When I'm not toiling away as a romance author, I work part time as the marketing & communications manager for my city's tourism bureau.
That's a fancy way of saying I get paid to write blog posts about beer and take journalists snowshoeing.
A key element of my job involves wooing reporters so they write nice articles about Bend, Oregon. I like to believe I'm pretty decent at my job, and I continue believing that by never, ever looking at my own success rate on media pitches.
This came up in conversation with three co-workers the other night while we swilled holiday cocktails and recapped the year's successes. I told them about a media pitch I'd just done for a national publication.
"The reporter is listing the top ten places on earth you should be when the world ends in 2012," I explained. "I told him about the beer cooler at Good Life Brewery – how it's built to withstand a 10.0 earthquake and has enough beer to keep 100 people well-sauced for several weeks."
They all laughed and patted me on the back for my cleverness. I smiled and said a polite thank you. "I doubt anything will come of it."
I wasn't being modest. I was being realistic. Of the hundreds of pitches I do each year, only a small handful ever amount to much.
Surprisingly, that doesn't discourage me. It just means I need to keep my head down, keep my eyes peeled for opportunity, and keep pitching 'til I run out of balls.
Since there's no shortage of balls in my life, I seldom worry much.
Still, I hope no one ever makes me count how many media pitches I've done that never went anywhere. I'd much rather focus on the successes – the New York Times piece raving about a great new hotel in town, or the glossy magazine spread touting Bend as a top ski destination.
It's the same reason I cringe at author-related public speaking engagements when someone asks how many books I've written. Honestly? I can't remember. I could probably count, but I'm too lazy and frankly, the number would just be discouraging.
I'd rather focus on the three-book deal for romantic comedies, my upcoming interactive-fiction release with Coliloquy, and all the other successes I've had in my writing career.
The dead books are there collecting dust bunnies under my bed, but they don't keep me up at night.
I didn't go into all this detail with my co-workers, but one of them knew instantly what I meant about the media pitches.
"I saw a motivational speech where the guy talked about how many photographs are taken to get one, single, picture that appears in National Geographic," she said. "I don't remember the exact number, but it was hundreds of thousands."
But you can be damn sure the photographer who has a picture appear on those pages doesn't pout about shots he took that now sit rejected on his hard drive. He's too busy dancing around screaming, "I got a photo in @#$% National Geographic."
In the end, there's no sense wasting time or energy focusing on your failures. Keep playing, keep swinging, and keep your mind on the times you whack that damn ball out of the park.
Oh, and keep snickering about balls. That helps.
Incidentally, I heard from the reporter several days after my pitch about the beer cooler. They decided to include the brewery on their list of the top ten places to be when the world ends.
Don't you love it when balls go right where you want?