You need a TEAM and a PLAN

Call me crazy, but I believe that people should have some sort of plan — based on numbers and science and creativity — rather than copying everybody while praying to the Norse god of Thunder (also known as Chris Hemsworth) for a different result.

Chris Hemsworth will not listen. He is busy, and cares little for the affairs of men, though he doesn’t mind Natalie Portman.

Also, it is wrong to (a) try to do it all yourself, (b) put all your eggs in the basket known as the Series of Tubes and (c) try doing it all yourself, part time, on the Series of Tubes.

This is sacrilege to a lot of people who swear by the interwebs. To those people I say, respectfully, “To bad, so sad, tell your dad.”

Doctor, heal thyself

Even if you’re some kind of world-class expert on publicity / sales / marketing, it’s a mistake to be your own client. You’re too close to the work and you don’t have the specific contacts and knowledge for the field.

A pro athelete doesn’t need a good publicity and marketing person, but somebody who’s done PR in sports, hopefully pro baseball or football or whatever it may be.

A rock musician trying to break in shouldn’t try to be his own part-time hype man. If you want to do it right, you get somebody who’s done PR and marketing not just for rock bands, but for that exact type of band. Because the magazines, journalists and outlets for Swedish death metal is entirely different than for rap, techno or hip hop.

A team and a plan

So: if you are truly serious about whatever it is you love — punk rock, directing zombie movies, writing books where sparkly vampires get killed by elves with lightsabers riding dinosaurs — you need a TEAM and a PLAN.

Think about the best in the world at anything. Concert pianists train their entire lives to get to the top. Did they sit in the mom’s basement, plinking away on weekends until they became world-class? No. They had all kinds of teachers, tutors and mentors showing them how, and pushing their limits. They gave recitals out the wazoo and treated piano not like a full-time job, but an obsession.

NASCAR drivers focus on the driving — they don’t try to tune the engine, change the tires and fill the gas tank all by themselves.

If you’re working part-time, by yourself, going against a team of specialists who do this for a living, YOU WILL LOSE.

This is true on the football field, a MMA cage match, a piano duel, the music business, books, Hollywood, all over. A team of pros — doing very specific things very well — will kick your butt.

Now, 99.9999129312-whatever percent of people will ignore these facts. They’ll keep on plinking away and hope lightning will strike. That’s like chucking footballs in the backyard to a neighbor kid, praying one of those will be the winning touchdown in Super Bowl XXXVII.

They’ll say “I don’t have the time or the money for a team. And I don’t have the expertise to write some magical plan.”

Time: The average American watches 35 hours of TV a week. Five hours a day. Next?

Money: People find a way to pay for what’s important. Football camp, film school, piano lessons, journalism school, punk rock hairdos — if you’re truly dedicated, you find a way, and maybe forgo the daily $4 mocha or the Beanie Baby collection.

Plan: This is where people will need the most help. Because the dirty little secret is that even people who do publicity and marketing for a living are not quite sure, if you put a gun to their head, why some people break out while other, more talented people get nowhere. Yes, it’s more art than science, but that’s no excuse to throw up your hands and ignore science and numbers altogether.

People who truly love something will put in the time, and they’ll put some money into their education and development. The plan, though, is what trips people up.

Related posts that will educate you and all that:


This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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Filed under 7 Media Strategy Saturday, The Twitter, the Book of Face and the Series of Tubes

8 responses to “You need a TEAM and a PLAN

  1. Pingback: Another Manic [Marketing] Monday – Why Twitter Doesn’t Sell Books (or anything, really) « Idyll Conversation

  2. Pingback: Old Media versus The Series of Tubes | The Red Pen of Doom

  3. Pingback: The Series of Tubes is not a strategy | The Red Pen of Doom

  4. It depends…if people spend all their time trying to “make it” will they lose their inspiration and passion for their craft? If there is all this pressure on them to be successful, will they be able to find joy when they reach the pinnacle?


  5. joeynga

    Agreed. I think I need a “Justice League” for writers, but open to hear your thoughts as to whom we should band together with?

    And your football analogy is right on. I’m a football mom and my 13 (almost 14) year old is convinced he wants to play for an SEC collegiate team (in the south here), so he practices with his team, practices on his own, and we pay for a private coach. We have a pretty good game plan.

    As a writer (day job in medicine) I am open to any idea which will help me create the right plan to achieve my goals. Who doesn’t want to work faster, stronger? (and yes, now I’ve got that Kanye song stuck in my head again for the 10,000th time).


  6. juliabarrett

    So, how did you get so smart? I do have a team – not a critique group, but a team. We join forces to create covers and format text and even graphics. And we provide mutual promotion. It’s quite helpful. It’s the cooperative model. Works well.


  7. outstanding! Thank you for the wake up call.


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