Sunday, December 11, 2022

Reach the Unreachable

By Terry Whalin

One of the consistent challenges in the publishing world is to reach the right person at the right time with the right stuff. I understand a number of “rights” have to line up for this connection to be made.  The publishing world marketplace is full of half-baked ideas and poor submissions. Editors, literary agents and others have seen these submissions and it stirs them to use their delete key and not even respond to it. I’ve seen these poor submissions but I’ve chosen to take a different path.
A number of people have told me that I’m one of the most accessible people (reachable) in publishing. A number of people make their email address difficult to find. Instead my personal email is in my Twitter profile. It is also in my LinkedIN contact information. My public LinkedIN profile says I have 500+ connections but I really have over 19,400 connections. I want people to be able to reach me because I understand these connections can lead to other opportunities.
Many people are surrounded with gatekeepers or executive assistants or others who screen the email and phone calls before they grant access. These gatekeepers form an important function but how do you break through and get past the gatekeeper? I’m going to give you some ideas in this article. It's like a lock, your task as a writer is to locate the right key which will open the lock.
As you reach out to this individual, the first step is to get into their perspective and determine how you can entice them to respond. For example, I’ve interviewed more than 150 bestselling authors and I’ve written magazine articles about these authors for different publications. Often their publisher would connect me to the author for my interview. These publishers wanted the publicity for their book and author. If a magazine has “assigned” you to write an article, then you have greater leverage to connect than if you are writing it on speculation. If you are using this magazine article angle, you need to be prepared for the publicity person to ask you whether you are writing on assignment or speculation.
Other times you are reaching out to an editor or a literary agent because you want to pitch them a particular project. Have you met them at some writers conference or another type of event? Even if this meeting was years ago, you can still use this fact as you reach out to this editor or agent.
Whether you are trying to reach an editor, an agent or a bestselling author, one of the critical steps is your preparation. It was a lesson I learned as a young journalist. Research the background of these people, what they have written and read their books. If they had a press kit and it was sent to me, I read the press kit. Sometimes a nugget of information in these kits has led to wonderful stories when I asked about it.
There are other ways to reach these people such as their website, LinkedIN or another social media website. Also consider if you know someone else in your circle of relationships who has an established relationship with this person. Would your friend introduce you to this person? Often you will not know the answer to this question until you ask it. How do you reach the unreachable? From my decades in publishing, the answer is rooted in several key words: persistence, perserverance and consistency. If one door slams as you try, then use a different door and knock on that one until it opens. Does it always work? No, but I’ve learned often you can reach the unreachable if you continue trying.
Do you use other methods to reach the unreachable? Let me know in the comments below.

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