As part of my marketing strategy to promote the release of Night Shadows (January 15, 2011), I have contacted several colleges and universities respectfully inquiring about interest in a guest reader, or, as a professor at my alma mater suggested, putting on a workshop with some of the creative writing students, offering critique, and editing and marketing advice. The professor I spoke with thought the workshop would be a better way to relate to the students. After my book is released, this professor will receive copy for reading, then we will talk about scheduling a visit.
On my website, www.stephenbrayton.com, I wrote about a recent visit to William Penn University. The professor I met at this institution was ecstatic about having me attend a couple of classes. As I mentioned, the first visit, I offered my writing experience and how I became contracted to Echelon Press. Afterwards, the professor offered me a short story written by one of the students and the next time I attended, I offered some critique.
We both felt honored by the experience and the last communication I had with her left the door open for a future visit to a beginners’ writing course next year.
Currently, I’m in contact with other institutions hoping to schedule future workshops. However, I recently received two rejections I feel I have to discuss. I won’t name the colleges or the professors I contacted, but I was bothered by their reactions.
When I received rejection notices from publishers and agents, I chalked them up to inexperience, felt bad, but continued to persevere. I do not know how many more workshops or visits I may have at various colleges/universities, but I will keep trying.
The first rejection came via a phone call. The professor sounded bothered I had contacted him in the first place, annoyed he felt he had to call back and, in my opinion, didn’t really want to listen to my proposal. He said there was no interest, “at least in this school.” before a quick termination of the call. Fine. One can only try so long before one realizes, ahem, it ain’t gonna happen. Oh, that I would have realized this many moons ago when asking women for dates…but that’s another story for another time.
The second rejection I received through email. This particular institution selects guest authors a year in advance and chooses only ones with “significant publications and who have won major awards.” Absolutely understandable. I researched some of their past guests. Names include: Edward P. Jones, Adrienne Rich, Ana Castillo, and John Edgar Wideman. I’m not going to put down any of these people even though I’ve never heard of them. I’m sure other writers and readers are familiar with their work. These authors have written some interesting material and, yes, have won some pretty prestigious sounding awards. So, I can understand this particular college wanting to have them and not me. I do not have numerous books published…yet, and I lack the awards…so far.
What really burnt my toast, however, was the first line of the email.
“E-books are not counted at the university level.” Excuse me? I’d like to know the reasoning behind that statement. Was this person saying e-books aren’t REAL books? Yes, there are sites where any schmoe can put up his story, worthwhile or no. Buyer beware. But if you’re with a publishing company that has a number of years under its belt with authors and editing and with some know how, then the unreality of e-books idea is not credible.
Or maybe he was thinking e-anything wasn’t legitimate. I counter with: then nothing on the college’s WEBSITE is credible either. Or the fact the message was sent by EMAIL might be a bit ironic. I didn’t do any investigating, but I wonder how many of this college’s guest authors have their own websites. I guess Stephen King and several other successful authors had better be told the news their works aren’t acceptable, at least at the university level.
I’ve lowered my blood pressure since reading the email and took a few days before writing this post. And as I mentioned, I shall persevere. In the following weeks, I shall present some fascinating people, their thoughts, their books (e-books and tangible alike), and their successes. I think they will be entertaining and informative. Some have won awards for their work, whether written or otherwise, and all enjoy what they do and what they write. I think all of them offer advice, intelligence, and exhibit intestinal fortitude worthy of any guest appearance anywhere.
So, starting next week, let’s have some fun and on the count of three, everybody give a raspberry to the notion e-books don’t count. One, two…
By Stephen Brayton