Giving feedback to your critique partners is obvious, but do you ever give feedback to authors you don't know?
Trust me, there is nothing so cool as to have some random person send you an email or leave a comment remarking on your work. To me, it's more motivating than a sale or even a compliment from my editor.
For example, I've been feeling unmotivated lately. This is mostly due to my own lack of discipline, but I've also been wondering if the short stories have served their purpose for now and maybe I will leave off those and make myself work on something longer. Or several somethings.
Then this weekend I was doing my occasional trolling of the Interwebs, looking for new reviews. (I found some too, will post links soon!) And I found over a Goodreads.com a nice little review of Taste Test: Rainy Days and Mondays. And there, at the bottom of that short review, was a message to me! "Mercy Loomis - more D/s Rockstars, Derrick and Nate please!"
That made my week. Hell, it made my month!
Here was someone who had read the anthology and been kind enough to post their thoughts, but not only that, been interested enough by my work to ask for more! I don't know if I can describe to a non-artist (because writing is an art form as much as it is a business or a science) just how much that means. So often we writers work in a vacuum. Yes, there is usually some form of feedback with an editor's acceptance, and yes, many of us have critique groups or beta readers to help, but other than that, all we have are sales numbers. And sales numbers (when we can get them, which isn't always as often as you think) only tell you so much. They say that people have bought the work, but did those people actually read it? Did they like it, or hate it, or were they completely untouched by it? Did my words and my hard work actually accomplish anything of what I hoped they would?
For someone you don't know, who you've never met or exchanged words with, to say in effect "I liked this enough that I want more of it and I would spend my hard-earned money to buy it"--wow, that's powerful. So much so that I'm now considering trying to expand on that story, when I never had any intention of working with those characters again. (Not that I don't enjoy Derrick and Nate, because I do; I just didn't have more story for them.) I can't promise anything, because muse definitely has a part to play in any story, but you can bet I'm gonna try real hard.
So if you read something you like, and you can find a way to leave feedback, do it. Not only will you likely bring a huge smile to someone's face, you may just get a story that would otherwise never have been written.