February 11, 2010

Hello! My Name Is...

This week, I have been recording BACKSEAT SAINTS on audio---insert parenthetical whee!---and I am so loopy tired from it that I forgot to remind you that Tuesday was Tuesday and that I would be over on Five Full Plates. It’s weird how sitting on your butt in the studio pretending to run all the way across the country while shooting things and doing it tires you out----without the actual fun of running across the country while shooting things and doing it.

Anyway, a rather interesting discussion has popped up on a writer’s list I belong to, and I was wondering if you wanted to chime in. A woman on that list read a book, loved it, was planning to read the next book in the series, then went to the author’s website and found no contact onformation. She said, “I am wondering now if I want to “waste” my time
reading any more books by an author who doesn’t want to hear from fans.” WOW. That floored me. In a few short years, The internet sure has changed the way we live and think...

Working conferences and touring, I have met quite a few of the authors now whose books I ADORE, and I have learned that if I like someone’s book, it does not automatically mean I will them as a person. Jerks and philistines can be talented and successful, too, apparently. Thanks, God. Also I have learned that wonderful people I adore may write books that bore me.

I keep that really separate now, because I don’t wish to screw myself out of the pleasure of a superlative read just because the writer is a buttmunch. And I don’t; want to slog through a book that isn’t really my kind of thing just because the author is a peach. Of course, *cough* I tend to get the buttmunch’s book used and sometimes I buy the peach’s book new to give to a friend or relative who likes that genre more than I do.

I think her point was that in this facey-space tweeting world of instant access to fictional characters you like---you can get TWEETS from TV characters these days, good LORD, an author should be available to hear from fans.

And it is TRUE that almost EVERYONE likes hearing from fans. Almost. There are some under-rock dwelling loons in this business who get blinky and weird in direct sunlight....writers are not generally elected President of their local Sane Folks club, you know. But I think the problem is, contact info up means you hear from EVERYBODY, fans or not. Most of the mail I get is positive, but LORD...

I have gotten QUITE a few SHAME ON YOU emails –reaming me out for the language I choose to use, and sometimes these are mean hateful letters that one doesn’t forget. One person objected to how I presented the poverty in DeLop (as if DeLop is representative of The South, good grief!!!! Way to misread!!!) and told me all my books should be burned or thrown into kudzu heaps and I should do the world a favor and stop writing. That stuff HURTS.

Any writer who says it doesn’t has a thicker skin than a rhino or, more likely, is lying. I put my whole heart and a year and a half to two years of my life into every book—I love them all --- to have someone, a stranger, come to me PERSONALLY and disparage that and tear at me...is not the same thing as a review. It’s PERSONAL. It comes into my HOUSE, and I did not invite it.

The worst part? Authors with contact info up get some SPOOOOOOKY SPOOOOOKY stuff. This author may have an “overenthusiastic” fan or a lunatic “critic” who thinks the guys eyes should be put out and is telling him so. I know authors with contact info up who had received death threats, rape threats, threats of being “sent to hell” and I have been told in a memorable “fan mail” that someone should “beat some cuss cuss sense into me” or at least break all my fingers so I could not continue to “type filth.”

At the same time, you know, you get those letters from people who really GOT what you were trying to do and who feel a personal connection to the book. That makes it worth it --- FOR ME. Maybe not for others. For me, the good outweighs the bad, but I own a big dog and a gun. So. If an author does not have contact info – they may be more thin skinned than I am, or not as good a shot. *grin*

Does it matter to you? Are you more likely to buy a book by an author whose work you enjoyed before if that author has a link to an email addy, or is your facebook friend, or tweets? Do you think if an author has contact info up they don’t get to whine if people send mean things to ‘em? It’s a very interesting question to me, because it never occurred to me to do it any other way. One of the best parts about being published is having readers who have met my imaginary friends and who will gossip with me about them...but there is a pretty big downside...I’d be interested in hearing your opinions.

Posted by joshilyn at February 11, 2010 8:17 AM
Comments

Nope, doesn't matter, I don't contact them. If I really like the book I check out their website. Maybe I'll get some insight into their thinking. Sometimes I see what authors they like & try them out.

Posted by: GrandeMocha at February 11, 2010 9:06 AM

Finding out whether or not an author has contact information has never even crossed my mind. If I like the book I get it at the library. If I really really like the books I'll purchase them so I can read them more than once. I don't buy many books. Yours are on my list. I stumbled on your blog thru Mir's and keep reading because I like the way your write.

