Originally posted on 18/09/2006 and tweaked from time to time. Links added and out of date bits deleted.
Now that I’ve covered the sorts of questions I can’t answer, I thought I ought to balance that by describing the sort of fanmail I love to receive.
“Hi. Love your books. I have a question…”
Now, it might seem after the Unanswerable Questions post that I don’t like receiving questions. I do. In fact, the reason this website came into existence and grew so big was primarily out of the need to answer questions. I want to make it as easy as possible for readers to get information – or at least the information that I can provide.
The Frequently Asked Questions page came out of a desire to not have to answer the same questions over and over and over and over and over and over. The last blog entry came out of the need to tackle common questions that I can’t answer specifically on the website without giving away the plot, are best discussed in a forum or book club, or ones I simply can’t answer.
Anyway… other kinds of fanmail I love are:
“Hi. Love your books. I know you’re busy so there’s no need to reply.”
I used to reply to these anyway, because that person had been so considerate. Now I don’t of course, but I thought it worthwhile to mention this to let people know I appreciate their thoughtfulness.
“Hi. Love your books. This is what I liked best/this didn’t work for me.”
I love feedback. I can learn a lot from it, both in term of writing and just how amazingly varied readers are. Yes, I get a lot of people complaining about a certain character’s death, but it’s amazing how much easier it is to hear when the email is polite and thoughtful.
“Hi. LYB. This is where I think the story is going:”
This sort of feedback can be useful, too, though it can be frustrating if someone guesses correctly! It only applies to books I’ve already written. I don’t like receiving story ideas for books I’ve yet to write. So please, don’t send me suggestions about future stories set in my worlds.
“Hi. LYB. They have helped me through a tough time.”
Oh boy. Whether the trials are simply teen angst or a horrible job, or chemo therapy or surviving a war zone, these emails always make my heart skip. Thank you for sharing your story with me. (However, past experience forces me to add, I will not forward you manuscripts of unpublished books or even parts of them no matter how dire your situation. That would be in breach of my contract.)
“Hi. LYB. I found a mistake in your book/on your website.”
Most of the time, in the case of books, people are finding the same mistakes over and over so please check the list on my Report a Typo page before contacting me. If you do find something new, please use the form. I can forward the mistake to my publishers and they’ll fix it in reprints. With website errors I can correct them when I do updates.
“Hi. LYB. You’re my favourite author. I think your books are as good or better than x, y or z author.”
I won’t pretend that this doesn’t give me a huge ego boost.
“Hi. LYB. I’ve shared them with all my friends/family/crew/workmates/whatever.”
Okay, like most writers I’d rather you said you bought them for all your friends/family/etc, but the chances are if they like them they’ll buy them anyway, or tell others who will buy them. Every recommendation gets a big thank you from me.
“Hi. LYB. I’ve bought them for all my friends/family/crew/workmates/whatever.”
I love you.
“Hi. LYB. And I think your website is great – soooo much information.”
I love you.
“Hi. LYB. They’ve inspired me to read/read more fantasy/write.”
Fantastic! If they’ve inspired you to write, then you might find something useful on my Writing Advice page. I hope you gain as much enjoyment out of it as I have – if not more!