… but she’d like to.
About a week before my book release, I received an amazing email. A reader who received an ARC through Goodreads went to the trouble of locating my website and emailing me to tell me how much she enjoyed the book.
Not just that … she thanked me for writing it.
Talk about blown away.
It meant the world to me that someone actually took the time to find me and send an email. I responded, thanking her for loving the book and also for letting me know. I still smile every time I think about it–and, of course, I’ve kept the email.
As authors, we hear from friends and family who read (and hopefully enjoy) our books. On lovely occasions, we meet other readers at signings or online. Every author I know adores those moments, but they represent only the tip of the iceberg. Our audiences consist, for the most part, of people we’ll never know.
Yet we–or, at least I–love each and every one of them. I am deeply grateful to every person who takes the time to read my book. I hope they enjoy it, but even if they don’t they have given me a gift of time and attention. Ordinarily, I thank the people who give me gifts, and it’s a very odd feeling to consider the thousands, or tens of thousands, of thank-you notes which must, by necessity, go unsent in the course of an author’s career.
It is a humbling thing not to know everyone who loves your work, and a curious feeling to love and be grateful to people you’ll never meet. As I write this, my book is “on hold” or “Status: Checked Out” at libraries across this country and also abroad. There are copies in the U.S. military’s library in Europe. Soldiers are reading my book. Soldiers–and civilians–I will never meet, whose names I will never know. And that doesn’t even touch on the people who bought the book in bookstores and online.
A humbling thought, indeed.
It’s easy for authors, especially new ones, to focus on numbers: sales, signings, copies on the shelf. It’s easy to fall for the trap that says success is measured by hard and fast data, by royalties, or by spots on the bestseller list. It’s easy to ask what the novel is doing for you, and to forget what it does for the people who hug it and squeeze it and lovingly call it George. (Or Dave, or Hiro…call it anything you’d like. I’m good with that.) And yet, though I may not know the names of all my readers, I do know something important about them:
An 83 year-old woman stayed up all night to read my book. She asked her daughter to tell me to “write faster, because I’m old and I don’t want to miss the rest of the series.”
If I live to be 83 myself, or even 103, I will never ever forget how that makes me feel.
I might not know everything about writing, but I know that I love every one of my readers, whether or not I ever hear their names. And I know that I will strive to write as well (and as fast!) as I can–because the people I don’t know deserve the best that I can give them.
How has what don’t you know about life impacted the way you live it?