Have you ever thought about writing a writer? You know that website on the inside of book jackets? Have you ever used it to tell the author how much you liked—or disliked—their book? Maybe you have and find this question completely ridiculous. That’s why the website is there, right? I figured authors don’t really read those things. They’re busy—writing! But when I decided to try it, I was pleasantly surprised.
It was after my first writers’ conference last year. I attended a workshop lead by Michigan author D.E. Johnson. His crime fiction takes place in turn-of-the-century Detroit. I decided to purchase his first book, The Detroit Electric Scheme after the workshop. He graciously autographed it with my words: “Michelle—Hope to see you on the best sellers list”. Read and studied the book’s historical aspects. Loved it. Then I emailed him.
Less than twenty-four hours later, he responded. Not with a form letter, but a real email. I was shocked! I always imagined published authors hunched over a keyboard shooting off hundreds of pre-typed “thank-you for purchasing my book” responses. But he actually took the time to write back and respond to my comments and questions.
So I started contacting debut authors like Edward Kelsey Moore about his comedic The Supremes at Earl’s All You Can Eat, Kate Southwood on her tragic Falling to Earth, and Wiley Cash about his haunting A Place More Kind Than Home.
And they’ve all emailed back.
I tell them everything I liked about their book, what techniques I’ve learned from reading it, and sometimes include questions I might have. When I mention I’m hoping to get a novel published, they respond with words of encouragement and become somewhat of a cheerleader for someone they don’t even know. What more (other than a book contract) can an unpublished author ask for?
So instead of just reading that book and shelving it, why not contact the author? I’d like to think that one day, my inbox will be overflowing with messages from people like me who’ve enjoyed something I’ve written. Then I’ll get the chance to pass along some advice and encouragement.
Wish I’d have thought of this the first time I read and fell in love with Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Can you imagine getting an email from her?