Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Giant E-mail Debate

Okay, folks, I am reaching out for your opinion on author e-mails.

For months I have been drowning in e-mails -- I get about 4,000 a month and I was trying to answer them all and write two novels a year and tour and actually be present for my family. Two days ago, my hair caught fire during my attempt to balance all of it (this was metaphorical) and I had my webmaster take my e-mail address off my website.

It did not make me feel good.

But my reasoning was, if I can't answer all of them, I can't answer any of them, because how would I know where to draw the line? And if I can't answer any of them, I won't let people send e-mails to an inbox I don't respond to, even if I read them. And I thought, well, I have twitter and Facebook and the blog and I still reply to just about everybody on those and I also have a mailing address on there. So people can get in touch with me still, even if it's harder, right? 

I still feel . . . funky.

But I cannot keep on answering 4,000 emails a month. It's just . . . impossible. The ulcers are getting too angry. They say: you need more time in the evening not staring at a computer! And you just don't ignore it when the ulcers start talkin'.

So here is the question. As a reader, would you prefer to have an e-mail address to be able to send an email to an author, even if she doesn't reply, or better to have no e-mail because she doesn't reply? 


swiggett said...

You are so accessible in other ways that the lack of an email address is fine. While I wouldn't personally expect a response to my email from a famous author like yourself, if you know that you absolutely cannot answer the emails you would be getting, omitting the address from your site makes sense.

Have fun!

Maegan Langer said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with putting a disclaimer on your website that says something like, "I welcome e-mails from my readers, but due to the volume of e-mails I receive, I will be unable to answer." As a reader, I would much prefer to have a way to contact an author I admire to tell them how much I loved their book, even if I know they won't be able to reply.
Love your work, by the way :)

Not Hannah said...

Dude. You twitter, you have the blog, you're on Facebook, you participate in the Merry Sisters of Fate...and you do a great job of trying to be present in those outlets. Give yourself a break, yo.

Maybe you could take a page from Robin McKinley and have a that addresses what surely must be recurring themes in the emails. And if you feel like you need to do more, maybe offer up your question-answering services once a month...just ideas.

Because, seriously, you're doing great as it is.

I hope life can only get better said...

I have always been happy by how accsessible you are...way more than other authors/famous people. I think there comes a time when you have to draw the line. Trying to ansewer 4,000 emails is insanity. I think we all understand and will still love you. And your children we be just as happy to have you at the dinner table. I am still touched that you have ansewed my Facebook posts and blog comments in the past, you are truly awsome. Keep up the good work! And by the way...I had a weird Linger dream the other night, I was walking around aimlessly carrying the book :)

Mel said...

I think it is fine if you don't answer all your emails. You post regularly on your blog, twitter, and Facebook, so your readers know you are out there.

If you don't want to completely get rid of your email, you could keep it and maybe once a month do a "Dear Maggie" post that answers a common question you get, or something you feel is comment or post worthy.

I think your readers will understand regardless. It is a daunting task to check that much email and there are more important things especially family. Good luck! Your readers will support you no matter what you choose.

Deborah Paris said...

4000! My only question is why has it taken so long for you to take this step! Seriously, you are out there in many, many ways. People will find a way to communicate. I do think the FAQ page would be great- I'm sure a lot of the questions you receive are repetitive. Your fans will care more about your next wonderful book which might not ever get written if your gut explodes....sorry to be so graphic, but sometimes its good to say what's really at stake (not to mention your family).

Jen the bibliophile said...

Maggie, I would say keep the email address nixed and keep in touch through your other portals. I'd rather not be able to email an author than email one and not get a reply. Although, now that I'm thinking about it, I'd be surprised to ever get an answer back. In fact, the first time you responded to one of my blog posts I was so excited I had to tell my five sisters and my mother.

I have no comprehension of how you are able to check and answer 4,000 emails in a month, but you do have mad skills.

I would like to let you know as a side note, that one of the things a adore about you is that you are always in touch with us readers. You are indeed, awesome!

Eric W. Trant said...

4000 emails is crazy. You lasted far longer than I would have.

