You read a book that blew you away and now you want to write to the author. But maybe you’re not sure what to say.
Here’s how to write a letter to an author:
You write a letter to an author by getting their correct address, making it specific and personal, using a standard letter format, and including your contact information along with a self-addressed and stamped envelope (SASE) so that the author can easily respond.
There are a few specifics that can help you make the process easier (and the author more likely to write back to you).
Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to writing a letter to your favorite author, examples of letters to authors, and a full “letter to an author” template.
How To Write a Letter to an Author (Step-by-Step)
Follow these simple steps to write to an author:
1) Find the author’s mailing address
The first and most important step in writing a letter to an author is to make sure that you have the correct address. Usually, you can find the best address on the author’s website or in one of their recently published books.
If you can’t find the author’s address, you can write to their publisher who will often forward the letter to the author.
When mailing to a publisher, address the envelope “In care of” the publisher.
2) Use a standard letter format
This is not the time to get too fancy or creative.
Your best bet is to keep things simple by choosing a standard letter format. Most letters start with the date, then the author’s name, your message, and end with your name and contact information.
Here is a simple format you can use:
Dear [Author’s full name]
Your contact information
Keep reading to get sample letters to authors and a full, fill-in-the-blanks template.
3) Address the author by name
It’s important to address the author by name. Not only does it make your letter more personal (instead of a form letter), it gets the author’s attention, and sets the right tone for your message.
“Dear sir or mam” is too formal and impersonal.
You don’t want the author to think that you mass-mailed 100 letters to every author on the planet. You want the author to know that their book moved you so much that you wanted to send a personal message to them.
At the same time, you don’t want to be too informal, either.
You probably shouldn’t address the author as “best friend,” “what’s up?” or “hey you!” Keep it polite, personal, and at least formal enough to use their full name.
I recommend you say something like, “Dear Stephen King,” or “Dear Janet Mcnaughton.”
4) Make it personal
The author’s book touched you in a very personal way, so it makes sense to write a personal letter.
Include some basic, non-creepy information about yourself.
You can say something like, “I’m Millie from New Jersey. I’ve been a fan of yours forever. As soon as I picked up the first Eric Shooter mystery, I’ve been hooked.”
Thank the author for their work. Let them know what it means to you or how it affected your life.
5) Tell the author what you loved about their book
What are some of your favorite writing traits of this author? What draws you to their books? Why does it matter to you?
What is your favorite part of the book? Why did a particular scene stand out to you? How did the author make you feel when reading it?
What do you think of the characters? What was your favorite character and why?
Include those little tidbits in your letter.
Name the specific book, characters, and plot points. As a published author myself (just not a famous or bestselling one), I can tell you that authors get precious few comments about the little things in their novels.
And authors crave this kind of attention to detail.
You can say:
I loved the book because it has ____ in it, and that’s my favorite topic to read about!
I loved the book for so many reasons. It is well-written, gives great insight into another world, etc.
6) Keep it short
The best letters to authors are not too long but also not too short. Shoot for 3-5 concise paragraphs.
Certainly less than a page.
Most authors, especially popular authors, are very busy. Long letters might never get read or (if you send it to the publisher) never forwarded to the author in the first place.
Short letters are more likely to get read and to get a reply.
7) Include your contact information
Always include multiple ways for the author to reach back out to you.
You never know when one of your letters will make a big impact on your favorite author. If you don’t give them your contact information, you may never know.
By following this one step, I’ve received several responses from some of my favorite authors.
My recommendation is to include:
- Your mailing adress (or P.O. Box)
- Your email address
- Your social media handle/username (make sure the author is on the same platform)
8) Show your appreciation
Keep your letter friendly and kind. Show your appreciation for the author and their books.
How do you show appreciation?
You show appreciation with polite language, brevity, and specificity.
9) Proofread your letter
Give your letter a quick read-through to catch any obvious grammatical errors and misspellings.
