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  • Tanis Browning-Shelp

Reader Feedback Rocks


This sweet Maryn O'Brien fan, Sofia, shares her love of riding and reading!

Getting feedback from a reader is a bit like getting an A on an assignment, or a “well done!” from an admired teacher or boss. But, for me, hearing from a young reader is so much more than that.

When I find out that a reader has connected on some level with one of my books, I feel like I’ve accomplished exactly what I set out to do; that is, to reach a young person in the way that authors reached me when I was growing up. That’s what matters to me the most!

My great friends Lewis and Ellen spend winters in Florida and they volunteer for a program called Horsey and Me. The program designs classes to encourage healthy development and school readiness through play, horsemanship, and farm-life. Lewis told 12-year-old Sofia about my books! Sofia’s mom got her the first one, Crash Course.

Shortly afterwards, Lewis emailed me to tell me that I now have a fan in Florida. Sofia wrote a little review for my website and she says she’s hooked on my Maryn O’Brien series.

Whether I’m in a classroom or at a book club meeting, listening to kids talk about the issues in my books, or chatting directly with a young person who enjoyed going along for the ride with my heroine Maryn O’Brien, these are the things that fill me to the brim with joy because I know for certain that I’ve reached somebody.

It seems that even outstanding sales figures don’t pack the same punch as meaningful feedback. Author and playwright Kate Jaimet has sold more than 10,000 Young Adult fiction books. But she told me in an interview recently that she finds it more gratifying to experience one of her plays being put on, even in a local theatre setting.

“When you write a book…you may have readers, but you don’t know who they are (except for the odd fan letter),” Kate says. “You are so cut off, so solitary. But local theatre is amazing because people come forward saying that they want to be a part of this thing that you’ve written. They’re so enthusiastic and they bring it to life. And when you have even a hundred people in a room laughing, reacting, or being in suspense…you can feel the energy. You don’t get that when you write books.”

Reaching an engaged audience—either by the page or the stage—is what it’s all about.

You can find out more about Kate Jaimet on her website katejaimet.com or by following her on Instagram @kjaimet.

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