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Dear Readers: Your Favorite Authors LOVE You!

Monday, August 15, 2011

I love my readers. The longer I’m a published author, the more I realize just how much my readers mean to me.

Last week, I got my first email from a reader regarding my upcoming release, The Doctor’s Lady. This reader, Amanda Barratt, found my book on the shelf (already!) and purchased a couple of copies (and she’s giving away one today on her blog, so head over!). She read the book in just a few days’ time and emailed me to let me know her thoughts.

She said this about my book: “It is one of the most well written, engaging novels I have read all year! Your characters were sympathetic and well written, and the romance was so well developed!! Loved all the historical details too! You certainly have written another award winner!” 

When I got her email (along with her picture holding the book—see the slideshow in the sidebar!), I wished I could crawl through cyberland and give her a big hug. I’ve been plagued with insecurity over this book and have been afraid that readers wouldn’t like it. So her email was a huge encouragement.

Which brings me to the point of today’s post. I don’t think readers realize how much authors love them.

Authors can’t survive very well without readers. As much as writers like to say things like, “Write for yourself,” we all know that we wouldn’t pursue publication if we didn’t want people to read our words and find some meaning in them.

The bottom line is that writers rely on readers, need them, and value their encouragement—often much more than readers realize. So dear readers, on behalf of all writers, please know how much we appreciate you!

Here are several things readers do that get authors really excited (at least that really excite me!):

     When readers send the author a personal note.

I save every email, facebook message, and handwritten note that readers send me. In fact, my publisher asked if I had a few that I would be willing to pass along to them so that they could read them to their staff—because even publishers appreciate affirmation and feedback on all they invest in their authors. I had a hard time choosing which notes to send because they’re all so meaningful to me.

When readers write a review for an online bookstore or blog.

Many readers are silent and distant admirers. And that’s okay. I realize not everyone is going to want to go public with their praise of a book. But writers appreciate every positive review they get. Even if we can’t individually acknowledge or respond to every review, I am always thrilled when someone takes the time to post one.

Bestselling author, Jude Deveraux, left a comment in a recent post and she said this about Amazon reviews she got for a series she’d written: “Women who loved the book didn't write a good review. If they wrote at all, it was a sentence or two. But others, with lots of malice, wrote horrible things about my books, my characters, and me personally.

Her comment brings to light the fact that it’s usually easier for us to point out the negatives we see. Often we justify our reviews, thinking others deserve to know the “truth.” But writers appreciate when readers are just as liberal with their praise as they are with their criticisms.

When readers connect on Facebook or Twitter.

I like having real connections with people. But I usually won’t know a reader is lurking unless they jump off the sidelines and send me a comment or tweet. Call me corny, but I even like hearing simple details like this message I got last week on Twitter: “Finally got a #Kindle. The first book I purchased was The Preacher's Bride by @JodyHedlund! Can't wait to read it!” Or this one: “Bought @JodyHedlund The Doctor's Lady yesterday & I can't wait to start reading it!

Those kinds of short messages can go a LONG way in bolstering the shaky confidence of writers who labor so hard over each book and yet battle insecurity, poor sales, low advances, and obscurity on a daily basis.

So my dear readers, thank you for all you do to encourage me (and other writers) in so many ways. The writing journey wouldn’t be nearly as fulfilling if it weren’t for you! YOU make us want to continue to write and pour out our hearts into our stories! Thank you!

Question for readers: Did you realize how much authors value your feedback? How can we show you our appreciation better?

Question for writers: What do you appreciate most about readers? What are some things readers do that excite you?

Don't miss this week's chance to win a signed copy of The Doctor's Lady! Answer Trivia Question #2 to enter the drawing!

30 comments:

  1. My grandmother is one of my most faithful readers. And every time she reads one of my books, she writes me a handwritten note saying everything she loved about it. You can believe I have saved every single one.

    You are so right Jody.

    Words of encouragement from a reader are so incredibly touching. It's what spurs me on too and my book's not even out yet!!

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  2. Oh, I absolutely try to write to the authors whose books move me. I've also written to a local radio d.j., one of the actors from a (Chicago) Broadway musical, several newspaper columnists... and they've written me back, thanking me. The personal acknowledgement that they got my email and they appreciated the support goes a long way in fandom. ;-)

    Any time someone puts their heart into their job, I make an effort to give them positive feedback. I've also written to authors who have a huge following, and have gotten a generic email back, which is fine, I guess; I understand people are busy. But a few times they've included a sales-y pitch about other books of theirs I might like, and I don't care for those types of responses. It only serves to feel like I'm a vessel to more sales, vs. a real person who felt a connection while reading.

    Barb

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  3. I know writers need the constructive criticism, but I also know writers need, crave the positive encouragement a reader can provide. And a personal note, wheter by email, facebook, or handwritten goes oh-so-far to lifting a person up.

    As far as being a reader, I'm feeling terribly guilty right now. I read a book over vacation that I so need to write a review on. It was a wonderful story and well-written.

