Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What Happens When You Write to an Author?

I thought of this topic when reading an inspirational article about the multiple-award winning author Walter Dean Myers who responded to a fan letter by inviting a teenaged boy to co-write his next novel! The result is Kick, coming out next week!

Have any of you ever written to your favorite authors? I first wrote to an author when I was in 3rd or 4th grade. I sent a letter and drawing of a horse to the now late Marguerite Henry, greatly beloved author of many classic horse novels, and was utterly thrilled to get a warm and positive response, which I still have tucked away in a special place at home.

This first encounter encouraged me, and over the years I've made a point to send a note of appreciation to many authors I've admired to let them know how their books have touched me. I imagine that writing can sometimes be a lonely and solitary occupation. Writers set their books loose in the world hoping that they will meet a sympathetic mind and I want them to know if their books changed me in an important way or made me think or even just brightened up my life for a few weeks. Sometimes I get a response, sometimes not. That's ok. I'd much prefer that my favorite writers spend their time working on new books than writing to fans!

If you want to write to an author, first try searching for their website. The Internet has vastly changed how we contact people! They may list their preferences for personal contact somewhere online. If not, you can do an online search to find the name of their agent and write care of him or her. Failing that, check the title page of the book and send a letter care of their publisher, being sure to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope if you're hoping for a response! Writing generally does not pay well and most authors have a day job to pay the bills.

If you do write to an author, I'd love to hear about it!

1 comment:

Laurie Thompson said...

You are oh so correct in thinking that writers love to receive these letters. Even if they don't have time to respond, I am sure it brightens their day to read them.
Kaley loves the Bruce Coville books, and I encouraged her to write to him and tell him (she was in 1st grade at the time, I think). He sent back a personalized letter, which she still has hanging on her wall. Later, I got to meet him at a writers' conference and tell him that. He told me that is why he writes.
I've often said the same thing. My only definition of success as a writer is to one day receive fan mail from a child telling me how I touched them or changed their life for the better in some way.
Thanks for encouraging the letter writers! :)