Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Kari's Kave: To fan, or not to fan....

So, I got thinking about what to post today, when an idea came to me that I'd love your opinions on.

Fans...

On the one hand, it's so exciting to finally have fans. To open the mail or open my email and receive actual fan letters. The fist one I received for Fused was unbelievably thrilling. I thought, "Holy cow, someone that is not related to me that I don't even know who likes my story!" ... and I didn't even have to pay them :-)

Then I started getting mail from people about Tempest and that hasn't even come out yet. (Guess my publicity is paying off) They say things like, they can't wait for the book to come out, or that they have pre-ordered it, etc. Some have asked me to speak, and some have asked for a copy of the book as a giveaway or for a basket at conferences that take place right after the release date.

I love all this, and it's still so thrilling, but it does have me thinking...

Should I get a PO box? I mean, my address is public and my phone number is listed, so if someone really wants to find me, then can pretty easily. But to respond now, I have to use my home address which is blatantly exposing where I live, and at the very least, making it easy for people to just "show up."

Not that I'm famous or that people would even care to show up, but hey, I can dream that someday I will be that famous :-) Maybe I should nip this in the bud right now while I still have the chance and while people really don't care and will forget about the info I already put out there. It makes me think of Facebook and blogs and personal info and pics of my kids and all sorts of things I never really thought of before.

Where do we draw the line? How paranoid do we become? To what lengths should we go to protect ourselves and our families? Hell, I don't even use a pen name. Look me up, and there I am. But still, looking me up is more work than just reading what I put in front of you.

And here's another one. Many times fans not only love your work, but ask questions and hope for responses. Or what about kids in school that are doing reports on you? I've spent a lot of time on my website, offering fun extras and lots of info about my life on my frequently asked questions page. So do you ignore those fans, direct them to your website, or take the time to answer every email? Again, that's not an issue yet because I don't get "that" much mail. But we are all busy with writing, deadlines, family, etc. And answering emails takes time. Do we nip that in the bud now, too?

So many questions, so much to do, so little time!

Thoughts.....

Kari Lee

20 comments:

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Okay, people, bring on those comments and suggestions...your thoughts are always welcome.

Cassy Pickard said...

Good blog, Kari! You've asked some great questions. I certainly don't have the answers. But, I would think that if your fan mail becomes a burden (hope, hope for you!) then a PO box might be the answer. We all can probably be found if someone really wants to- remember the post I did ages ago on "disappearing?"

I'm interested also in knowing how many folks out there are using pseudonyms...

Donna Cummings said...

Kari, congrats on getting fan mail! I think that is exciting. I have sent emails to authors who's books I've enjoyed--it's easy to find their email online, and I can zip it off while I'm still thinking about the book. I don't know that I could get a snail mail note completed and out the door anymore. LOL

It all comes down to your comfort level with privacy, I guess. I would prefer to keep some of my non-writing life out of the public eye--or at least make it harder to find. :)

India Drummond said...

I was just looking into this myself! There is a service here where you can have a PO box address, but the post office still brings your mail to your house. Sort of like it's just an alias? Would save me from having to go to the post office to pick it up, but at the same time it would protect my privacy.

It's probably not something that would ever be a problem. But at the same time, I'm a very private person. I'm thinkingn I'll do it, but I know several authors who don't mind their addresses being out there because they feel like no one would ever stalk them.

I say: if you can afford the expense and it makes you feel better, do it!

Katt said...

Congrats on having fans who care enough to write you a letter... what a wonderful thing that is.

Other authors have had issues that make me say, yes, protect your privacy. Have a fan facebook site, a fan email address and even a P O box. It is never a bad idea to protect yourself from the one nut in the world that may find issue with one of your characters or...

Privacy and family are yours to cherish.

and so are those fans...
congratulations!

