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!