by Gwyn Headley
I’m booking myself appointments at the Frankfurt Book Fair. I don’t bother with my old pals, because I’ll run into them anyway. I will check with the contacts I already have to see if they’ve got a few spare minutes so we can catch up.
But what I’ll concentrate on is the publishers we don’t already have relationships with; in other words, I’m cold calling.
And a more fatiguing, depressive, unwelcoming task is hard to imagine. There must be some, I suppose.
At least I’m not getting rejected on the phone. I’m emailing these people, and I’m selecting publishers who specialise in illustrated books and who therefore presumably need a good supply of images.
THEN I get rejected. No comprende.
Of course, I get a slew of appointments out of it. Most people are polite and happy to fix a meeting. That’s great. Many simply don’t respond. Fair enough. Some reply and they’re all booked up. Fair enough. Some reply saying they’re the wrong person. Fair enough.
But I am constantly surprised by the steady minority of business people who are shocked and appalled by an unsolicited approach. How dare I contact such important people and suggest they soil their hands by shaking mine? What possible reason would a publisher of illustrated books have for meeting someone from a picture library? What temerity!
These aren’t casual rejections. They’ve often done a little bit of research so they can mention a competitor, or refer to a field in which we have little expertise (increasingly rare nowadays). There is a basic intent to wound.
I don’t know if it makes us less important and them more so. It can’t be that, because it doesn’t work.
Human nature I guess, hitting blindly out at someone unknown, on a par with my impotent raging at voicemail and bank security questions.