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On The Importance Of Being Found

Or, "Why Your Contact Information Matters."

This week, I have a professional opportunity to put in front of a group of writers. Finding contact information turned out to be much harder than it should have been.

10% had a professional email address I could easily find. And by “easily,” I mean it was on their writing-related website page marked CONTACT or ABOUT.

10% had a professional email address I found after clicking through to a Blogger Profile link at the bottom of the website’s sidebar.

10% had a professional email address listed at the bottom of the profile information included on a third-party site I happened to find through Google.

30% offered a contact form in place of a professional email address. I’m sure that seems like the most professional choice, but when I reach out to writers for such opportunities, I want and need a record of the communication. Since I don’t get to have that record, the first contact will include little actual information, ensuring the entire process will take longer due to the additional layer of back-and-forth.

30% had no contact information available that I could find. It simply… wasn’t there. No “Contact” page. An “About” page that listed all sorts of social media places, and no other way to connect. My decision is then between making a public contact for a matter I or the writer might not want to be public, or passing the writer over completely.

10% offered no visible means of contact. Website links from third-party sites went nowhere. Twitter handles listed on websites were non-existent. The Contact/About page listed a place to make comments, but not to make direct contact.

So let’s say I have fifteen slots in an anthology and a list of twenty writers I could include. About 30% would have first dibs simply because they are easy to contact and can make the swiftest informed responses. Another 30% would be fairly easy to contact as well, and would likely secure their spots.

Now I have only three spots left in my anthology, and eight of the authors on my list don’t even know I’d like to include them. How much time do I invest in tracking them down? How much do I prioritize their participation over my time spent finding them? How much easier would it be to find other talented writers who do make their contact information available?

(To answer the last question: It’s very easy. Talent is not so rare as folks on high would have you believe. :)  )

And in case you’re still wondering if that contact information is really important…

I have confirmed participation of one writer, yet still have no professional contact information for others. And that one confirming writer is in the 10% who listed a professional email contact.

Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation, my darlings. Seneca knew what he was talking about.

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
queenoftheskies
Sep. 5th, 2015 07:37 pm (UTC)
Wow, that really sucks for the people losing the opportunity to be in your anthology. It's hard to imagine, in this day and age, that people who presumably want to be contacted for opportunities, make it difficult for people to find them, huh?
blairmacg
Sep. 5th, 2015 08:38 pm (UTC)
This opportunity isn't an anthology, but something somewhat similar. :)

But yes, it surprised me I had to hunt down a direct way to contact folks!
queenoftheskies
Sep. 6th, 2015 12:31 am (UTC)
I'm sorry. I misread it to think you had an anthology instead of you presenting a "what if I had an anthology". My mistake. :)
blairmacg
Sep. 6th, 2015 09:31 pm (UTC)
Don't apologize! You weren't the only one!

It was my fault for not being more clear.

I tend to use "Let's say..." as a cue during discussions and debates to mean, "Here's a scenario that might apply." I wrongfully assumed it would translate. So I owe YOU the apology!
haikujaguar
Sep. 5th, 2015 08:29 pm (UTC)
*blinks at this*

*guiltily goes to check website!*

*discovers her email address is there under 'Contact' and relaxes* -_- Phew.
blairmacg
Sep. 5th, 2015 08:38 pm (UTC)
:)
harvey_rrit
Sep. 5th, 2015 11:24 pm (UTC)
What's the anthology's theme?
blairmacg
Sep. 6th, 2015 09:33 pm (UTC)
My apologies... I see now I was unclear and misleading in how I wrote about the example. I meant "Let's say I have an anthology" to mean, "Let's pretend I have an anthology." I'm sorry for the misunderstanding.

asakiyume
Sep. 18th, 2015 12:27 am (UTC)
Interesting.

I wanted to be a more or less invisible author on the Pen Pal website--I wanted it about the book--but I did still have a contact button, with email in it (though it's not one of those convenient ones where if you click it, it opens an email for you).

I have to say I'm surprised that so few of the more pro-ish folks are so hard to reach!
blairmacg
Sep. 18th, 2015 01:00 am (UTC)
Hey, as long as there is an email address, that's a good thing!

And I was surprised, too, at how difficult some people made it to find contact information. I mean, I've been stalked, so I understand there are those who'd rather not be easily found. But there are ways to establish a contact-connection for professional purposes.
asakiyume
Sep. 18th, 2015 02:07 am (UTC)
But there are ways to establish a contact-connection for professional purposes.

Yes, including through a third party, if people really don't want direct contact. I was looking for a way to send a message to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, because I had a question about something right at the beginning of her book Americanah (and entitled creature that I am, I feel like I can just ask!) But she doesn't have a means of direct contact. Okay. If it means enough to me to ask (probably doesn't), I can write to the person who handles her press contacts, and they can pass the message on, and maybe I'll get an answer and maybe I won't (but that's no worse than when you write to someone directly: some people answer and some don't).
blairmacg
Sep. 18th, 2015 02:34 am (UTC)
Yep, a press contact works just as well. :)

There is one person I still haven't been able to contact directly, alas.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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