Six Ways To Support Your Favorite Writers

Book tours canceled. Speaking events delayed. Here are some resources to help writers in trouble.

Lately, your entertainment is a precious commodity, and you might be wondering how your favorite writers and artists are faring in this COVID-19 economy. Unsurprisingly, the answer is: bad. Published last week, a survey by the UK’s Society of Authors reveals that 78% of writers polled had book events cancelled due to the virus, and of those, 58% were unable to make up for that loss with other earnings.

While there’s no need to be smug about your newfound ability to stay home and read, I bet for many–myself included–discovering new books has been a welcome balm to the monotony of perpetually doing the dishes. If you’re cherishing a particular poet’s words or writer’s story these days, Book & Film Globe has compiled six ideas for how to get them paid.

Buy their books!

This is the easy one, because in the end, you get a book! A new form of distraction from the interminable slough of quarantine. Buying a writer’s work is the easiest way to make sure their income is secure during COVID-19. If you’ve got a favorite local bookstore, check in with them! Indie bookstores are coming up with creative solutions to get books to your door, and maybe you’ll be able to support a small business “in these trying times.” 

Donate to emergency funds. 

Emergency funds–both formal and homemade–are popping up all over the Internet to get your dollars into the pockets of writers, artists and other folks out of work. Poets & Writers has a pretty comprehensive list, including funds from PEN America, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the Freelancers Union. Most cities also have mutual aid networks that allow you to donate money to your neighbors who need it. On the DIY-level, Writers Shea Serrano and Roxane Gay have used their platforms to crowdfund donations on Twitter and send them to people in need.

Subscribe to a magazine that pays its writers.

Although it definitely seems like the only topic you’re reading and writing about anymore is COVID-19, the freelance world continues. A good way to make sure that your favorite writers and journalists keep getting paid is to subscribe to the publications they write for, especially indie ones. Nonprofit magazines like Bitch and Autostraddle are running creative fundraisers now to keep the lights on and the content coming.

Attend an online reading.

In what is quickly becoming a time of too many Zoom calls, there are still ways to build literary community online! Local and national organizations are holding online readings to raise money for COVID-related funds and the artists themselves. For instance, in my hometown of Philadelphia, writers have organized the Philadelphia Writers Emergency Fund, where a donation gets you a reading with a local author or feedback on your own written work. Book clubs, workshops and other literary events are also moving online, and offer readers the chance to connect with and perhaps donate to their favorite creators.

When all else fails, just send them money.

Many writers and artists have Patreons or public Venmo accounts that allow you to send a few bucks their way, no strings attached. For instance, one of my favorite sci-fi authors, whose newest book The City We Became is taking forever to arrive on my doorstep, N.K. Jemison made some extra $$$ on Patreon before she was a full-time writer, and now offers fans exclusive content for $1, $2 or $5 per month. Some creators even work on commission, offering custom work in such a nontraditional time. Sending money is the most direct and easiest way to help your favorite writers make ends meet.

Share their work with people who can pay for it.

If you don’t have extra income right now, understandably many of these options are out of the question. But most promotion is delightfully free! Share your favorite poem with a friend on Instagram for #NatPoMo or send your (disinfected) favorite book to someone who needs a little entertainment. Maybe they’ll be able to buy that writer’s book or get some money sent their way.

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Katie Smith

Katie Smith is a Philadelphia-based writer. Find her on Instagram @saddy_yankee for cat pics.

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