For me, and I think for many authors, one of the most fun things about writing is reader engagement. That can come in the form of a review, a response to a blog post, or a comment on social media. But my favorite connection with readers comes from the emails I receive.
Sometimes the notes I get are gently instructive as in this one, “I think Coop and Leah should get together—but do what you feel you need to.”
Sometimes they’re more direct, “I like the series, but you should kill Courtnee, I can’t stand her.”
And occasionally, they read as though my mother had written them. “Loved everything about Dangerous Habits, the writing style, the characters & the ending that I did not expect. We read all the big names, Kellerman, Patterson, Iles, Gerritsen etc., but you rate up there with the best.” Full disclosure, I keep that one in my “save” file and sometimes pull it out when I’ve read a review that was a little brutal.
Readers sometimes see things in my books that I didn’t realize were there myself—character motivations, or a theme that I hadn’t intentionally put in the story. I like it when readers share their take on people or plotlines in a story, even when (or maybe especially when) it’s different from mine.
Some readers share information about their own lives—many of which are very different from mine. For instance, I hear occasionally from someone who lives off-the-grid, in a home out West that she and her husband built entirely by themselves, and she’s shared some amazing photos with me. A reader in Australia often sends me links to Australian television shows and music that I probably would never have found on my own. I’ve also benefited from email conversations about favorite books and films and have picked up some very good recommendations—as well as an idea for a clue that I used in one of my books.
It could be, I suppose, that I enjoy the email give-and-take so much because, as a charter member of Introverts International, I’m not by nature a joiner of clubs or a striker-up of conversations with strangers. I like social interaction, but outside of public speaking when I don the mantle of the situational extrovert, I prefer one-to-one or small group get-togethers. Email exchanges with readers offer me the pleasure of making a personal connection—with the bonus of allowing me to make it without leaving the comforts of my chair. I know some other authors who feel the same way.
So, if you read a book that touches you—makes you laugh, or cry, or think, Yes, that’s exactly how I feel—by all means write a review, most authors are hungry for those. But don’t hesitate to send an email either. It’s a nice way for readers and writers to connect.