Monday, August 8, 2016

You've Got Mail

Howdy, Pamela Tracy, here and yes, I used one of my favorite movies as a title for today.

Since email became more popular, most of the mail I get from 'fans' come via Internet.  Which is cool because it's immediate.   Another plus, is it's easy to file.   I've figured out who writes me for almost every book (I LOVE YOU) and I figured out some people cut and paste their fan letters (and once they forgot to change the title of the book).

Actual fan letter to me.
By the way, I Googled Fan Letters and discovered that there's a how-to site for
writing a fan letter to Taylor Swift.  I did not find my name mentioned in a similar manner .

Used to be (yes, I've been around a long time) fan mail would be sent to the publishing house.  Many editors had files with their authors' names and the mail would go into the files.  I'm not sure whether the editors (or their assistants) would simply transfer the mail to a manilla folder once the file was full or if there were a few times a year when they cleaned all the files.  Doesn't matter.  A decade ago, a few times a year, I'd get manilla envelopes full (okay, not full full) of fan mail.

There were a few different kinds.  Some simply told me what they loved about the book and promised to read all my books (Thanks Mom and Aunt Shari).  Others told me my mistakes (I once typed ASAP instead of ASSET for a teacher heroine).  Some were amazed that I used all the names of their relatives in my book (There are lots of Brittneys, Sarahs, and Mikes in the world).

Fan letters do touch the lives of authors.  I've gotten handmade bookmarks and recipes (I've always admitted that I don't cook.  Some readers think a recipe will change this character flaw.  So far, the perfect recipe hasn't appeared.  Hmm, methinks the only perfect recipe would be one used for the replicator on Star Trek).  I've had readers share poems and ask for prayers.

Yes, I've gotten the letters from prison inmates.

My favorite, though, came not because of a story but because of a dedication.

I dedicated one of my books to my birth mother who I met a little over a decade ago.

I got a fan letter because my birth mother's name is fairly common and one reader saw the name and the sentence I wrote as part of the dedication, called her friend who had the same name, and said, "Wow, you've had a book dedicated to you!"

The second lady said, "Uh, no, there's hundreds of people with my name.  Not me."

But, she went and found the book and read it, too.  Then wrote me and said, "God has blessed your gift of writing.  Thank you for following His path and sharing your life with us."

She was right.  God has blessed me.

A long time ago, I read an article in the Romance Writers Report.  It was a list of things authors should do.  One item was "Write one fan letter a year to an author new to you."

I've done that.  Sometimes I get a thank-you back.  Sometimes I hear from an author's assistant (I want one of those!"  Sometimes I hear nothing at all.   Best of all, I've made a few friends.

So, readers and writers, what are your experiences with fan letters.


Missy Tippens said...

I LOVE reader letters! And I've written a few fan letters myself. :) I think it's wonderful when readers take time out of their day to let me know they enjoyed my book. It always puts a smile on my face.

Margaret Daley said...

I love the reader letters!!! They are special to me.

Jan Christiansen said...

The most amazing fan letter I've received was from a lady thanking me for writing More of Him Less of Me. She said her mother had recently passed away. My book was on her night stand. When her daughter looked through it she found many things highlighted. She wanted to let me know that my book had touched her mother. I cried. What a privilege to write something that encourages a total stranger and points them toward Jesus!

Anonymous said...

I love reader letters and I write fan letters to authors all the time. Usually, email.

Thanks for a great post.

(BTW, I will not be sending Taylor Swift a fan letter. Just in case you were wondering.)

Cate Nolan said...

I love getting reader letters. I know how much books have meant to me so to have someone take the time to tell me that my book meant something to them is just incredibly special.

I loved You've Got Mail too, btw.

May my words outlive me. said...

Tina, no fan letter to Taylor Swift? Say it ain't so! LOL I'm not sending her one either. Pam, I love this. Who says there are mistakes in your books? I never saw any. I never thought about writing a fan letter. Shame on me. I thought writing a wonderful review was kinda like a fan letter. Now I know I should.

Carol J. Post said...

I love getting reader letters, too. I especially love those that say that something in my book helped the reader get through a rough time in their life and draw closer to the Lord. I do always respond to reader letters. I wouldn't want to leave that to an assistant. (Not that I have one of those!) I love the idea of making a commitment to write one fan letter a year to an author new to me.

Pamela Tracy said...

It's almost as fun to write them as to read them. I bought a book at RT. It was 4th in the series. I started it, loved it, and am on the eighth now. I didn't write a fan letter but a nice review on Goodreads.

Hmmmm, I wonder if reviews are the new fan letters.

Pamela Tracy said...

So, Margaret, do you keep them?

Pamela Tracy said...

Jan, what a great remembrance. What kind of things did she highlight?

Pamela Tracy said...

I thought you'd already sent Taylor a fan letter? I must have heard wrong...

Your fan letter to me must have gotten lost in the mail. It happens.

Pamela Tracy said...

It's an awesome movie.
Though, I'd have a heard time giving up Greg Kennear for Tom Hanks. Like them both, but Greg, well, he's got those eyes.

Pamela Tracy said...

I so appreciate you and Jan stopping by. Yes, fan letters are awesome, but editors notice reviews more, soon

Pamela Tracy said...

I wrote a letter, by hand, to the woman who shares my mother's name. I respond to email except for the ones that come via a secretarial pool from the prison.

Mary Alford said...

I'm glad so many of us writers send fan letters as well. As a writer, it really makes me feel like I'm doing a good job to receive a letter from a fan. Writing can be a isolated position at times so its good to hear from the outside world.

Terri Reed said...

I so appreciate hearing from readers. I've received a homemade potholder and drawings and poems. It's very humbling to have someone take time to write a letter or email thanking me for writing, encouraging me to continue and even if they are only pointing out flaws. I've written a few reader letters to big name authors and received a few responses. Mostly I have fangirl moments in person at conferences or book signings.
Pam, I love the cover of your book!

Jackie Smith said...

As an avid reader, I enjoy writing (e mail) to authors, thanking them for their book and posting reviews. As a young girl, I had many penpals (was an "only") and really enjoyed that.
Ooops, right now I need to tell Terri Reed that I got the book

Pamela Tracy said...

It is affirming, isn't it?

Pamela Tracy said...

You got a potholder. Lucky!
Yes, it's a great cover, isn't it :)


Pamela Tracy said...

I was an only two. I was in my double digits before I got siblings. LOL

Jennifer said...

Im sorry to say I haven't sent any fan mail to an author but have sent thank you's to authors or emails thanking them from my heart for a book or I've messaged them. Im so thankful for having healthy reading options! Thank you ladies so much! Jenny

Pamela Tracy said...

Messaging is just as good :)

Anonymous said...

hahahahahahaha! Pam!

Taylor is not my friend. She knows what she's done. (Hint Tom H).

As for you. I guess I will hand-deliver your fan letter on September 24th at the CWOW meeting. Sorry for the delay.

Pamela Tracy said...

Cool beans, and because you have such a long time to write it, I'm expecting a long, long, long fan letter. Oh, and a potholder!

Unknown said...

I really enjoyed this post, Pamela! I haven't been writing as long as you, thus I haven't been fortunate enough to receive as many actual fan letters as you (and none from inmates), but how I do love it when a reader takes the time to write me a letter, send me an e-mail or post/tweet to be about one of my books.

I loved the part about you dedicating one of your books to your birthmother.

Happy writing!


LeAnne Bristow said...

Great post, Pamela! I hadn't realized there were form letters for fan mail. And how dare they not have one for you but have one for that TS chick!!! Do you ever get snail fan mail anymore?