Well, actually, my title is misleading. This post contains two confessions about fan letters.
Confession the first:
I have never sent a fan letter to an author, even though I often compose them in my head while reading. The closest I ever got was about fifteen years ago, after reading one of Amy Tan‘s books (I think it was either The Hundred Secret Senses or The Kitchen God’s Wife). I got as far as typing out a few paragraphs, but that was it. I abandoned the effort because (a) I was so saturated with her delicious words that I’d begun channeling her writing style, which was embarrassing, and (b) that was back before you could easily track down an email address for an author, or contact them through their website. I probably would have had to print off the letter and mail it. With a stamp and everything!
Anyway, the point is: I have never completed a fan letter to an author. Which is a shame because…
Confession the second:
Even though I am a barely-known author with one slim book to my name, I have received fan letters, and they make my day. Some of them make my entire week. I’ve also had the pleasure of reading enthusiastic reviews of my book, and those make my day/week/month too.
If my book had come out ten years ago, the same amount of people may have enjoyed it, but I probably wouldn’t have heard from them. Now there are tons of excellent book blogs–many of which are devoted to young adult lit–and communities like GoodReads where the book addicts hang out, and authors and readers coming together on Twitter to do neat things like #YAlitchat. People have always been excited about books, but now it’s easier than ever for those people to find each other.
So even as independent bookstores close and publishers struggle to figure out what an ebook-dominated future will mean for them, all is not lost. Today, writers can be closer than ever to their readers, and vice versa. So whether you’re a reader or a writer or both, get out there and tell your favourite authors how much you love their books.
And Amy Tan? I’m a huge fan.