How to Write a Fan LetterPart of: Literati
Breakfast: toasted bagel with adriatic fig spread and green tea.
I’ve written three fan letters in my lifetime. The first one was when I was 10. I was really into fashion and wrote Bob Mackie a letter. I don’t know why I chose him. Maybe I saw him on CNN’s “Style with Elsa Klensch” and in Vogue.
Mackie’s always designed fanciful evening dresses with some nice beaded numbers. I revealed in my letter that I admired his designs and explained that I wanted to be a fashion designer when I grew up. I got a nice typewritten letter back thanking me and wishing me well. Also enclosed were 8X10 black and white photos of a few dresses. I was thrilled for the pictures; though sad he didn’t offer me a future job.
The second letter (e-mail) I wrote was a year ago to Breyer’s thanking them for not using preservatives and having high standards of quality. I also thanked them for having Vanilla Bean ice-cream. (Have you noticed it’s impossible to find now?) Good Humor, which owns Breyer’s, wrote me back thanking me and sent me three one-dollar off coupons. Ralphs has double coupons, so that was two-dollars off. Yes, I can be thrifty—I swear.
The third letter was to one of the writers on “Six Feet Under” (Kate Robin) last season. I was going to stop watching the show because I wasn’t enthralled with it anymore. Then a really great episode came along, and I changed my mind. “Six Feet Under” is a DRAMA, drama for those who haven’t watched it. This episode made me laugh despite the drama. It hit me how powerful good writing can be. Kate wrote me a new-agey e-mail back-- something about putting out the energy in the universe and not knowing how people will react.
I greatly appreciate fan letters. I don’t think most people write them all the time, so they are even more meaningful. Are any of my readers fan mail writing ho’s?
Most writers thrive on commentary and praise regarding their work. We spend so much time alone and isolated writing. It’s sometimes weird to work really hard on a piece, get published, and then not know what anyone thinks about it.
I discovered how nice it was to get fan mail when I wrote for Kevin Smith’s website, Movie Poop Shoot. Anything written on Movie Poop Shoot has an “E-mail the author” link at the end of it. (Oh, you should check out talented Poop Shoot columnists Jeffrey Wells and Thom Fowler.)
I don’t want to seem like a braggart—but I got a decent amount of fan mail. However, (ego deflates) a lot of it was people asking me how to be a script reader “I like what you wrote and by the way blah, blah, blah.” I wasn’t expecting that after casting a negative and unglamorous light on script reading.
I do have a favorite fan letter.
I’m posting this because I want people to know that whenever you write a letter to someone praising their work, you make that persons day. This is an example of a well-written fan letter—it could be a blurb on a book. I loved the first sentence and how she called me Ms. Stone.
“Ms. Stone, I feel ridiculous writing this to you; a bit like a fourteen year old clutching a Leonardo Dicaprio poster sighing out, ‘I think you're sooooo great!’ Um, I'm not a Leonardo fan, for the record. I actually came across your article "A Day in the Life of a Hollywood Script Reader" and enjoyed it immensely. I also found your Day Two article and smiled my way through it. Your sarcasm and dry wit make for a pleasant, entertaining and humorous read.”
How not to Write a Fan Letter:
Hi Ms. Literature Major:
FYI: there is no apostrophe in "Cape Cods". (It's not possesive.) I was a literature major as well and actually enjoyed your article; I think you are very creative and original. But I also think that you should not embarass yourself or other literature majors.
--No Name (what a surprise)
Actually, this made me laugh. If you write a letter accusing someone of grammatical errors, don’t spell ‘possessive’ and ‘embarrass’ wrong. There are also a couple of other errors.
I would never take the time out to write a backhanded compliment. There are typos in my “Day in the Life of a Script Reader” journal entries. I learned that I need to edit my work 100% and check what the website’s “supposed editor” has changed for the better or worse. For Movie City News, I spend a lot of time proofreading and copy editing my own stuff.
When I’ve written for print publications there has always been a copy writer and proofreader, etc.