Readers Give Back

By Stacey Joy Netzel, guest blogger

Authors are nothing without readers. Sure, many of us would write regardless (me included), however at some point we need to build a fan base if we want any type of longevity in the business end of publishing. To do that, authors must:

1. Write. Damn good books. Books that make readers salivate for our next release date.

2. Submit for publication: This can be very nerve-wracking, even when we’ve published already. (It’s worse when waiting for a first sale.) The best way I’ve ever heard this described was during Christina Dodd’s keynote speech at RWA National in Atlanta, GA. “It’s like standing up on stage…pulling down your pants…and asking for comments.” (I paraphrased.)

3. We must promote. For some of us, it comes naturally. For others, it’s almost as bad as submitting. “Here’s my book, please buy it, please like it.” We can’t be too timid, but on the flip side, no one likes a pushy ‘sales’ person, either. We walk the line and hope we don’t cross too far on either side.

In the end, what makes all the work worthwhile is the readers. The ones who e-mail us to ask when the next book is coming out. The ones who write to tell us how much they loved our characters and wished the book would never end. The ones who read, and though they may not write to us, they tell their friends about this new author they’ve discovered and loved. The ones who eagerly participate in our contests, check websites, follow blogs, and come to book signings.
I’m running a contest from March 1-April 30, in which I ask “you” to pass out 20 (or more, if you want) of my bookmarks and in return I enter your name into a drawing with a total of 16 prizes. I worried I was crossing to the pushy side, but decided to give it a try anyway. The response has been wonderful! So far, readers and friends have stepped up to the tune of 33 entries from 13 different states, equaling over 880 bookmarks. I received an entry from Chris in TX, and her best friend Stephanie in SC, who regularly hand out authors’ promotion items because they’re “Glad to help!” You two made my day. :)

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the readers out there from the bottom of my heart. When you help out, when you take the time to send a fan letter, when you tell others about our books… you give so much joy back to us authors. Because, in the end, it really does come down to YOU!

Thank you!

Okay, now I’ve got 3 questions for you…answer one, or all! :)
1. What about a book inspires you to write a fan letter?
2. What author is in your hot little hands right now?
3. Who's up next?

Stacey Joy Netzel
(Stacey’s working today, but she will be around this evening to respond to comments.)
Stacey Joy Netzel fell in love with books at a young age, so for her, it seemed only natural to graduate to writing them. A member of RWA and WisRWA, she credits not only her parents and husband for encouraging her dreams of becoming a published author, but also the very talented friends she’s made in WisRWA since joining in 2004. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and kids, a couple of horses, and six barn cats. When not writing and living life in general, she loves to read and watch movies—Happily Ever After’s a must. Published books with The Wild Rose Press include: If Tombstones Could Talk (paranormal novella), Welcome to Redemption (Champagne Rose anthology with Donna Marie Rogers), Dragonfly Dreams (Christmas Novella), and Chasin’ Mason (contemporary western). She just signed a contract for a Christmas Anthology, Mistletoe Rules, that she hopes will be released Christmas 2009. You can visit her at She would LOVE to hear from you!
36 Responses
  1. Edie Says:

    Terrific blog, Stacey! You said everything I feel. I wish I'd heard Christina Dodd talk. Love that analogy!

  2. Stacey,

    When I read a book that I'm enjoying so much, but don't want to finish it because it's so darn good, that's when I drop an email to the author.

    As an author, I know how much those emails means and as a reader I try to let the author's know if their book really tickled my fancy.

    Great post.


  3. Skhye Says:

    Great post, Stacey. I don't write fan letters. I'm the world's biggest pessimist and don't believe they are read by the "star". My TBR pile is in the garage with the rest of my personal library. So, I have no clue which end is up or where the pile lurks behind my reference library. And read? I've got to promo! LOL. You know that song. ;) Since my answers aren't what you were looking for, I thought I'd leave a comment anyway. ;) My TBR is full of Highlanders, paranormal topics, and fantasy... Skhye

  4. Stacey, you're right! I was so thrilled when emails started coming in from readers asking when the other two McClintock brothers from Circumstantial Memories were going to "get their books." I was so relieved when I sold the two follow-up books and could tell them Jan. '10 and May '10!

    I'll write a fan letter when I can't stop thinking about the story and when I know there's going to be a next book in the series. I have Eloisa James's Return of the Duke in my hot little hands and I'm saving it for spring break in a few weeks. Up next? You know, I have Welcome to Redemption sitting on my PC...

    Thanks for dropping by Fierce Romance!

  5. Great blog, Stacey! As you know you summed up all my fears about promotion (sorry if some rubbed off on you *G*). You do a great job with it, so much so that I'm more and more in awe of you each day.

