Written by Cynthia Port
Writers are reputed to be a bit standoffish, a bit inside their own wonky, tortured heads. We’re either alcoholics, or suicidal, or just plain don’t like our fellow human beings. By logical extension then, authors, as a group, must not want to be bothered by the “little people” who are lucky enough to read their books, right? They must find such extra-literary contact irksome, sycophantic, even stalky. Now listen carefully because I’m only going to write this the one time:
NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!
I cannot speak for the Rowlings, the Kings or the Kingsolvers of this world because I don’t know any of them, but I know a lot (as in many, many hundreds) of indie authors, and to a person they revel in hearing from readers. I know this because the briefest note left on their FB author page, the slightest comment made in the grocery store, an email, a tweet, a blurry instagram pic (tinted to look like a Polaroid from 1963), anything that indicates someone out there likes their writing—sends that author trumpeting joy all over social media like a happiness t-shirt cannon. Hearing from readers makes indie authors giddily, unreasonably, even stalkily, happy.
So please, Readers, don’t be shy. Don’t be sitting there all on your lonesome as you turn the last page of a cool indie novel, thinking, “Gee willickers, I loved this book. I wonder if the author is going to write a sequel? I wonder if any of it is biographical? I wonder if the centaur knew the chewing gum was inside that marshmallow before he gave it to the toothless guinea pig? Oh, well, I guess I’ll never know, because surely this author wouldn’t want to hear from the likes of me.”
NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH! (Yes, I wrote it twice in case you weren’t listening the first time.)
Trust me—hearing from you is her/his lifeblood and will make his/her day. You don’t even have to say anything brilliant, pithy or insightful. On the contrary, it would be impossible for you to make a comment or ask a question about an indie book that the author of said book does not want to receive. To prove my point, here are some questions that might, on the surface, seem unwelcome, followed by a typical indie author’s response:
“Did you hire a two-year-old to write this drivel?”
“Thank you so much for contacting me. Funny you should ask, because my two year old did give me the idea about the marshmallow and the gum!”
“Why do you bother getting up in the morning if this is the result?”
“So nice to hear from you. I do most of my writing in the evening.”
“Can I pay you to stop writing books?”
“That is so sweet. You mean like a Kickstarter?”
See? No harm no foul. Though if you ask questions like this, you may find yourself written into a novel only to be gummed to death by a toothless guinea pig. But hey, that could be adorable!
I’m nearing the end of my word count, but let me add one more thing. If you are a parent, grandparent or teacher, please encourage and help (as needed) a young person to contact a favorite indie author. I often hear from young readers, and it makes me even more unreasonably giddy than when I hear from adult readers, because adding to the pleasure a child experiences through reading is, well, one of the highest accomplishments I can think of.
So take it from an Indie: we understand. You’ve been hurt before in your attempts to form meaningful relationships with traditionally published authors. But give us a try—we’re easy, and we’ll love you right back.