Youth Fiction Author and Illustrator's Official Blog Page

Friday, September 22, 2006

Respond personably to reader e-mail

by Kevin Scott Collier

One of the joys of being an author is getting letters from readers. Very few people who read any book will write the stranger who is the author. If I had to guess, perhaps only one in a hundred readers will ever bother to write an author, and that’s only if the book moved them emotionally.

I receive a great number of emails every day from writers I illustrate for, editors and publishers of magazines, publicity opportunities and general chit chat with associates. But when a so-called “fan letter” arrives it is given special attention. It represents that one out of a hundred who took the effort to find you online to inform you they have read one of your books. Drop everything and put this at the top of your list.

Entry-level authors need to respond to every letter from readers in a personable and informative fashion. Impressions are everything, and anyone who enjoyed your work well enough to write will likely buy and read other titles available in your catalog. This is a chance to build a loyal readership of your works one reader at a time.

I have many titles available and it’s important to focus on just the one the reader is writing about. The book meant enough to them to write, don’t wander off in your reply talking up another title to get them to buy that. Pay attention to the characters and story segments they mention. I always give the reader some trivia behind those topics, such as how a particular character was created, or what influenced those particular story segments. I try to be brief and to-the-point. I also inject humor into the response by relaying a funny situation that came u during the writing of the book.

Readers appreciate learning some behind the scenes information that went into the creation of the book they enjoyed. It also strikes up a more personal dialog with that reader revealing tidbits that don’t even end up in interviews with the author.

Fan letters let reveal what readers liked in your work so you can compare that to what you intended readers to like. If there’s a match, you know your writing has attraction.

Always thank the reader for their letter. You’ll likely get another letter from them, too. Many readers imagine authors are unapproachable and are surprised to even hear from them. Unless we (as authors) are on the New York Times best-seller list, we are just as surprised to get a “fan letter.”

I end each letter with some tidbit information on what I am currently writing or drawing for publication. I also inform the reader what other book titles I have written might interest them. I would rather recommend another title I have written that I know they would like than just push everything to make a sale. If you recommend a sure thing, that reader will appreciate it and recommend your books to others as well.

I still remember before my first book was published two years ago imagining someone, somewhere, buying a copy in a book store and out of the blue writing me an email about it. I even dreamed of it. So never take it for granted, and put reader mail above all other letters you find in your inbox.

1 comment:

IM Cupnjava said...

I completely agree. Responding personally to readers and being open and friendly is extreemly imporant especially when one is a new writer.