Back in mid-December, Agent Kristin at Pub Rants blogged about what she was doing in the mad dash to tie up loose ends before the holiday hiatus. I love that kind of stuff, being a bit of a career voyeur myself, and thought it would be fun to try to log my own activities.
The opportunity presented itself yesterday, when I spent the morning glued to my computer, looked up, saw it was lunchtime, and realized I had accomplished scant “real” work, i.e., items on my To Do List. I figured I had to take stock. Where had the morning gone?
Over some “double” sauteed pork (once wasn’t enough, apparently), wonton soup and an eggroll, I considered. I wrote yesterday’s blog post on the Blackberry on the subway, so I didn’t spend much time doing that when I arrived at work. I did spend a couple minutes checking the Chicago Marathon website to see when registration opens for the 2009 race (February 1, for any of you considering running 26.2 — that’s miles folks, not minutes — on October 11), but otherwise it was nose to the grind.
I checked Nexis for mentions of my books or authors, informed an author about an upcoming (planned) review, responded to half a dozen requests for books and JPEGs (for my own books and authors), forwarded another dozen requests for other peoples’ (and other departments’) books and authors, followed up on a couple potential author events, talked to IT about reducing the size of my massive email mailbox and about backing up my archived files, sent a book’s publicity schedule to an editor who doesn’t realize she can pull up the information herself (must remind editorial department about the online publicity system, again), registered RSVPs for the Publisher’s Publicity Association January lunch with NPR producers, exchanged messages with a couple publicists in another department in an effort to decipher the mystery that are SAP billing codes, emailed a producer who was too swamped with holiday detritus to fully consider my earlier pitch, and attempted to send galleys to an author (but was stymied by my inability to locate a Jiffy Bag large enough to accomodate five books. My company is remarkably stingy about Jiffy Bags — when we ask the mail room for them, we have to tell them the title of the book being mailed, as though Office Services suspects us of nefarious deeds like … hawking packing envelopes on Ebay.)
And that left me at my double sauteed pork.
A couple days ago I received a call from someone inquiring about joining the Publishers Publicity Association (of which I am the secretary). He was publishing a big book in the next few months, he said, and wanted to get some information about the organization. I asked for his email address so I could send him some membership details. He said … he didn’t have an email address (but would set up one before the publication of the book). Was I being punked? I wondered.
Then, yesterday someone called me to invite an author to a lecture series — when contacting a publicist with a request like that, you always want to *email* information that can be easily passed on to the author — and then she gave me the organization’s URL over the phone and asked (and I quote), “if I was near a computer. ” Did she think I was taking her call from the ladies?
Please someone tell me I am not in the Twilight Zone.
But this got me thinking. Even someone who loves technology as much as I do has to admit the phone has its uses. A colleague pointed out that the phone can be the better means of communication for turning a “no” into a “yes.” Or sometimes you’ve tried email without success and really need an answer. Other times, you may be looking for an email address to which to send some information, but failing to find it online, need to call to ask for the address. Of course, some issues are too complicated or too delicate or too urgent to discuss over email. And it’s always nice having an actual conversation with contacts / colleagues. What all these situations have in common, though, is an existing discussion and / or relationship that makes it unnecessary to launch into a lengthy explanation of one’s self or situation. And that, for me, is what distinguishes the canny callers from the clueless.