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.

I'm looking... I'm looking...
I’m looking… I’m looking…

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 (as in, “Let’s pretend”) 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.

#SFWApro

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