July 11, 2002
Dreamers and Telephone Screamers

Ever give up hope? Ever completely resign yourself to frustration and then see something turn around and reverse itself, completely independent of you?

One of the more adventurous parts of life as an editor is sweet-talking people into contributing articles. For me, this frequently involves the dreaded "cold call"--telephoning complete strangers and asking--sometimes repeatedly--them to write for me--on whatever arcane topic is on the agenda today.

Work on the current batch of ideas had hit a roadblock this week:

Article 1: Telephoned two experts in the field for suggestions back around June 20. Expert 1 referred me to books (no help); expert 2 referred me to two other people, one of whom is out of the country. Telephoned third expert, also out of the country. Telephoned expert 2's other reference, who said she was no longer working in this area but would try to find someone else to help me. "Give me 24 hours," she said.

Twenty-four hours passed and nothing happened, and I was back to uneasily considering my options.

Article 2: I only know one person qualified to advise me on this topic. Had telephoned her twice since mid-June and never heard any reply. I spent the intervening time trying to troll around relevant Web sites looking for possible suspects in the field, but again wasn't coming up with much hope.

Three weeks of searching and the trail was dead cold. I was reduced to dreaming (literally) that I'd found authors. Last night I made a list of my options for each one, including the inevitable "give up and try something else"--an option I rarely choose, but one that was looking more promising this time.

And then this morning it all turned around. By the time I'd finished checking my voice mail, I was laughing. My expert for article 2 called back and said she had some people in mind that she'd contact for me. And a complete stranger called regarding article 1, saying he'd been e-mailed by the person who promised to find me a reference in 24 hours.

So I'm back on the trail again...sweet talking, message leaving, hope springing eternal.

Posted at July 11, 2002 06:35 PM

oo! pick me! pick MEEE!

What do you need me to write about?

Posted by: Mike on July 12, 2002 10:50 AM

Sorry Mike, even if you WANTED to write about data quality in clinical trials, I doubt you have the right credentials. ;)

Posted by: Anne on July 12, 2002 03:46 PM

Sure I do! Why, I'm um, a Professor, acording to my membership cetificate at


and furthermore, data quality in clinical trials is of the UTMOST importance! Why, without good data quality in clinical tria;ls we'd be stuck with BAD DATA, which is to say, subjective results, and that could lead to things such as, well, arthroscopic surgery to relieve rhematoid joint pain which is in fact nothing more than VOODOO!

Did I tell you I can tap dance? Your readers would really go for it, it KILLS, I tell you. Kills. the siftshoe too. works every time. your article's not going over well, you slip in a bit of the old inka-dinka-doo, and LOVE you like your'e their mutha.

Have you gone to the board with a pitch to adda regular comic book review section, Anne?

You know, i've seen the demographics, and I think there's a real opening here to add to your subscriber base, with an additional long term bonus of opening a new sideline for the publisher: I mean, it seems to work for Gary Groth, ya know?

Anxiuosly awaiting your affirmative reply.

Professor Mike Whybark, HSQ.

Posted by: Mike on July 15, 2002 12:04 AM

um to clarify that incoherent bit:

"and LOVE you like your'e their mutha."

was intended to read

"and they LOVE you like you're their mother."

Posted by: Mike on July 15, 2002 12:06 AM

Dear Viv,

Is Mike getting out much these days? Maybe you should take him on some walks.


Posted by: Anne on July 15, 2002 06:46 PM
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