Posted by: Rita at February 11, 2010 9:18 AM

I absolutely do not need contact info for an author. I may seek out their website to see what other books they've written, but I could just as easily do that at the library or on the Interwebs.

People who send mean, horrible e-mails to someone they don't even know are just disturbed. What's the point? If you don't like a book, just stop reading it. It's okay, a book is not a contract. If the book truly upsets you, stop reading it and get rid of the book. But stop attacking the author! We need her to spend her time writing more fabulous books, not dealing with your evil.

Most importantly, if you love a book, buy many, many copies and give them to nice people who will love the book too.

Posted by: JennifeG at February 11, 2010 9:27 AM

I am very, very careful about obtaining too much information about authors. Like you, I want to enjoy their work and it ruins it for me if I think I don't like them as a person.

In fact, you are one of only two exceptions of authors BLOGS I'll even read. Because the way you write here doesn't interfere with the voice I hear in your novels, and I don't get the sense I'm suddenly reading your personal fantasy. That has happened to me before with an author. I got on their forum and their blog and enjoyed myself, but suddenly, something the author mentioned on the blog has made a verbatim appearance in their book and I feel like a voyeur. In an unpleasant way.

In general, I like my writers Salinger-y. They don't have to be complete mole people, but I prefer a little mystery between me and them. Too much access makes, us, the readers, sometimes feel that we know the author better than we do. And then it gets sticky.

Frankly, I wouldn't stop reading someone just because I couldn't contact them. It surprises me that someone feels they are entitled to that much access to a writer.

Posted by: Megs at February 11, 2010 10:15 AM

I don't want contact information. I like blogs, because they give me a between-books fix, but, while occasionally I would like to enter into a conversation that the author has stimulated with something in their book, I can't imagine that they have time to do that.

And if they take the time, it's probably taking away from their real writing, which means longer between books.

If I don't like the book,I make it go away (or,occasionally, rant and dis-recommend it). If I do, I encourage my friends to read it so WE can talk about it.

Posted by: Diane (TT) at February 11, 2010 11:11 AM

I'm with the herd on this one. An author's gift to the reader is their written word - book , article, blog, etc. They are under no obligation to bring us as readers into their inner circle. While it is nice to be able to drop an author a note saying, "I loved your book. Is so-n-so really such-n-such?" demanding an audience is a little over the top. I don't expect my clients to demand that they have my home contact info, why should this be any different? Besides, can't you go old school and send a letter to the publishing house or agent if you're really that interested in contacting the author?

Frankly, while I love the ol' FB as much as anyone for keeping up with family, friends, and the occassional author, the tweets and the rest of that is just too much. I want to have time to READ books.

Posted by: Tequila Cookie Chris at February 11, 2010 11:29 AM

I have several favorite authors, and you are the only one that I have any kind of contact with, via your blog. I feel that an author has done their job when they wrote, re-wrote, and edited their book. When I am "off" work, I do NOT want to be contacted at home about how I wrote that progress note, or how I scheduled that appointment. I think of the writer's time that way. You are an exception; it seems that you choose to spend your free time amusing us all with even more of your writing, and indulging the silliness that some of us perpetrate (the Adopt-A-Wasp Project, for example!) But to be put off by a writer who has a different process? Nah.

You must have written something other than the novels, because I have not read the "filth" that you say others have accused you of writing. Where could one find this "filth"? (I, er, just want to AVOID it, you know. Ahem.)

Posted by: JMixx at February 11, 2010 11:47 AM

It would never occur to me to look for contact info on a writer's website, and if there were an email address listed, I would assume it would go to the publishing house or the author's agent. If I were an author, I'd have a website with contact info and I'd pay someone to read the email -- they'd filter out the hate and the crazy and just forward me the ones that said "You are the Bestest Ever."

Posted by: Ruth at February 11, 2010 12:16 PM

I can't imagine feeling entitled to have contact information for an author. I love your blog, and it's how I discovered your fantastic books, but I'm also a great fan of authors that I don't know anything at all about. I like their BOOKS.

Posted by: Becky at February 11, 2010 12:17 PM

Yeah, I have internet contact with you, but not with any other authors I read. I love FTK, but I certainly wouldn't stop reading an author I liked just because I couldn't send her an e-mail. Why on earth would I deprive myself of reading a good book? Answer: I wouldn't. Duh.

I can understand a writer not wanting to get the kind of scary stuff you've described, and I'd be willing to bet certain genres and/or styles might attract more of that. Can you imagine Stephen King's inbox?