Double-check the date and the spelling of the author’s name.
While you’re at it, make sure you get the name and spelling of the author’s book correct, too.
Just know that you don’t need to write the perfect letter. The author is more interested in your message than pristine punctuation.
One of the things I do with all of my writing is to use the free version of automatic grammar checkers like Grammarly.
10) Send the letter
The last step is to actually send the letter.
To do this, you need to:
- Print the letter out on your printer
- Fold the letter (Usually three times)
- Put the letter into a standard size envelope
- Close the envelope
- Write the author’s address in the center of the front side of the envelope (see image below)
- Write your return address on the top left-hand side of the front of the envelope (see image below)
- Place enough postage or stamps on the top right-hand side of the front of the envelope (see image below)
Make sure you wait an appropriate amount of time for the author to reply before writing them again.
If they are a very popular author, it may take weeks or months.
Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Letter to an Author (Table)
When writing your favorite author, there are things you should do and things you definitely shouldn’t do.
Here is a table I put together of the most important do’s and don’ts:
|Write a thoughtful letter
|Include information about yourself
|Write a biography
|Write a few paragraphs
|Write a 10-page short story
|Mention the book or books
|Be too vague
|Mention social media connections
|Get too personal
|Keep the letter simple
|Use crazy fonts
|Only send the letter
|Send one letter a year
|Send 100 letters
|Use inoffensive langauge
|Hope to make the author smile
|Expect a quick response
What Should You Include in a Letter to an Author?
Include a short introduction that tells them why you are writing. Include how many books you have read by this author, and especially the title of the book(s) you love the most.
You can also tell them about an important story moment for you.
For example, how you loved the ending of a certain story—perhaps because it had a twist that you didn’t expect or because it was very emotional.
Finish your letter by thanking them for their work.
Sample Letters to Your Favorite Author
One of the best ways to learn how to write fan mail to your favorite author is to see an example.
So, check out this sample letter to J.K. Rowling:
Dear J.K. Rowling,
I am writing to let you know how much I enjoyed the Harry Potter series.
What really stood out to me is how you made magic seem so real. Your novels have helped me to see the world from a new perspective and believe that maybe I can become a writer, too.
Ever since I picked up the first book, I’ve felt so inspired.
Thank you so much!
Laura J. Kirst
4209 Creek Side Drive
Montgomery, AL 40065
Email address: Laurakwriter@msn.com
Note: the sender’s contact information is not accurate.
Here’s another example of an author fan letter:
Dear Stephen King,
I just finished reading your Pet Semetary novel. I wanted to say how much I enjoyed it!
The story was so well written and so intricately woven with so many moving parts. Your writing style is very down-to-earth, not to mention the level of detail you provide the reader with every scene.
I really felt like I was there! I’ll never look at my cats, Whiskey and Rye, the same again.
Freaked out in Fargo,
How To Write a Formal Letter to an Author
To write a formal letter, you only need to make a few tweaks to the tips at the beginning of this article.
This is how you write a formal letter:
- Include the author’s name and address at the top of the letter
- Address the author formally as Mr. or Mrs.
- Use formal language throughout the letter.
- Use block text and short paragraphs.
- Use a standard font (for example, Times New Roman).
- Make sure your letter is correctly punctuated and spell-checked.
- Finish with a formal salutation.
Here’s an example of how to write the author’s name and address at the top of the letter:
c/o Box 2, 44-46 Morningside Road
How To Write a Letter to Your Favorite Author (Template)
Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out what to say in a letter to an author. That’s why I created the following fill-in-the-blanks template.
Feel free to copy and paste it into a Word or Google document.
You can use it as is or just to get you started. You don’t need to follow it exactly to write a good letter.
Here’s the template:
Dear [Author’s Name],
I am writing to let you know how much I enjoyed your latest book, [Name of Book].
What really stood out to me is [What you loved about the book or characters].
Your novel has [How the book positively impacted your life]
Again, I would just like to express my deepest thanks to you for this book.
