Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Blessing of Reader Feedback ~ Erica Vetsch

The blessing of reader feedback.

Have you ever written to an author or filled out a reader feedback sheet?

Reader Feedback Sheet, you ask?

Did you know that in the back of every Heartsong title is a page (front and back) that provides an easy way for readers to communicate with the author? (I've included a scan of the front of the sheet up above.)

It’s true!

If you’ve noticed this page in the back of the book, you might wonder who looks at those sheets once they’re mailed in. Does the author ever get to see them?

The answer is YES! :)

First, the editor of the line, JoAnne Simmons, looks at them. She reads every one that comes in and sorts them to be mailed to each author. The feedback directly from the reader is invaluable. This information helps JoAnne know what resonates with readers, what they’d like to see more of, and what the spiritual takeaway is. It helps her evaluate where the readers think the author is strong: plot, characters, setting, spiritual thread.

Second, the sheets are all saved and mailed to the author. The author gets a chance to read the notes and comments and learn what the readers think and want, what they enjoyed and what they might not.

Another thing related to the reader feedback sheets are the Heartsong Awards. Every year, the feedback numbers are tallied, and based upon those scores, Heartsong names the most popular authors in various categories. You can read a list of the most recent winners HERE.

Oh! And lest I forget, I should mention that in addition to evaluating the story, the reader also has a chance to comment on the cover art for each Heartsong. I love this, because while we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, I often find myself drawn to certain covers and ambivalent about others. It’s interesting to me to hear what other folks think about cover art. When you take the time to fill out this part of the response sheet, it helps guide the graphic arts departments to create covers that will draw readers to the story.

Last week I received a packet of reader feedback sheets, letters, and cards from JoAnne. What a timely blessing! I was encouraged and uplifted by the thoughtfulness and generosity of the Heartsong readers. Their response to my stories warmed my heart right through. :) Thank you to everyone who took the time to write a personal note and fill out the sheets.

If you haven’t ever filled out one of the response sheets, I encourage you to give it a try. You’ll be blessing an author, providing valuable information for the publishers, and getting to have a say in what type of books you might see in the future.

Question of the day: Have you ever written to an author?


  1. If email counts, then yes.

  2. I wrote to JK Rowling when I was in fifth grade, right around when her books began to be popular, and she sent me an autographed picture! I was like a mini-celebrity at my rural school :)

  3. How nice to know that they are used and read:) I have blogged some authors and many are so kind to respond. Some I've become friends with in this lovely Internet world:)

  4. I have been known to email one. :D


  5. I've seen them, but I never filled them out.

    Till I learned who they acutally went to, and why in one of your other posts, I never bothered...but now that I know the Author SEES them, I'm going to from now on :)

    Thanks, Erica!

  6. I once contacted Jane Kirkpatrick with a question about a detail in one of her books. Her response began an interesting conversation and strengthened my interest in her books and writing.

  7. I just got my first pack of reader responses, letters, and cards last week. I loved it. It meant so much that readers would take the time to let me know what they thought of the book. My dad was real impressed: I got fan mail.

  8. Shannon, isn't that the best feeling when you read the responses and know that your story was enjoyed by someone else?

    Yay that your dad was impressed! He oughta be! :)

  9. Rosemary TravisSeptember 08, 2010

    I've feeled out one before but never got around to mailing it. Now that i know they get read, i'll be sure to mail them in. Thanks for the onfo.

  10. Rosemary, thank you for commenting! And I can assure you, the comments get read and pondered. You'll bless an author if you send in your comments on those books you like and want to see more of.