on Anne R. Allen:
My encounters with reader mail go back a long way. My first job as a very young editor at Bantam included slogging through the slush pile and answering reader mail. No internet or email those days. Everything was done the old fashioned way — by hand.
I’ve written before about my adventures in the slush pile.
Reader mail was an entirely different learning curve. Generic mail received a polite form letter thanking the sender for his/her interest. Letters from readers wanting to contact writers were forwarded to the writer’s agent who would take it from there.
We received quite a bit of mail from prisoners whose return address included the name of the prison and the prisoner number. Without omnipresent TV and certainly no WIFI, reading was their main source of diversion. I responded via the usual form letter thanking them for their interest, and, when possible, answering specific questions.
There was occasionally a giddy side to reader mail.