Posted by: Aimee at February 11, 2010 12:30 PM

You're the sole author whose blogs I read and with whom I'm connected on Facebook. You are not (by a long shot) the only author whose books I read, or even whose every single book I read. I like your blog, I like your personality, you make me laugh and you feel like an internet friend. But lordy me, I don't have time to do this with every author I really really like, and I rarely even look up an author's website - mostly only to find out if they have a new book coming out any time soon. I do get somewhat irritated if they don't have any sort of web presence (i.e., Tom Robbins, who is one of my very favorite authors ever but is also a complete hermit), but that's mostly because it's harder for me to find out when they're next book is coming out. I *really* don't care if they have an e-mail address posted or not.

Posted by: Jen A at February 11, 2010 12:43 PM

I think I've only ever logged onto websites for 2 authors (yours being the first), and both times I accidentally came across the websites then decided to check out the books.
For me, authors usually live in the imaginary land in my head, and I have no need to contact them. Who cares how weird they are in real life, I just want them to entertain me with their writing talent! When J.D. Salinger died recently I read about how weird and reclusive he was. It would have been a shame to miss "Catcher in the Rye" just because the author didn't want to hear from me.

Posted by: Kathy at February 11, 2010 12:46 PM

I am one of those odd people who always want to feel like I'm "in with the in crowd" so to speak. When I emailed you the first time and got a response I felt really stupid for writing, but at the same time felt really special. I wrote because I loved your work, and I'll continue to read you because I love your work, not because I can contact you. Being able to be part of the "in crowd" is just icing on the cake for me.

At the same time, I love reading the blawgs. They're a hoot. But Honey? You are waaay too obsessed about your weight. You are JUST RIGHT. Trust me. If I were your size the hallelujahs would never cease.

Then again, there's not much chance of that ever happening, so don't look for any angel choruses coming to a town near you in the not-too-distant future...

Posted by: Chris of the Woodwork at February 11, 2010 12:58 PM

In direct answer to your question: no, the opportunity or expectation of future/instant/electronic communication with an author is not a decision point for me when I choose to buy a book.

However, you're asking the choir if they like singing by asking that question here. Us ordinary, everyday non-threatening folks enjoy/crave/get-frothy-around-the-mouth for the little peeks into your world. We wants it, we needs it, we already has it.

Say, instead, you had asked 'if I shut down this blog and decided NOT to communicate with my fanbase, would it affect your decision to buy my next book', you'd get some very different replies (most of them would begin with NOOOOOOOOOO).

P.S. Hire a minion to pre-pass your inbox. There's no reason you have to "waste" your time reading communication from folks who can't express themselves without threats or expletives.

Posted by: Brian at February 11, 2010 1:08 PM

Ditching a writer due to the their "failure" to make themselves publicly accessible seems TO ME to be the height of narcissism on the part of the reader. That's just my gut reaction.

It is a small step from "he should be available to fans" to "he should do as I instruct, and it puts the lotion on its skin." JUST SAYIN'.

Posted by: Mir at February 11, 2010 1:32 PM

My answer is no. The internet has nothing to do with the authors I read..........except for one lovely exception. I stumbled on your blog thru a friend's link, read your books and have been hooked ever since. I most likely would have "discovered" them anyway, but the blog just hurried it along. As for the hateful objectors...pooh on them! Give me your kind of crazy anyday!

Posted by: Kathy at February 11, 2010 1:43 PM

It never occured to me to care if I could personally contact an author or not. In fact, I usually prefer not to--like you said, often IRL authors are not all that. But then, I don't write fan letters, fan fic, or fan (trying to think of clever witty third thing that will make you laugh but jsut too tired to be funny right now).
Frankly, that woman is weird. What gives her the right to have an author at her personal beck and call?
Although I'll admit I want to read your stuff after getting to "know" you a bit on your blog. THat's reverse though.

Posted by: edj at February 11, 2010 1:46 PM

I must be seriously Old School - if I'm not already in some sort of contact with an author, the first place I go to find out how to send them a letter is their publishing house.

And I've done that for exactly 2 authors: 1 who made a huge difference in my life when I was a very messed up teen-ager and my favorite-of-all-time author who is currently losing the battle with early onset Alzheimer's.

Posted by: Beth R at February 11, 2010 2:14 PM

I would never expect to be able to contact an author. I do appreciate a website with information on their books, and upcoming books. This is especially important for authors who write series to help me with the chronology if I come into a series when they are a couple of books in. I only read a couple of author websites and honestly, yours is the only one I'm devoted to. It may be the only one I've even commented on but I can't swear to that. And I never write to authors. I always feel as though I'm intruding.

