Friday, October 9, 2009

My Happy Folder

By Deborah Sharp

Who needs the New York Times? Publishers Weekly can go pound sand. And Oprah? Who'd want to sit on that stinkin' couch of yours anyway?

I have something even better than anointment from that Holy Trinity of book arbiters: A Happy Folder.

Recently, I had one of those days when I couldn't write a thing that didn't suck. When I pouted that PW hasn't reviewed my books, even though they've sprinkled their stars upon fellow Inkspot authors. When I pondered hanging up fiction and returning to journalism.

Then I remembered that newspapers are sounding a death rattle, that nobody's hiring, and that friends and former colleagues in the media are losing jobs right and left.

In other words, not a happy day.

Until I got an email from a reader, telling me she loved my book. I thought back to why I left the news biz. I wanted to make people laugh, to bring some levity to a post-9/11 world that felt sad and deadly serious. And here was somebody writing to tell me I'd managed to do just that.

That's when I got the idea of sifting through my emails to create a feel-good folder. I'd fill it only with nice notes from readers. Here's one, from a woman in Birmingham, Ala:

My doctor had been concerned about my rising blood pressure, from stress of constant terrible news on TV. Your book was the perfect antidote: I laughed, felt like I actually knew your very real characters, and was so thoroughly relaxed that my blood pressure went down!

Here's another, from a reader who discovered the Large Print editions of my Mace Bauer Mystery series:

I get migraines from eye strain. It has been a long time since reading was fun for me until your books.

And another one, from a woman who said she's eagerly awaiting Book 3:

I couldn't wait to write and tell you how much I loved your book... funny, clever, LOL, great read ...

After paging through my Happy Folder, the day didn't seem so depressing after all.

PS to Oprah, if you're reading this. I didn't mean it about your couch.

How 'bout you, fellow authors? Do you have a favorite reader e-mail? Readers, have you ever heard from an author that a note from you made his or her day?


Lisa Bork said...

Geez, Deb, now I'm depressed that no readers have e-mailed me. But my book's only been out a month so I still can hope. I did get a kick out of my Amazon reviews.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

That's a great idea, Deb, to have a happy folder! I'm going to follow your lead on that one.

I've gotten a couple of emails that eagerly asked when the next book was coming out. Loved them!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Alan Orloff said...

A Happy Folder is a great idea (it sure beats Rejection Folder).

Hope you get yours filled up!

(I think I'll write myself a few encouraging emails to get mine started. Does that count?)

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Great reviews are ... well .... great! But, honestly, it's the e-mails from readers that keep me going, and although I don't have a Happy Folder (fabulous idea!), I do save many of them and review them when I'm in the dumps.

It's also very dear to me when readers come up at events and tell me how much they love my books. And many have sent me small, touching gifts, like handmade jewelry, dolls, even a fruit basket! Recently someone made me a gorgeous scrap book on Odelia.

I'm thrilled to say, I receive e-mail from readers nearly every day now. Keep them coming, folks. You have no idea what your kind words mean to us in the trenches. At least this is one author who doesn't take them for granted.

Deborah Sharp said...

Hey, y'all. Thanks for commenting. Forgot to mention, my cards and website both have my email address, so make it easy for readers to write if they're inclined.
Lisa: A month is nothing! Give it a little time, you'll get some nice notes, I promise.

Elizabeth: Start filling your Happy Folder with those folks who can't wait for the next book ... knowing they'll be disappointed if you don't get crackin' is a great motivator.

Alan: That folder will be BULGING when "Diamonds'' debuts. (PS: If you're making up nice notes, send a few my way :-)

Sue Ann: You're the QUEEN of involved readers and great ideas. You rock, hon!

Anonymous said...

A happy folder? Really? Sincerely, Eeyore.

Deborah Sharp said...

Dear Anonymous: Yes, Really. Of course, I'd prefer a little crack, but I'm in rehab now, and need something else to make me happy (Kidding, kidding, kidding ;-)

G.M. Malliet said...

I have a happy folder in my email account. Absolutely, I save this kind of thing.

Anonymous said...

Very amusing piece