    Can't wait to read The Doctor's Lady, Jody!

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  4. Good morning, ladies! Great thoughts from all of you. And Barb, I think form emails, DM's (on twitter), or auto-messages of any kind can hurt us more than help us. Those kinds of things don't leave a good impression on me when I get them. I think it's always better to respond in a personal way, if we can.

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  5. Jody your post today makes me think about living intentionally. How many times do I appreciate someone or the service I receive at a restaurant or the kindness of a store clerk and never bother to write a short note to say "thank you for what you did, or said, or wrote"? It takes making an effort, but aren't we supposed to encourage and lift one another up? I think I read that in a book somewhere.. Hmmm! :) Thanks for this reminder. I will now intentionally put on my to-do list for the day, writing that note. And I'll do it. Can't wait to read your newest book. Oh, and thank you for being so accessible and encouraging, and for being willing to be so human for those of us like you who need to know we're not alone. You are appreciated! :)

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  6. That note from Amanda sounds so sweet! I'm glad you were encouraged by it, Jody. I just pre-ordered my copy of Doctor's Lady yesterday, and I can't wait to read it either!!!

    As for me, I just wish I had the time to express all my pleasant thoughts to other writers, and I wish I had had more time for reviews. If I made a list of all the reviews I'd like to write, I bet there'd be over a dozen.

    Sigh . . . I should write out the list and spend a day writing reviews instead of working on my own novel.

    But here's another thing. Maybe I'm crazy, but when I write a review for a writer I "cyber-know," I feel this incredible pressure to make it original and unique and reflect the conflict in the story just perfectly but not be so long it would scare review readers away, and the list goes on. I probably just put too much pressure on myself when it comes to writing reviews.

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  7. I should also add that my dream as a writer is to have someone tell me, "Your book was so good I stayed up half the night to finish it."

    Since I'm one who gets lost in a good book and reads obsessively, I dream about some other reader being equally obsessive about my work. Maybe I'm insane for wanting to keep others up until 2:00am. Who knows? :-)

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  8. Comments left by readers of my poems and stories on my blog sustain me as a writer. Sometimes you get the feeling you're just yelling out into the empty dark without this commentary, "good" or "bad."

    Comments made by readers of my work published by journals are moon launches.

    Thanks, Jody.

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  9. Naomi, Thank you so much for ordering my next book! I appreciate that so much! :-) And yes, it's the BEST compliment for a reader to tell you that they had to stay up half the night to read your book! It's incredibly fulfilling! :-)

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  10. Great post, Jody! It wasn't until I started writing that I grew the courage to e-mail a few of my favorite authors. Authors to readers are like rock stars to teenagers. It's intimidating to reach out to someone who you admire!

    But I couldn't agree more--authors need praise, we need to hear that all those months of hard work and fighting through doubts have paid off.

    I can't wait to read your new book!

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  11. I agree, Jody. Readers rock! And readers who take time to let an author know how much they love her book by sending a note, posting a review, etc. are giving a gift, one that means more than they can possibly imagine.

    I'm doing my best to be patient, but I've yet to get my hands on a copy of The Doctor's Lady. My closest big-box bookstore was Borders, so that option is gone. =( I've pestered the poor staff at my local Christian bookstore until I'm afraid to show my face there for a few days. I'm reduced to waiting for Amazon to ship and am making my post office runs daily so I don't miss the copy due to show up in my box. Soon, I hope. I'm soooo eager to hold the book in my hands and send you a picture.

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  12. I'm currently unpublished, but I love the reactions I get from my beta readers. I love when they geek-out over something that took me ages to craft and I like to see them pick up on clues I left behind. Readers are great, even at this stage.

    This post was a much-needed boost. I've been feeling down about my writing. (The query process can be brutal.) You reminded me that there are readers out there, people who love books and who are excited about them. Some day, I hope to thrill them with my work.

    PS: I just watched the trailer for The Doctor's Lady and it's SO AMAZING! Who made it?

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  13. My dear friend and fellow writer offered to beta read some initial pages of mine. She called me up late one night and said she was holding them hostage until she received more. I gave them to her with a giddy heart and then squealed when she told me she couldn't put it down. She had stayed up reading until two in the morning. She asked if I had a sequel to my book. I did. She is now reading it. NOTHING beats hearing feedback about your writing. I try my best to express my love of other author's writings, but I truly did not know how much they appreciated it. But after my friend's comments I think I now know. Can't wait to read The Doctor's Lady. So much that I had a dream about it last night. I was so frustrated that I couldn't find it in the bookstore. They got a piece of my mind. lol

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  14. Good post. It encouraged me to start writing reviews. I've been too lazy to do so, but I really see how encouraging they can be. :)

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  15. Emily, Thanks for watching the trailer! So glad you liked it! My publisher actually put it together for me. They haven't done many yet for their authors, but I think they did a really nice job too!

