Authors Turn to Snail Mail to Reach Out to Fans

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

I don’t know why the presidential candidates haven’t thought of it, but if I were running their campaigns I have a sure-fire plank for their platform: keep local post offices open. Every one that closes is a dagger in the heart of a community. Who would not vote for the politician who rescued one from oblivion?

Last fall I offered a whole suite of reasons to for keeping the US Postal Service in business. Wedding invitations, holiday cards, letters of recommendation, love letters and condolence notes touch the heart in ways that emails cannot possibly achieve, I pointed out. Add junk mail and parcel post and you will realize how heavily you depend on the USPS. (See Have You Kissed a Snail Today?)

Now there is another reason: to facilitate correspondence between authors and their readers.It seems that a website called The Rumpus has started an epistolary initiative called Letters in the Mail. The founder, author Stephen Elliot, had been getting such positive responses to personalized email greetings he’d been sending out that he decided to try sending letters via snail mail. He was heartened to receive some 50 responses. A number of other high-profile authors followed suit, and the program has begun to thrive.

“When you write a letter,” reports Huffington Post’s Melissa Jeltsen, “it’s such an incredibly personal exchange between two people. It’s really intimate, even if you’re writing a letter to 2,000 people, which is what we are doing. The person gets your letter and opens it and reads it and takes time with it. You never do that with an email.”

“I did not, in a million years, imagine the kind of reception it’s gotten,” Elliot told the reporter. “Clearly, we hit some nerve. I had this idea on a Monday, I was still thinking about it on Tuesday morning and so I launched it. And it was immediate – we had 200 subscribers in the first couple of hours.”

Ready to try it? For an interview with Elliot, read Letters In The Mail: The Rumpus Starts New Print Subscription.

One of my most cherished possessions is an autograph by my literary idol Henry James.  It is nothing more than the closing of a letter, the contents of which I have often speculated about. It says, simply, “Believe me truly yours, Henry James.” I cannot gaze at it without believing it was personally directed to me. And this is why I think Letters in the Mail is such a heartwarming idea, and why our government must find the funds to keep post offices in business.

Richard Curtis

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Richard Curtis

About Richard Curtis

Richard Curtis is a leading New York literary agent (www.curtisagency.com) who foresaw the Digital Book Revolution and launched an e-book publishing company early in 2000. E-Reads (www.ereads.com) is one of the foremost independent e-book publishers in the industry, specializing in reprints of genre fiction by leading authors in their fields. Curtis is also a well-known authors advocate, author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction including several books about the publishing industry, and prolific blogger – see his hundreds of other blog posts here.

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