This week I’m working on marketing the LDSPMA writers’ conference. No, dear reader, I won’t bug you about it (I linked it though…). This week I’m contacting faculty and student organizations at some universities. And that means calls, emails, and letters.
Now, I can’t say sending out emails and letters (or cold calling) is my favorite thing. Well, I could, but I’d lose several readers to sarcasm poisoning… I don’t enjoy doing it, but sometimes it has to be done.
Sometimes we have to contact people, even ones we don’t know, regarding our projects. It could be a conference invite. It could be querying a book or article. Or we could be requesting an interview. Even if we don’t enjoy it, it has to be done.
Somebody has to start things (and it’s probably you)
Maybe editors, publishers, and conference attendees are sitting and waiting for our query/offer/whatever… Even if they want it badly, do they know that we have it available?
There are plenty of demands and little time out there. Publishers receive more submissions than they can produce. As much as we want to see ourselves and our work as special, we can’t just sit back, do nothing. We can’t just sit and expect people to ask for it.
Someone has to start the process and make first contact. Since everyone is busy, and the people we need to contact are often both busy and unaware that we have what they’re looking for, it usually falls to us to take the first step.
There are actual risks…
What’s the worst thing that can happen? It’s a valid question.
Mistakes can be made. If you haven’t researched the people you’re contacting well enough, you can make some truly colossal blunders. Once, when I was an undergrad, I used the screen name “Theantifreud”. That was a mistake when sending a PHD application to a Freudian!
Basically, you’ve got two choices: stay safe and generic, or research well enough that you know what you’re saying and have a reasonable ability to predict what the response will be.
The actual best bet is somewhere in between. You don’t want to be so generic that there is no appeal. But you don’t want to act like the reader is your best buddy if they aren’t. Do your research, plan, and write carefully. And then, have someone read things over before you send them out.
But consider the rewards
Not everyone enjoys sending queries or contacting people. But it’s part of what we do and we benefit by doing it well. My next book isn’t getting published unless I query about it. My goal of getting Orson Scott Card to the conference won’t happen if no one brings the conference to his attention.
We do it because we need to. We do it because the benefits outweigh the risks. We do it because it’s part of success, whether that’s a new book published, a successful convention, or just getting somebody over to fix that wonky light switch.
We do it because it’s part of how we get things done.
It might not be right now, dear reader, but the time will come that the letters and emails need to go out. Put in the effort. Make them worthy. And I wish you all the best.
As for me, I’ve got to get stuff sent out, and then start the “checking my email obsessively to see if Orson Scott Card has responded” process. I’ll see you next post.