FEEDBACK; a B-12 Shot

Selling books is exciting. Knowing that your story is going home to who knows where, to be held and read by someone young or old in the morning or the late of night, in absolute quiet or over the chaos of three and four-year-olds dashing about the living room symbolically saving the world with innocent bravado and Ninja swords gives me a great feeling. Sometimes I wonder where my book finds a resting place; on a night stand, in someone’s purse, left on an airplane (accidentally or otherwise), in a cue stack (maybe the fifth one down), in the mail being sent to a reader’s Aunt Carol, or wrapped in a bow to be handed to a special someone. I’m always wondering, but what I wonder most is what the reader thinks about my story, my style, my philosophy and maybe, even the color choices of my cover. I continually mine the mail for feedback. A primary reinforcer for me, feedback opens the curtain between me and my readers. One of the first people to read my book was a columnist from the Jacksonville Daily News. She wrote a very positive article that contained “The animal stories from the Down East center are all there for us animal lovers, but there is so much more: drama, mystery, violence, romance, friendship. ‘Save Them All’ is pure Linda, a well-written book with a lot of depth and passion.” I appreciate reviews and critiques from fellow writers and those in the biz; however, candid reader feedback is the most energizing and grandest evaluation of all. I provide my email and address on my website for readers to contact me if the mood strikes and occasionally it does. When I receive an email or note by snail mail, it’s generally from someone who really enjoyed my work, such as Shannon from Clinton, NC who wrote, “I loved your book! Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. It was so wonderful to read a book that captures the spirit of wildlife rehabilitation. You are a gifted writer, and I hope to read more books by you in the future.” This general but all encompassing comment was a hefty shot of B-12 that produced a surge of motivation, arousing me from complacency and willing me down the hall to the computer again. Tracy from Weldon, Illinois wrote “While reading ‘Save Them All,’ I found myself jealous of the easy way in which Colbi told people just what she thought about them. I actually covered my mouth with my hand a few times! It made her character all the more intriguing to me. I can’t wait to read the sequel in order to find out what will happen with all of the characters that you weaved into charming Locus Point.” Tracy let me know there was something Colbi could teach her, maybe the value of becoming more assertive and going after what you want or standing up for what you believe. Pam, a home schoolteacher from Dallas, Texas, told me my book is appropriate for her social science class. “Your book is entertaining and surfaces social issues not contaminated by discussion (opportunity to encourage critical thinking and free thought). Ordering more copies for my home school class.” That was a comment to do cartwheels over for a few reasons! It’s interesting to hear what others garner from your story. Brenda from Jacksonville said “I really enjoyed your book, it was exciting, sad, and had some sexy parts in it too (lol), and some parts made me mad.” Sexy? Okay, I’ll take that. Sometimes I even have the pleasure of receiving feedback from someone I’ve met in person, like April from the western mountains of South Carolina, close to the North Carolina border.
I stopped by her father’s produce market for some Strawberry Cider and Green Pepper Jelly. While cracking and bagging pecans for his customers, April’s Dad asked the leading question, “What brings ya’ll to these parts?” That opened the conversation of book distribution visits to a few specialty stores in Brevard. He became intrigued and generously offered a corner in his store to set up shop. Although it would have been fun to hang out for a while, my tight schedule demanded I pass on his hospitable gesture.
April was so excited by my random stop at their store along that long stretch of winding road, she wanted a copy of my book on the spot, even though she was currently in the middle of a thick read. A few weeks later she sent an email that made me smile when I remembered meeting her. “Your book is amazing, it just sucked me right in, and I can’t wait until the next one comes out.” I consider my readers a blessing and without their feedback, I’d feel like I was on a hike in precarious and unfamiliar territory without my GPS. Reader feedback taps into my desire to continue doing what I do and inspires me to always raise the bar. My readers deserve that. How about you . . . does feedback do as much for you as it does for me?

Linda Bergman-Althouse

author of “Save Them All”

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Filed under Articles, Essays, The Writing Life, Writing

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