reward great authorsI have just finished my first five-star read of the year—which I know is not saying much given that it’s only February, but it’s been a long time since I’ve read a book which really knocks my socks off.

The book—[easyazon-link asin=”B008QXVDJ0″ locale=”us”]The Golem and the Jinni[/easyazon-link] by Helene Wecker—is set in turn-of-the-century New York City (and is rich in historical details of this period) and finds the two titular mythical creatures washed up randomly upon its shore. The Jinni, a creature of fire, finds water-logged New York City unsettling, and hooks up with a mentor (a Syrian tinsmith) who tries to teach him some social niceties and make him a useful member of the very alien human society in which he finds himself. Meanwhile, the golem (a creature of Earth), finds herself ‘widowed’ when her master dies during the voyage to America. She too hooks up with a mentor, an elderly rabbi, who guides her in a similar fashion.

In my quest to buy less but read more, I wishlisted this book when I first learned of it, and then waited for it to become available at the public library. Now, I find myself wondering what to do. It seems silly to spend money (almost $13 for the Kindle edition!) on a book I’ve already read. But I did so enjoy it. I feel the author deserves her due for this one. If only she had another book that I could buy instead. Or a website with a Paypal tip jar…

I acquired this book—for free—through legitimate means and I know I have done nothing wrong by choosing it from my library’s selection. But still. I wish there was a way to send the author her due without having to purchase a book I’ve already finished. And if I could reach her directly and not have to pay Amazon’s premium, so much the better. So, readers, what would you do in this situation? Would you buy the book because that’s the only way?

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  1. What you did here was what I do with library books. Give it word of mouth so readers can find it.

    I give mini reviews of the books I enjoy and some I don’t on various reader lists I belong on so readers can find good books.

    I have also been known to buy an extra paper copy to give away to a friend I think will enjoy it, as well.

  2. I agree with Marilynn – you’ve done the author a favour with the exposure you’ve given her on this site, plus buying the odd paperback copy is a surefire way to send at least a few pennies the author’s way. As for a website with a “tip jar,” it is up to authors to decide whether they have the tech savvy/time/energy/focus to devote to such endeavors. Not everyone does – although hmmm, I like the strategy of “shareware books,” suspect we’ll see more and more of that as we go.

  3. This kind of publicity is a great start which I hope the author appreciates! (And Joanna, thanks for starting this thread — I think it is a great idea.)

    In an era where so many authors feel that they have to “sell, sell, sell” to have any chance of being read, the idea of having READERS help a book find an audience is really going to be more and more important. So many great books are coming out — traditionally published and indie — anything that helps an excellent book stand out and reach the readership it deserves is greatly appreciated by most authors.

    Many traditionally published authors encourage readers to buy a copy through authorized vendors (simply because they know they are in partnership with their publishers, who undertake the cost of printing, distributing, etc.).

    Other ways you can support the author are favorable reviews, blog posts, comments on message boards, tweets, etc.

    Some traditionally published authors also have their own self-published side projects (short stories, unpublished novels, etc.) that they may sell direct (using Gumroad or Ejunkie or PayPal) or sell on the mainstream ebook sites like Amazon, Smashwords, Nook, Kobo, etc.

    Many authors (such as myself), especially indie authors, openly have a tip jar (using PayPal or Amazon Payments ( where readers can contribute directly if they wish. Even if an author doesn’t have a “Tip Jar” on their website, if you find their email address on their site or blog, you can send them a donation on your own with a note as to why you are contributing. (Some authors may feel awkward about a direct gift, but many authors take it as the kind, gracious compliment of direct patronage such contributions are meant to be).

    And as always, good word of mouth and reviews where the author’s target audience hangs out is greatly appreciated — especially on threads like “recommend a great book,” so you may bring it to the attention of people who are not already aware of the title. (That’s the “problem” with reviews on, say, Amazon — people normally only read reviews after they are already aware of the book. The best way to help an author is to bring their books to the attention of readers who don’t already know about the author.)

    And I don’t think any author would turn down a thread labeled “(Title) by (xx) is AWESOME!” on Kboards, Reddit, Amazon discussion forums, Goodreads, your Facebook page, etc. — although presenting your appreciation in such a way that it is clear that you are not a shill/astroturfing for them can be a challenge.

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