10.09.2011

On Reaching Out, Saying Thanks

Is this adoring audience for me or Jay-Z? That's okay, you don't have to answer... 
I decided the other day to do something that will either make me look grateful or desperate. Whenever I receive a review on Amazon or GoodReads, or a mention on Twitter for one of my stories, I will personally reply to the reviewer and thank them. I would do the same on Smashwords and Barnes & Noble, but their systems aren't set up for leaving comments on reviews just yet. When they do, I'll provide the same service. I'll do this for as long as I am able.

I have long bemoaned the lack of personal attention people receive in this industry, with its quick form rejections (if you're lucky enough to even GET a rejection these days; the new paradigm seems to be more along the lines of, "if you don't hear back in a few months, it means no") and authors who are often too busy to answer fan mail.

No, I'm not demonizing them. Not at all. I understand the workloads some people are under. I know many of them regret not being able to connect personally with fans or prospective clients. In the name of remaining productive, sometimes it's just impossible. But I'm going to try anyway, for as long as I can. I believe, especially when starting out, that when you're sowing the seeds of future fandom and good will, it's a good idea to keep your head down and give thanks to anyone who is willing to give you a chance, even if they are just downloading a free story you wrote.

Currently #2 short story on Kindle!
Thanks to you.
What I've learned is this: reviews are very hard to come by. Between UNDER THE SCOTCH BROOM and ARIA, I've had over 20,000 downloads. Out of that, I've had about ten reviews on Amazon and a handful of positive mentions on Twitter. A couple dozen people have rated it or added it to their queues on GoodReads. That kind of math tells me that when you do get a review, especially a review from a complete stranger who doesn't have the added benefit of knowing you personally and wanting you to succeed, it's an occasion that should be cherished and celebrated. And yes, thanked.

I can only use conjecture here, but since I've started thanking people on Amazon, I've seen about a two-fold increase (or greater in some cases) on my paid work. When I've mentioned to them that an alternate ending for ARIA exists in my collection DEAD WIVES TALES, I've seen corresponding sales of that collection. One reviewer seemed touched by my thanks, which tells me he or she probably isn't accustomed to hearing from a writer when they post a review. Later on, that person downloaded Scotch Broom and also posted an excellent review. I do not know who this person is, but my hope is I've gained a fan who will stick with me down the road. And who knows, maybe that one person will mention my work to a friend or two, and those friends will mention my work. And so on and so forth.

So I'm going to do this for as long as I can. If a massive floodgate opens on my work and reviews start pouring in by the dozens (a girl can dream, can't she?), it might be harder to do. I might have to limit my time to once a week. Maybe once a month. I might have to come up with another plan altogether to touch base personally with my readers so they know that yes, I'm listening. And I'm very, very grateful that they've given me a chance. Even if they think I suck.

2 comments:

  1. I was just thanked by the author for posting a review of Burn Down the Sky. That was nice from the perspective of a reader, and it's made me feel the same way as you when it comes to thanking readers.

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  2. That's really cool! I think we writers probably have a greater opportunity than any other entertainer to interact with our fans. Actors and musicians are often constantly on the move. We're already at our computers. Might as well say thanks while we're there. :)

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