Monday, October 5, 2009

Letters And Emails

I found a one and a half page well written and neatly typed letter from a high school student in Washington State in my mail today.

The only problem is, the date on the letter was January 20. It took over nine months for my publisher to forward it to me.

At the end of August, I got a batch of letters that were sent in March and April. In that case, it was a different publishing house that took forever to forward the mail.

I answer all fan letters that I get, and I do so reasonably promptly, just as I do emails and comments on my blog. I appreciate the time it takes for someone to write me.

The problem with the letters though is the publishing houses don't send them as soon as they get them. I don't know why they don't, but they don't. They just don't.

And I hate the thought of someone (especially a kid) waiting to hear back and not getting a response.

I understand that letter writing is a nearly lost skill and that teachers think writing letters to authors is a good way to practice that skill. I understand that emails aren't the same as letters; they're just not as formal.

But if you're a teacher or a librarian who works with teachers or a parent who speaks to teachers, please get the word out. Letters don't necessarily get to the writers, or if they do, it can be months after the letters were originally written. Months. In the case of the letter I got today, close to a year.

If it's that important that the letter format be used, then email me and we'll discuss what can be worked out. Otherwise, please have your students email me. That way I can respond within a couple of days, and there won't be a disappointed kid in Washington or Florida or Idaho.

Thank you.


Paige Y. said...


I'll remember to tell my teachers that -- it didn't occur to me it takes so long for authors to receive letters.

In other news, I've decided to revive our faculty book club (after several years) and the first book we'll be reading is LAWKI. We meet next Tuesday, but I must say that several of the teachers have already told me how much they loved it (and more than one has gone to check about how much food they have in their pantries).

Take care,

Anonymous said...

Hey! I'm a high school student from Washington State! But that letter wasn't from me... haha.

Melody Marie Murray said...

Wow, what a sweet post. I'm really touched by your devotion to your fans.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi to Paige Y., Anonymous and Melody Marie Murray-

For starters, it's good to know there are two people in Washington State who like my books.

And I don't know how sweet I truly am. What I do know is I read Paige Y.'s comment as, "... gone to check about how much food they have in their panties," which I thought was pretty funny!

Paige Y. said...

I must say that I had to look up at my original comment to make sure I had actually written pantries instead of panties.

Anonymous said...


I was wondering if you heard that NASA is going to crash a $79 million spacecraft into the surface of the moon tomorrow, Friday, October 9. I'm really nervous right now...
Here's a link:


Mallory said...

I too am feeling extremely nervous about the moon bombing, since I am currently in the middle of reading LAWKI. At least I am prepared and know what to do should NASA accidentally knock the moon off it's orbit. :-)


Maddy Myers said...

I agree! I just heard that and im like wow! creepy! link:

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello to Kelly and Mallory and Maddy Myers-

Thank you all for the inspiration.

I'm off to write a brief panic stricken blog entry!

Elaine Marie Alphin said...

That's why I put my snailmail address on my webpage, in the hopes that students will write directly to me. It made me so angry to get letters so late, and know the student assumed I couldn't be bothered to answer them!

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Good morning Elaine Marie Alphin-

I'm a little hesitant to put my actual address on my blog, although even my GPS has trouble finding where I live (it always tells me to make a legal U turn as soon as I arrive).

Yesterday in my mail were two letters from kids, envelopes and postmarks intact. One was from February and the other from November. November! The kid could have carried the letter to me and gotten it here faster.

Anonymous said...

I have a question then... If I'd like to let's say email you about how big a fan I am, what is your email to do so