Compliment my books or my kids—not me! (Brenda Hiatt)

Reading through this month’s posts, I see I’m not the only one here who often feels awkward or uncomfortable receiving personal compliments. If someone tells me they like my outfit or my shoes, my first instinct is to deflect. “Oh, my daughter picked it/them out. She got all the fashion sense in the family.” If they tell me I have great hair, I laugh, say thanks and add something like, “Probably time to color again, huh?” I’ve never been good at accepting compliments about myself. For one thing, I’m never prepared for them, so I never have a good answer ready (see above). And most compliments seem to be about things I can’t really take credit for. I don’t make my own clothes (or shoes!) and can’t control how my hair grows, or its texture. Possibly I’d feel differently if I were a seamstress (I am so not!) or a hair stylist (ditto). 

Because, I confess, I adore it when people compliment my books, something I can take credit for. It’s even better if they do it in email instead of to my face, because that gives me time to craft an appropriate response. (No one has ever complimented my shoes or hair in an email, so I can’t say how I’d reply there.) Why I feel so differently about book compliments I’m not sure, but I suspect it’s similar to the way I also love it when someone compliments one of my daughters. Those compliments also make me glow and of course I always wholeheartedly agree with them. It would just be weird to respond to “You have great hair!” with, “Yes, don’t I?” But I have no problem replying to “Your daughter is so talented!” with, “Yes, isn’t she?” 

Things I like receiving compliments about:

My books
My lovely, talented daughters
Cutest grandbaby ever

Of course, I'd never respond to an email saying, “Your books are wonderful!” with, “Yes, aren’t they?” Instead I let the person doing the complimenting know they made my day, making my reply partly about them. “I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed it!” or, “What a sweet note! Thank you so much.” 

Not only are my responses heartfelt expressions of gratitude, I always hope they’ll encourage those readers to reach out to other authors as well when they enjoy a book. Ours is a lonely profession, so it’s nice to be reminded there really are people out there reading what we write. That’s why I often say something like, “What a lovely start to my day!” or even, “Emails from readers like you are what keep me writing!” 

That last bit is true, by the way. I probably would have stuck to my original plan of ending my Starstruck series after the fourth installment if I hadn’t received so many emails from readers begging me to please, please, please write more books in that world. 

My favorite compliments tend to be those from my teenaged readers. Their emails, comments (on places like Wattpad) and even reviews (which I mostly avoid reading) are sometimes so enthusiastic! A few favorite examples (unedited):

"Oh My gosh you have no clue how much I'm excited to even talk to you!! Btw, your "Starstruck" series are the best books I have ever heard about, and read!!!"

“Dear Ma’am, I really enjoy reading the Starstruck series, and sometimes I think that it's all real and not just a story.”

“I WAS SO EXCITED and when I started reading the books,i could not stop reading them. I READ THEM ALL IN ONE DAY.Thanks for making them”

“I just wanna say that star struck is like the best book ive ever read”

“I have been on Wattpad for a couple of years now and all I do is read (yes that means no social life) and this is by far one of the BEST books I gave read I can't wait till you update Starstruck.”

Normally I would not have read a book about aliens are martians or anything like that. Which is weird because I'd be quicker to believe in aliens and I would werewolves. Anyway I just wanted to say thank you again for being such an amazing writer I'm already 26 pages into Star-Crossed and I'm already in love with that one too and cannot wait to read the rest of them actually now I have all four I just bought the last one Starfall.”

I love your starstruck series book I discovered them last year I was fifteen I have every single book the  novella and Rigel's Jewel. I can't wait for the novella's series well if you make one you said you were thinking about it and I'm just waiting patiently. Thank you so much for making these books.” 

I suppose one thing compliments about my kids and about my books have in common is that giddy sense of, “I made this! And it’s really good!” It’s always nicest to receive a compliment I think might be, in some measure, deserved—at least for me.

Brenda Hiatt is the author of 23 books so far and she's proud of each and every one. (She also takes very good care of her hair, but would rather be complimented on her books!)


  1. I particularly love the shoes (and sandals) you wear when going on long walks with me, because you are going on long walks with me. :-)

    1. Now THAT'S a compliment I can accept! Thanks, Mar! ;-)

  2. I also hope readers will continue to reach out to authors.


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