On Monday Carol talked about the dreaded (and sometimes dreadful) query letter. That painful little bugger that can lead to published books. But the rewards of writing a strong query don’t stop at getting a great agent and a book deal. The publishing journey may begin with these letters of torture, but if everything goes well it can end with letters of joy. You see, there are these little things called fan letters that will begin to find their way to your inbox. Guys, these things are awesome.
Blaze has been out for less than a month, but thanks to early reader copies and the fact that my book is a super-quick read I’ve been blessed to receive a number of fan letters and can tell you without hesitation they make all the pain worthwhile. All the years of hard work and rejection and tears and self-loathing have been redeemed. The author’s journey is all about reaching readers and it is an amazing feeling when they are inspired to reach back.
My experience is limited, but I shall attempt to break fan mail down to five categories. I’d love it if you guys share about your own favorite fan letters in the comments!
1) Friends and Family
These come from people who already know and love you. They are nice to read but are basically meaningless. Moving on…
2) The First
This is the first letter that comes from an honest-to-goodness-person-you-never-met reader. Like the first boy (or girl) you kiss, your very first fan letter for your debut novel will always have a special place in your heart. Mine actually came five months before Blaze was released from a hotel worker who lifted a copy of my book from a sales meeting held at the hotel where he worked. The subject line to his email read: In Love With The Book which is of course my absolute favorite subject line ever. His name is Roger, a 24-year old who, on top of being a petty thief, hadn’t read a book since high school. I will seriously love that guy forever.
3) The Student
These days high school students are apparently permitted to choose whichever books they please for their book report assignments. My student fan-letter came from a girl named Lauren via Goodreads. Lauren was excited to tell me she was using Blaze to write her book report. At first I was surprised since Blaze is intended to be fun and writing book reports can be so, well, not fun. But Lauren seemed thrilled by the prospect so my hope is that Blaze infused a bit of fun into an otherwise notoriously un-fun experience. Also, I’m a teensy bit jealous since it seems I did every single one of my school book reports on books by Ernest Hemingway rather than, oh, say Judy Blume or V.C. Andrews.
4) The Professional
I was a high school English teacher at one time. For four months. I bow in submission before high school English teachers because let me tell you that gig is TOUGH! Seriously, huge props to teachers. When I got an email from a teacher named Kelly from Florida I knew Blaze had hit the big time. Kelly said Blaze kept her reading late after school to the point that she had no time to cook for her family and had to get takeout. Ruining people’s dinner plans brings authors unspeakable joy. Kelly also told me that Blaze was the best book on bullying she’d ever read and that she would love for me to come to her classroom to talk to her students. Um, to Florida? Yes, please! Alas, we’ll be settling for a Skype visit (boo) but it means so much that a super-human teacher person thinks I can be helpful to her students.
5) And the Yummiest of All
Posted to my Facebook timeline: Dear Laurie– I READ BLAZE ALL IN ONE DAY! It was so amazing I couldn’t put it down. Me and my friend where talking about it all throughout gym. I might have missed a few baskets but it was worth it. Anyways TY for such a great book! It really helped me in a way – let’s just say I know how Blaze feels when it comes to parents.
*wipes tear* My work here is done.