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The Actor’s Detective Guide may be a promo for the author's services, but it also contains some strong advice.

Book Review: The Actor’s Detective Guide to Writing Letters to Celebrities by Chris Lucas

First, I must admit that I’m co-host of an online radio show consisting mainly of interviews with celebrities, at least entertainers or insiders with names familiar to Baby Boomers. To arrange these conversations, I’ve been writing letters of the electronic variety to “celebrities” or their agents or representatives for some time now. Second, my day job is a professor of English at a community college where I teach classes in business communication.

So when I saw the title for The Actor’s Detective Guide to Writing Letters to Celebrities, I was hoping for tips for both myself and my students. I was a bit suspicious when I noted this publication is only 40 pages long which is more the length of an article than a book. I wondered if this self-published PDF was essentially a promotional item to interest readers in something related to the title. I was correct. The guide is in fact more an article than book, and it is obviously a well-crafted marketing plug aimed to find subscribers for the Actor’s Detective Guide and their services. For example, the foreword includes the note all readers can get a free gift by sending an e-mail to a specific address. Not surprisingly, the gift is a sample of what the Guide provides.

All this being said, I did find some nuggets of useful information for myself and there are indeed pointers for less experienced writers. Spending as much time as I do corresponding via e-mail, it has never occurred to me there’d be any advantage to sending out old-fashioned hardcopy. Lucas makes a solid case for why celebrities — or anyone else for that matter — will likely give these letters more attention than what shows up in their in-box. He discusses why writers should “brand” themselves in their headings to establish their professional credentials right off the bat. He discusses how to create the proper positive tone, the “soft sell,” and how to be personal in letters. He tells a number of success stories and provides a few sample letters, and models are always useful teaching tools.

So this little guide should serve as an encouraging introduction for folks who aren’t comfortable with writing letters at all or worry famous people are unapproachable. They’re not, especially if approached appropriately. But much wasn’t included. One notable example was the very brief section on how to find contact addresses for celebrities. Lucas provides three websites of sources where readers can pay for this service — including his own, of course. He doesn’t mention many actors, musicians, writers etc. have websites with contact information right there on their home pages. Or that many like to talk with their fans via Facebook. Or you can talk with many through their publishers (including just about every performer who’s written a memoir) or record company or agent. Not everyone is so accessible, so there are times where an address hunter can come in handy. But if you can do your own homework, you can save yourself a few bucks and perhaps send off your message within minutes —- and sometimes get replies within an hour.

Of course, making sure your letter is the sort of document that works is key, and that’s the most useful aspect of The Actor’s Detective Guide to Writing Letters to Celebrities . It’s always good to review the basics —- like proofread, proofread, proofread!

About Wesley Britton