The Power of Feedback

I got a fan email. Well, it actually is not the first, but it is probably the best so far and it was from someone I’ve never met. Most positive feedback I have gotten has been face to face and usually it is from someone like my best friend from kindergarten or a member of my family. Don’t get me wrong, I value those kind words too, but it is really a charge to get an unsolicited email of praise from someone who does not know me and that didn’t buy the book directly from me. He got it as a suggestion from Amazon based on other authors he reads: Vince Flynn and Matthew Bracken. Very good company indeed.

It reminds me of an account I read once about a far more famous writer who happens to have the same name as I do… James Jones. Now you know what the “J” stands for. This account was related at the dedication of “Eternity Hall” at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii where James Jones was serving during the attack on Pearl Harbor. It is so named in honor of Jones’ first novel, “From Here to Eternity.” It immortalized the island and the base during that fateful day and made James Jones one of its most famous residents.

The keynote speaker at this event was U.S. Congressman Neil Abercrombie. In 1967, a young Abercrombie was traveling in Paris where Jones was living at the time. He had just read a negative critical review on the book – of which he was a huge fan – before departing and was quite incensed by it. By chance one day he ran into the famous author and gathered up the courage to speak. Abercrombie told him to not worry about the critics, that he wrote for people like him – the readers – and that they loved him and the book. Jones stared blankly and Abercrombie departed without saying more. Abercrombie thought he had made a fool of himself, so he stopped by the Jones home on impulse a couple of weeks later to see him and apologize. He explained who he was to the housekeeper and was shown to the front parlor.

She returned quite excited and said that Mr. Jones wanted to see him if he could wait a few moments while he finished writing for the day. A short time later the award winning author burst through the door proclaiming how happy he was to see Abercrombie. He related how he had told his wife all about the initial meeting and that he had written from the energy of it for two weeks.

Usually new writers having poured years into the effort of getting published have spent much of that time being ignored by agents and publishers and now have finally gotten that first book or two in print and are pretty psyched about it. Then without the benefit of huge promotional budgets that release is often met with the deafening roar of crickets and the book signings you’ve begged your way into net few visitors after those that you know personally are exhausted. Often the temptation to just give up is overwhelming. So the point is, that if you find a new or lesser known author whose work you enjoy, letting him know this can make all the difference as to whether you see any future works from him. As a matter of fact, there is an earlier unpublished novel I had written that needs a bit of rework. Suddenly I am feeling inspired and the ideas of what I want to do with it are beginning to flow.

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One Response to The Power of Feedback

  1. Pingback: Power of Professional Reviews | J. Keith Jones

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