- Eric

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

Forget the email. If it's not available, people won't email you and get their hopes up that you'll respond. Thus, no one will be disappointed.

For future reference, John Freida makes an un-flammable hair spray. :)

maine character said...

John Green came to the same point and declared e-mail bankruptcy.

Still, I'd keep some kind of way to contact you - maybe buried away at the end of your FAQ, with the usual disclaimer that they probably won't hear from you. That should cut down the traffic, and you won't feel as guilty not replying.

Funny thing is, I was going to e-mail you this week to tell you that next month PBS has a show on a harp competition.

Anonymous said...

Thats alot of emails
no its no problem and to those of us readers who REALLY want to contact you will find away around not having email and those who give up because there's no email then you don't want to talk to those people anyway

I contacted you though live journal and was estatic when you replyed becuse I never thought that would happen

no email is no problom and it will lessen your stress *nods*

Lothfleur said...

It's better to have no e-mail address if the author doesn't reply let's not be hypocritical... I just hate sending e-mails and waiting forever for an answer that will never come in the end.
Besides, we can still post comments on your blog, publications (I'm not sure if it's the word used in English) on your facebook wall so really, with such an amount of e-mails, you should not feel bad. And in the end books are far more important than e-mails, aren't they ?

Marn said...

4000 emails is a lot and I don't think that a reply should be expected.

That being said...I always like to know when people like work I've done, so sometimes I feel compelled to let an author know I connected with their work/characters/a specific scene. But sometimes that info can get a bit personal and I wouldn't want to post it where anyone on the planet could read it.

Maybe a double warning: a disclaimer on the site and an auto reply that says 'thanks for sharing your thoughts, but due to time constraints a I am unable to replay, blah blah blah".

Miss Scarlet said...

Like others have said, I think the fact that you have a presence online is enough. People can comment and you often comment back. If someone needs to send you a private message, they can always request email communication, but 4000 emails a month is insane and I think we'd all agree that we'd rather you writing your amazing books and stories than emails;) (I mean that in a nice way, not that your emails wouldn't be nice, too.)

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

That's a lot of emails. I agree with the others, I don't think it's important to have your email address up. You blog, Facebook etc. We know you love us. :)

Nicole said...

I think when anything becomes something that makes you feel frenzied or ill, it's time to step back. As others have said, you are already extremely accessible between this blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Merry Sisters of Fate. If many of the e-mails are repetitious questions, maybe a formspring account would suffice? I know it seems like just another thing to keep up with, but it may be a resource to refer to when you receive the same 100+ questions over and over again.

Jonathon Arntson said...

I think the latter is better as long as you make a point of pointing out the ways fans can get in contact w/you (facebook, twitter, blog). Clearly I know the ways of getting in contact w/you :)

Stitch-n-Snitch said...

I think the Facebook and Twitter links are fine. Answering no email from fans=more time to create! ;)

Anonymous said...

just the fact that you feel bad about not answering your e-mails shows what a nice, sweet person you are. i think NOBODY can be mad at you for taking your e-mail adress away from your website, especially after you wrote this blog post and explained yourself.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Thank you, guys-- I just posted on what I decided and it was pretty much based on what I heard from you guys here and on LJ. I really, really, really appreciate it!!

kikikats said...

I agree with Maegan. Post the disclaimer and answer the ones you feel compelled to. If you enjoy reading them but can't answer them all, just say so. Peopole will understand. said...

Forget the emails! You have your blog and FB too. It's hard to be that accesible and still enjoy time with your family. Family comes first, then work, etc...
Love your work and thankful that you still have time to write. <3
Love, Shannan at
- We have reviewed your work from the beginning and love your poetic way of writing.

Anonymous said...

yoyoyo Maggie! :P

I'm making a school project about your book.
Is it true that your name is actually HEIDI stiefvater?
Because thats so german (i live in germany)
So I wanted to know if maybe your parents or so are from germany...
also because there's Rilke in your book ( he's my favorite .... I dont know the word... I'll just say poetry-man ) thats also german

by the way : I LOVE YOUR BOOKS!!!!!

and I would love you more if you come to salzburg (austria)
( I live at the border to austria)

happy writing :D


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