Authors have voices in their head. For some, it’s 24/7. Out of necessity, mine are mostly limited to when I’m writing, but there are always exceptions. The bad news: the exceptions tend to be negative voices, telling me what a dumb schmuck I am.
So praise, when it happens, is pretty sweet.
The absolute best praise comes in reader reviews, especially on Amazon. Why? The cold, hard truth is that Amazon uses algorithms in choosing which books to put in front of readers, and they’re greatly affected by the number of reviews a book has. Honestly, a review is one of the best gifts you can give an author. One of my faves, written about my YA novel Pride, Prejudice, and Push-Up Bras: “...will keep you turning pages, laughing until the very end. It starts out with humor and ends with love.” Huge thanks!
(If you’ve never posted a review on Amazon, it’s easy. And it can be as short as “Great book!” Amazon mostly cares about the number of reviews, not what you say.)
But I’m grateful for all good news. I’m frequently mired in quicksand when writing or revising a book—like, say, right at the moment—so kind words are a lifesaver.
A few examples:
- A friend who told me that her daughter considers me her favorite author OF ALL. Wow. Day made!
- A teenage girl at a booksigning who drew a picture of me and made me look really good. (I wish!) She said it was simply how she saw me.
- Editors who’ve told me I write really, really funny stuff.
- The “big” authors at my very first RWA conference who chatted with and praised me because I was a Golden Heart finalist. All these years later, I’m still grateful for those moments in the sun.
I’m also a musician, and I recently started writing songs. At songwriting camp this summer, my songwriting hero Rodney Crowell told me, “Your first song is better than my first song was.” (LIFE made!) And an utterly amazing guitarist at camp, Joe Robinson, told me, “You have a real feel for music and can do this. You’ll go far.” Yes, I wrote down his words the INSTANT I walked away. They still encourage me every day.
And on and on. So many friends and strangers have offered praise when I really needed it. Or maybe, more accurately, we ALWAYS need it, because the negative voices in our heads need to be shouted down on a daily basis. And I’m not just talking about writers. We ALL need kind words.
So, if you possibly can, go out of your way to compliment someone today. A friend, a stranger. Trust me: they need it more than you know. Life is hard; make it easier for the people you meet.
Oh, and since today is November 6 ... GO VOTE!
Mary Strand is the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Push-Up Bras and three other novels in the Bennet Sisters YA series. You can find out more about her at marystrand.com.