This post has been a long time coming, but I like to focus on the positive, so it’s hard for me when I have to address something not-so-positive.
However, I’ve been seeing a lot of complaints lately. Or maybe not even complaints, really, but more like hurt feelings.
I’m writing this to you, the reader. To the people who take time out of their day to read these blog posts. To read my books. To email me. To Facebook message me. And then…you get nothing in return.
When I started out in this career a few years ago, I had nothing. Literally. No agent, no publisher, no readers, no online friends, no blog supporters. I didn’t even have a blog. All I had was a manuscript and no idea what to do with it.
It started out slowly. I Googled how to self-publish a manuscript and when I finally did, every single little thing stood out. Every review, every email, every message, every comment about my book. I soaked it all up. I printed out everything. For the first few months my book was out, I printed out every single review and comment I could find and put them into a scrapbook because I thought for sure this would all end.
I remember any time I would see a reviewer share my book, I would comment on their review. Sometimes I would even send them signed copies of my books.
I made lots of really close online friends and I would talk to them every single day. A few of them were other authors. A few of them were other bloggers.
And every day that passed, I would make more friends. Get more emails. Receive more friend requests. More messages from readers. More messages from other authors. And like I had always done, I would take the time to respond to them. Every single one of them. Hell, I’m pretty sure I’m quoted out there to have said, “If people can take the time to email me, the least I can do is take the time to respond.”
Boy, was I naïve.
I am not in any way writing this blog post to boast about being busy or getting a lot of emails. If you take this post that way, please do us both a favor and read it again. That being said, I am very busy, as are most people involved in social media. I receive upwards of 200 emails every day on average in relation to my books. Not to mention the dozens of daily Facebook messages, Instagram messages, Wattpad messages, Goodreads messages, Tweets, etc.
Over a year ago, it got to the point where I was spending 6 hours at the beginning of each day responding to social media and emails. By the time I was finished and would prepare to start writing, my day was only beginning when most people had already put in an entire eight hours of work. I have spent the last several years working 16+ hours every day. Mind you, I am very, very lucky to be able to make a living doing something I love. It’s a wonderful thing and I do not take it for granted. But…I’m tired. All the time. Now that I’ve started the charity, not only is that a full-time job for which we make no money, I also still write. I’m still a mother. I’m still a wife.
Certain things had to take a backseat. Rather than spend my entire days responding to emails, I now only respond to about 1/10th of them. Yes, I only open about one out of every ten emails. And that’s on a good day.
If I had the actual minutes in the day to open and read every email, I would do it. I wish I could. And I know a lot of you wonder why I don’t get a social media manager. They work out well for a lot of people. But to me, I’d rather not post anything online at all than have someone else pretend to be me. I feel like I’m authentic in the responses I do have time for and I’m authentic online and having someone else pretend to be me through social media posts and responses is something I don’t want to resort to. I do have an assistant (or boss, rather) who keeps me as organized as she can, but she doesn’t post as me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
I’m horrible at time management. That’s just a personality flaw and I’ve been working on it my whole life. I’m horrible at sending thank you notes. I also haven’t opened my Facebook messenger app in over a year. The only messages I see are the ones that come through as I’m physically sitting in front of my computer with the app open. So if you sent me a message there, chances are I’ve never seen it.
Last week, I had an author complain about me on a page (and by name) in a passive-aggressive post online. She was upset because she tagged me in several messages and even sent me inbox messages, and I completely ignored her because she’s “a nobody.” Those were her exact words, not mine. The truth of the matter is, I didn’t see it. I try to log on to Facebook twice a day and if I’m not actively online to see your notification or message come through, I’m not going to see it. It’s as simple as that. So please don’t badmouth someone by name if they don’t respond to you right away. That’s not really a flaw in the person doing the responding…that’s a flaw in the person who has unrealistic expectations of others.
I don’t sit back and laugh and think I’m “too good” to respond to everyone now. It’s quite the opposite, actually. It pains me. It bothers me. I feel guilty about it constantly.
I’ve lost a lot of friends over this career. Friends I used to talk to on a daily basis I now probably talk to once every six months. Friends in my real life have taken a backseat to my husband and children and this career.
I do what I can when I can and that’s the best I can do. If you don’t hear back from me or if you tag me in something online and I don’t respond to it, please know that it isn’t personal. It’s not because I’m unaware that readers get the credit for my career. Believe me, I know this and I am thankful every single day for all the support I’ve been given.
In the past month I have seen several people upset because of an author’s lack of response. I understand these posts and absolutely see where they are coming from. I myself have messaged authors before and never got a response. There were three of them, in fact. I remember all their names because yes, it sucks. And yes, it affects my reading experience when I read their books now, knowing they ignored me when I poured my heart out to them. It’s exciting to let someone know what their work means to you, but when you get no reply in return, it sucks. But please don’t hold it against the authors. I know hundreds of authors personally in this genre and I’m pretty sure only one of them thinks they’re better than you. Chances are, the rest of them are just busy. They are adjusting to changes in their lives that they don’t know how to properly manage. No one would.
But I can guarantee you, 99% of those authors are very grateful, whether they have the time to tell you that or not.
As an author, here’s a tip that might help your message stand out. Snail mail. 😀
I love snail mail. I rarely respond to it, but as you can see from the things I’ve posted of my writing room, I keep every single letter. I read every single letter. And those letters get placed on the walls of my writing room, because nothing gives me inspiration more than your kind, thoughtful words.
Also, (I just added this in response to a very insightful comment) if you see an author responding to certain people all the time on Facebook, but not to you, that isn’t personal. I have almost 300,000 people on my author page and 5,000 on my personal page. In order to make sure I see posts from friends or family and people I know in real life in some capacity, I categorize them differently on Facebook so that I’m notified of their posts. Therefore, I comment a lot on certain people’s posts, but sometimes never see others. It’s simply a matter of me not having a separate personal page from my author page. I can only manage one and I find it works better to manage it this way, but that doesn’t mean I’m ignoring certain people and paying closer attention to others. It just means I see some posts more than I see others.
In summary, thank you for supporting me, even if I haven’t personally responded to your support. It means the world. All I ask in return is that you never, ever assume that I think I’m better than anyone. I know I’m not.
I’m a very normal person, just like you. I live a very normal life. I try and be a very normal wife and mother. The only place my life doesn’t feel normal is when I log on to social media and see all the wonderful things I’m tagged in and messaged about. Unfortunately, responding to all of it will probably be something I struggle with until the day I die…if I’m that lucky.
So please, don’t feel discouraged from telling an author how their work has made you feel. They might not see it, but then again, they might find it and read it in the exact perfect moment. And they’ll appreciate it, whether they have the time to tell you so or not.
The greatest acts of kindness are those that are done without expectations.