Keep Those Cards and Letters Going!

balloon bouquetImagine that you’ve just had your first book published, and the Amazon reviews are decidedly mixed. Maybe you’re even getting some downright negative comments about your work, and you just can’t help but take it personally.

Then, at the moment when you’re considering never subjecting yourself to such pain and anguish again, the doorbell rings.

“Somebody thinks you’re pretty special,” says the delivery guy, handing you a balloon bouquet tied together with five pieces of scrumptious Godiva chocolate. “I’ll bet this makes your day.”

It does because the sender isn’t your mom or your spouse (though you’d never turn down their gifts, either). It’s a reader you met first on Facebook and then in person at your book signing. Over time, your relationship has progressed from mere acquaintances to true bosom buddies. And today, no matter who else in the whole wide world she could be thinking of, she’s thinking of you.

How amazing, the way we live and breathe and move in each other’s hearts and minds and souls! And how lovely when we take the time to let each other know.

“I absolutely love your book!” your friend writes in her note. “The story about the mother and son forgiving each other touched a nerve with me—in a good way. You nailed it. Thank you.”

My opening example was necessarily extravagant, which you can blame on my fixation with Godiva. But if you’re wishing right about now that your own doorbell would ring, why not practice the Golden Rule? You, too, can develop the habit of blessing writers with emails, cards, and similar kind gestures.

You are likely already Facebook friends with your favorite authors. You may also follow them on Twitter and communicate via Goodreads. You’re networking with a wonderful group, some of the most generous and sensitive people anywhere. Plus, you’re positioned well to begin supporting, lifting up, and appreciating these folks in easy, tangible ways.

Keep a running list of writers you’d like to bless. When you have a spare minute, choose a name. Have fun putting together a couple of sweet paragraphs in an email, a link on your Facebook page to a blog post the author wrote, a photo of yourself reading the author’s book, or a care package.

Jot down notes as you read a new book, to remind yourself later precisely what you loved about it. Authors especially enjoy hearing from a reader whose life was touched by the work. Instead of saying, “I learned a lot from your book,” say, “I particularly loved your advice on how to romance my husband and am putting it into happy practice!” Specific always trumps general.

Most authors these days are overjoyed to get an enthusiastic Facebook message or email from a reader, but I don’t know a single one who wouldn’t adore a handwritten card or letter. A small gift of special meaning can be memorable, too. I recently found an inexpensive wall hanging with the quote a writer friend of mine had posted on Facebook. I packaged it up and sent it to her with a note of good cheer. She loved it!

Remember, authors aren’t book-cranking machines; they are real live people. Their feelings get bruised. They suffer fatigue, illness, loss, and relationship problems—not to mention suffocating deadlines.

Sometimes, the friendship extended to an author isn’t about a book. Sometimes, we reach out to others in our writing community because of good old-fashioned love. Not long ago, a fellow writer sent me a gift for no reason, except that she saw it and thought of me. I don’t know about you, but even to imagine that a treasured friend spots a plaque with a humorous saying and is reminded of me gives me goosebumps.

So tell me, have you received wonderfully thoughtful notes or gifts from your fellow writers? Any tips you’d like to offer to those who want to keep those cards and letters going?