A few months ago I went to the doctor for my annual physical, which was actually a year late due to pandemic restrictions. I was seeing someone new since my regular doctor decided it was time to retire.

This new doctor did all the usual things, such as getting height and weight numbers. (Did you know that now they can take your weight while you’re sitting on the examination table? They raise up the chair and the next thing you know they have your weight.)

She asked me about lifestyle choices, such as food, alcohol use, exercise habits, etc. Then she asked about coffee.

“Yes, I have one, sometimes two cups in the morning,” and that set her off.

“You should NOT be drinking coffee – at all.”


My habits are pretty good in a lot of the important areas, but this totally took me by surprise.

“I love ya doc, but I have to tell you this is not going to change. I am not giving up my one – or two – cups of coffee at the beginning of the day. What about all the studies that say coffee is actually good for you? Whatever happened to all things in moderation?”

Wasn’t it Benjamin Franklin who said that?

I got a significant eye roll with that comment.

I’m drinking my cup of morning Joe as I write this.

This got me thinking about surprises. Life is filled with them, just when you think you know how something is going to go, bam! Surprise!

It’s no surprise that this happens in book marketing and publicity too. It’s easy to start thinking you know all about your book and how it should be promoted, but sometimes you get surprised; sometimes that surprise is delightful.

Earlier in my business, I was promoting a book called A Guy’s Guide to Pregnancy by Frank Mungeam, and G. Gordon Liddy called me to book the author on his show. G. Gordon Liddy! I would never have foreseen that one, but he told me he was a dad and thought it was a good topic for his show. Surprise!

It’s important to go after the media that makes sense for your book, but be open to new possibilities too. In these posts, we stress the importance of figuring out how you’re newsworthy. Be open to new ways because there may be some that you just haven’t thought of yet.

What makes a story newsworthy? We’ve listed a number of these before. Here are a few more you might be able to tap into:

A “Situation”: This is anything that goes wrong but has the potential to become newsworthy. This could be a shooting, a fire, or an industrial explosion. Unless you’re directly involved, you (and your book) would be a one-off story.

David vs. Goliath: Everyone loves the underdog. When a story contains a “big guy” and a “little guy,” such as one person against a huge corporation, the media will usually give the little guy more empathetic coverage.

Hypocrisy: We’ve seen this one play out before. This is when a clergy person is found out to be having an affair. A CFO is caught embezzling from the company. Or powerful people betraying their own publicly-stated positions – they are almost guaranteed to remain in the headlines for days or weeks.

Holidays: Next one up: St. Patrick’s day is March 17th.

Borrow from the Media: No one comes up with better hooks than the media. If you are interviewed and the media person comes up with a great hook, ask if it’s OK that you use it. They almost always say yes.

Bottom line

Surprises can go either way. Shocking, e.g., “You must give up coffee,” or delightful, e.g., “You want to feature me in your major magazine with a huge online audience?” Be open. You never know what is going to happen next.

To your success!


P.S. Talk about a surprising look to the past. Must be the 50s or 60s?





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