Guest Post by Author Melissa Hart 

I recently had the opportunity to have author Melissa Hart as a guest speaker in my Entrepreneurship in Publishing class in PSU. She has some incredible advice for practicing literary citizenship—things anyone can do, whether they’re readers, writers, or publishing pros. When we take these actions in the literary community, we keep the conservations going, we keep readers reading, and we keep writers writing! Most are free and quick.

Here are Melissa Hart’s 21 Ways to Practice Literary Citizenship, in no particular order. Take a look. Which do you plan to do this month?

Happy community building!
—Ali Shaw

Image courtesy of Unsplash

  • Word of Mouth—Literally, talk to friends and family about a favorite piece of writing.
  • Informal Book Review—On Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble’s website, Powell’s website, Goodreads.com, etc., just one pithy sentence of review helps authors to sell books.
  • Formal Book Review—Pitch an editor at a relevant publication a review of a book. This is especially effective if you know an author and/or can get an advance review copy (ARC). Bonus: Many editors pay for book reviews.
  • Author Interview—Pitch an editor at a relevant publication and/or interview an author on your blog, if you have one. You can do a Q&A or a profile, depending on the publication and the editor’s needs. Include a photo of the author and his/her book (or link to an article, poem, etc.).
  • Blog Post (www.wordpress.com)If you have a blog, you can post author interviews and book reviews. You can ask an author to be a guest blogger on a topic related to his/her writing, and host a contest with a book giveaway. 
  • Twitter (www.twitter.com) Mention a piece of writing or an author on Twitter. Use hashtags. Example: @JeanRyan, love your new #book of short #fiction—especially the sexy #octopus.
  • Comment Online—Below a piece of writing on a website for a newspaper, magazine, blog, etc., make a comment with an intelligent observation and/or compliment. 
  • Facebook (www.facebook.com)Like an author’s page. Comment about their work on that page.
    ◦ Suggest that other Facebook friends like an author’s page.
    ◦ Share an author’s status update about a publication and/or event.
    Mention a favorite piece of writing in a status update and link to it.
    ◦ Promote your review/interview/blog post in a status update with a link.
  • Send a Note—Keep a pack of inexpensive notecards ($4 for 10 at the post office) and stamps on hand. Write a quick note of appreciation to a writer/editor/publisher/agent. You can reach better-known authors through their agent, usually listed on their website.
  • Pinterest (www.pinterest.com)Create a board. When you come across an author’s website, the website for a book, a recent article or essay or review or poem, Pin it on your board and share the pin via Facebook and Twitter. 
  • Blurb a Book—If asked, consider reading a manuscript and writing a back-cover blurb for it. 
  • Attend an Author Reading/Workshop/Event—It’s usually worth it to leave the comfort of your home to attend an event. Don’t feel pressured to buy anything, and do feel free to speak with the author afterward. 
  • Join and Attend a Writing Organization—Often, organizations host guest speakers who’ve just published a book. 
  • Buy Books and Magazines—This may seem obvious, but just checking these out at the library helps an author very little financially. 
  • Suggest a Writer as a Guest Speaker—Libraries sometimes have discretionary funds for guest speakers/teachers, and bookstore owners often enjoy tips on good writers. In addition, schoolteachers from grades K-12 look for guest speakers. Suggest that a writer visit, and make sure to give the librarian/bookstore owner/teacher that writer’s contact information. 
  • Host a Book Launch—Have a friend with a new book? Host a themed book-launch party. Can be a potluck in the park, or hors d’oeuvres in a chic wine bar. 
  • Invite an Author to Speak at Your Book Club—Many authors love the idea of mingling with readers who have read their book. They’ll answer questions, lead a discussion, even contribute to a potluck. 
  • Adopt an Author’s Writing for Your Class—Are you a teacher with a favorite book, essay, poem, short story, screenplay? Adopt it for use in your class, and point your students in the direction of the writer’s website and/or blog and/or social media.
  • Suggest a Writer to Your Agent—If you believe in this writer’s work, suggest them to your literary agent, your editor, your film producer/director, your publisher.
  • Attend a Writing Conference—What better place to practice literary citizenship? You can buy books, get them signed, chat up writers in the elevator, talk up their workshops to conference staff, live-Tweet their workshops if you get permission, mention them in social media, etc.
  • #BookTok & #Bookstagram—These hashtags, on TikTok and Instagram, respectively, are powerful ways to get the word out about your favorite books, stories, essays, films, etc. It takes just a minute to recommend a book on TikTok and Instagram stories, and book sales will almost surely increase! 

Bonus: Where to Find Diverse Books and Authors 


Mellisa Hart is an Oregon author, journalist, and public speaker devoted to sharing stories that entertain, educate, and inspire readers. She’s passionate about teaching writers at any age and stage of their career to give voice to their own stories. Her newest book, Daisy Woodworm Changes the World, is a fun and entertaining story of youth empowerment and disability inclusion. More of her work can be found via her website or by following her on Instagram and Twitter.