Posted by: heidi at February 11, 2010 2:51 PM

One of my favorite authors in the world is John Irving. I have absolutely no idea how to contact him, and I don't want to know. He can stay on his pedestal better if I never, ever talk to him or know too much about his personal life. Besides, in a situation like that the author often becomes an imaginary character all on their own. I can pretend that John Irving is a very nice man who loves dogs and keeps pet bears as long as I don't know that in real life he hates ponies and is allergic to pet dander. None of which has anything to do with his writing, but might impair my ability to enjoy his novels. (Although I would like to know: WHAT is with all the BEARS, John, really?)

For me, in a lot of cases, its like those guys who are so, so pretty until they open their mouths and something dumb falls out. You just can't enjoy them in the same way anymore.

Posted by: Megs at February 11, 2010 2:54 PM

It really does not matter to me. I totally understand the not wanting to be contacted by thousands of crazy people thing. I sympathize with those people.

By the way, I read a lot of author blogs that I really enjoy, but sometimes those same authors' books bore me to tears (this does not apply to you, Joshilyn). So I think of them as separate, as well.

For the record, I hope you continue to type filth and that no one beats some cuss cuss sense into you. I think that would adversely affect your writing. What do those people want to read, anyway? Books where perfect people have tea parties in a meadow? Where is the fun in filth-less books?

Posted by: Haley at February 11, 2010 2:59 PM

In your case, I adore your books and I adore your blog but if they were written by two separate people I'd still feel the same.

I like when authors respond to emails I written with questions about a book we're reading for book club because information we get enhances our discussion. However, not hearing from an author wouldn't deter me from reading a book.

Posted by: pendy at February 11, 2010 3:22 PM

Books are fine. I have found authors through their web presence, such as blogs. But I have never stopped reading someone I couldn't personally email. Or considered such. It would bug me if their was no website, simply because will various book formats and publishing models, an author website is the easiest way to find out if there was more stuff like the last awesome thing I read, but even then I wouldn't stop reading without the info. (I might forget to constantly comb the aisles or the web for their books, but I'd remember eventually.)

Posted by: RandomRanter at February 11, 2010 4:12 PM

I'm going to answer before I read the other comments so I don't lose my sense of outrage. That woman is a loon. Just because someone writes a great story that she enjoys does not mean she is entitled to correspond with the author! Beyond the factors that you point out - that by allowing informal contact you will get hurtful (and I would point out *amateur*) criticism and perhaps even threats - at no point does an author give up the right to say, you know what, I don't want to have a conversation with you, I don't really care what you think. Seriously, I'm so sick of people thinking they have the right to express every dadgum thought in their head even when they have NO idea what they are talking about and are in no way an authority on the topic! *ahem*

I think you're a peach to give us this blog and let us see this other side of your writing - you make me laugh all the time and I appreciate it. But I'm not under any misconception that this is something you *owe* your readers, nor am I under any misconception that *you* get anything valuable from *me* other than that I buy your books, buy them for friends, and cheer you on (Go Joss, keep on writing!).

Posted by: Carrie (in MN) at February 11, 2010 4:27 PM

How odd that someone would think that they are owed immediate gratification from an author they had just read or planned to read. It's rather like a toddler in the playground saying "Watch me Mommie!" as they get ready to go down the slide and if the author isn't prepared to give them that moment, they'll get revenge by not paying attention to them. As Jimmy Buffett says, some folks "grow older but not up."

You select a book because it looks like a good read or it would make a great gift for a friend or you want to expand your horizons and learn something new. I enjoy Tess Gerritsen's books and follow her blog because she has interesting things to say about the future of writing in this e-world. I've written a Maine essayist via his publisher as the world is too fast to follow up on the negative and not recognize the positive. His handtyped acknowledgement is something I treasure, not because I expected, but because I didn't.

Keep on plugging Miz Jackson and I look forward to Backseat Saints.

Posted by: Bridget at February 11, 2010 7:13 PM

I would never have bought TGWSS in hardcover if not for your blog. Come to think of it, the only books I have purchased recently in hardcover are yours and the Kay Gardiner/Ann Shayne books -- and I read their blog too.

But I think it is a little wacky to feel entitled to that kind of connection.

Posted by: Jamie at February 11, 2010 7:18 PM

Wait, did that come out wrong? I did not mean any reflection on the merits of TGWSS. It was strictly about my being cheap and a dedicated library user/used book sleuth.

