Thursday, August 04, 2011

Everybody loves a winner

Everyone would love to own a bunch of Apple stock. Mind you, they wouldn't necessarily want to buy it now, when it's priced at over $300 a share. No, they would have wanted to have bought a decade ago, when it was trading in the teens.

Everybody loves Lady Gaga. But how many people thought she was great in 2005 when she was Stefani Germanotta, toiling away in clubs in New York's Lower East Side?

Seinfeld is renowned as one of television's great comedies. But how many people can say they were there, watching those first few awkward episodes when NBC picked it up by the skin of its teeth?

People like winners, and they don't like taking chances on unknown quantities.

Now I'm not comparing myself to any of these phenomena, but with this book, and all the activities attendant to it, it's a real hard slog. Because I'm a nobody. I haven't had a book published before. I don't have a long track record of articles published either (at least recently and under my own name). Or a long history of speaking engagements. Or a blog with 10,000 followers.

As a result, it's like starting over. And every day is a battle to get people's attention. Like getting these articles I've written published. I thought I'd get some early wins by approaching publications in my own industry. But it's been tough getting editors' attention. And PR is my business!

I emailed this one editor with a story idea and got a fairly positive acknowledgement right away. Then nothing. So I followed up with a couple of other ideas. Nothing. So I started calling. Not harassing, not leaving voicemails, just trying to get him live. I called a half-dozen times. Nothing. I left a message before going on vacation. Nothing.

Then when I got back I emailed a copy of the other article I just got published. A couple of days later, lo and behold, I get an email back. He's interested but busy. Eureka! Same with a second editor. Same process, same sudden interest this week.

The key was showing them that someone else had already taken a chance on/interest in my stuff. It's odd that all my other experience -- my work history, client list, awards, stage time, etc., seem to count for very little. Or less than I thought, at least.

People aren't into making connections or thinking abstractly. If you want to do a speech they want to see that you've done other speeches. Same for articles, and for books and for everything else. To get those things you need the experience, and to get the experience you need to do those things. It's a crazy chicken-or-egg doom loop.

It's hard. It's just a constant struggle, a constant hustle. And almost all of your motivation and drive has to come from within. Nobody's going to hand you anything.

Writing the book was the easy part.

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