A Different Kind of Review: Handwritten Notes to Authors

Saturday, August 06, 2016
A recent conversation with my mom got me thinking about this blog post. She has read two self-published books this summer--both by people she knows, and she loved them both. One book was about a bike ride a retired teacher took across America and the other was written by a mother of two sons--one with Down syndrome and one with sensory processing issues.

My mom wanted me to pass her admiration on to the mom, and then she said: "You know what? I'll write her a note. I want her to know how much I liked her book and some of the specific parts that touched me especially." Then she went on to say that she had already written a note for the author of the bike book.

I said: "I think that is an excellent idea. All authors need encouragement. And taking the time to write a handwritten note is really nice."

And it is, right? I mean--a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or on a blog is super important for sales. It's always great to see those 4 or 5 stars and hear people say nice things about the book you poured your soul into. But a personal note--not even an email or text--has to feel great and is one for the scrapbooks.

Mari L. McCarthy from Create Write Now swears by using pen and paper for journaling. She says it is great for many, many reasons. So have you ever considered writing a real, live, handwritten note to an author you loved--even a famous one? Why not?

As writers, we should understand the importance of this: How special would it be to get a note in the mail, even if it came through our publisher or agent first? It might even be worth renting a PO BOX, so you can actually advertise your address on your website, in case anyone wants to write you.

As readers and writers, which is what we all are, we also understand how hard it was to write a story that touches people (and finish it and pursue publication!)--whether it makes them laugh, cry, or develop new habits or a new understanding of the world. So taking 10 minutes out of your day to hand write a note to the author might seem like an inconvenience, but this simple deed of kindness can go a long way for both of you.

Besides the kind of reviews we all need for marketing, we also need encouragement. Writing is an awfully hard profession, and helping each other along on the journey will only benefit us all. Handwriting a note is just something to consider in this age where we are all in a hurry and looking for the fastest way to get things done. I'm glad my mom is still handwriting notes to authors, and I think I'm going to try this, too.

Will you join me?

Margo L. Dill is an author, editor, and teacher living in St. Louis, MO. She teaches a monthly novel workshop for writers in the WOW! classroom. You can find out more at http://www.margoldill.com

Envelope photo by Pink Moose on Flickr.com. 


Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--This is a splendid idea. (But don't let Lynn Obermoeller see this. She is ALREADY crazy about handwritten notes.)

Jodi Webb said...

I have notes I've saved for decades from people who read my work. Here's a tip (and how most of my notes came my way)...send them to the book publisher or editor or the magazine and ask them to pass them on to the author.

I also got a nasty "you'll be sorry you write this" note. Don't write those!

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