Michelle's Pillow Talk
Author Michelle M Pillow's take on important events. *cough* Yeah, that's it.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Authors and Answering Fan Mail
Reader Question/Comment:

" I never know if a author wants feed back from readers or not.I did write to quite a few who didn't even bother to answer..and as I know authors are real busy writting and promoting their books,but if after a send feedback to an authors 3-4 times and never get a answer I will not buy their books any more. I guess maybe that's bad to feel that way but I spend a lot of money buying books and love letting authors know I read the newsletters and books they have.I even had one who will forever go nameless that wrote me and said she didn't have time to answer people and she'd prefer I didn't write.Seems she only cared about her feelings and editors opinions.
I have to also say that EVERY author whose books I have bought on this list has answered me and I have even become friends with a few. Which I love lol.I have some whose books I always buy and others that I have a list of to buy.
I'd love to know how authors really feel about readers who send feedback and praise their works.If they want feedback from newsletters..and email they send to the list.Would really make me feel like i'm not being a pest to them.
I think you are all so talented and just love praising books...I have a group of friends who count on me to tell them what books to buy because I buy so many lol. "

Let me start by saying. I LOVE FANMAIL! Readers often tell me what they want more of and I listen. I try to answer each and every one when I can. However, *disclaimer time* I cannot respond to or read book ideas or proposals--esp on my series. Those often get deleted without being read. It's a legal thing.

Okay, on to the comments...

Wow, I can't believe one actually said not to write. I can see an author not being able to get into a lengthy conversation due to time constraints, but not to take time to a least say thank you to a reader who took the time to say they liked the book? Well, I guess since I don't know the whole situation, I can't really give a full opinion on what happened.
For me, I know I try to answer all emails personally and as soon as I can get to them. If I don't it means it never came, got deleted as spam by accident [or was say a Dragon Lords book idea that I will not read for legal reasons (see website disclaimer along the bottom of the pages)--or should say, won't continue to read as soon as I see the words 'I have an idea for the next Dragon Lords book...' or some such thing], the email was bounced or I just haven't gotten to it yet. There is a lot of behind the scenes that goes into a book and sucks away time--which readers don't always realize. I myself didn't realize before publication how much more there was into publishing a book beyond writing and edits.

Oh, how I sometimes miss the days of being unpublished with endless time and freedom to just sit down and write with no other worries. But, then, I remind myself it's nice to have a job and get over the self-pity pretty fast, lol.
As to the authors who didn't answer, how long did you wait? I know some take up to three months or more to get through fan mail. With the volume recieved there are some days where answering fan mail would be all the author does. And, with that considered, they'd be out of a job if they didn't please thier editors/pubs/you the readers with new releases and met deadlines. Add onto that the fact that they might be on the road doing signings or tours, promotions, interviews, marketing, meetings, plus family life and obligations, and it makes for even less time to get everything done. And many authors write as a second job, with full time employment elsewhere. It's a lot to fit in.

Now, that doesn't mean not to write. I'm just trying to expain what life is like for many authors.

Let's say an author gets 10 fan emails a week, 40 a month and takes 2 minutes to read and answer each one. That's 1hr and 20 mins a month. Very doable. But, let's say an author gets 10 emails a day. That turns into 300 a month. And using the 2 mins per email, equals 10 hours a month answering emails. (um, I did that math in my head, so be gentle if it's wrong, lol)
We won't even talk about those national bestsellers, international superstars of an author. (lol, since I'm not one...er, yet....I can't even being to imagine thier volume of mail)

By the way... if you want to help me be a superstar by doing a personal campaign on my behalf, I will gladly look over your proposal with avid interest and ALWAYS answer your mail as soon as I see it, lol Now hiring... fan club directors--a very thankful job with no pay and plenty of hours. LOL

Truth be told, it usually takes me more more than 2 minutes to answer a single fan-email because I'm looking up links to direct the reader to, or am trying to answer questions about a series, or characters, ect. Sometimes the answers can be found on my FAQ page or on my website and I'll direct readers there.

