Monday, October 3, 2011

An Important Author Lesson to Learn RIGHT NOW

You are learning the most important lesson you need to be a published author right now.

Right this moment. Whether you're just beginning your very first draft ever, going through the critique process, beginning to query, or deep in the query trenches, you need to focus on learning this lesson right now.

How to say, "Thank you."

Because an author's platform is so very much anchored in cyberspace, she has more opportunities than ever to say "Thank you."

 It's a phrase that is no longer confined to the acknowledgements section of a published book. Every person who reads your book, every tweeter who tweets about it, everyone who recommends it to a friend or does a blog post mentioning it, is making your success as an author. And each of those people deserves a "thank-you."

I've seen authors act with so much class in this regard, it's not even funny.

Elana Johnson has commented on this little blog a handful of times, and given me a heart attack each one. Beth Revis has commented, too, and she even gave me a pep talk over at Formspring when I started querying. (Yeah, it took me a day or so to get over the shock of that.)
Brodi Ashton and Gennifer Albin have deigned to tweet and Facebook with me. (eeep!)

These ladies don't have to do that. But they do, because they are smart (and sweet.) They get it. They know that if they're going to be successful each individual reader has to be treated like she's worth her weight in gold. And so they do it.

I will read and cheer on any book they write, ever, from here unto eternity. Just because they've done this.

By now, it might go without saying, but I've also mentioned some authors via Tweet or blog, in a non-crazy way, mind you, who have acted exactly the opposite of classy in this regard. Just the other day I tweeted that I pre-ordered a book, mentioned the author, and she didn't tweet back! Needless to say, I'm far less likely to read their future work, and if I do read the book, I'm less likely to look kindly on it. (I mean, seriously? How much time and energy does it take to respond to a tweet from a fan to say "thank you?") 

Anyway. I figure I'd better get this skill down cold right now. Saying "thank you" like it's your job should come naturally to any published author because...well...IT IS YOUR JOB. So here we go.

To the online writing community:

  • Thank you for writing such informative and inspirational blog posts, to help me improve my craft and knowledge base about the industry.
  • Thank you for throwing amazing conferences like WriteOnCon and contests like "An Agent's Inbox" and "Mystery Agent" to help the pre-agented get more exposure and give our queries a greater chance.
  • Thank you for hosting bi-annual networking campaigns to connect us with other writers like us.
  • Thank you for commenting on my blog, and letting me know that you value what I have to say.
  • Thank you for keeping track of my WiP and being such amazing cheerleaders in my writing process. Ditto for queries.
  • Thank you for being a real-time writing-and-query panic support group via Twitter and email.

To my critique partners:
  • Thank you for reading my horrendous drafts and ten incarnations of scenes I just can't get right. And not minding a minute of it.
  • Thank you for endlessly brainstorming what must seem like minute, trivial character details and plot points with me. And not minding a minute of it.
  • Thank you for giving me loving lectures on the accuracy of science in my books, birth control, and query panic, and not thinking less of me afterwards (and, if you do, not telling me about it.)
  • Thank you for drawing pictures of my characters, and making me cry.
  • Thank you for telling me when a song makes you think of my book, and making me cry.
  • Thank you for sending me care packages with inspirational notes, and making me cry.
  • Thank you for loving my book and its characters almost as much as I do. That's what I call belief in something, and it's powerful stuff.

To the agents who have asked to see more of THE TRAVELERS:
  • Thank you for spending any of your valuable time considering my work.
  • Thank you for being unafraid of a brand-new writer.
  • Thank you for continuing to read when you run across the occasional mistake or pet peeve.
  • Thank you for any feedback you (might? hopefully?) give.
  • Thank you for giving me a chance.
To anyone who has ever asked to read my book, just because you thought it sounded awesome:

THANK YOU.
Just...thank you.

friendships

Okay, your turn to practice! Who do you want to say "thank you" to? Or, what is another important authoring lesson we can learn before we're agented or published?

21 comments:

  1. this is such an awesome post, THANK YOU!!!

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  2. All of that. Just...all of that.

