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A Literary & Poetry Column
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

The Perfect (Free) Holiday Gift from Readers


Or course you knew I’d say that. We all owe a debt to the publishing industry and its sidekick, the indies. And probably most of us single out at least a couple of people on our holiday lists to give a book to.

But how many of us have an author on our holiday list? Isn’t there something you could give an author—even one you don’t know personally? Even if you have a serious holiday budget you must stick to.

The holidays are a time to let your spirit of giving overcome any reticence you may have about contacting a favorite author. I promise you, there is no gift greater for authors than hearing from a reader. Well, OK. There is one. That is when a reader writes a review for a book without being prompted to do so.

So drop a note to an author, or write a review of that author’s book and post it on a blog or on one of the online bookstores. It’s free and it’s a full-of-love gift.

And here are the easy to do steps to make sure your author gets full benefit of your generous (yes, it is!) gift!

• Write your review.

  • Google your author’s name and go to his or her Web site.
  • You should find a contact feature, perhaps on the About the Author page.
  • Copy your review and then paste it into an e-mail with a quick personal message to the author.
  • Alternatively, you could post your review on your blog. If you do, let your author know with a thank you note and then use that same link to promote your post on Twitter, Facebook, and any other social networks you belong to.

Once you have done this, it becomes easy. If you can, do it one more time with another author, preferably one who writes in a different genre.

If giving a review doesn’t get you into the holiday spirit, maybe this will: You are contributing to an industry that provides you with something you love—books!

Writers' Tidbit: Everyone is a writer these days. They write on social networks. They blog. They may even write books. My multi award-winning The Frugal Editor will help them with all the grammar and formatting that their English teacher never taught them. Or all the things that have changed since their English teacher gave them an A. The Frugal Editor is now in its second edition in paper or as an e-book. It’s been reformatted, updated, and expanded.

Tidbit for Readers: I recently reviewed Herodotus’ Histories (published by Penguin) here on If you’ve tried to read it and put it aside, now is the time to try again. If you’ve always wanted to read it and haven’t, now is the time to do it. The translation and foreword are truly remarkable and the paperback is a special edition worthy of placing on a coffee table to impress fellow readers.

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