Posted by: Jamie at February 11, 2010 7:19 PM

Don't care one whit. I, however, found your novels through your blog. And I LOVE your novels. . .I do, I do. . .but I will admit that I love your blog more. You crack me up--make me think--what have you. AND you once sent a virtual "burn" to someone who had disparaged my weight via your comments. I loved it. Even though the disparager never heard the comment. ..I appreciated you standing up for me. . .while sitting at your computer. :)

Posted by: Roxanne at February 11, 2010 7:33 PM

I'm with the group who likes their authors on immaculate pedestals. And the bigger the commercial or literary success, the higher the pedestal. I want to like the people who write the books I like!

At a writer's workshop once, I got up the courage to ask a question but it clearly pissed off one of the 2 (famous! NYT-best-selling!) authors leading the workshop. (I wasn't trying to be provocative or antagonistic.) Her angry response felt like such a personal attack back at me, I have never felt the same about her books since - and I'd bought every one of them up til then. I'm surprised she didn't actually die from the fall off that really tall pedestal I'd put her on.

So, being accessible is risky to both the reader who might be disillusioned and the author who might lose a reader.

Posted by: Lulu at February 11, 2010 7:56 PM

I'm really thankful when a writer I enjoy has something as fantastic as this blog to follow, but I don't feel that writers are obligated to have any means of communicating with them.

Posted by: TankMomma at February 11, 2010 8:21 PM

Can't say that contact info has ever entered into my enjoyment of a book.

I have heard from exactly 2 authors in my life: once from you when I jumped on the better tUesday thing, and once from John Sandford's son when I emailed him a fan letter.

You made me laugh and not feel so creepy for doing it. I confess the email from the Sandford site gave me a little thrill because a) it specifically says the author doesn't read the comments or respond to them and b) he totally got the joke.

I wouldn't NOT read a book b/c I couldn't contact the author, but having had that contact means I am a die hard for both you and John. No one can ever call either of you a buttmunch in my presence!

Posted by: Jen at February 11, 2010 9:29 PM

It's never occured to me to find an author's info. I found your blog on accident a few years after I'd read your books (and then wanted to kick myself for missing out on the fun.) I do kind of feel like we are all part of an online community here, because of all the fun things you tell us about your life. But I would have loved your work and continued to read your novels even if I'd never stumbled on to your blog and heard about your mental illness number or your vomit tales from Disney {g}.

Anyway, I try hard to keep art and artist separate, otherwise I would never watch tv or see another movie again...

Posted by: Lori B. at February 11, 2010 10:12 PM

How silly! In fact, until I stumbled upon this blog, I tended to think of authors as imaginary people (as opposed to imagine-y people?). I feel the same way about most public figures - they don't live in the same world that I do. Because of this blog, you no longer qualify for imaginary person status, though. I read all of your books before I found your blog, so until Backseat Saints comes out, I won't know if it affects my impression of your novels. I doubt it, because I also tend to get so involved in stories that the characters are far more real to me than the authors.

So, bottom line, I expect NOT to be able to communicate with authors, and I generally wouldn't seek it out anyway.

Posted by: Sandi at February 11, 2010 10:16 PM

I'm in the odd position of working at a bookstore that specializes in a genre that I love -- mystery/crime -- and one that hosts regular signings. So I've met a lot of authors over the years, which means I'm not your average reader.

Most of the authors who come to our shop are true gems and I've picked up new authors simply because they were so wonderful to me. But there are the occasional frogs among the royalty, no disputing that.

I have learned to separate the author from his or her work when I've met someone who has been unpleasant, but only when I've liked their work to begin with. When I haven't read an author and that person is unpleasant, then not only will I not read the book, I won't handsell it.

(For thoses who might wonder, I have in fact met Joshilyn and she's even cooler than you think!)

And I can tell you stories about customers! They're just as individual and interesting as the authors. So the lady with her sense of entitlement doesn't surprise me in the least.

Posted by: Fran at February 11, 2010 10:43 PM

I have made a point to write a handwritten note to the handful of authors who have touched me deeply with their words. Some were mailed to the publisher and others to the first address I found.

Since the advent of the internet, I also tend to email a note to the authors I have chosen for my book club selections. If I happen to find them on Twitter or Facebook or their blog, I will of course follow them (and buy their future books.)

But of the authors where information isn't readily available, I just continue on my merry way. It does not stop me from reading future books but then again, I don't stay current and up-to-date on their new offerings.

