Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Going Fan-grrl…

I’m a relatively new author – two books out and three more in the pipeline; I’m still considered wet behind the ears – but of all the things I’ve learned in the last year and a half, one lesson is really sticking with me: I’ve become a more appreciative reader.

Let me explain…

Not long ago, I went to a booksigning and a woman I’d never met before came up to me, introduced herself, shook my hand, and said the magic words: “I just love your books.” Before I could even say “thanks,” she made a face and shook her head. “I bet you get tired of hearing that,” she said.

Um, in a word, NO. Those five words made my day. My week. Heck, my whole month of staring at the keyboard hoping I could whip my hero and heroine into line was suddenly shining in a whole new light.

Let me tell you – I don’t think any author gets tired of hearing that.

As a reader, I expect an author to entertain me. I expect to like the book I’ve plunked down my hard-earned cash for. That’s her job. We have a business relationship: she writes the books; I devour them. But honestly, it rarely occurred to me to drop an author an email and let her know that I enjoyed it. After all, she’s probably drowning in email from folks gushing about how much they loved the book.

Maybe some authors are. I can think of several authors with forums full of rabid fans gushing about how much they loved the book. But I can’t imagine anyone ever getting tired of hearing someone loved something they created. That’s like getting tired of someone telling you how smart and beautiful your child is (just because you agree, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to hear it ~g~). Still, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d sent an email to an author letting her know how much I enjoyed her book.

The more I thought about it, the worse I felt. I thanked the server who refilled my drink at the restaurant. I thanked the toll-both operator when she handed me my change. I thanked the clerk at the grocery store who helped carry my bags to my car. Heck, I even thanked the police officer who wrote me a speeding ticket. These folks were all doing their jobs, and I thanked them for it. (Maybe I’m just too Southern…). But a book – the wonder and glory of a book that swept me away, made me laugh and cry, gave me hours of pleasure after a not-fun day – I’d let that go by without even thinking about the person who created it.

Now, before anyone thinks I’m simply fishing for compliments here or advocating the ego-stroking of authors, let me be straight about one thing: I’m a writer, yes, but I was a reader first. And I’m still a reader. I will always be a reader. But I’m a more appreciative reader now.

So I started sending emails. If I enjoyed the book, I sent the author a quick email letting her know it. Nothing long, nothing complicated, no in-depth analysis or critique. Sometimes, they were just a sentence or two long: “Dear Author, I just finished THE BOOK YOU SPENT MONTHS CREATING, and wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it. Thank you.”

Sometimes, they wrote me back. Sometimes they didn’t. But I felt better for it, and maybe I made that author’s day with my email. Maybe my email was able to counteract that snotty email from the reader who despised the entire book because they’re vegetarian and the heroine ate a cheeseburger, and how could the author be so dense and cruel to ignore the plight of animals…

People are quick to criticize, but very slow to compliment. And since gratitude is good for the soul, I figure it’s a win-win all the way around.

So, tell us in the comment tail who you’re reading and loving. (Your comment will pop up on the author’s Google alert – if she has one – and she’ll get a little smile for knowing you were willing to tell others how much you enjoyed the book.)

To earn Karmic Extra Points, then go to the author’s website (or even her Facebook page) and tell her how much you enjoy her books.

I promise you – it will put a smile on her face.


**And I'm blogging over at Tote Bags 'n Blogs today! Come visit!


Heidi said...

You're so right Kim. To think I always get so excited when I see an email in my inbox from a reader who's liked my box and yet to my knowledge I've never sent one to a writer before. I think I better get cracking, because there are so many on my list of loved books.

And even though you weren't fishing... Magnate's Mistress is definitely one of them!

Stephanie said...

I am reading Lynn Raye Harris's book Cavelli's Lost Heir. It is so good that I couldn't put it down to go to sleep last night. Love the story-Hate the price this morning.

I think you make a GREAT point that we are quick to critize and slow to compliment.

Trenda said...

Funny you should ask, I'm currently reading your book, The Secret Mistress Arrangement...and loving it!

Great post!


Playground Monitor said...

Now I'm a fan email writer from way back when, and that's how I got the reviewing job I used to have. I'd written a detailed fan letter (no criticisms, just went on and on about the parts I really liked) to an author and when her husband started up a review site, they asked me if I'd be the review coordinator. When I commented I'd never written a review, they referred to my email (and by then I'd written several to that author and to other authors as well).

I'm not sure I email every author but I guess I've done my share. And to PC, I've definitely enjoyed your books. I have Magnate's Mistress on the shelf.

I also have Lynn Raye Harris's Cavelli's Lost Heir on my shelf. And I will be reading it very soon.

Great post!

Merri said...

