It’s been three weeks since Book Expo, and the trade show is a fading memory. My feet feel fresh, I’ve caught up on my sleep, and I’m back on top of my work. But that also means it’s time to refer back to the little memo I wrote to myself in the middle of a restless night after BEA, about what to do differently after the show.
1) Focus and specialize
The reign of publishing’s great generalists is winding down: it’s all about niche, now. It’s time to bring one’s most valuable skills into clear focus, and choose key areas in which to specialize. For me, that means focusing on new ways to connect readers and writers in multiple formats, with the help of clear communication and an inclusive, democratic ethos.
2) Keep a “stop doing” list
It’s easy to pile up stuff to do, but not so easy to let go of what’s not working. Here’s what’s on my list:
- Stop reflexively saying “yes.” If I can’t get out of it, say “let me sleep on it.”
- Stop assuming I’m the only one who can get it done. Can I delegate it? If not, does it really need to happen?
- Stop being a perfectionist - just get the idea across and keep moving. A good idea will take on a life of its own.
3) Listen to the pain
In the last few years, I’ve supported my dad through a terminal illness, and had more than my usual share of colds, aches and pains. I find that when I let go of my resistance and really listen to the pain, I open myself to rich and unexpected insights that point me in inspiring new directions. Why wouldn’t this technique also work with an ailing industry?
4) Keep the big picture and the little picture in balance
The day-to-day details are as absorbing and relentless as ever, but that doesn’t change the fact that the old model isn’t working as well, and the new model doesn’t exist yet. Experimentation is key and so is making time to stay in touch with a variety of viewpoints. But that doesn’t mean the details should get any less than they’re due.
5) Get outside the bubble
This is a tough one, but every day I aspire to step outside my comfort zone and keep an ear open for distant signals - by reading a blog in another industry; talking to a neighbor, teenager or even a total stranger about books or the Internet; or eating something totally new for lunch.
Is it time for lunch yet?