Reader emails (99% awesome, 1% waaah, leave me alone)

So my new book, THE BUTCHER, came out last Tuesday (yay!) and among the many awesome things that happen when a book is released are the lovely emails I get from people I've never met.

It's out now! This would make a lovely gift for someone, yes? *hint hint*

Obviously I'm not talking about those spam emails for sexual dysfunction pills or online dating sites (which I get anyway, and have nothing to do with releasing a book). The emails I'm referring to are from folks who, from somewhere in the world, have read my book and liked it (or were annoyed by it!) enough to send me an email about it.

99% of the reader emails I get are absolutely delightful. I make a point to respond to every single one, though I may not always be timely (and I'm sorry about that, as writing and that pesky thing called life can sometimes steal all my energy for the day). But I do always reply, and usually quite joyfully. I love talking to readers! Hell, I would love talking to readers even if I wasn't a writer. We're a unique little club, we are.

Here are a few examples of the delightful emails I receive:

Dear Jennifer,

I loved your book FREAK! You kept me up way too late last night reading, but it was worth it! I have to know, what happens to Abby?

Sincerely,
Reader

*delightful*

AND

Dear Jennifer,

My mom lent me her copy of CREEP, and I loved it and have passed it along to my friend Myrna, who said she'll finish it by tomorrow, and then lend it to her coworker Alan, who loves thrillers.

Yours truly,
Reader

*extremely delightful*

AND

Dear Jennifer,

I'm such a fan of your work and can't wait to dive into THE BUTCHER! I've just ordered it and so did everyone in my family and social circle, and everyone in their families and social circles as well. You're just that amazing.

Love and adoration,
Reader

*ridiculously delightful* *and also a total fantasy, this has never been emailed to me* *but one can hope*

But not every email is delightful. I would say a full 1% of the emails I get are decidedly non-delightful.

Here are a few examples of the non-delightful emails I get:

Dear Ms. Hillier,

I have read your novel CREEP and while I thought it was okay, I counted and you used the word 'fuck' 96 times. I get that your book is about a sex addict and a serial killer, but why so much profanity? For that reason I can't recommend this novel to anyone and I highly recommend that you refrain from using such harsh language in your future books.

Sincerely,
Reader

*well, fuck*

AND

Dear Jennifer Hillier,

I just finished reading FREAK. I used to be an inmate at a maximum security prison and I did not think your prison scenes were realistic. If you want to hire me as a consultant for your next book, I would be happy to make sure you get your facts straight. We can discuss payment at a later date. What's your home address?

Yours truly,
Reader

*what the hell*

AND

Dear Jennifer,

I enjoyed your book, but couldn't help but notice the following errors/typos/inaccuracies:

p. 43 - error
p. 92 - error
p. 101 - typo
p. 289 - inaccurate - did you get this from Google?

Regards,
Reader

*waaah* *curls up into fetal position, sucks thumb*

Non-delightful emails instantly remind me that what I do is creative and subject to public opinion. Everybody who reads a book is absolutely entitled to say what they think about it, and not everybody will like it, for lots of reasons. And that can be hard for someone like me, who's a "people-pleaser" by nature. But if you want to publish a book, then feedback in all its forms are part of the package that publishing comes with.

Also, mistakes in a novel will still slip through to the finished product, despite the fact that the book has been revised at least four times by me, and worked on with an editor (usually twice), and then a copy editor, and then edited again using the professionally typeset pages another two more times. Mistakes suck, but they happen (and I still want to stamp my feet in frustration when they do).

But then a delightful email pops into my inbox, and all is right with the world again.

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