I wish you all the best.
[Your contact information]
How To Write an Email to an Author
You write an email to an author in much the same way that you write a letter.
The big difference is in length and formality.
Your email should be short and sweet. You don’t need to be overly informal, but most emails are more casual than college-level.
Include the same elements as in a letter:
- The author’s name
- Appreciation for the author
- What the book and/or author means to you
Here’s an example of a fan email to an author:
Dear Ms. Harris,
I’m a huge fan of your new book, Fire’s Dawn. I think that it is very well written and that you are an incredibly talented writer. I don’t feel that there was any aspect of the story that could have been improved upon. It’s quite obvious why your book is a New York Times bestseller.
How To Write an Invitation Letter to an Author
As an author, I know the type of invitation letter I’d like to receive.
When writing a letter to invite an author to attend your event, be polite, professional, and keep your letter as short as possible while still including the necessary information.
You’ll want to include:
- Why are are specifically inviting the author (as opposed to any other author)
- How the author can positively impact the people at the event (they are huge fans, etc.)
- The details of the event (Date, time, location, length of event)
- (Optional) Payment details
- If the author is traveling, consisder covering travel expenses (hotel, gas, plane tickets, food, etc)
Here is a quick author invitation letter example:
Dear [Author’s Name],
I am writing to invite you to [Name of Event] which will take place at [Location]. This event is meant to celebrate the release of your newest novel, [Title of Novel].
We will be hosting an author’s panel to discuss your book and the writing process. We would like to extend an invitation for you to join us on this panel. As a long-time fan, I think it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on the publishing process and how your book came into being.
I hope you are able to join us at this event!
[Your Contact Information]
How To Get an Author To Write Back (5 Good Ways)
You can improve your chances of getting a response from an author if you know a few tips.
To help you get a message back, I’ve collected the best tips for you into this section and added a quick review list at the end. By applying these tips, you make it much more likely to hear from your favorite author.
1) Get the best mailing address or email address
Here is where to look to find the best address:
- The “Contact Me” or “About Me” section of the author’s website (Here’s an example from jkrowling.com)
- Follow the author on social media (bonus tip: Retweet and thoughtfully respond to a few of their tweets for a few weeks before making a personal contact)
- Look in the hardcover edition of their books (sometimes different companies publish the hard cover and print editions)
- Check the most recent published book (print, eBook, or audio version).
You can usually find the author’s mailing address in the first few pages of their book.
2) Add a personal connection
If you have a personal connection to the author, mention it.
A personal connection like knowing a mutual friend or attending the same alma mater might motivate a personal response from the author.
Don’t add too many personal connections, however, as it might seem a bit creepy.
One to two references to something you share in common is more than enough.
3) Make it easy to respond (Include a SASE)
Include a SASE (Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope) with your letter. You never know, the author might want to respond.
If you include a SASE with your letter, you make it easy for them to do so.
Simply fold up the SASE and slip it into the envelope you mail to the author.
4) Draw a picture
Some fans like to include fan art with their letters. You don’t have to be a kid to stand out from the hundreds (or thousands) of other letters the author receives on a weekly basis.
A simple sketch of a character or favorite scene from the novel can do the trick.
You can add the sketch to the bottom of the letter or separately in the envelope. You may need to get a bigger envelope if you are also including a SASE.
If you send an email, don’t send an attachment. Most authors won’t open them.
Simply copy and paste the image into the body of the email under your name.
5) Write a new author
A new or less popular author is more likely to respond than a perpetual bestseller.
If you want the best shot to get a response, new authors will have more time and are more likely to reply to you much faster. They are not yet overwhelmed by fan contact.
If you establish a fan relationship now, you can maintain it for years to come.
Final Thoughts: How To Write a Letter to an Author
Authors love to hear from their readers.
Don’t ever hesitate to let your favorite authors know how much you enjoyed their books.
What to read next: