So you know how to approach people and you’ve sent your amazing email/letter/pigeon/parcel full of bribes. But what if you never get a reply? From anyone. Ever. This may mean all that self doubt, the voices in your head telling you that you are rubbish are true, but it probably doesn’t. If I listened to them I’d be back in Plymouth working for a regional stockbroker; something I did for a short period during the flurry of Thatcherite privatisations. It seemed a complete nonsense, but I was getting £2.50 an hour and people who bought and sold their shares on the first day of trading made enough to pay for a holiday, so that was good and definitely worth it in the long term.
I’ve had several people contact me asking for advice and I will try to respond either in a blog or personally, but I felt there was someone who deserved a response first; Graeme King. I am sorry Graeme. Please accept this blog as a humble apology for failing to reply to your email of 11th September 2011 – I’ve just dug it out and that genuinely was the date it was sent. Maybe picking an inauspicious date meant your approach was doomed to failure from the start. Or maybe it shouldn’t have made any difference at all.
Often when I receive an email I’ll read it and if it’s interesting or there’s some merit in the material I’ve been sent I think, ‘I’m going to reply to that’ and then maybe the phone rings or another email comes in, I get distracted and good intention evaporates into the vapour of inaction. Sometimes that’s the end of it, but Graeme’s case is one I’ve often thought of. I’ll be walking somewhere and it pops into my head, but then I’m sucked back into the world of media nonsense and Graeme is left alone, unloved and reply-less.
In his email Graeme told me he had made the effort to see my Edinburgh Fringe show that summer, thus joining a highly exclusive club. He even claimed to have enjoyed it, something most of the audiences and critics couldn’t even be arsed to lie about. He had gone above and beyond the call of duty and still I didn’t reply. I thought writing this blog was going to be redemptive, but no.
Not only had Graeme done his research, but he also sent some promising material – a series of well written sketches. He very politely wrote that we must be inundated with submissions, but he was very serious, would love to work with/for us and any feedback would be greatly received. Here’s what I should have said in response…
Thanks for sending in your sketches and for enduring my Edinburgh show. I can recommend a counsellor to deal with the trauma this may have caused.
I enjoyed reading your sketches. There were some good ideas and jokes. (I won’t embarrass Graeme with specifics, but I did honestly give them a quick read and there was some good stuff that made me laugh.) We’re not producing any sketch shows, but I would encourage you to look into opportunities where you could submit your ideas – in radio and children’s television, for example. Also it would be worth trying to find performers to work with and try out your sketches live and/or film them.
Our main focus is developing sitcoms so if you have anything you would like me to look at in future then do send it my way and I do keep writing.
All the best and good luck.
By the way, the kiss at then end is a little joke. I would never send an unsolicited kiss. In fact I rarely initiate a kiss at the end of an email or text. I think it’s a bit much sometimes, but if someone sends me a kiss then I think it’s rude not to kiss in reply. If I then forget to reply with a kiss I feel bad and worry about causing offence. It’s a kissing nightmare.
I guess the main piece of advice to take is this; if you don’t get a reply it doesn’t mean your material is awful and you should give up. Leave it an appropriate amount of time and then follow up. Send your material to as many people as you can find who might look at it and do it as politely as Graeme. Sometimes you may just get a reply even if that reply comes in a guilt-ridden, self-loathing fuelled blog two and a half years later.