended up liking it.
My goal for getting readers never really amounted to family and friends anyway. It’s always been my goal, as an author, to gain a real audience of people I don’t know who like my work. After all – that’s far more flattering to me than a mere audience of family and friends who would love me and my work regardless.
So as an author I think other Indie and Small press authors should shoot a little higher. Don’t go just for family and friends as your reading audience. Don’t even expect other writers to be supportive beyond tagging your books on Amazon and maybe reading it and giving you a good review because beyond that – the liklihood they’ll recommend it to complete strangers is still slim to none.
Don’t get me wrong – I am grateful and thankful for the supportive friends and family I do have and I’ll be forever grateful for the ones who truly do love what I write.
Sure, you’ll always need the support of family and friends but for your work to truly be taken seriously you need real readers. People who don’t know you who find your work enjoyable or profound in some way so that they’ll come back for more. I feel truly blessed to have such a reading audience (albeit small). Some of them I *have* gotten to know online. Knowing that my work and stories can appeal to people I don’t know (and knowing I’ve brought ideas to people not in my immediate circle of friends and family) has been a rewarding experience and IMHO, that’s really what being an author is all about. Being able to share ideas and stories with a wide audience, people who will appreciate your work and tell their friends about it.
Sometimes those folks are your family and friends, but more often than not, they aren’t.