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Every Day is an Obstacle

Persistence + time = results

photo credit: illustration by Leah Pearlman, creator of Dharma Comics

Someone recently asked if there are any obstacles to securing media coverage for their book. When discussing the question with a fellow publicist, she casually responded, “yeah, everything is an obstacle.” No truer words were ever spoken.

In book publicity (could be any publicity), we face obstacles literally every step of the way: constant media staff turnover, never-ending “breaking news,” overworked and underpaid journalists receiving thousands of new pitches every single day, a celebrity-driven media culture (great for celebrity publicists, which I am intentionally not), demands for click-worthy articles that help drive advertising revenue, an editorial shift from story-driven to product-driven content with affiliate links that drive revenue, 500k -1 million books published annually (4 million if you count self-published), and the list goes on and on and on.

However, the bigger picture is this: LIFE is an obstacle every day. I don’t mean to sound grim, but it’s true. If I look at my own life, for example, in just the last six months, I’ve dealt with COVID (myself, my family, and clients), the threat of a frivolous lawsuit over a used car, my son’s broken arm and therefore hijacked active teenage life, a potentially dangerous individual threatening my home, a sick and dying dog, daily teenage daughter drama, new driver fender benders, college recruiting prep, aging in-laws who often have a health crises and also accidentally stop your mail service -- etc., etc., etc. In that same time, I’ve had a colleague whose 20-year old daughter died suddenly in a freak accident, another whose young adult son went missing (again) due to drug addiction and mental health struggles — both a parents’ worst nightmare. We’ve also experienced the end of several valuable media outlets, a worldwide paper shortage that resulted in book delays, and again, the list goes on and on and on. Of course, these issues make mine feel ridiculously insignificant.

Taking an even bigger step back and looking at things from basically space, most of what we face in a day still pales in comparison to the obstacles of so many others. I recently read The Master Plan: My Journey from a Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose, by Chris Wilson, and it opened my eyes to the overwhelming trauma people live with every day, putting my own issues into perspective and making me grateful for what I have. Of course you can also just look to life in Ukraine or any other war-torn country to shift your mindset from overwhelm to gratitude.

As we walk this planet and navigate our way through daily life, we never know what burden someone carries with them in each moment. Treading a little lighter, showing compassion, forgiving ourselves, and aspiring to be kind can go a long way in building resilience to life’s obstacles.

Authors have to think like the CEO of a new start-up for each book, and they have to look at the long game; yes the months around your book’s release are important, but so are the years around each book.

Publicity is like fighting a new mini battle every day; you get better at cutting through the noise and the competition, but your best weapon is time! Persistence and time are the two most critical factors in achieving results. What most people don’t understand is the amount of follow up that goes into publicity. It’s not uncommon to follow up 3-5 times over several months with a journalist before securing coverage, and it’s not because they’re being rude or intentionally ignoring your pitch, it’s often just because they are inundated with emails, deadlines, and the never-ending demands on their time.

Some days, things seem to come easy: you land three big hits in a week, you finally hear back about a pitch you sent 6 months ago, or you find a clip online that you never knew published! Other days are like fingernails on a chalkboard with painful silence, frustration, and far more No’s than Yes’s. But we keep going and celebrate wins along the way. You never know when something big will hit.

Big or small, life gives us obstacles every day. It’s up to us how we respond. Sometimes, we keep going. Sometimes, we need a pause or even a hard stop to deal with whatever’s in front of us. There’s no one path to success but rather a million different paths and choices each day.

Persistence + time = results.



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