Why am I such a good literary stalker?

If you've followed this blog for a while, you'll know that I believe the three keys to getting published are re-writing, persistence, and stalking.
I will be off to the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Symposium in Bologna in a week or so (more on that in future posts) and it got me thinking about literary stalking, the original networkers, and my older nephew Peter - who I'll be able to visit while I'm there.
Peter did a year of university in Thailand. He spent some time traveling around on his own with a backpack. Travelers are the original networkers - as soon as you arrive somewhere you seek out other travelers and exchange stories and tips about where you’ve been.

At one place, a fellow traveller regaled my nephew with his travel tales. My nephew stopped him and said: “Dude, you think you’re hardcore, my aunt did this in the 80s!”

Yes, the 80s, that was before they invented anything like the Internet, electronic banking, and gum. I’ll be the first to admit traveling is much easier with all those things, especially the gum.

The other thing I did in the 80s (and 90s) was live through two recessions in my working life. In order to get a job you had to stalk the hidden job market. That meant cold calling and following up on a regular basis to see if there might be a job. You learned to follow up in a persistent, yet professional manner. You kept your ears tuned to opportunities by networking. Take the same approach when you approach publishers and agents. Be professional. It’s like a job application/interview. You need them more than they need you.

The other reason I’m such a good literary stalker is that I worked as a journalist for many years when the only stalking tool was the phone book and your network of professional contacts. It kills me when someone searches the internet to find someone, and when they come up with nothing they don’t even bother to look in the phone book where inevitably the person is listed.

The internet has made it much easier to do your homework about a publisher or an agent before you submit.

And we've learned from my friend Amber's cat, Atticus Catticus, what happens when we don't do our homework and don't follow submission guidelines.


Anonymous said…
just saw this post. cold calling. i had to cold call newspapers to pitch stories. i hated cold calling!

gosh, i remember the days when my office was occupied with stacks of newspapers that i religiously cut up for background info that i might need someday! google, i love you.