There was a topic not too long ago on Romance Divas from a woman who was seriously annoyed by lack of author response to emails. Since the beginning of the year she's sent out 125 emails to authors telling them she enjoyed their book (mostly ebooks) and 23 have responded. She also went on to say that most authors were new authors and the one big name author's assistant responded, which she appreciated.
I was a little surprised by the percentage of lack of responses. As a fairly new author, I haven't gotten too much fan mail, but I respond to each letter that I do receive. Of course there's the chance that some stuff has gotten sent to junk and I missed it, but unless someone I don't know added an attachment, chances are, I've received and responded. In fact, if I'm being really honest, I printed out and saved my first fan email :)
I'm on the fence about what's expected of authors though. I very rarely send fan mail but when I do, I definitely don't expect a response. The other day I sent a message via twitter to a new author regarding her release just mentioning I liked it and never heard anything back. Sure, it would be nice, but I think all authors are different in their approach to fans, etc.
Sherrilyn Kenyon loves her fans and it shows. On her website she's got links to various fan sites, fan loops, fan poetry, and on her myspace page she's got an album dedicated to Dark Hunter tattoos. It's so obvious that she truly appreciates her fans and it's not just for show. But, not all authors are like that. Many are introverts and I've heard fears from various authors that if they open up dialogue, it will never end. I've never had that problem, but I can see where it might happen.
So what's your take? As an author how do you feel about fan mail? As a reader, what are your expectations from authors?