There is nothing like getting a personal letter from an author to peak interest in a book. Many of my students wrote to various authors and received replies this year. Overall, we had about a 50% success rate and learned a few things along the way. (To download the lesson plan for free, visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store.)
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 are overloaded with letters and are less likely to reply to fanmail. Other popular authors like Sharon Creech will send a generic reply if you include a self-addressed stamped envelope with your 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 child to reach for that next book and establish a personal connection with a writer.