Friday, August 4, 2017

Reader Emails by Christine DePetrillo

I love reader emails. They are a shot of confidence when you are in major self-doubt mode. And if you are a writer, that's pretty much most of the time. A positive reader email has the ability to pull an author away from the edge of that dark and shapeless abyss, where whispers of "you suck" rise up on a constant basis. "Give up," the abyss says. "Try something else. You're just not good at this writing thing."

I hate that abyss. It doesn't know how to mind its own damn business.

But a reader email, found randomly in my inbox, can shine a bright spotlight into that black pit. It sends the beady-eyed rats of judgment scurrying for the shadows. A few kind words from a reader and I'm poking my head right into that hopeless well and laughing at it, fists shaking.

"See that?" I yell. "SOMEONE likes my stuff! I'm not a huge failure!"

Except if someone catches me laughing and yelling and shaking my fists like that to myself. That's kind of a fail.

Anyway... I received a reader email last month where a woman told me she AND her husband had been chewing through my Maple Leaf Series.

Say what?

You got a MAN to read my happily ever after tales?

And he likes it?

Awesome! She went on to say, "We both enjoy reading and you have captured us with your writing." Oh good, that means there aren't holes in my reader net--you know, like a butterfly net only bigger. This email came to me when I had just finished writing the last book in a series and was ready to start planning out a new series. Every time I am at this place in my writing process, I always take some time to contemplate whether I should keep doing this writing thing or maybe try something else. Say, playing an instrument or getting back to jewelry making or taking up karate.

Shut up. I could take karate...

There have been a few times when I almost walked away from being an author. Packed up my writing notebook and pen. Powered down the laptop. Tuned out the voices in my head.

Reader emails, however, always draw me back in. When a reader takes the time to write up a message and send it to me, I know I've done something right. My story touched them in a way that made them have to contact me. People are busy. They don't have time to waste on emailing authors, so I know when they do, they really mean what they're saying and just had to tell me. Not much else gives me the warm fuzzies like this does.

Well, maybe puppies do. I love puppies. Who doesn't love puppies?

I've emailed some of my favorite authors when I've loved their books too. I think no matter how "big" the author is, most likely he/she still enjoys hearing directly from readers. They aren't immune from the abyss either. It taunts all of us.

One kind word can make all the difference, especially on a day where the blank page seems insurmountable.

My recent reader email ended with, "Thank you for these wonderful stories that always have a good ending... There is way too much garbage out there... Keep up the amazing books."

No, dear reader, thank YOU. Due to your email that abyss hasn't swallowed me yet. 

What keeps you out of the abyss if you are a writer? If you're a reader, have you emailed an author to tell them how much you liked his/her work?


The Maple Leaf Series, Books One to Six, available now, Book One is always FREE!
The Shielded Series, Books One to Three, available now, Book One is always FREE!
Wolf Kiss, Book One in The Warrior Wolves Series, COMING SOON! 



Rolynn Anderson said...

Great message, Chris. In all we do in life, getting kudos brighten our days and energize us for the next long haul. I just got a message from an old friend who read BAD LIES and took the time to tell me he enjoyed it. Made my morning. The abyss stares at us every morning when we get on Author Central or Kindle Direct Publishing. Where are those thousands of readers? And yes, I do tell authors...through reviews and shout-outs on the Internet...that they are talented, gifted writers.

Leah St. James said...

It is a great post, Chris. I get recharged when people come up to me and ask me when the next book is coming out. We all need those pats on the back, and it makes my day every time. Thanks to all those readers who send emails and reach out to authors with their thoughts on our stories. That's what makes it all worthwhile. :-)

Jannine Gallant said...

Great reader letter! I feel I must be doing something right because my daughters (ages 18 & 20) are rereading all my books. Since Mom rarely does anything right in their eyes, I take this as a good sign. They've also mentioned I should crank out more books faster.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Writer and reader here. I am exactly like you, Chris. I consider shutting down some times. In fact, as I'm finishing edits for the last book in a series, I'm at that point this month. I've gotten a handful of those kinds of emails. It does so much to keep us going! As a reader, no, I've never emailed an author. I do post reviews, which 98 out of 100 readers never think to do. I'm going to consider the email suggestion since I know how much it means to me!

Alicia Dean said...

What a lovely email!! I totally understand your feelings. A positive reader email can restore my confidence like magic. Congrats!!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Congrats on the kudos.

Diane Burton said...

Lovely email from a reader. Those kind remarks always lift a writer. It's wonderful if they come when we're feeling down. Sure lift our spirits.