One reason I've always skipped over them is because they always seem sort of forced. As a writer, I can imagine it's awkward to have to write this letter to an audience explaining this book and where it came from. The creative process is complex and it evolves over time. I don't always remember where stuff starts. And writing this letter months or years after the original idea came to you makes it even more difficult.
Then you have to wonder – do the readers really want to know the truth? Do they want to know that you came up with it while standing in line at the grocery store? Is that the glamorous answer they want? Probably not, so you feel this pressure to make the story sound more interesting than it was.
To demonstrate my point, I'm writing two Dear Reader letters for the last book I wrote. One is what would go in the front of the book. The second is what should go in the front of the book. Note the subtle differences. :)
I am so excited to get the opportunity to share Isabelle and Ethan's story with you. I've always been intrigued by the idea of being able to read someone's mind. Adding the element of touch took the concept to a whole new level. The questions instantly started swirling in my head. What if you could read your lover's mind when you touched? What would you do with the knowledge? Would you drive him wild in bed fulfilling his every desire? And then I had to consider the consequences. Sometimes it's better not to know everything about someone. How far would you take it to protect yourself from the thoughts of everyone around you? What if the thoughts you uncovered held the potential to save someone's life?
Tackling these questions was a challenge, but an exciting one. I hope you enjoy reading Isabelle and Ethan's journey as much as I did writing it. Please share what you thought of the story at my website and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You cannot imagine how relieved I am to be writing this letter. After well over a year of writing, editing, revising, and multiple bouts of nausea, this entire process is almost over and I am one step closer to holding my baby (and the check) in my hands. On the flip side, I'm having difficulties because I'm afraid I don't have a good story to tell you. I know you want to hear that the idea for this book came from some romantically divine moment, but the truth is that it came to me while my cruise ship was rocking and rolling in the Gulf of Alaska. I was hiding in my cabin watching Inside Edition to keep from puking the salmon croquette they insist on feeding tourists at every port.
Once the idea came to me, it sat in a story file for a while. I had no idea where to go with it. I spent several late nights with friends drinking and tossing around ideas. This is the process I use for most of my books, but by midnight after a couple margaritas, anything sounds good. The first incarnation of this book actually gave the heroine an albino ferret for a pet. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but my editor disagreed. Don't fear, the albino ferret might make an appearance in another story. I'm not ready to let that idea go yet.
When I sat down to write this book, I faced a couple major problems – If she doesn't touch people how the hell were they ever going to have sex? And when they did and she reads his mind, what does a man think about? If it's anything like a woman, I'm afraid he'd be thinking of whether or not he remembered to run the dishwasher before bed and if he looks fat lying on his back with his breasts slipping into his armpits. That's not very Blaze-worthy, is it?
So that's the story of this book. I wish I could say I enjoyed every minute of writing Camille and Sloan-- I mean Isabelle and Ethan's story, but to be honest, there were a few weeks where I wanted to hit my monitor with a baseball bat and go work at Hardees. Hope that doesn't show in the writing. My editor assures me we've addressed all the issues, but I'm certain you'll write to inform me otherwise. Direct that mail to my website at email@example.com.
Sincerely, AlexSo, honestly, do you read the Dear Reader letter? Would you rather hear the truth or something that maintains the fantasy? As a writer, do you enjoy writing your Dear Reader letter or is it a chore?