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How to support an Australian author
Hint: libraries are awesome
I love reading books written by Australian authors.
Obviously, what I love most is to read widely – to read books of all different shapes and sizes, written by and about people who live dramatic lives I could never dream of, to visit new and fantastical worlds. But there is something so familiar and comforting about reading a story set in your everyday world, to feel a tiny little spark when a writer talks about trams or AFL teams or even briefly acknowledges the existence of Canberra.
I didn’t always make an active effort to read books written by Australian authors. In fact, during my teenage years, I was determined to do the opposite. Almost all the books that were being heralded to me as classics and must-reads, the ones which dominated my English class reading lists were written by British or American authors.
For a while, I believed that there was little value in Australian stories. I even wrote an entire young adult manuscript set in a vague and nondescript American town.
Of course, I was wrong. Actually, I had already read a whole stack of Australian children’s authors without even realising it: Elizabeth Honey, Alison Lester, Robin Klein, Jaclyn Moriarty and more. I hadn’t been looking for ‘the most iconic books of all time’ or ‘the greatest classics’, I’d just read the stories I enjoyed and it turns out they were Australian born and bred.
Over time, I have become a passionate defender of Australian authors. I want to read more Asian Australian YA novels! More books dripping in Aussie humour! More books by and about First Nations people! I want all of the books that I could dream of reading in a lifetime and beyond!
As an emerging writer myself, I am often asked by extremely kind friends: how can I support your writing? How can I support the Australian authors I love?
There are so many small things you can do.
Buy their book
Let’s start with the simple stuff: buy their book! Buy it in person at your favourite bookstore or have a lazy lie in and order it online from the comfort of your bed. Buy the physical book or the ebook or the audiobook.
Buy their book for a friend
Occasionally, an author who you love might take their work in a new direction that’s not totally for you. Maybe they’ve delved into a new genre or age range or style of writing. Obviously, that’s fine! There’s no book out there that appeals to every single person in the world. But what you could do is think of a friend who’d love it and buy them a copy instead. Books make fantastic presents – I love knowing that a person has chosen a book with me in mind.
Borrow it from the library
There’s a misconception that when you borrow a book from the library, it’s not as good as buying it new from a bookstore. The author misses out. It has no effect on them.
Thankfully, this is not true! Libraries are awesome for a whole multitude of reasons and a big one is that Australian authors earn payments based on how many people borrow their books, ebooks and audiobooks from libraries. This is thanks to the Australian Lending Rights Schemes (ELR/PLR) which provides for authors to earn money from the ‘lending rights’ of their books.
So everytime you borrow a book from a library by an Australian author, you’re helping them pay the rent while they write their next book.
Request it from the library
The other complaint I often hear about libraries is that they just don’t have the book that you’re looking for. Great news: libraries take requests! Librarians are some of the friendliest people and they love to hear what you want to read. My local library has an easy online form where you can suggest books for them to buy. Your library also may be part of a bigger network of libraries and they may even be able to transfer the book over for you straight away. Basically, librarians are magic: if you are ever having trouble accessing a book, they can help you out.
Talk about it on social media
Spread the love and talk about a book on social media. It doesn’t have to be a super in-depth review or detailed post, even just a photo of the book and a short message with your thoughts might introduce it to a new reader.
Tell a friend
Despite the supposed growth of BookTok, the strongest way to improve sales of a book is still through word of mouth. We trust our friends more than we trust anyone else – reviewers, influencers, lists, etc. If there’s an author who you love, tell your friends about their books. The more people who read their books, probably the more they will be able to write!
Go to their launch
Here’s a real advantage to reading books by Australian authors: if you live in Australia, their book launch might be in your city! I’ve been to several great book launches and events across both Melbourne and Canberra. Lots of book launches are free – so far this year I’ve been to the launch of A Hunger of Thorns by Lili Wilkinson and The Isles of the Gods by Amie Kaufman and both were completely free to attend. I got to hear each author talk about their new book, delve into behind the scenes secrets, get my book signed and meet or re-meet other lovely bookish people.
There are so many incredible Australian authors on the rise and I love supporting their books. Let me know if there’s anything you do to boost their work!