Well now I feel a little ashamed of myself. I’m an avid reader but I can honestly say I’ve never actually sent an author a review or a simple ‘thank you I loved your book’ email. Although, I’m not shy about telling other people all about my favourite books and authors. I guess I fall into that category of fan who imagines all authors would be too busy to be bothered.

But you’ve given me something to think about. I will mend my ways.

I’ve just finished reading Kate Walker’s Kept for Her Baby. Maybe I should go and tell her that I really loved it…

Gold star post!

Problem Child said...

No, No. No shame here. Just food for thought. :-)

I'm behind on my fan email as well. Aside from Heidi, of course, and we form our own Mutual Admiration Society.

And thanks, Trenda, glad you're liking it. See, you just made my day!

Anonymous said...

As a reader, sometimes, I will email writers I've met when I read their books.

The coolest part? When a published author takes time to respond to my email!


Sherry Werth said...

I recently finished To Sin With A Stranger and will be starting on The Most Wicked of Sins by Kathryn Caskie. I love her books but have never sent her an email to let her know. But I will now. Thanks for the 'food for thought'. :D

Lynn Raye Harris said...

PC, what a fabulous post! You are so right! There's nothing better than hearing someone loved your book, and though I have written to authors to tell them I enjoyed their work, I haven't done it enough.

And Stephanie, my dear, you have made my day! And you have NO idea how much I really needed to hear that this morning. You just gave me the boost I needed to plow through these revisions and let all the self-doubt fall by the wayside.

Thanks so much. :)

And I am reading the latest Kate Hewitt book, and it's so emotional and fabulous! And I recently finished Jennie Lucas's The Christmas Love Child. Jennie amazes me with her ability to sweep the reader away into a new world.

Pamela Hearon said...

You are spot-on this morning, as always! I've never written an author (other than you) to tell her how much I enjoyed her book. I think I've always been afraid of being taken as a cyber-stalker:-)

I'll have to confess though--right now I'm reading Dan Brown's Lost Symbol. Since I'm sure he gets thousands of fan letters, I'll wait and thank the next romance author I read:-)

Thanks for making me think!


Liza said...

I try to either email the author, post on their blog, or just post on my blog about books I love. I'm a little behind on my blog right now, but the last 3 books I loved were Faerie Fate by Silver James(ARC out April 10), Kindred in Death by JD Robb, and I'm loving Vision in White by Nora Roberts. Hope to get my post up tonight about Silver's books and the two by Nora by this weekend.

catslady said...

I have written many authors after enjoying their books and the majority do write a thank you back which is nice. I especially make a point of writing an author when I was lucky enough to win their book. I have never critized an author. Just because I may not like a particular book, that doesn't really give me the right and besides, there's books out there for everyone. I'm sure someone else may have thought it was wonderful. I just finished 19 Minutes by Jodi Picoult and I would think she gets lots of fan mail but you never know lol. I've enjoyed all her books that I've read so far - maybe 7 or 8.

Barbara said...

This post made me think of the times I walked through the aisles at the RWA Literacy Booksignings. I so wanted to let each author I had read know how much I liked their books even though I couldn't buy one. There's a limit on how much one can spend on books.

I'm reading Jane Porter's Easy on the Eyes. My first for her non-Presents books and I'm really enjoying it.

Also reading The Sheikh's Impatient Virgin by Kim Lawrence. Loved the title.

About Magnate's Mistress . . . Loved the dock scene where they discussed Odyssey. It kept taking me back to a scene on Dawson's Creek where Michelle Williams flirted with this hot guy on the dock.

I know, different meanings and tones, but still . . . Great book.


EllenToo said...

I have emailed authors about how much I enjoyed their books but I haven't done it all that much. I really think about it but don't get it done. Need to get better about it. I have just finished reading Marilyn Pappano's SCANDAL IN COPPER LAKE and really enjoyed it. I do have a reader's blog on eHarlequin where I post reviews of books I read and I always let people know how I feel about the books I read.

Angel said...

Unfortunately, I'm not reading right now, as I'm knee deep in NaNo (which isn't going well -- sob).


Instigator said...

I agree, PC! It absolutely makes my day when I get an email from a reader saying they enjoyed my book. But I don't send enough of those emails out myself. (goes to write an email right now).

At the moment, I'm reading Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments books. I'm on book 3 and I started the series last week. They're fantastic. And I'm finding it hard to deny myself a few pages in favor of writing my own work. That's the true test for me...if I can't concentrate on my own hero and heroine because I'm thinking about theirs I know it's an amazing read.


Michele L. said...

Such a wonderful blog! I have read so many books. I am pretty good at e-mailing authors but sometimes I forget to pop off a compliment on their books.

I just finished reading Susan Blexrud's FANG series which are E-Books. They are paranormal romance which I love! She is a wonderful writer with some amazing and witty characters. Her stories are smart, snappy, funny, very sexy with a lot of suspense! Check them out if you like paranormal romance!