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.