Your Mama Told
You To Write Thank Yous
I feel comfortable including a little excerpt from a
book I am writing called Getting Great Book Reviews
Frugally and Ethically to be released in August.
2016. I think the basic idea of thank you notes for
reviewers is as valid for readers as it is for writers
(you’ll see why in the excerpt I adapted below
to include both!). I also feel comfortable because I
write very few reviews for MyShelf.com so I don’t
feel as if I’m asking for visitors to this site
to send thank yous to me. I prefer to concentrate on
my Back to Literature columns and the Noble (Not Nobel!)
Awards I give on this site each January. (See more about
those in the archives—almost any January issue
will help you!). It’s also true that I have watched
reviews for this site and others labor for many years
to help readers find great books. They do it out of
love for literature. And that’s what this column
the First Draft of Getting Great Book Reviews,
third in Carolyn’s HowToDoItFrugally Series
of books for writers
TO YOUR THANK YOUS is always important. Your mama
taught you that a long time ago.
need love, too. When they write a review that writer’s
love because it praises their work, write a review
authors don’t love so much because it doesn’t
rave enough, or even when they write a review of someone
else’s book that convinces a reader to buy a
book and support the industry that brings them so
much pleasure, send them a note of congratulations.
stop there. There will be other occasions where notes
are appropriate—sympathy, holidays, birthdays,
and--as your friendship grows--postcards when you
travel. Readers who do this will feel they are more
a part of the industry that does so much for them;
writers will benefit by staying in touch with those
who influence the industry they are part of!
Possibilities: Send congratulatory notes
when reviewers and other media friends receive awards,
redesign their Web pages, write a great feature
story, or are assigned a new column.
create goodwill. Goodwill creates opportunity. Use
your writing skill to make the recipient feel valued
rather than a cursory note like the ones you tried
to get away with when you were in the third grade.
Let the reviewer know what you liked and even what
you didn’t like so much. That helps them do
better work in the future.
about rules governing thank you notes? You
didn’t really think I was going to give you
firm, fast rules, did you? Trust me. Reviewers won’t
care if your note is perfect. They will love the attention.
It will probably be a first for them.
for Authors: Your most memorable note—the
one that turns out to be the most instrumental in
your writing career—may be the one you send
to a reviewer who was critical of your book. One
of my least favorite reviews for my first novel
was written by the owner of an online Web site other
than this one. I told her—sincerely—that
I learned much from her critique. I kept in touch
with her and it wasn’t long before she occasionally
published my articles or essays on her site.
another guideline (not a firm rule!). A thank you
note sent on real paper with a real stamp to a reviewer’s
place of business or home is always preferable to
any other method. Having said that, we know that is
not always possible and authors and readers can only
spend so much time tracing down contact information
on the Web.
you decide to do some tracking, though, try finding
the reviewer’s personal or business Web site.
It might include her address or the address of the
journal or other media she works for. A note sent
to a reviewer in care of, say, Kirkus reviews, has
a good chance of being forwarded to her. See what
you find searching on the reviewer’s name using
Google, Bing search, or your social network’s
search engine. A reviewer will be thrilled if you
send it any old way-- by post, e-mail, or just tweet
it out. Everyone is tweeting these days, even politicians.
Tips and Tidbits
(Each month in this box,
Carolyn lists a Tidbit that will help authors
write or promote better. She will also include
a Tip to help readers find a treasure among long-neglected
books or a sapphire among the newly-published.)
Tidbit: Everyone is a writer these
days. They write on social networks. They
blog. They may even write books. My multi
The Frugal Editor will help them with
all the grammar and formatting that their
English teacher never taught them. Or all
the things that have changed since their
English teacher gave them an A. The Frugal
Editor is now in its second edition in paper
or as an e-book. It’s been reformatted,
updated, and expanded.
My newest book is a full book of
poetry. Jim Cox, Editor-in-Chief of Wisconsin
Bookwatch says, “[Carolyn Howard-Johnson
is] an exceptionally skilled wordsmith, her
poetry will linger in the mind and memory
long after the book itself has been finished
and set back upon the shelf. Very highly recommended
for community and academic library Contemporary
American Poetry collections . . .” Find
Echoes at amazon.com