Digression---Oh, and in case I forget to mention it. We sometimes type all day in front of the computer and our hands and eyes can get to hurting.

Ah, if fan mail was the only thing in our inboxes... There are the book review requests, interviews, editor demands, wannabe and new writers wanting advice, ect.... For me, it's not unusal to spend a few hours a day answering emails. I try to spread them out and keep up on them as they come in, but it's not always possible. But, I'm lucky to own a business outside of writing and can check email during the day without fear of being fired by myself. Not all authors are so lucky.
I think most authors like hearing from readers, like knowing what they enjoyed about a book or that they just enjoyed it. Unfortunately, there are times when we're overworked, tired and have had so many opinions thrown at us, we can't see straight. Just remember authors are people too. (hey, I see a t-shirt coming, lol) and most of us are just trying to do our best.

So in conclusion...

Authors come in all different attitudes and personalities. Don't give up on us all if one was mean to you. Many of us know we owe success to our readers. Without you, we wouldn't have a job. Even as an author, I've had other authors who've been mean to me and who I won't buy from because of it. And then there are those who are so sweet I buy their book because they were nice to me, a somewhat relative newbie in the scope of things.

I hope this helps explain things. Feel free to post any questions that arise from my comments, or state opinions. As I've said, I LOVE hearing from readers.

Thanks faerytubemaven for the comment!

To ask questions you'd like to see blogged about email me at michelle_pillow (at) yahoo (dot) com

posted by Michelle Pillow @ 10:21 AM  

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  • At 4:05 AM, Blogger Reba said…

    Does authors want to hear from fans when the fans are trying to tell them of some editing errors that they found in their book? I thought that authors wanted to know these things before their book goes to print but I was sadly mistaken...said author never replied to my email, which let's me know that readers opinions are not wanted so why would I buy another book from this person? I wouldn't, even though despite the errors it was still a good book. I understand that not all authors want to "get to know" their readers but at least have the courtesy to respond to an email

  • At 6:26 AM, Blogger Michelle Pillow said…

    Each author is different--just like any group of people. Some will, some won't. Some are nice, some not. Some are choas, some strict dicipline. (BTW, I'm organized chaos)

    I'd say to make allowances for email trouble. Things happen in cyber space, emails get filtered as spam (I know this had happened to mine before). Then there is the time issue. Or, possibly the author read it, passed it along to the right parties and left it at that. They might not have thought to issue a reply. I honestly don't know.

    There is the idea that no one likes thier mistakes pointed out to them. Or mistakes that are not really thier fault (IE they happened in formatting beyond the author's control). I can see that. Like everyone, I don't like to mess up and, on an emotional level of some sort, I don't like it when that mess up is pointed out. That is a natural human reaction. But I know it's not a personal attack and don't take it as such.

    In writing, which is often so emotionally linked to the writer--most of us pour ourselves into books until we have nothing left--it can feel personal.

    Hopefully, you won't find errors when you read my stuff, but if you do....well, mistakes happen.

    I know I often have several pairs of eyes go over my work now to look for typos and mistakes, but still things can slip through. Then there are errors that are just a matter of opinion, IE spelling "Alright" or "All right". I know which is preferred but see both. But there are some things that are typos.

    To me, writing is my job. I love my job (hey, like I've often said 'People pay me to make things up, what could be better?') And if errors are pointed out, I pass the information along to the right party. BUT I do email back to say that the infomation is being passed.

    In most cases, I don't think it's a matter of authors not wanting to know readers as much as not having time to know them all. I love hearing from them and try to answer back.

    As an author, I will admit there are times I've gotten an email and didn't know how to respond or where exactly the sender was comnig from (not often from fanmail, per se). It's so hard to get a 'tone' off an email. I like reading expressions and hearing tones in a voice. Some emails can be read different ways--mean or joking depending on your mood and personality--and it's hard to tell. Misunderstandings can insue.

    Reba, thanks for commenting. I wish I had a fabulous answer, but I'd say just keep reading. The purpose of a good book is to transport you. And, hopefully, your contact with authors in the future will be good ones. :)

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