I have read thousands of books over the years, but until this past year, I never wrote to an author. It seemed somehow presumptuous to think that my opinion, good or bad, would matter. I know better, now.
When I bare my thoughts in a book or a blog post, I always wonder what my readers think. I know that people read the material, because I can see sales numbers, downloads, and page visits, but writing is a solitary endeavor. I spend a lot of time staring at my computer screen, stringing words together in an effort to communicate my thoughts. Unlike conversing, either face-to-face, or by letter, or email, there's no real-time feedback to let me know how effective my efforts are. Whether my goal is to entertain, inform, or persuade, I often worry that I'm missing the mark. It's only in this last year, since I've begun to follow and correspond with other writers, that I've come to realize that most of us have a bit of this insecurity, and that we welcome the reassurance of readers' reactions.
Positive reactions are nice, but negative ones have value as well. To me, the worst reaction is silence. Rationally, I understand that most people read and react without commenting to the author, but emotionally, the little kid deep down inside wanting approval frets that my work missed whatever mark I had hoped to hit.
Since I've had this realization, I have started to write to people when I read their books. It's quick and easy in this era of instant communications, and I've discovered that I enjoy the book on a different level when I open a communication channel with the author. Most respond; some don't; but I know they got something out of my feedback either way. So, if you read a book and the author has included an email address, make your reaction known.
I wish you all a happy and prosperous new year.