    The very first fan letter (email) I wrote was back in 2004 to Jayne Ann Krentz. I'd been a fan of hers for years and told her it was my dream that one day she read a book that I'd written. She wrote me back and suggested I look into joining RWA, which, of course, was the best advice I've ever received since it led me to you and WisRWA. :-)

    I also sent a fan email to Helen Taylor Scott after judging The Magic Knot in the Fab Five. I loved it and couldn't wait for the story to be published. Then, just a few days ago, she emailed me to say how much she loved There's Only Been You and that she'd reviewed it on Amazon. I was so thrilled!

    I'm reading Laurel Bradley's Creme Brulee Upset, then next up is Chasin' Mason. :-)

  6. Nicole North Says:

    Thanks for being here with us today, Stacey, and guest blogging!!

  7. Edie, great to see you here. Still waiting to hear any news on Dead People after your close finish with AI. I'll look forward to writing my own fan letter to you! It was Atlanta 2006...see if you can get a copy of her keynote speech. I might even have it with our Natl. tape library.

  8. Christie, I know what you mean about trying to let the author know. I also have Recent Reads on my website, however I need to get it updated again. Thanks for stopping. :)

  9. btw, I know I said I'd be here after work, but every once in awhile I find I am not filtered out of a website/blog, so here I am! :)

  10. Skhye, I'm always glad to have you visit. You're remodelling or something, right? My dh just called me this morning to let me know he found a great refinance rate on the house, so we're going to put up a nice garage for him and I get a new bathroom. Yay!!! We live in a very old farmhouse, if you saw it, you'd understand my excitement. :)

  11. Carol, it's very nice to be here with you gals. I, too, was happy to hear that you sold the brothers books. :)

    There's been a few friends lately who've released historicals, so I currently have Emily Bryan's Vexing the Viscount going and then a paranormal, Time out of Mind, by Barbara Raffin. Yesterday on a blog I guested at, I forgot to mention Vanessa Kelly's Mastering the Marquess on my TBR pile when it releases in April.

  12. Hey, Donna. :) That's a cool story to be able to tell. And some day, you'll return the favor for a new writer, who'll tell her story about her fan letter to Donna Marie Rogers. :) Looking forward to your release date for Meant To Be in July. :)

  13. Nicole, thanks so much for having me! I really appreciate the opportunity to visit with all of you here. :)

  14. Sandy Says:

    Great blog, Stacey.

    I got to hear Christine Dodd make a very similar speech here in Kansas City. She told it exactly like it is when it comes to writing.


  15. conb00 Says:

    Hi Stacey, I like your blog.I'm a reader what I like about a book is when it capures me from the beginning and I'm practically sitting at the edge of my seat cause of all the suspense of whats going to happen next, or when the characters come alive off the pages and you have to keep reading until the last page, then you get kinda bummed and then happy to know there's going to be another book hopefully sooner than the release date. I'm putting your book on my MUST READ list!

  16. Great post, Stacy! I love your bookmark contest - that's truly creative promo.

    Right now I'm reading Spymasters Lady, by Joanna Bourne. It's an astoundingly good book - inventive, engaging, emotional, and just plan exciting!

  17. Kris Kennedy Says:

    Stacey ~
    What a great idea, the bookmarks thing! So glad it's working for you!

    Exciting too, to know people are giving them away all over the place! And you have such a cool cover, it'll definitely draw attention . . . :-)

    Authors in my hot little hand right now include . . .YOU! (Okay, your book is in my hot little laptop LOL)

    Things that prompted me to write a fan letter (email) . . . the book was so good, and just a little different from the 'norm', that I wanted to make sure she knew people were loving it, and to keep on, even is the sales weren't taking off yet. :-)

    I agree with conb00 - I love a book that makes me HAVE to know what's on the next page. :-)

  18. Sandy, Christina is great, isn't she? I hadn't read her before (that I'd remembered) but after her speech, there was a free book of her's on the chairs at lunch and I read Barefoot Princess on the plane ride from Atlanta to Green Bay. The whole thing! A very good book. Thanks for coming by, Sandy!

  19. conb00--I know what you mean. I've been known to stay up reading, blinking and rubbing my eyes, until 2 or 3 or 4am, then have to get up for work at 5:30a. I haven't done it for years (not as young as I used to be *grin*), but man, those were the days. I still find books I'd love to do that with, but I'm smarter now. Most of the time. LOL. I hope you enjoy Chasin' Mason--thanks for being here!

  20. Vanessa, what great promo for Joanna--such praise from another author. I'm going to have to write that one down. I truly am looking forward to picking up Mastering the Marquess in April! Hope you have a wonderful release month!!!

  21. Kris, I love a book that makes me HAVE to see what's on the next page, but at the same time I hate it (see above post, lol) Darn you damn good authors out there writing such good books! Kris, after reading your excerpts for The Conquerer, I have a feeling I'll be cursing you in the wee hours of the morning one day in May.

    Have a great trip and enjoy Chasin' Mason!

    And yes, I'm loving meeting people from around the country with this bookmark contest.

  22. Stacey,

    What a great post! What you described what Christina Dodd said about writers hit the mark!

