I’m not certain why I didn’t adopt this habit earlier in my reading career (yes, that’s how I think of it these days…reading is career). There are hundreds of books I’ve read which enthralled me, impressed me, brought me laughter and tears, and left me wanting more. An almost universal impulse was to sit down with the author and thank her or him for the effort poured into their work. For very practical reasons in the not-too-distant past, that would have involved writing a letter, sending it to the publisher, and hoping that it made its way into the author’s grateful hands. On a very rare occasion, I did just that, but only rarely. Thank you World Wide Web!
Accomplishing that small note of praise these days requires nothing but an Internet connection and a few moments. In only the past few months I have reached out to authors whose work I admired and sent them brief notes, thanking them for the creativity of their work and praising their talent. The reaction has been more heartwarming than I might have imagined. I’m a writer and I know the solitude of the craft. Sometimes the only other human to whom I speak during a day (I admit…I talk to myself) is my wife, and while those conversations are always interesting and challenging (yes…that is blatant CYA), contact with others can be rewarding and inspiring. A small sampling of the authors I’ve contacted recently illustrates my point. Catherine Ryan Hyde, Cynthia Hamilton, Emme Rollins and Richard Mason. I read novels they had written and was so moved by the work that I found them on Facebook, or contacted them through their websites. I was prepared for a delayed thank you, a short note of appreciation. But each responded more warmly than I would have anticipated, citing the gratitude that someone would have taken the time to provide feedback, and offering their thanks for my comments.
In each case, their fiction stimulated me, touched me emotionally and influenced me…they are each talented and creative writers whom I have grown to respect. That respect and admiration are enhanced by the graciousness with which they replied to me, letting me see how much it meant to them to receive reader feedback. Reviews, as all writers understand, are important to increasing readership and hence potential sales, but the correspondence between reader and writer takes that effort a step further. Writers appreciate reader contact. It makes their day, boosts their morale and makes the lonely effort of sitting at a keyboard and bleeding words onto the “page” worth it. I’ve been moved by the responses I’ve received to even the briefest of notes to an author whose fiction I have appreciated. I encourage you to do the same.
The next time you finish a book you enjoyed, that affected you, provided you with insight, impressed you…take ten minutes to find that author’s contact information and send an e-mail, a Facebook message. Their gratitude will make your day, much as your appreciation made theirs.
Hey, it’s a win-win for everyone. It’s why we (and they) write, and it’s why you read.