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 is about—literature.
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
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,
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
nominate a book that fits within the parameters listed
in this year's Noble Back to Literature column. Explain
in 25 word or less why your nomination is a work of literary
merit and sent directly to me.
Nominations must be signed with your real name, e-mail
address and a URL if you have one. Email
Winners feel free to capture a
banner for your website!
Howard-Johnson is a multi award-winning novelist, poet
and author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of
how-to books. She occasionally teaches classes for the
renowned UCLA Extension Writers' Program.
Website - My
Review Blog - Email