But of course, most of my time is spent hanging on your every word and planning cross country trips to prowl around your porch and snatch first drafts from your garbage bins. :^)

Posted by: Nicole at February 11, 2010 10:55 PM

Wow. I find that to be the height of entitlement. If she has such a burning desire to speak to the author then she should go through the publishing house, as the author would obviously prefer. Why on earth would you base your future enjoyment of books on whether or not the author chooses to be available with just a few keystrokes?

It makes me wonder, though, if it wasn't the author's story that she wanted to talk about, but some of her own work and how it is JUST LIKE the author's, or WE HAVE THE EXACT SAME STYLE and DON'T YOU WANT TO READ WHAT I'VE WRITTEN AND PUT ME IN CONTACT WITH YOUR AGENT? Which to me, seems a good a reason as any not to have one's contact information out there.

That said, I'm sorry that there are people out there who are offended by your books. I hope that they all continue to live sweet little sheltered lives and that nothing foul ever besmirches their eyes. Say the internet in general.

Posted by: erinanne at February 12, 2010 12:20 AM

I agree that contact info doesn't alter my decision to read a book or not. I like to check out the website or blog. But it's that person's right to share personal info like that or not.

On a way smaller scale I can relate. When I first got facebook I was all the time updating my status and telling my friends everything I was doing. But then people were able to start commenting on it, not always comments I agree with or appreciate. So I stopped updating my status. Shouldn't a writer have the same rights as facebookers? Isn't that what America's all about?

Posted by: Nikki at February 12, 2010 1:42 AM

In my opinion, the fact that you have a blog only adds to the fun. That other authors don't doesn't detract anything..you love a book because the reading of it does something with you, because what the author writes resonates with you, because you like what he/she's doing. I don't see what their personal life has anything to do with that process..

Posted by: Saskia at February 12, 2010 2:49 AM

I have about a zillion favorite authors and have only contacted a couple. I don't feel the need to harangue them, I'd rather leave them more time to write me more books to read. Plus, some of them are already deceased, so I don't care to contact them. And how many blogs do *I* have time to read?

I discovered your blog through Mir, and love your writing and sense of humor enough that I've read your books plus some of your recommendations, though they are outside my usual genres. And enjoyed them! But I don't go out of my way to hunt down various author's blogs or sites, even when I know they're out there.

Oh, Beth R., it's Terry Pratchett, isn't it? He's one of my all-time favorites too. :-(

Posted by: Brigitte at February 12, 2010 7:12 AM

This never even crossed my mind. And why should I have any more access to an author than someone like my lawyer or accountant?

Besides, I would rather have a favorite author working on the next book than writing to me!

Posted by: KarinNH at February 12, 2010 7:23 AM

I generally ONLY look up an author if I really, really like their book - which is how I happily came upon this blog! But I think they'd have to be seriously horrible (think axe murderer) before I'd let their personality stop me from reading another of their books. But, I agree Joss - it may stop me from actually purchasing their book if they are a buttmunch. Then the local library would get my business.

Posted by: Kitty at February 12, 2010 8:59 AM

I never even thought to look up a writer's contact information. I think you're the only writer I've actually sent an e-mail to, and I think that was in response to a blog post. I hadn't even read any of your books yet at that point---don't worry, that oversight has since been rectified. :)

The only authors I feel I have an insight to are yourself, since I read your blog, and Orson Scott Card, because he's been writing essays of a political nature which tend to get forwarded around as e-mail. You, I have a favorable impression of. Card, not so much. I'll still read both your books, but it's a little harder to enjoy Card than it used to be.

Posted by: Marleigh at February 12, 2010 9:40 AM

Well, of course I did wonder at not being able to comment last night -- must have been something on my end, or my timing, I would still buy your books if I couldn't. I DO comment here, on Argh Ink, and at PBWs blog, because you three are daily must-reads, you write about writing, and you all are damn fun and ask questions, so I like to pipe up. I do follow a three other authors who don't have as much comment options or write as regularly. But I read SCORES of other authors whom I don't talk to ever. Some I've gone to see if they have a web site to see if they have other books I might like, or something coming up to look for. But I can also find that out at the library. Hey, I'm old school. :)

Posted by: JulieB at February 12, 2010 10:06 AM

It does not matter to me whether I can contact the author personally. If I read a book and love it, that's it. I enjoy reading books, you enjoy writing them. It's the perfect relationship! I think we are living in an epidemic of over-inflated sense of self importance. Although I'm sure you are respectful of other's opinions of your writing, it is NOT mandatory that you engage in a conversation with the opinion-istas.

