THE LETTER EXCHANGE
Connecting Penfriends Since 1982
How it Works        

Man Writing a Letter
Man Writing a Letter, painting by Dutch artist Gabriel Metsu, 1662-1665, seen on a 2003 Irish stamp.

Getting Started

If you're new to letter writing and not quite sure how to start, these tips gleaned from the 30 years' experience of thousands of Lexers might help:

—Be both expectant and cautious. Remember that your correspondents will start out as complete strangers. You can use the free forwarding service for as long as you feel more comfortable doing so.
 
—Be patient. Some Lexers receive dozens of responses to a single listing.
 
—Short or long, frequent or occasional, chatty or academic? Lexers approach letters from different angles; be yourself and you'll soon find similar writers.
 
—Don't be surprised if some attempts at sustained correspondence don't work out. Just try again.
 
—Keep your correspondent in mind as you write. This is by far the most common tip recommended by experienced Lexers.
 

Two ways to find a snail mail penpal with The Letter Exchange.

1. Reply to a listing.

Step 1: Get a copy of the magazine.

You can use our free forwarding service to reply to listings whether you are a subscriber or not.

Step 2: Browse the listings.

To find a correspondent, browse the listings in the magazine in categories from Art to Work (listings are not online). Note the LEX Number at the beginning of each listing—you'll need it to use the free forwarding system (names and addresses are not printed in the magazine). You can also write to Lexers who intrigue you with Sketch Listings or Letters to LEX—just look for the LEX Number.

Step 3: Write your letter.

If you are new to letter writing, check out the Getting Started tips in the left-hand column.

Step 4: Send your letter to us for fowarding.

Seal and stamp your letter. Print the LEX Number of the person you’re writing to in the lower left corner.

Put your sealed, stamped envelopes in a larger envelope. Mail the large envelope to The Letter Exchange. We’ll add the forwarding label that sends your letter on its way. (We do not knowingly forward letters to or from prisoners.)

If you're a subscriber you may choose to use your LEX Number as your return address; your new correspondent can write back to you using our forwarding service as long as you want.

To reply from outside the U.S

You can get U.S. stamps at the USPS eBay Store or buy an International Reply Coupon at your post office for every two letters and include it in the larger envelope along with your sealed letters.

2. Put a listing in The Letter Exchange.

Step 1: Subscribe.

Only subscribers may place listings in The Letter Exchange. When you subscribe, we'll assign you a LEX Number - listings are printed by LEX Number so your name and address remain confidential.

Step 2: Create a listing.

Listings can be any length, and you can submit as many as you want. The first 20 words per issue are free. You can use your 20 free words in a single listing or several smaller listings. No need to limit yourself to 20 words - additional words are only 50¢ each. Check out these sample listings.

LEX is intended only for the exchange of correspondence, and not for any other personal contact. We do not accept singles ads.

Step 3: Submit your listings by the deadline.

The Letter Exchange is published 3 times a year, and listings are due two months in advance:

   Winter ~ listing deadline: December 15; issue mailed: February 15
   Summer ~ listing deadline: April 15; issue mailed: June 15
   Autumn ~ listing deadline: August 15; issue mailed: October 15


When the spirits sink too low, the best cordial is to read over all the letters of one's friends. — William Shenstone