There is nothing like getting personal author letters to peak interest in reading. Each year, my students write to a favorite book author as one of our first assignments. They start by hunting down contact information for the book author (research skills!). Then, they brainstorm reasons they like a particular author and his/her book(s). We review business letter format, and the students draft a letter to the author. After editing, the students prepare their final draft, and we mail the first wave of letters.
From that first letter drop, we might receive an author reply within a few weeks or wait close to nine months to get a reply. After we walk through the process of creating an author letter, students continue to write letters when they have free time. We send and receive letters all year.
How Can I Contact a Book Author?
- Newer authors have websites with an e-mail address and are more likely to send a personal reply. We e-mailed Jody Feldman, Jonathan Auxier, Tracy Barrett, Erica Kirov, and a few others. In most cases, we received replies within three days. The replies were unique and specifically responded to the letter written by the students. Some authors even gave new book suggestions, which built excitement among the students to pick up an unfamiliar book.
- Other authors provide a snail mail address on their website. These replies take longer– sometimes up to three months, so be patient. Kate Klise wrote us back twice and each letter contained different content.
- Mega authors like J.K. Rowling and Sharon Creech are overloaded with letters and are less likely to personally reply to fanmail. We did receive a generic reply from both authors when we included a self-addressed stamped envelope with our letter.
- If you can’t find contact information on the author website, locate a mailing address for the author’s publishing company. Mail a letter to the author c/o the publisher. Publishers will forward all mail to the author. We mailed a letter to John Christopher via his publisher. We did not realize that the author had passed away, and his daughter actually replied to our letter several months later!
No matter how you try to contact an author, it will encourage a student to reach for that next book and establish a personal connection with a writer. CLICK HERE to download complete author letter lesson plans and make sure you display all your author letter replies in the classroom. Another fun author activity is THIS ONE where students try to discover what inspired an author to write a particular story. The two activities pair well together.
Which Author Letters Get a Reply?
Here are a few book authors who have replied to my students…
- Brian Selznick (Wonderstruck and Invention of Hugo Cabret)
- Tom Angleberger (Origami Yoda series)
- Leslie Connor (Crunch)
- Julie Edwards (Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles— letter was from her “fan mail coordinator”)
- J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter— form letter)
- Cressida Cowell (How to Train Your Dragon series)
- Annie Barrows (The Magic Half)
- Sheila Turnage (Three Times Lucky)
- Kate Klise (Dying to Meet You series)
- Patrick Carmen (Floors— took 9 months to receive a reply!)
- Erica Orloff (Magickeepers series)
- Obert Skye (Wonkenstein and Potterwookie)
- Lisa Schroeder (It’s Raining Cupcakes)
- Jacqueline Kelly (The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate)
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