January 31, 2020

Like a Thank You to a Friend

By Suzanne Woods Fisher  @suzannewfisher

Just a few days ago, I received an email from a reader who wanted me to know that she was throwing my book in the trash. I’d offended her, somehow, and she wanted me to know it. I thanked her for her feedback, like I would thank a friend.

When I first started getting published, that kind of reader email would have thrown me for a loop. I would have felt hurt or misunderstood or defensive. Probably…all three. And my already shaky confidence about my writing ability would go off-kilter, not unlike a wobbly spinning top.

Years later, with a few books under my belt (and lots of reader emails—mostly good but some not-so-good), my perspective is entirely different. That reader cared. I admire that! I don’t agree with how she communicated her outrage, but I genuinely appreciate her feedback. And respect her feelings.

This author gig can feel like you’re standing in front of the world in your underwear. Your imagination is on display, open to public opinion. Being exposed, feeling vulnerable…it’s part of the package. While I’m not saying that an author has to accept every reader email as correct (after all, they’re just opinions), benefits come from not taking reader emails too personally. Not even the glowing ones, the ones writers print out and keep in a file to re-read on a bad day. Here’s the thing: if we believe the negative remarks as gospel truth, then we have to believe the positive ones. And those, too, are just a reader’s opinion.

Better still is for the author to realize that, in those reader emails, the tables turn for a brief moment. The reader now becomes vulnerable to the author. A reader is revealing her imagination: how much she cares about a book, its characters, theme and plot. Good or bad, savoring a book or tossing it in the trash, the fact that a reader bothers to track an author down and let her know how she feels about it is a gift…if only because she cares enough to do it. That reader deserves a thank you, like to a friend.


Like a Thank You to a Friend  Suzanne Woods Fisher  (Click to Tweet)

Carol award winner Suzanne Woods Fisher writes stories that take you to places you’ve never visited—one with characters that seem like old friends. But most of all, her books give you something to think about long after you’ve finished reading it. With over one million copies of her books sold worldwide, Suzanne is the best-selling author of more than thirty books, ranging from non-fiction books, to children’s books, to novels. She lives with her very big family in northern California.


  1. Susan L. Reichert 2 days ago
    Suzanne, thank you. This was excellent advice on notes we get from readers who are not pleased with our writing. It is hard not to take it personal because we are so vulnerable, but by seeing it from another perspective it can help us in many ways, including our writing.

    Thank you for posting.

  2. This was an excellent post Annette. You have done a great job with Suite T. Thank you. It has been a pleasure watching you work with Suite T and the authors.

    I will definitely miss you but I am glad we live in the same area and can see each other. You have meant a great deal to me personally as well as to Suite T and Southern Writers Magazine. I feel like a mother whose child is going off to college.

    Am greatful for your friendship.

    I wish you much success in your new endeavor. But we also want you to let us hear from you with a post when you can.

    As you said change is certain in life. But with change comes wonderful opportunities for growth and to soar even higher.

    Much appreciation and much success.

  3. Thanks for the information on The Read Aloud feature of Word and the one on Google. I agree with you. It makes a great deal of differences hearing the reading of the words we write. I like the one on Word.

    You mentioned it was a great step when down to final drafts, but I have to confess I like to use it with my first draft. It helps me hear my story and to determine I am on the right track.

    Thank you Wendy for your advice today and being on Suite T. You mentioned you