Pride and Prejudice - The STORY GRID edition - Annotated by SHAWN COYNE




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ARCHIVES OF December, 2012

What It Takes

What It Takes

What About Foreign Translation Rights?

By Shawn Coyne | Published: December 28, 2012

Steve and I have received a number of offers from foreign publishers to translate and publish Black Irish Books in other countries. We’ve—I hope tactfully—declined all of them.

It’s not that we don’t want our books to be available in every language around the globe. It’s that the old way (and still current way) of selling foreign rights is ludicrous.

We really aren’t in business to tear down the walls of legacy mainstream publishing. We’re two guys running a pizza shop. Are the future Formidable Five or Four irritatingly overbearing, overconfident, condescending and exclusionary? Of course they are.

But without them our culture would be in serious trouble. Could Robert Caro devote decades to creating the quintessential biography of the most complicated political figure of the twentieth century without Random House/Knopf/Doubleday supporting him? No way. Without Robert Gottlieb and Sonny Mehta holding back the accountants demanding repayment of advances for books not yet delivered, Caro would have had to be writing side pieces for magazines or quickie bios to support his family. And his Ahab-ian quest to get to the bottom of Lyndon Johnson would never have been possible.

Big publishing is hugely important. Steve could not be working on the multi-year monster project he’s fighting right now if not for big publishing. He just couldn’t afford to. And the book that he knew he was meant to write just could not come to life if not for the support of Adrian Zackheim and Penguin Group USA.

And let’s not forget the importance of having an overbearing villainous system out to destroy us. Is there a more compelling excuse for the hoisting of third pints of bitter beer to take the edge off of our struggles than the “man” holding us back? If there weren’t gargantuan corporate shape shifters road blocking undiscovered, unappreciated artists…who would be responsible for our lives of long suffering creative inertia?

Anyone who has read THE WAR OF ART, DO THE WORK or TURNING PRO knows the answer to that question. Yesterday, Seth Godin wrote about this very well and in far fewer words than I in his piece “Believing What We Want to Believe,”

If we set aside our tankards and take a long hard look at our place in the world objectively, the fact is that Big Publishing can teach us long tail businesspeople quite a lot.

Don’t forget. We small timers can do any business deal we’d like without having to worry about how we’re going to make payroll next month. If a decision we make doesn’t work, maybe we lose a few dollars or get an emotional punch to the gut, but we don’t have to lay anyone off. This is the beauty of a cottage industry. We’re not in it to build an empire so that we can make the fortune 500.

And if you are in it to build an empire, paying attention to how things work and doing a little intellectual arbitrage about how that will change given new technologies is the stuff of people like David Sarnoff, Ted Turner, the Google guys, etc. Fortune 500 Hall of Famers. (more…)

Posted in What It Takes

Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

A Pro Recognizes Another Pro

By Steven Pressfield | Published: December 26, 2012

If you’ll forgive me for quoting myself, here is a (very short) chapter from The War of Art:


The professional senses who has served his time and who hasn’t. Like Alan Ladd and Jack Palance circling each other in Shane, a gun recognizes another gun.

I’ve been thinking about this in light of our last two weeks’ posts on depth of commitment. What exactly is it that a pro recognizes in another pro?

Jack Palance as the gunfighter Wilson in "Shane"

Skill, yes. Experience, no doubt. But more than any other quality, I believe, it’s depth of commitment.

How do we sense this quality in another person? Body language? A look in the eye? I’m not sure. But we recognize the real thing when we see it. And we can smell a fake a mile away. Applicants for a job, candidates for office, students seeking admission … we review their resumes, we evaluate their grades and awards. But in the end, we say yea or nay based on a quality we can’t quantify.

Do you remember the story I told a couple of weeks ago about Hermes Melisannidis, who, at age nine, went on a four-day hunger strike to convince his parents to let him study gymnastics? (He went on to win gold for Greece at the Atlanta Olympics.)

That’s depth of commitment. At nine years old, Hermes was a pro—and he would have been recognized by other pros.

But let’s break it down even further. What is depth of commitment, seen through the lens of Resistance? (more…)

Posted in Writing Wednesdays

What It Takes

What It Takes

The Right Thing

By Callie Oettinger | Published: December 21, 2012

I’ve reread Bob Garfields article “Suffer in Silence” a few times since it was posted.

Short version: Garfield’s piece is a call to brands, cautioning them to restrain from inserting themselves into news stories about the tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary school. (more…)

Posted in What It Takes
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