    No, really, you hit the nail on the head. And I should probably practice this way more often than I do. I have so much to be thankful for now that I didn't have at the beginning of this summer--the writing community, my awesome CPs, and a better, stronger draft of TN.

    So yep. I'm saying thank you to YOU, Leigh Ann. Cause you're awesome.

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  3. Oh my God. Why are you so wonderful and awesome and amazing?

    First of all, you're spot on with your evaluation of authors needing to be thankful. People like Brodi and Elana and Beth who go out of their way to reply to tweets and even drop by a blog must know that such a simple gesture can make someone's day, and in my case, elevate them to total rock star status. Authors who can't be bothered don't sit well with me. These are social mediums after all... be social with the people who admire you!

    And lastly, I thank my lucky stars all the time for the day you found my blog and signed on as a follower even though I had, oh, one at the time. I never imagined you'd wind up being someone I'd e-mail 12 times a day, on everything from books to snarky agents to my defective reproductive system. Or that you would think so much of me for helping you out with TT. Or that you'd love my story so much that you'd remember silly details I mention all of once in the ms. I could write a novel on how thankful I am to have YOU as a CP! <3

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  4. I just read Gina's comment and got all teared up...a lot of people talk about 'platforms' and 'social networking' when they talk about blogs and twitter and Facebook. But I think the big thing they're missing is the friendship. The moral support. The comments and sweet words of encouragement. The thank yous. I have met amazing, wonderful, stupendous friends in this blogsphere, and I hope I always remember to thank them and whatever amazing forces sent them my way! Thank you for the post reminding us of how important the whole process is!

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  5. Wow, can I just take all of that and second it?

    So much there to love.

    Thank you for posting this.

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  6. Aw, see? It just keeps going.

    And @Gina @Chessie - *sniff, sniff* - GROUP HUG!!!

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  7. This is the best post of the YEAR. Why? Because it's SO EASY to say thank you, and it's not done enough.

    For me, I like the handwritten thank you as well. I send cards to the people who have done a lot for me (if I can stalk them enough to find their mailing address...). No one ever DOESN'T want to hear "Thank you!" and often, they've spent their money on your book.

    That deserves at least two words.

    So great post! And thanks! (Ha! I got it down to one word.)

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  8. I love this post! You are such a sweetie.

    And I'm starting to feel a little left out--not having read The Travellers yet. So, you better tweet me back when I tell you that I've pre-ordered it! I might just get a twitter account for the occasion.

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  9. @Elana - *dies* Here you are again. Never fails to stun me. (thank you.)

    @Heidi - You really need a twitter account, because I would love to be able to talk to you whenever I want. Or maybe it's not such a good thing. You have to ask Gina.

    BUT - you can read THE TRAVELERS any time. If I publish (ha! Hahah!) I'll send you a signed ARC, and if I put it in the drawer and you want to take pity on me, I'll just send you the file.

    <3

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  10. Twitter makes me tremble with fear. I have a hard enough time with blogging, and I wouldn't be doing that either anymore if it wasn't for making such wonderful friends with other bloggers like you and Gina. I'm just not a social media person. And I don't know if it would work for me since I only have set times a day that I use the Internet. I don't even have it on my phone (or want it on my phone).

    And I'm totally going to take you up on your Travelers offer. Obviously not now--readers are never good while you are querying. But I'll take an ARC. Or if you head back into revisions and pause from querying, I'll be here.

    I'm heading out to the bookstore today to purchase a book--which is related to this post because it is from one of those wonderful authors. One who thanked me, one who responded to my emails, etc. Things are tight for us right now with me not working much, so I use the library and swap books a lot. But for this author--I'm going to buy her book BECAUSE she has been so responsive. The book is Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan. I hope it is pure awesomeness.

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  11. @Heidi - WOW. O_o What a story. I understand the "things being tight" thing- (#4 on the way - what? we need A VAN?) and I'm seriously thinking about un-pre ordering that book and signing up for it at the library. Not to be spiteful, just...you know.

    Anyway. I'm WAY too psyched about you CPing for ONE to waste your time on TT. But an ARC could be a good blog giveaway. Because you are awesome at blogging.