Posted by: Laura at February 12, 2010 12:19 PM

What a weird way to decide whether to read a book -- if the author has contact information listed? I tink that's just flat out bizarre. Do you shop for clothing and choose not to buy unless you can talk to the designer? It seems even more (pardon the expression) STUPID after having loved the author's first book. So all the decision does is deprive the person of reading another good book.

Geez. Hope you authors don't ever worry about this contact sort of thing.

When I was in 3rd grade, my teacher had us write letters to authors of books we liked. We'd send them to the publisher, and I know they got forwarded because I got letters back -- for a reading-obsessed kid, that was a HUGE HUGE thrill. So anyone who wants to contact the author can do so thru the publisher anyway, and if they can't figure THAT, then they aren't worth worrying about anyway.

Sheesh. (But J, I'm glad you have a dog and a gun, not to mention a scary farty cat) just in case.

Posted by: Diane Perin Hock at February 12, 2010 12:40 PM

Good heavens, it has never even occurred to me to look up an author online. What a strange idea. Wouldn't you go through the publisher if you really wanted to contact the author? People seem to have an odd sense of entitlement these days, thinking they ought to have instant access to anyone and everyone at all times.

Posted by: Holly at February 12, 2010 3:34 PM

I have a strange confession to make in regards to authors. I tend to put a face with a voice, like some of the others here have mentioned. Then when I see what they actually look like and read their website/blog it will totally turn me off to their work. Weird, I know.

I love reading your blog because you're witty and "normal". I think some authors inject a lot of themselves into their work and others can totally give their character its own unique voice.

Posted by: Jeannie at February 12, 2010 4:07 PM

I have a strange confession to make in regards to authors. I tend to put a face with a voice, like some of the others here have mentioned. Then when I see what they actually look like and read their website/blog it will totally turn me off to their work. Weird, I know.

I love reading your blog because you're witty and "normal". I think some authors inject a lot of themselves into their work and others can give their character its own unique voice.

Posted by: Jeannie at February 12, 2010 4:08 PM

I would read an author's books whether or not contact info was available. Honestly, yours is the only author's site I have bookmarked. I searched for your site after reading your books to find out when the next one was coming out. I was surprised to find contact info ... for many of the reasons you mentioned. I think you are very brave to do that ... but wouldn't hold it against you if you didn't. You're a fabulous writer and nothing would stop me from reading your books! The same is true of other authors I read.

Posted by: Lablues at February 12, 2010 6:53 PM

it isn't any of my business if an author does or doesn't want to be available to the public. There is a reason that our constitution has a fundamental right to privacy. It is the author's decision to be available, not mine. It has no bearing whatsoever in my decision to read or not read a book.

If an author provides contact info they should not complain about the amount of attention they receive. But that does not mean that they should have to endure spite, vituperation, rudeness or hatefulness. I don't know why or how people got the idea that it is okay to say something to strangers that they would never say to their mother. I can't fathom the hate in people that causes them to spew it forth onto others. You can disagree with someone without being rude or threatening. If you feel sufficiently strong about it then share your displeasure, but do so in a way that is respectful of the person you are addressing.

There is no excuse for uncivil conduct.

Posted by: Bob at February 12, 2010 8:23 PM

Doesn't matter a lick to me. You're the only author I follow in blog/facebook/tweet. And it's all because of FTK. I found it before I found your book. I love your writing style, your sense of humor, your love of the South. I love your books. They are so spot on to the little Southern town I grew up in and to the towns around it.

I've never written or tried to contact an author. Except you of course. But then again.. blogger first, author second in my mind. I've always sort of but authors up there with movie stars and why in the world would they want to hear from me?

Posted by: Debra at February 13, 2010 8:29 AM

I guess the woman who wrote that complaint doesn't read Shakespeare, either. :)

Posted by: Sangye at February 13, 2010 1:34 PM

I haven't attempted to contact an author since junior high school (or even middle school, maybe) when it was a class assignment that we had to write to our favorite author, so I can honestly say it doesn't matter to me. In fact, I'm pretty sure my favorite author is a bit reclusive, and I kind of like him better that way.

In fact, I stumbled on your blog years ago and started reading it without knowing you were even an author, truth be told, and only read some of your books when I realized the fact later. I just liked the way you wrote (your blog writing sounds a lot like the mental talk in my own head -- take that "mental" as you will, Joss), just like many of my other blog reads.

Anyone who needs the affirmation from an author to keep reading their books obviously doesn't understand that the book isn't about the author once it's in your own head: It becomes a life of its own that you see played out in your mind. (I hope that makes sense and doesn't seem creepy or too self-centered.)

