So there’s this person you’re a massive fan of. A huge fan. And you really want to let them know how great you think they are. Sounds like it’s time you sent some fanmail, my friend! But how?
Fear not, Wanderers – as always, we’ve got some advice. And here it is!
- Keep it brief. If you’re sending someone fanmail, chances are you’re not the only one. Much as most of the people who get fanmail love receiving it, they don’t have a huge amount of time to spend reading it. So keep it short and snappy!
- Be polite. This should go without saying, but… also, remember you don’t actually know this person, so try to keep your language to the kind of levels you’d use in front of your parents. Or grandparents. Also…
- No hate mail. Ain’t nobody got time for that. If you’re thinking of using someone’s fanmail address to tell them you don’t like them, take a second to reconsider what ‘fan’ actually means, and then go and write to someone you do like, instead.
- Don’t be creepy. No detailed poetry about the beauty of their posterior in that particular pair of costume trousers, or descriptions of your future wedding to them, or… just don’t be creepy, OK, Wanderers? You’re sensible enough to know where to draw the line.
- Don’t be threatening. It may be that you occasionally send your friends jokey texts saying things like ‘I’m behind you’ or ‘I’m watching you’, and they find this amusing. Words cannot express how not amusing it is to get such a message in a piece of fanmail. Imagine if you got a letter from a stranger saying ‘I’m outside your house haha’. No, not amusing at all. Don’t do it. Besides the obvious let’s-not-make-people-we-admire-uncomfortable angle, there’s also the very real possibility that if you make someone feel threatened in a letter the police will become involved. So don’t do it.
- Don’t say anything too personal. You don’t know this person, after all. Yes, you admire them, and you might know more about them than they would possibly like, but you’re in no way evening the score by telling them where you live, or about that time you had a breakdown in Science, or hotwired a car. You can tell them where you live, or any of your stories, but try to remember you’re talking to a stranger. Imagine you’re sending this letter to someone else, not your favourite celebrity (chances are someone else will read it first anyway), and make sure you’re really comfortable sharing the information. Also, consider whether they’ll be comfortable reading it!
- Don’t give them your phone number. They won’t use it, and even if they did, it would probably simply cause you to break down into awkward, ugly, down-the-phone sobs of excitement. There are ways in which you might one day become acquainted with someone you’re a fan of (think of all those coffee shop AUs) but fanmail is not the way to swap numbers.
- Get the right address. Google their name plus ‘fanmail address’ – or use another search engine of your choice, of course. If you can’t find it that way, it’s usually a safe bet to go through a musician’s record company, an author’s publisher, or an actor’s agent. Details of these usually can be found online. If your letter doesn’t get to them, they can’t read it! And that would be a shame. So double-check it before you send.
- Don’t ask for special treatment. This means asking them to give you a role opposite them in their next film, or write you into their next novel, or shout you out in their next CD’s acknowledgements section… basically anything they wouldn’t do for any old fan, don’t ask them to do it. Because – and we hate to say this, Wanderers, because we think you’re really special – you are any old fan. We all are.
- If you want a reply, enclose a self-addressed envelope. And put a stamp on it. If the person you’re writing to doesn’t have a writing-back-to-people policy, this may be a bit of a gamble; they don’t have to write back and your stamp may never return to you. However, they might. And if they do decide to write back, you’ll be saving them time and effort as well as the price of a stamp. Plus, you’ll know the address is written clearly and isn’t wrong.
- Be patient. If they write back, it will be in between a ton of other commitments they have. Don’t expect your reply by return of post.
Eleanor Musgrove (once sent a six-page long fanmail and got a reply after three years. Not kidding.)