If you hang around me for more than a few minutes, you’ll quickly learn that I love to read! Books are to me what a six-inch turkey sub is to Jared; something to be devoured! Fiction, non-fiction, biographies, classics, it doesn’t matter. If its in English, I’ll read it. Now, I’ve never actually lowered myself to trashy romance novels, but if that was the only thing available, yeah, okay, I admit it…I’d probably satisfy my literary addiction with something that has Fabio on the cover.
When thinking of all the reading I’ve done over the last year, two books really standout:
Stephen King’s “On Writing” and
A novel which shall remain nameless for reasons you shall soon see.
Stephen King has authored over 50 best selling novels and several screenplays. While he is most known for fiction, “On Writing” is an incredible guide that teaches practical literary techniques for writers. With a book of my own, several national articles published and a monthly newsletter, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out why this subject was so well received by yours truly. “On Writing” taught me more about the craft than any English class I’ve ever taken.
So, what does this have to do with you? Hang with me and you’ll see!
Last summer while reading “On Writing”, I was nearly shocked into speechlessness by how King opened himself to his readers. During one chapter, King assigned a writing exercise for the reader…then provided his personal E-mail address requesting the assignment be sent to him when the reader (soon-to-be writer) completed it. Right up front, King said that he couldn’t promise to reply to every message, but the reader should know that if they sent their short story, he would read it.
Six months and 25 books later I happened upon my second favorite book of 2003. While in a completely different genre, this work runs a close second to “On Writing”, but for totally different reasons. While the second standout book of the year was one of the most intriguing pieces of literature I’ve ever read, the follow-up events practically ruined the experience. As writers often use pseudonyms to replace their real names, I, too, shall provide the writer of the second book with a fitting pseudonym: Mr. Snooty.
As soon as I finished the book, my head still spinning with Mr. Snooty’s theories, I went straight to his web page and searched for an E-mail address to send fan mail. I just wanted to share with him how much I’d enjoyed his book and how intrigued I was with his ideas. Now, I didn’t expect a reply, but I thought there would at least be a button labeled, “E-mail the author.” Turns out, I was wrong.
I found E-mail addresses for his publishing house, web master and agent, but not a single way to contact the author himself. Furthermore, there was a note that specifically said any personal mail sent to the author via the publisher would NOT be forwarded. To me, it felt like the author was saying, “Reader, I really don’t care about you or your opinion, and do not care to hear from you for any reason.” Whether this was the intent or not is irrelevant. By making himself unavailable to his fans, I felt I was being snubbed; hence the name “Mr. Snooty.”
So, what do we have here? We have two wildly famous writers, both of whom enjoy a literary success that is enviable. However, that’s where the similarities end. Stephen King earned a huge amount of my respect just by making himself accessible to his fans. I did not bother sending in my short stories, but the fact he openly accepts communication from his supporters makes him not only an admirable writer, but a pretty darned good guy, too.
What does this all boil down to? Accessibility.
Think of an office environment where the boss implements an open door policy. Most employees rarely walk into the boss’s office. Still, knowing they have that access bolsters opinions of the superior. Does it break down the “us & them” dynamic? Absolutely!
This isn’t something exclusive to business settings and celebrities. Think of the nicest person you know; someone who is a virtual saint. Does this person have a wall around them? Or, would you feel comfortable going to them at any time and for any reason? Probably the latter is true.
Why is this? Simple: that person helps individuals feel as though they are important. Others know their opinion is so valuable that they are welcome to interrupt with whatever issue is at hand. People who openly receive others are more respected, liked and appreciated by nearly everyone; both equals and subordinates.
While writing this article, I went to Stephen King’s web site for the first time ever. There, on the home page, was a thank you note to all fans that have sent get-well cards during his recent hospitalization for pneumonia. Does this further reinforce his accessibility? Do fans feel even closer to King knowing their messages were received, appreciated and a word of thanks passed back to them? Well, would you?
Whatever your reasoning, learn from the words and actions of arguably the most popular writer in America: if you are approachable, accessible and open to others, chances are that opinions of you will rise and a flood of respect and friendliness will come your way!
Marcus Engel is a professional speaker/author who inspires audiences to achieve success by making intelligent choices. Blinded by a drunk driver at age 18, Marcus battled through two years of recovery and 300 hours of reconstructive facial surgery to reach his goal of returning to college. After graduating from Missouri State University in 2000, Marcus began sharing his story professionally to audiences nationwide. In 2002, Marcus founded his own publishing company with the release of his autobiography, “After This…An Inspirational Journey For All the Wrong Reasons.” His messages of empowerment and motivation have been witnessed by hundreds of thousands through his keynotes, his autobiography and his monthly newsletters. Marcus Engel is a speaker, a message, a story you will never forget! Visit http://www.MarcusEngel.com for more information!