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  12. Congrats on number four! I can't imagine--one is too much for me. You must be magical!

    I'm excited about CPing too! Are you close to finishing ONE yet? I can do whatever you need--alpha or beta.

    I'm getting close to finishing the draft of the novel you agreed to help out with. But I keep getting hung up at the end--probably because it needs an entirely new ending. But I'll get it figured out eventually.

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  13. Well, I am either magical or insane. :) No, really - the big jump is from one to two. After that, you're just adding 'em to the lineup. I will say that this *is* our last though. Because, you know...VAN. (argh!)

    I'm at 61K on ONE, with at least 12K to go. Then I need to edit, because my drafts are just a HOT MESS. But I am having the same problem as you - stuck on the end. I actually know what I want to happen, just the details of HOW are tripping me up. And then because I'm a pantser I need to go through and make sure my character and plot is consistent throughout, the right foreshadowing is there, the voices are distinct and consistent...you know. The usual mess cleanup.

    Anyway. I'm going to need a beta, because I've heard you're a miracle working genius. (you can blame Gina.) And the plan is to have it to you in two weeks. But no rush on yours, or mine - I just want to be ready to query by the time the baby comes (april-ish) or I won't be till at least a year from now. :)

    Wheee! So excited!

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  14. Congrats on the baby! I am tight on funds as well, but the thank yous and stopping by are what makes me go out and spend money on someones book. I just bought 2 books I've already read, because of this reason. Beth Revis was one of the authors. And not enough can be said about Elana, she is just SO amazing.

    I want to say THANKS, to everyone who stops by and seems to care about what I have to say, to the bloggers out there that post great stuff, and to my CP she is amazing.

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  15. Oh wow, so much CP-love and general awesomeness! :) Congrats on the baby! I'm an April-baby,too. How exciting!

    Aw...you, Chessie, and Gina are all so sweet and fantastic. I always enjoy reading your conversations on my Twitter feed (oops, did I just admit to Twitter-stalking? Oh well) because all that love and support always cheers ME up by just reading it. (And then I wonder where I was when all this awesomeness first started. Finishing up NOCTURNE, probably.)

    My offer to read THE TRAVELERS still stands, just after I read Chessie's and another CP's. LOL. (All of these stories just sound so good! Sometimes I feel like a kid in a candy store. And I admittedly "buy" more than I can eat a lot of times.)

    I've had my share with awesome interactions with published authors via Twitter/blogger as well and they ALWAYS make my day. And I totally agree that saying 'thank you' is really important, especially since all this is in a virtual setting and the people don't see how you really react (or if you even see) a lot of things.

    I always look forward to your posts, Leigh Ann, and I'm sure glad I clicked on this one before saying good bye to the blogger-verse for today.

    Good luck on everything as always. :)

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  16. This is a great post. I think it's amazing that those authors took time out of their day to comment on your post, and it's wonderful that you plan to be so gracious. However, I would caution with the Twitter thing - authors have so much to do these days, do we have to judge them for not replying to every Tweet? Especially when we don't know what's going on in their private or professional lives that might distract from the social sites?

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  17. @Lyla - <3 You

    @Annalise - Hi!!!!! Thank you so much for your comment.

    I should clarify about the twitter thing, I can see how that could sound judge-y. One particular author I'm talking about is VERY active on twitter and clearly checks her @replies. If someone says they loved/recommended/bought your book AND you're regularly chatting with your buddies on twitter? I expect you to take the energy to type the nine characters that make up "thank you." Like Elana said...I'm spending my money on your book. It's worth two words.

    But! That's just my two cents. Obviously I'm not going to personally make or break any author.

    thanks again! Great to see you over here!

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  18. Thank you for this post. It's a great reminder to stay active in our communities. i'm actually horrible about thank yous, so I needed the reminder!

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  19. This post is awesome. I totally agree with all of it, and I also think Elana is awesome. :-)

    There's just something great about people who are genuinely nice, and care enough to spend those few minutes to let you know you're appreciated.

    And thank YOU Leigh Ann for always brightening up my day with your happy posts. :-)

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  20. All good advice and positive vibes:)

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