I’m working on the worst part of book research right now.
This is what I do. I sit in my dark office, with a list of people. One Word file after another.
And I call.
Sometimes, someone answers. Usually, someone doesn’t. When a person does answer, there’s a solid 10 seconds of awkwardness. You have that amount of time to convince the person you’re not selling sponges or workout videos. Actually, scratch that. You have five seconds. It goes like this …
“Hello, is Steven there?”
Who is this?
“My name is Jeff Pearlman. I used to write for Sports Illustrated, and I’m working on a book about …”
The Sports Illustrated part is key. It establishes credibility, and shows you’re not just some voice on a phone. No, you’re some voice on a phone who last worked on the staff of a magazine … 11 years ago.
Buy, hey. It’s honest.
I’m working off of home phone lists, which—in 2014—can be a bit hit or miss. Hell, I never answer my home phone. There are actually 74 messages, and I’m in no rush to check.
Anyhow, I wish I knew of a better system. But you’re calling people you need to speak with; people who can offer texture and background and memories and history. So I sit here, brain rotting, three cups of coffee in, calling. And calling …