There is an author of fiction whom I would like to send a short letter to. How does one go about finding a mailing address for a “famous” person?
Should I try sending a letter in care of the authors’ publishing company? Should I try to find a home address. All I want to do is compliment the author on a series of books they have written, and to ask if there will be another.
I agree. Unless the author has a publically posted mailing address, don’t try to track it down. Too many crazies in the world for any author to feel happy about that. Send the letter care of the publisher.
In my experience, publishers don’t hurry in forwarding letters. Try not to send anything perishable.
When I was twelve years old, I wrote to Isaac Asimov to comment on his book Murder at the ABA, using an address I found in Who’s Who In America (or another similar reference book), which was in the junior high school library. In retrospect, criticizing his favorite book might not have been the wisest thing to do, but he was very polite in his response.
I also had occasion to correct Asimov one time. He wrote in one essay about the trick by some fund raisers of playing on the sympathies of the public by parading their misery and mentioned AA as one such group. I wrote to him in care of his publisher pointing out that AA did not solicit any support from the public sending along AA literature in support of that statement. In response I got a nice letter admitting that he had just put it in as an illustration of his point without really knowing anything about AA. He also said that if a new edition of the work ever was published, which he very much doubted would happen, he would be happy to delete the reference to AA.
Jerry Pournelle is another author who, in my experience, gives measured and thoughtful replies to letters from readers. Many moons ago, the high school debate topic revolved around space exploration. We wrote Jerry asking about the laser launch facilities he had used in several of his stories. He replied with a ream of data, and pointed us to the original work in the area. He was very polite, and sent along an autographed paperback as well.
oh it’s easy… you just look them up on the net then track them down and go knock on their door… me 'n JD hung out and had some chicken soup a few years back… seen the vault… he’ll have some good books out again once he kicks the bucket…
ha ha… no just kidding but back in the early mid 90’s when I was going thru my own late 60’s hippy type time… I did snail mail tim… and well something came back from starseed then after another attempt got a nice reply from him… just a few years before he kicked the bucket. Oh let me upload a chroming of his sig I had done…
Yeah, he admitted that he often just made stuff up about industries or organizations for the sake of his plot, without knowing anything about them. Once he made out the business of museum acquisitions to be a real cloak-and-dagger-type operation, when it’s really nothing of the sort.
I once wrote to an elderly author via her agent to comment on her obscure little book that Mr. S and I found, back when we first met, that we had both read as children, so it kind of helped bring us together, if that makes any sense. She returned the book we sent her with a very amusing inscription and a charming letter on her personal letterhead, which we have framed on our living room wall, displayed with the inscribed book.
There are some books you can use to find famous people’s addresses, too. Examples include Who’s Who (which generally also lists short biographical details) and the Star Guide. Your library probably has copies, or you can call them over the phone and ask them to help you locate an address. (I’m a librarian and this is not an unusual question.) The Internet is also worth a try, but sometimes it can be more difficult than you might expect.
Note that the addresses in standard reference works tend to be in care of the publisher or agent, or perhaps a post office box.
I have a P.O. Box that’s pretty easy to find. My home address is less so, but it wouldn’t take an Internet genius to find it. But if I were ever to get a piece of mail at my home address from someone I didn’t know wanting to talk about my books, my skin would start crawling.
Go through a neutral route. Please. I can’t emphasize this enough.
As a published author, I’ll second this. I get phone calls at home from people who have read my books. I had one show up at my house. That’s creepy and scary.
I have a website (domain name=my name) through which people can easily contact me, and I generally reply to all emails… even the ones that tell me how much my writing sucks. But I’m much more likely to respond to people who respect my privacy and understand the concept of boundaries.
I emphatically second what Exapno Mapcase said. I’ve also had people contact me about my books, and I’m much happier if it comes through my publisher. I’m not hard to find–Google me, find my Web site, and there’s a graphic with my email address in it. I still prefer not to get phone calls at home. And if someone I didn’t know showed up at the door… (shudder).
Remember also that writers love talking about their books (at least I do), but if we spend too much time talking about them we have no time left to write them.
I’ve emailed Lawrence Watt-Evans a few times, and he has always been very polite and charming to me. However, that was email, and so he might have felt more comfortable with that medium than a snailmail sent directly to his house.