Last week I received a letter by way of my publisher from a seventh grader who had written the letter in December of 2007 and mailed it in January of this year. Today I received another letter, this one from a seventh grader who had written his letter in 2005.
The lesson here is that publishers don't always foreward mail in a timely fashion. I'm not complaining, I'm just stating a fact. E-mail, on the other hand, is amazingly fast, as a general rule. I think it's a much better way for students to reach authors and suggest that teachers encourage their students to check to see if the authors they want to write to have websites, which often include a way to e-mail them.
Some authors (I'm thinking people like Rick Riordan, for instance) probably receive more e-mail than they can possibly respond to. But they probably also receive more traditional fan mail than they can possibly respond to, also. At the present time, I'm not one of those authors. If that changes, I'll be sure to let you know.
I suspect from things I've read that there are also authors who might get a little snitty over receiving e-mail because they don't believe it is a true correspondence. I'm not one of those authors, either.
I'll tell you what else I'm not--I'm not an author who would ever, ever not respond to a child who wrote her a well-mannered letter as both these young men did. The guy from 2005 even included a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
Yes, I will be writing back to him. I hope he'll be pleasantly surprised. Good heavens, he should be in tenth grade now.