Posted by: jess at February 14, 2010 5:04 PM

Who the hell am I to even try to contact a writer? Umm...TRUTH TIME - I am a nobody from AZ. In this age of privacy is an *option* I am tired of everyone thinking that that writers/celebs/etc have to be available 24/7 for all of us. I am beyond overjoyed that you are accessible, but I would NEVER in a million years not buy someones book because I couldn't contact them.I find that CREEPY. Can someone say self important...

Posted by: Les in AZ at February 14, 2010 9:55 PM

It doesn't matter to me in one sense. If I'm engaged by the story, I'll read it. That said - I'm more likely to *find* a book by an author using social media with me just by virtue of the exposure. Conversely, I have tons of online authors I'm 'friends' with whose books I don't read because they aren't my cuppa for whatever reason (not a genre I like, usually).

Writers should absolutely be allowed to whine about bad mail. Not just because it's amusing to those of us who get that they're human too, but because they're human too. :D

Posted by: Jess at February 15, 2010 2:44 PM

I found your blog through someone else who reads it. I read your books AFTER I started reading your blog. This is the case with all author blogs that I read. I read them because they are interesting in and of themselves, not necessarily because I read the books of the person who writes the blog.

So it seems to follow logically that not having contact information wouldn't faze me in the slightest. I recognize that while I may well have good taste and be literarily competent, most of the authors I read don't give a flying fig what I think. That is exactly as it should be. I assume they have lives and better things to do, and leave them alone to do them for the most part.

The issue of availability is an interesting one. What I find most interesting in this case is how personally the burgeoning fan took the author's (correctly or incorrectly) implied wish to be left in peace. The entitlement is staggering, and more than a little worrisome. Creepy, as Les in AZ said. My personal two cents is that authors are people, and their ability to write things I enjoy is entirely separate from their desire, or lack thereof, to communicate with the outside world.

Also, I also fail to understand hate mail, especially to FICTION authors. How people can be truly be offended by THINGS THAT ARE NOT REAL. If I don't like what an author has written, I don't buy the next book, and I give the offending book back to the library / away / to hungry mice or whatever is fitting. Railing at an essentially anonymous person for offending you by writing things that aren't true and aren't meant to be just doesn't make sense.

Posted by: Alix at February 15, 2010 5:12 PM

I welcome contact from readers, but my only published book thus far is a memoir, so I think it's a little different. Many have written to me to recount their memories of different people described in the book, and particularly of my older family members who died before I could know them well. Most rewarding have been the emails I've recevied from friends of my mother, who knew her when she was a child, before certain events that estranged her from her hometown. To be able to read things like: "You don't know me, but I was your mother's Sunday School teacher and I had always meant to get back in touch with her...," it's a neat experience, and it allows the story to continue through the people who lived the details. So I guess the short answer is...should authors be obligated to provide contact info? Don't be ridiculous. But if you choose to, especially if you've written about real people or events, it can be rewarding.

Posted by: Elizabeth Emerson Hancock at February 16, 2010 9:58 AM

Wow, I'm quite surprised at that woman's comment. I can't believe that the lack of contact information on an author's page would suddenly turn that author's books into a "waste of time."

I've read a few authors blogs (mostly this one), but it's often been because I found them online in the first place - linked through another website (like this one - I actually started reading your blog first, then your books).

One of my favorite writers hasn't even written anything in ten years, but I'm not about to hunt down her e-mail address and beg her for a new book (even if I wanted to - hah!).

I don't want to be all Judgey McJudgerson here, but the woman who made the original comment is either a bit naive, a bit too into social media, or a bit out of touch with the realities of personal vs. professional lives.

Posted by: Lindsey at February 17, 2010 9:48 AM


So this woman never reads books by dead authors? Or does she expect them to return from the afterlife to be enlightened by her comments?

Everyone deserves to have their work life and home life separate. If an author chooses to blog, that is great, but for a reader to demand it as their right is a sign that said reader is a crazy stalker/bunny boiler/wannabe writer searching for free advice/nutjob. None of whom any writer should have to deal with.

Love your books, enjoy your blog, you're the best!

From a grateful bookseller at the Book House in Albany, NY--any chance of another lunch when Backseat Saints is published?

Posted by: Susan Taylor at February 17, 2010 2:12 PM

Um...She's never heard of writing to the author c/o the publishing house?

I wrote a nonfiction book MANY years ago. (OK. Five years ago. It just feels like many.) Some people managed to find my email address, but I regularly got letters forwarded to me from the publisher. Seems like an obvious solution to me.

Posted by: TC at February 17, 2010 7:00 PM