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Thanks Cassy. I have never cared if people know my address and I always think, Oh, it will never happen to me. But...I have 4 kids! That's the part that is making me think, Gee, I wonder if I should. Especially when you're mailing out bookmarks and other promo items to fans and bookstores, etc. Having to add my return address is what finally made me think of it.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

That's what I'm thinking, Donna. Is that I can at least make it harder for someone to find. You hear all kinds of horror stories these day. And you just never know when or if someone might show up on your own doorstep.

Theresa Meyers said...

Privacy, once lost is very hard to regain. Just my opinion, but every writer should have a PO Box, just like every business has its own address. In today's world it's just to easy to type in an address, run to Google and get everything from maps to street photos of where a person lives.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Oooh, India, I love the idea of a PO box service as an alias. You use that but your mail still shows up at your house.

Yes....I am that lazy :-)

I have enough running around to do with my kids.

Let us know the info for that service if you have it, and thanks so much for stopping by.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

That's what's it's all about, Katt....family and privacy and cherishing them both.

And I too have heard enough horror stories about crazy psychos that it does make me gasp and think, No way? They did what? You mean that can really happen?

Eeeek!

Kari Lee Townsend said...

I agree, Theresa. I am thinking more and more, this is the way to go.

And another thought is to share a PO Box with a fellow author who lives near you. In my case, my CP Barbie Jo Mahoney lives less than a mile down the street. We could split the cost and share a box. I think they are only like 20 bucks per year or something. And hey, we could even take turns picking up the mail and dropping anything off at each other's houses on our way home.

Now there's a thought....I'm liking this more and more.

Lindsay said...

Kari,
One of the first things I learned, when I started writing was privacy. The first set of business card I had showed my address and phone. A friend told me NO. She said the only address information you should give out is you email. Let me tell you, I burned those cards quick. The same goes for your phone number-don't give it out.
We all know there are weirdos and sickos out there. We write about them but there are also real ones out there.
You have a right to your privacy. Protect yourself and your family and get a PO Box. Don't forget you can write the rental off as an expense.
Other than family and trusted friends I say the only ones who need your home address and phone number are your agent and editor.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

I agree, Lindsay. I'm on it :-)

E.C. Smith said...

Man, all such good questions. And me without any answers! lol

I think you should error on the side of caution...lean more toward keeping your privacy with the aim of doing so long term. Yeah, you might not have a ton of mail now, but let's hope that you eventually do!

Kari Lee Townsend said...

I hear that, EC :-)

Liz Lipperman said...

Okay, let me play devil's advocate here. In December I went to the PO to get a box for all the reasons listed here. It was $40/year, and I signed on for 2 years. I was as excited. When I came home and told hubby , he said, "And you don't think they could find your address when they Google you?"

After a month, I realized he was right. Since I hated to tell him that, I sneaked to the PO and canceled the box. So, for $25 (I got $75 back) I discovered I was just as vulnerable as I was before I got the box.

IMO, the only way to really protect yourself with a PO Box is if you are writing under a pseudonym.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

I know and I agree, Liz, but it still takes more work to look someone up than to just put it on every envelope I mail. I just keep thinking I'm making it sooo easy for them. It's probably more about peace of mind and feeling like I'm doing something.

Liz Lipperman said...

And I need to do spell check or correct my math. It was $50 a year.

Anita Clenney said...

Oh my stars...I made it. I've been trying to get over here all day and blogger wouldn't let me in. I've lost three blogs or comments in the past two days. Geez.

Anyway...enough about that. I've had a PO box for years, after Austin's nutty friend started stalking him. I think security measures can deter people, but nothing will stop them if they're determined enough. You're on the PAN loop of RWA and I'm sure you've heard the horror stories about authors being stalked. It's scary.

As far as fan mail. How wonderful that you are getting it. So exciting, but it must be frustrating knowing how to deal with another thing to pull you away from writing. I'm having so much trouble keeping up with email on my loops, I can't imagine having to handle fan mail too. I'm anxious to hear how you handle it.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Oh I know what you mean, Anita. It's nuts out there.

And thanks, I love fan mail, but you're right. Way time consuming.