    What I love about a good book is absolutely not being able to put it down...for anything! Even for sleep!


  23. Chris J. Says:

    Hi Stacey!

    Thank you for the honorable mention! I am new to your books and I like the cover for "Chasin' Mason". The blurb puts it on my to get list already!
    I am a big paranormal fan though I read all kinds of books. I am looking forward to reading "If Tombstones Could Talk (paranormal novella)" and "Dragonfly Dreams (Christmas Novella)". :)
    Can't wait to help spread your name and that you have had such a wonderful response! An big Kudo's for this blog! It's awesome subject!

    As to your questions:
    1. What about a book inspires you to write a fan letter?

    If an author inspires me, makes me feel the characters, the story and I am instantly drawn in, to the point of blocking out the world and seeing the author's world in my mind as I read it! Then I am a fan and write to let the author know I loved the book!

    2. What author is in your hot little hands right now?

    Jeaniene Frost, At Grave's End.

    3. Who's up next?

    Adrian Phoenix, A Rush of Wings

    Best Wishes Stacey!

  24. Thank you, Christine! Too bad we need that sleep, hey? :)

  25. Chris, glad to see you here! :) See what you started? That's a great way to say it, when a book blocks out the rest of the world. One time I almost missed a connection in the airport because I was so wrapped up in my book. I made the "last boarding call" by about three minutes, and I was sitting right there!

    I've made a note of both those authors so I can go look up their websites. Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a great night and all the best to you and the other girls. :)

  26. I've never written a fan letter-too busy working and writing myself. If a book doesn't capture my interest very quickly I don't read it. There are too many other good reads out there.

  27. Stecey,

    I didn't know about this yesterday so I figure you won't get this post.

    What am I reading now? Nothing...I just finished Chasin' Mason and loved it. How you managed to weave the title into the search for a horse, and get those two characters together took a very fine hand. Bravo. :-)

    What do I love about a book and keeps me involved? Interesting characters and at least some I can love lots.

    Great post.

    Mary Jo/Casey

  28. Anonymous Says:

    I just read "Innocent Blood" by P.D. James. Not exactly a romance, but James is an ace at building tension and setting scenes. I just started Karna Bodman's "Checkmate." I've never written an author after reading a book, unless this counts!

    I enjoyed your blog. Your success is inspiring to all of us almost-there writers. Even passing out post cards to advertise my about-to-be-published romantic suspense to friends takes guts. I love to write, but get out there and brag about it? Yikes!

    Thanks for your wise words.

    A.Y. Stratton
    Coming in October, 2009,
    from The Wild Rose Press

  29. Chiron Says:

    GREAT blog, Stacey! Very inspiring!

    Right now I'm reading Operation Sheba by Misty Evans which I'm loving!! Next up is ANGEL'S FIRE, DEMON'S BLOOD by Tamela Quijas.

    Smiles to you,
    Chiron O'Keefe

  30. kathyeq Says:

    Hi Stacey--

    Thanks for sharing. In this new world of Epromotiong, it's getting easier to get a fan base, albeit still a lot of work.

    I;m reading Eternal Plesure by Nina Bangs. I love sci-fi/fantasy but this one is a but formualic. The writing is good enough to make up for it.

    What's next on my list? I think Chasin Mason!!

  31. Hi, Elaine! Thanks for stopping by! I agree with you--now. But there was a time I'd suffer through a not so good book because I had this goofy idea that since I'd started it, I should finish it. My CP rubbed off on me fast with that one--if I have precious little free time, why waste it reading something I don't like? :) Especially if I'd rather be writing.

  32. Mary Jo, I'm still here! Question is, will you get my reply? :) I'm so glad you enjoyed Chasin' Mason! Thanks for letting me know! You're the first one to tell me they finished it and loved it (besides my editor--which was cool, too!). And right after your comment, I got another e-mail from someone who loved it. Now I can breathe a little easier. :) I'll 'see' you at the meeting this weekend!

  33. A.Y. Stratton, a couple more authors I haven't tried. I'll have to check them out. I am looking forward to the release of Buried Heart this October--my birthday is a great excuse to give the hubby to buy lots of books! Good luck on your up-coming promo's. Be sure to let me know so I can cheer you on!

  34. Chiron, thanks for coming over.

    First, if anyone is EVER looking for inspiration, you MUST check out Chiron's blog (see her post for the address). Her weekly motivational blogs are amazing! I don't know how you get writing done each would take me all week to write something half as good as you do on your blog!

    And thank you for more author names. I'll have lots to google next time I'm procrastinating. :)

  35. Kathy, isn't it amazing when you can read a plot you've read a hundred times before and yet still enjoy the book because the author wrote it so well? I love that! You're very sweet to say Chasin' Mason is next on your list, :), I really hope you like it! Thank you for coming by.

  36. Chiron Says:

    Aw, Stacey,

    Thanks so much for your kind words about my blog! Bless you, my dear!


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