Care of

Or ‘cow’ as my childhood friend called it. It being the use of ℅ in a postal address sense, which she read as ‘ko’ which translates as cow.

But never mind the cow now.

Several children’s authors recently were discovering they had – possibly – disappointed young fans by not replying to their letters. That’s because the children’s missives had been sent care of the publisher, who had taken rather a long time to pass the correspondence on.

I have to say here that I have always been lucky with this approach; and publishers have forwarded my letter speedily and replies have arrived pretty swiftly for snail mail. It might help to have provided an email address for the reply.

So I’m glad I wasn’t one of those young fans. On the other hand, maybe they didn’t dare believe in getting a letter back, so won’t be disappointed. Or they could be the kind who would have wanted the reply yesterday.

Other authors were saying that this particular publisher generally takes a long time to pass letters on. And I suppose for the member of staff whose job it is, it may appear efficient to wait until there is quite a pile, and possibly they don’t consider that the author will want to write back, but only read the praise from their fans.

I’m pleased they are so keen to answer letters.

One author pointed out that this was the reason he’d put his full contact details on his website. I checked this and found that he hadn’t actually put his address there (phew) but an email where replies are promised. Also checked another author who I recall saying something about testing the waters by putting her postal address on the website. I don’t know how that worked, or didn’t, but it’s not there now. Probably wise, as even one or two fans waiting under the cherry tree as you come or go might be too much. Because it would be that day when you just don’t feel like it.

But I can see no reason for publishers not to send letters out every week. They post so much all the time; book proofs, contracts, piles of money, that a few fan letters shouldn’t be hard work.

The general wellbeing of young readers should not be ignored. A happy child is a happy reader, and they might even spend their pocket money on buying more books.

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