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In any business with a lot of moving parts, sooner or later the practice of running the business stops being about strategy and growth spurts and starts being about keeping the process you’ve built from breaking down.
Spin enough plates and soon you will end up keeping the plates spinning instead of finding new plates to spin.
Consider this interview Jeff did. The publisher of one of the leading book imprints says, “The most important thing an author can do is have his or her book in on time.”
That’s the most important thing an author can do?
Yes, there are a lot of meetings and a lot of boxes to check and processes to be paid attention to. And lots of meetings about meetings. But the most important thing an author can do is write a breakthrough book, one that makes readers gasp and talk and share. And the second most important thing an author can do is build a tribe, a significant connection with a growing number of people.
And the most important thing a publisher can do is exploit the discontinuities and chaos in the industry to establish new assets, assets that can be used again and again for multiple authors, that can become the foundation for the next fifty years of book publishing, because the old foundation is going to disappear before the end of the decade. Gone.
Yes, without trains running on time it’s hard to get anywhere. But no, that’s not what the shareholders and the authors are hoping you’ll do every day.