Writers get less fan mail than most readers imagine. We spend our days largely alone, crafting our work and putting in all sorts of details and care – but it’s rare to hear from readers that someone got all that. A thank-you letter has more value than you can imagine. Even when the author is high-profile, acclaimed, and reviewed, they might be getting fewer such letters than you'd expect. Last year, when I wrote to my all-time favourite author, she sent me a very generous reply and said that she was carrying my letter around with her, like a talisman.
The art here is to write a pure thank-you letter. Not a thank-you-and-I'd-love-your-attention letter, or a thank-you-and-would-you-like-to-read-my-stuff letter - a letter that's all about them. A pure gift, asking for nothing. Try to express as clearly as you can exactly what you enjoy so much about their work: that attention and appreciation is rare and valuable.
Have a look at your bedside table and in your bag: what books have you just read that you enjoyed? Why did you enjoy them? Pull out a pad of paper and write a physical letter to the author, thanking them. Send it care of their agent or publisher, rather than trying to mine their personal details. (That’s a courtesy they’ll also appreciate.)
If you want to join the March mission, you can use the cover pictures here for Facebook or Twitter. There's also a large-scale version of the picture above you can put on your desktop, to remind you. And if you really want to do that lovely author a favour, add a comment to this post and to Facebook or Twitter (#thanktheauthor) to say which author you're thanking, what for, and which book you'd recommend we start with.