Reader Email: An Exercise for Aspiring Authors
Today marks the release of my 15th novel, The Last Word: A Books by the Bay Mystery. I believe this is my best book yet and I’m exceedingly proud if it. Of course, my celebratory feelings are tempered by a wee bit of trepidation. Will my sales numbers be impressive? Will the reviews be good? And when will the emails begin?
You see, once you’ve been published and have promoted yourself on every social network known to man, you’re quite easy to find. Folks will contact you. Most of the time the emails are full of praise and they’ll make you smile, but every now and then they can be, um, rather challenging.
So let’s pretend that you need to answer the following emails (all of which I’ve received within the past year). Pick your favorite and have a go. Remember, this might be you sometime soon, so word your answer carefully.
- “You’ve obviously never been to the Outer Banks before because you never once mention sea oats.”
- “Some pages from A Deadly Cliché fell out when I bent the cover all the way back (that’s how I read my paperbacks). You should be ashamed to have written such a cheap book.”
- “I wanted you to know that I was very offended when your main character parked in a handicapped spot. I will never buy any of your books again.”
- “I’ve never read your books, but could you donate a signed copy to my son’s school benefit auction?”
- “Why does it take nine months for the next book in the series to come out? Can’t you write faster?”
That’s enough to give you a sampling of the ones I struggle to answer (though I totally ignored the first one. I lived in NC for 8 years, but sometimes you have to sense which battles you can’t win).
It’s far easier to reply to the dozens of lovely emails telling me that my characters are complex and memorable, that my plots are complicated and expertly woven, that the reader can’t wait to escape to my fictional town or stayed up far too late reading my book, and that I’m one of their favorite authors. I’ve gotten beautiful holiday cards and one reader knit me the most gorgeous scarf, so there’s plenty of love out there, friends.
*If you’ve ever written to an author, feel free to comment on your experience.
**And to the published authors, please share a few of your “challenging” emails.