We have a very supportive household. Mostly, it's my wife's doing. She's the one that instituted it, at any rate, but I think it all came out of a discussion we had years ago about the lack of support I had when I was growing up and the abundance of support she had. So, back then, I couldn't really see the importance of support because I'd never had it.
We'll skip over the parts where I wasn't allowed to play sports or learn a musical instrument and go straight to high school. During my junior year, I talked a buddy into learning some Abbott and Costello skits with me for some thing or other we had to do at school. Initially, it was just "Who's on First?" but, we were so good, we got asked to perform at some function or other and did that, too. Which led to other performances and learning other skits (including my favorite, "Costello's Farm"). We had quite a number of performances during our junior and senior years. And my parents didn't come to a single one.
During college, I was in a drama group and we frequently performed in the area, and my parents never came to any of those performances, either. In fact, the only performances my parents ever came to were when the youth choir at my church sang at church because, well, they were already there and, actually, they often missed those, too.
So... We, my wife and I, made an actual decision, a conscious decision, to support our kids in their endeavors. Even when it's not easy. Even when giving them a little "Break a leg!"-do-a-great-job encouragement would be so much easier. So that means we go to things. We go to lots of things. We go to softball practices and softball games. We go to accordion lessons and accordion performances. We go to choir concerts. We go to plays and musicals. We go to improv shows. We spend money on tickets to a lot of these things. We make the effort to show our kids we're there for them, supporting them (and the organizations they're with), even when we'd rather say, "Okay, that's enough. We hope you do a great job tonight, but we're staying home." And trust me, when you have a week like this one where you're only home one night of the whole week because there are performances and games every other night, it can be tempting to skip the support and just go for the easy dose of encouragement.
And that's the thing: Encouragement is easy. It's the support that's hard to do.
Encouragement is nothing more than patting someone on the back and saying "good luck." It really doesn't take anything to do. There's no real effort involved. Now, don't get me wrong; encouragement can be nice: It feels good, but, really, it's completely insubstantial. It doesn't do anything real.
Support requires an effort. To put it in another context, support is more than just wishing fellow authors "best of luck" with their releases. Support is more than just cover reveals and blog hops. Support is more than just adding someone's book to your "to read" list on goodreads.
Actual support is buying the books of your author friends. And, sure, I get that not everyone can buy every book by every person just like we don't go to every performance of the same show (but we do go to at least one performance from each show); most of us just don't have the money for that. But I make an effort to pick up at least a "book" or two a month from someone I know (even if I know that I'm not going to have time to read it soon) and, really, with so many people using the $0.99 price point, it's hard to legitimately say you can't afford it (skip one Starbucks latte a month, and you can support three or four different authors!).
Actual support is reading the books that you've picked up from your friends. This is kind of a big one for me, right now, because I've been being tired for a while now of seeing on the blogs of indie authors the constant chatter about traditionally published books like Divergent and The Hunger Games. When you're an indie author but can only ever talk about traditionally published books -- and not just books but best sellers -- it really sends a wrong message. It's an unintentional message, but it's there all the same, and that message is "only traditionally published books are worth talking about." I make an effort to always have at least one indie book that I'm reading. [In fact, I just ordered a Kindle (my first portable device) to facilitate, specifically, reading indie books, because I haven't had time lately to do that while sitting at my computer.]
Actual support is, after having read someone's indie release, leaving a review. A real review. Not just a "yea! I loved this!" (which I've actually seen left when it's apparent the person didn't read the book at all (my favorite being "I went to high school with this guy and he wrote this book. It's good. You should read it."))
Just to say it, I review every book I read. I believe in supporting the authors.
This stuff has been bothering me for a while, the fact that there is kind of this constant talk about how "supportive" the blogging community is when what it actually is is encouraging. The blogging community is great at encouragement. There's no lack of "good luck!"s to be found. But actual support has proven to be few and far between. Since this is a "support" group, I thought I'd mention that encouragement does not equal support.