Two days after being an audience member at The Daily Show (read about it here), I received an email telling me to contact guest booking at The Colbert Report. (!)
You see, my publisher is an independent (and small) press, so – like many authors – I’ve been doing a lot of self-promotion. This includes sending emails and press releases to publications, radio programs, TV programs, and talk shows that fit best with the material. Stephen Colbert, as you know if you watch his show, is a famously huge advocate for the troops, so it stands to reason that a novel exploring the experience of a character going through a deployment would be a perfect fit.
I sent a press contact (not my own contact; it’s the one anyone can find online) at The Colbert Report a (if I may say so) devastatingly compelling press release about Pretty Much True..., and less than an hour later, I received a personal reply that included a phone number to call at guest booking.
Guest booking guest booking guest booking guest booking
What did that mean? What could it mean? Did it mean I’d be booked? Did it mean I had to go through another level of inspection?
I forwarded the email to Ian and added a note: So…oh my god. I have no idea what this means, but I have to wait for my throat to open to find out.
While waiting for him to write back, I tried to stop shaking. I thought, “There’s no way.” I thought, “But, why not?” (Because, you know, timely story, one that hasn’t really been explored with much depth in the literary world, and so on and so forth.) I thought, “Nope. No way.”
I imagined sitting across the table from Stephen Colbert in his studio and not even trying to match his wit, instead trying to steer back to conversations about the REAL (read: intimate, raw, not Hollywood-ized) experience of having the person you love at war. I imagined telling him (and by extension, his millions of viewers) about LIFT, whose goal is to introduce the civilian community to individual military family members and their personal experiences during wartime.
And, naturally, the pure self-promoting, marketing, goal-oriented part of me that has no feelings other than “achievement” was pretty much focused only on, “Could I have actually done it? By myself?”
Whole body: shaking. Work: reading the same sentence five, six, eight, twenty times.
I finally received the email from Ian: “What?! Call!”
So I did. (Of course I was going to, anyway, but I needed that time to not say “Hugha luddi nop nop?” when someone actually answered the phone. I needed to be composed.)
The booking person I was told to contact was female, and the person who picked up the phone was a male. He said she was so busy that the best way to reach her was via email. He recommended I copy and paste into my message the original email, the release that got the attention of the woman who told me to contact booking. So I did. I also put my phone number right up top.
I kept my phone on the table in front of me and the headphones in my ears so I’d be ready to answer. When I went to the bathroom – yes – I took the phone with me. (Would you miss that call?)
About an hour later, I heard back.
It wasn’t a phone call, but an email. It was polite, and it informed me that there were already several shows planned that would address military families, but that I would be kept in mind.
It’s fine. It’s fine it’s fine it’s fine. Close means nothing. Horseshoes and hand grenades. You’re not flipping Famous McFame, you know. Expectations must be curbed. Fine fine fine. Actors go through this all the time, every time they get a call-back, I’m sure, and you don’t see them whining about it on their blogs.
Anyway. Back to being rejected.
To respond or not to respond? To respond or not to respond?
I know – all the Huffington Post blogs, writer blogs, reviewer blogs, and critique-y blogs say you should never respond to a rejection, but sometimes, sometimes, it must be done. My response was polite, professional, and simply a reminder that my proposal was one that introduced literature that allows the public to live an experience vicariously (which is much different from hearing someone talk about it briefly). That was all.”I hope you’ll keep me in mind,” I said, feeling a little bit like I was clinging to her ankle and sobbing at her feet.
Booking responded back with a “thank you.”
Writing (okay, any creative pursuit) is a series of rejections, and it takes time to get used to them. Rejections from literary journals, rejections from literary agencies, rejections from small presses, reviewers, and from editors at the big publishing houses. And I AM used to all of those.
But Stephen Colbert? Almost personally rejected by Stephen Colbert??
Dude. I got to talk to guest booking. I guess - when my stomach stops feeling like it’s been stomped on – I’ll think that’s pretty cool.