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  16. Words of affirmation is my love language. I need to know I'm doing something well because my inner demons have no problem pointing out my faults. Thanks for another transparent Jody post. You're an amazing author, but an even better friend! I've learned so much from reading your blog and getting to know you.

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  17. I love your posts Jody. You always say things the way they should be said. I'm not great about posting reviews on Amazon or Goodreads but I do really try to say something nice on Twitter or my blog when I finish reading something I really love.

    I can't wait for The Doctor's Lady! I'm sure it will be wonderful.

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  18. Jody,

    Glad you were blessed by my email! You wrote such a wonderful novel and truly deserve all the reader love!

    I'd say leaving reviews and writing personal notes to authors are both ways to encourage them. I've done both but could do much more!

    As of yet, I can only dream of reader appreciation. Sigh :)

    Once again wonderful post!

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  19. I'm publishing my book in November, and I already love my readers. I've developed a good network of friends on Twitter who are all excited for my release. One didn't realize the book isn't available yet, and told me yesterday she'd tried to find it on Amazon. That absolutely made my day, to think someone went looking for my book.

    As a reader, I love the way the internet allows me to connect with my favorite authors. Several are friends on Twitter, and it's fun to tweet a mention of them or their book, and get that delighted response in return.

    I think it's rewarding for both authors and readers to make that connection. To a reader, an author is someone "famous," even if you're not Nora Roberts or JK Rowling. You did something that people around the world will see, and hearing from you makes me feel... special. And of course, everything you said about the way a reader can validate an author's work is equally true, Jody.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post.

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  20. I know how good it feels to et positive feedback from my blog readers, so i can imagine what it's like to get that from your book readers. I confess I don't set aside time to write reviews when i love a book, but that will change now. I usually feel that what I write will not do the bok justice, but I'm pushing that feeling aside and going for it. I loved The Preacher's Bride and look forward to reading The Doctor's Lady.

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  21. Aw, thank you ALL for your sweet words of encouragement today! I wish I could give you each a big hug! :-)

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  22. Woohoo! I was persistent and located a copy of The Doctor's Lady at a Family Christian store in a town half an hour from me. They had four, all facing front, when I arrived. When I left, there were two. =) Can't wait to read the final product and to hold some drawings so others can get copies.

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  23. Writers bring readers so much joy, entertainment, encouragement, challenge and hope, I can't help but want to let them know. I can't get past that I can read a book in a few hours that a writer has invested their blood, sweat and tears into for months if not a year or so!

    As a reviewer, I write to inform my readers on my thoughts of a book but I also want to let people know there are some amazing writers out there who deserve the exposure. When the writer is blessed by an encouraging review, I love that.

    As for what more writers can do? I think they should follow your example, Jody! The respect and attention you give to your readers is fantastic! Hugs xo

    Looking forward to TDL making it's way across the Pacific!

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  24. Rel,

    Thanks so much for adding to the discussion as a reader. It is amazing to think that a reader can devour a book in several hours that has taken writers several months to write!

    You do such a fantastic job supporting so many writers in a variety of ways! Thanks for all you do! Sometime, I'll need to interview you and find out how you got started with your supporting role/reviewing/etc. I'd love to hear your story!

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  25. Jody,

    What an upbeat, encouraging post. Since I'm not published yet I needed to know this. I assumed authors would like to hear from their audience, but at the same time I wondered if they got weary responding and keeping up with what readers have to offer.

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  26. I don't post reviews unless they are positive, and I post a lot of reviews -- mostly memoir, but sometimes fiction. There have been times when I wanted to write a note to the author, but the author sequesters herself behind the shelter of the publisher. I sort of understand that, but it is off-putting. Especially in this age when writing an email on a whim is easy, but a hand-written, snail-mailed note is akin to an act of God. Personal email screened by someone else? Yuck!

    BTW, reviewers greatly appreciate hearing from authors too.

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  27. Hi Sharon,

    I greatly appreciate hearing your perspective! I actually try to do unto my readers as I would like my favorite authors to do unto me. And I know I don't like form emails/letters. I like the personal connection!

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  28. This is something that I try to do,
    I tweet under the hashtag #authorlove and provide links to books that i have read and loved, or just as general support for an author.

    Speaking of which, is your book out??? I have been away from the computer world (sick alas) and are somewhat behind.

    If so i shall be off to get it!

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  29. I can look at this from both sides of the fence. As a reader, I was astounded when I emailed an author and he replied! How nice! And what do I appreciate as a writer? That unsolicited review or recommendation -- no blog tour or anything official, just the person who posts, "I just read the greatest book and have to tell you about it." So neat!

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  30. Oh, the joys of fan letters and emails! I always get a little jittery when I find an email in my inbox entitled "The Soldier's Cross"; there's that moment between seeing it and clicking on it where I panic and think, "Oh no, someone hated it! Someone thought it was awful! I'm a horrible writer!" But the sensation after I read a fan email makes the panic worth it. You are very right - our stories may be for ourselves, but the enjoyment of our readers is priceless.

    Thanks for the post!

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