TLC FanMail

Have You Ever Written A Fan Letter?

Up until last year I hadn’t written an actual paper fan letter since I was a kid. And, if you must know, I sent it to Leonard Nimoy. Anyway, during the last Month of Letters I decided to write another fan letter to a cellist whose music I adore. I got a really lovely note in response that made my day.

This year I’ve sent and planned to send several more fan letters. Some to musicians, some to writers, and a couple of actors. I don’t expect a response from all of them, but I have high hopes that my letters will actually reach them. I’m not writing to anyone that famous.

TLC FanMail

Thanks to social media and the Internet, it’s actually rather easy to find direct or mostly direct digital contact info for artists. Snail mail addresses are a bit harder to come by from a search. In most cases you have to ask.

What I usually do is look for a contact form on a website or, as a last result, pinging on Twitter. I let he person in question know I’d like to send snail mail, I tell them about Month of Letters so they know why, and ask where they prefer to receive mail (such as through an agent, manager, publisher, etc.). Most of the people I’ve contacted got back to me with an address, usually for their agent or a PO Box.

Have you sent any fan letters in recent memory? Did you get a response back? I always wonder how often people get responses back from the actual person they wrote to and not just some assistant with a signature stamp.

12 thoughts on “Have You Ever Written A Fan Letter?”

  1. I haven’t done any fan mail, at least as an adult. But my parents had a “card party” for me last year and invited family & friends to send me cards. The son of a family of longtime friends is now a Grammy & Dove award nominated singer/song writer and his parents or sister who they invited passed the info on to him and I was so excited to get a card he signed from himself and his wife and kids (who I’ve never got to meet as they don’t live nearby) both because it was a childhood friend and also since he’s kind of a celebrity now, it made it fun for that too!

  2. I have written “fan” letters and some of the recipients have replied, some did not. The ones that reply most often are authors. I’ve written to some as I’ve been deeply moved by their writing and wanted to let them know. Or, to tell them why I enjoyed a particular novel. They are very grateful for the personal touch. Their letters are a gift to receive in return!

    1. Yes, I have found I have a 100% return rate if I write to an author (e.g. Robert Coover, Sol Gordon, Ellen Conford, Francesca Lia Block), and 0% return rate if I write to a musician, even a retired one.

  3. I’m planning on writing three fan mail letters this month. I’d better hurry up. Usually I wouldn’t write a fan letter because I don’t want to seem too silly or gushing but the Month of Letters gives me the perfect opportunity to do it.

  4. I’ve written just one letter of this kind, to a Belgian author (Amélie Nothomb). It was an assignment for my French lessons. The teacher didn’t think we were going to actually sent the letter. But I did, and I received a short but lovely answer.

  5. Once, many, many years ago, I wrote a fan letter to Catherine Storr, who wrote “Marianne Dreams”. She wrote a lovely letter back to me. I haven’t written a fan letter since, but oooooh, you’ve given me an idea. I’d love to write to Tom Hiddleston and say thank you for the way he has portrayed Loki in Thor/Avenger movies. I may just do it then!

  6. I sent several fan letters during the first Month of Letters. The first was to an author whose recently-concluded book series, I wrote, had touched me more deeply than any I could remember since my first reading of Lord of the Rings. (When I closed Return of the King I wandered around feeling bereft for a while, then bicycled to the house of a friend to try to communicate something of what was swirling around inside my head. But I knew she hadn’t read the books, so I just dropped the bike, threw myself down onto the lawn, and stared up at the sky for awhile. As it happened I’d thrown myself down on top of red ant hills, so my melancholy musings came to an abrupt conclusion.) She sent back a long beautifully handwritten letter sharing one of her childhood memories of being emotionally whomped by literature.

    I also wrote to the late Barbara Michaels, telling her how much I’d enjoyed the Amelia Peabody mysteries (written under her Elizabeth Peters pen name), and received a nice postcard in reply.

    And, in the oh-why-the-heck-not category, I sent a note to one of the young actresses on one of my guilty-pleasure TV shows, expressing my admiration for the ferocity with which she attacked some of the songs she performed on the show. I’m now the proud possessor of an autographed photo of Glee’s Naya Rivera in her cheerleader costume!

    This year I wrote and rewrote drafts of a letter to Katherine Addison/Sarah Monette, because I’ve really liked all her work but OMG The Goblin Emperor. I sent the final copy off feeling I’d pretty much failed at explaining the many things I adore about that book, but oh, well. At least I got the gush out.

    There are two or three more I’d like to write but they haven’t quite come together yet. Still a week to go!

  7. You never know who will reply! Some public figures do have fan pages on social media sites that give snail mail addresses, usually to their management. But still a great idea to write a fan letter, reply or not!

  8. I think my first “fan letter” was to Hugh Hefner, thanking him for buying the land that the Hollywood sign is on to preserve it (it was going to be bought by a developer and turned into condos, but Hefner bought it and donated it back to the city). I thanked him for using his money for the good of the city he lived in.

    I wrote two more yesterday because of’s list—Ellen DeGeneres (just a general, hey, you’re awesome) and Neil deGrasse Tyson (omgs everything you touch is magic!). It feels kinda fun.

  9. Jim Henson was a huge childhood hero of mine. He died unexpectedly when I was 16 years old and I took it a lot harder than I thought. I wrote a long condolence letter to his (legally separated) wife Jane, expressing how much he and his creations meant to me. I received a short but lovely handwritten card from her. I’m 40 now and I still have and cherish that card. I also regret that I never bothered writing to Jim while he was still alive, so I make sure to write to people I care about.

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