Why Writers Need to Manage Their Information
Each of us moving quickly but are you carefully managing your data? We meet people at conferences and exchange business cards. As a practice, if you don't get a card, ask for one. You return home from an event, what do you do with this information? Do you throw the card away or into a drawer? Do you follow-up or keep the information?
1. Follow-up exchange emails. Shortly after a conference, I reach out with a short email to the people who I've exchanged cards and met during the event. The exchange shows validates that I've put the correct email into my system and gives us a brief connection.
2. Get the information into your computer or phone so you can locate and use later. I put the information I've collected either in my computer or some of it on my phone. Then I can easily locate it and use it later if needed.
In recent weeks, I've been working on the audio book version of my Billy Graham biography. At first I was going to read the book myself, but I realize reading an audio book is a skill and one I would need to learn. Others can read the book. I selected a short sample for auditions and the audio book was put out for auditions. We received a record breaking 28 responses. I listened to most of the samples and working with my Morgan James colleagues we selected one excellent reader to record the book.
I listen to a number of audio books. One of the ways to set apart the Billy Graham audio book is to add a short clip from the hymn Just As I Am. Searching online for a recording, I found a beautiful rendition from the Gaithers. You can watch this short video here:
To use any of this recording in my audio book, I needed permission. Thankfully over ten years ago, I met Gloria Gaither and exchanged emails with her back then. Now with a current need, I looked in my files and still had her contact information (which I had not used in ten years).
Because I still had Gloria Gaither's contact information, I wrote a short email, reminding her of our exchange years ago, then asking for permission for the short audio clip. Within a few hours, I got a response—and royalty-free permission to use the clip. To be clear, this audio book is still in process and I don't know yet if the short audio clip will be used in the final product--but at least it is being considered and possibly may appear in the final audio. The experience showed me again the power of information and the need to keep this information in a format you can easily access when needed.
This basic skill is something I've been doing for many years as I travel to conferences and events. You can do it as well—whether you are just beginning as a writer or you are a seasoned professional. The information does little good in a stack of business cards. It should be put into some computer system where you can access it later and even transfer it from computer to computer. Yes every now and then we upgrade and change computers. Create a system for collecting this information that will transfer from machine to machine.
Another resource in this area is LinkedIn. I've had a profile on LinkedIn many years and have many connections with primarily editors and others in the publishing business. Like any field, publishing is filled with continual shifts and changes. Yet if you have a connection with someone on LinkedIn, they will take that connection with them—even if they change companies. Sometimes when I do not have the information in my address book, then I go to LinkedIn and see if I have it there.
It is rare that I reach out to many of my connections, but because I do it judiciously and in frequently, I find often they will respond to my requests and needs. By the same token, these responses are a two-way street. If I am asked to do something for them, my default answer is “yes” if at all possible.
Do you gather and maintain this type of contact information on the different people who you meet and cross your paths? How are you using it? Tell us in the comment section below.
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