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Summer Bucket List Item: Reach Out to Your Favorite Author!

Summer Bucket List Item: Reach Out to Your Favorite Author!

What if sending out your internship and job applications was whimsical, nostalgic, and FUN? I don’t have a way to make that happen, but I might know of the next-best thing.

Here’s my pitch: whether you’re an avid reader or you haven’t read for pleasure since middle school, spend a moment this summer to reflect on a book you love and let its author know what you think! 

It really only takes a few minutes to draft an email, a direct message, or a letter (unless you get carried away, which is also cool). Once you’ve sent out your message, it’s best to try to forget about it; forgetting, or pretending to forget, is the best way to trick your author into responding. The day that response comes in will be a thrill. 

And what was the impetus for writing this blog post? Well, my passion for the artform was sparked again just a few weeks ago… 

My great friend and roommate Will Rokicki sat me — and Jaime Browning, another of our roommates — down to watch one of his favorite shows: Amazon Studios’ Just Add Magic, based on Cindy Callaghan’s middle-grade book series by the same name. It turned out that Ella Forsyth (roommate number three) was also a fan of the series, and they joined us for the pilot. We were electrified. 

Shortly thereafter, Will had a stroke of genius and gathered us to write Cindy an email expressing our love of her story. We ended it with the following sign-off:

Warm regards and pluots forever,

Will, Olivia, Jaime, and Ella (casted Darbie, Kelly, Hannah, and Buddy, respectively)

You might notice how extremely subtly and tastefully we referenced Cindy’s characters and motifs. This was part of an elaborate and meticulous plan to persuade her to respond. 

And I’ll be damned if Cindy didn’t email back the very next day.

You are all so kind to reach out to me. Your email got my day off to a great start as I'm working on a new project. 

Needless to say, we were absolutely flabbergasted. The rest of the email feels too classified to share, but you can imagine that it made our day, too. 

All this excitement had me thinking back to fifth grade English class, when I received letters back from Trenton Lee Stewart of The Mysterious Benedict Society and Rebecca Stead of When You Reach Me

Trenton got back to me with an automatic response-style Q&A packet and a signature inside the hardback book I spent money to send for that purpose. Hopefully I didn’t make that last part up, because my correspondent (my sister back at home) has not actually managed to locate my copy.

Rebecca, I must say, went above and beyond. I did not have to do the pretending-to-forget act in this situation, as I am pretty sure it was a year or two after I sent my letter and book that a package arrived on my doorstep. 

I am still fangirling. She sent me back a box. Inside was my book, freshly autographed, as well as a bookmark and a postcard. Are you kidding me? 

On the bookmark, printed with a symbolic When You Reach Me key, she wrote the following:

For Olivia,

Hoping you find many books to love in life -

Rebecca Stead

And on the jazz music-themed postcard:

Dear Olivia - 

Sorry this was so long coming! Thank you for your wonderful letter, and I’m so happy to finally get the book back to you - (with a bookmark)


Rebecca Stead

Utter brilliance. And that second message should clue you into a key part of my postal outreach strategy… send your author a personal belonging so they feel they have no choice but to deliver it back to you.

However you reach out, I suggest you make it personal, and maybe even a little bit out of pocket. Entertain yourself in the process! As a bucket list item, this activity is as much for you as it is for your author. 

And now that you know that great opportunity lies ahead, I hope you will pursue it. Read on, AmFam and co.,  and make sure to let me know if any of your ventures are successful.


Olivia Citarella

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