Major congrats to our own Allison Chase for winning the 2008 Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Historic Romantic Gothic at the Romantic Times Convention this past weekend!
As a ‘not-quite’ published author, I don’t have a lot of reader feedback on my books yet. Still, feedback was instrumental in smoothing out the many bumps in my road to publication.
In the beginning, when I first started writing seriously, most feedback took the form of responses from judges in contests that I entered. For a writer flexing her wings for the first time, wondering if she had the talent to turn her dreams into reality, those initial comments were precious gems chipped out of the gloomy rockface of self-doubt. I once got these words back on an entry:
“You have a lot of talent! Never, never quit! You will be published.”
Can you imagine the power of receiving that feedback on the same day the mailman delivers a flurry of rejection letters from agents? Yes, I’m sure you can.
I used to pull all the positive comments off my contest entries and store them together in a file. Never any negative comments—they had their place, but not in this document. Then, whenever the world felt particularly heavily and I considered giving up, I’d open up that file and read all the lovely things people said.
“You are a wonderful, talented writer with a magnificent voice. I’ll be looking for you in print.”
Bolstered by a few very kind words, I’d find the strength to send my newest manuscript out into the cold, cruel world.
The closest I’ve come to a reader comment was an email I got over a year ago, after I finaled in the Brava Novella Contest, where the top 20 entries are posted online. Mine was a medieval historical, set in France. Out of the blue I received this:
“I would like to purchase the book title: A Righteous Seduction, but I have been unable to find the seller. Would you by any chance be able to supply me with a name? This book sounds interesting.”
I practically danced on the ceiling. Someone wanted to buy my book. Okay, it was only a novella, and it wasn’t actually published yet, but someone wanted to BUY my book. Responding to that reader to let her know the story was not in print—and might never be—was soooo hard.
I’m looking forward—yes, with nervous anticipation—to getting reader feedback on DRAWN INTO DARKNESS in my mailbox. The good and the not-so-good. I’ll read the not-so-good ones, look for lessons to be learned, then put them away. But the good ones? You guessed it—I’ll be storing those in a special file I can open up every now and then and savor.
If you’re a reader (which most of us are, LOL) and you love an author’s books, I heartily encourage you to visit her website and drop her a quick note telling her so. We writers are a strange bunch—chock full of prose-induced confidence one minute, lost in the depths of uncertainty the next. Trust me, your words will be incredibly, marvelously appreciated. Even by the big names.
How about you? Did you ever receive a compliment or a pat on the back at just the right moment? Something that kept you slogging forward, despite the challenges you were facing? Willing to share?