Category: business development

Ready to Pounce?

Posted: May 3, 2010 | By: | 4 Comments

Are you at the “wanting”, “ready”, or “doing/pouncing” stage? This is where I am:

I want to be writing to you more, I really do. I want to be sharing more, keeping more in touch, offering what I know in useful bites, especially for those of you I’m not currently working with.I want to keep testing out new ideas in public ways (practicing what I preach in Going Public).

I want to have coffee dates with new and old clients, readers, and “lurkers,” virtually or in your town or mine (btw, the neighborhoods of NYC are really like a whole bunch of small towns smooshed together).

I want to say THANK YOU to all the people who’ve come to the recent events I’ve led and who have been sharing some of the lessons they’ve learned and the ideas they’re trying out.

I want to have more free stuff, and fee stuff, and tools, and solutions, and all kinds of empire-y things (omg, really?, I’m sounding like @Havi or @IttyBiz (Twitter handles, for those of you who don’t know) or some other expert I’ve never met but who I follow).
I want to DO things, WRITE things, yet I hold back, freeze up, start and stop, change priorities (wisely, when the right big projects and deadlines are on deck), procrastinate or incubate (depending on my mindset), recalibrate.

I want to honor “ease”–my mantra for the year, and it’s working; it’s a guardrail for decisions and being able to let go. But I also want to honor “commitment”–my promises to myself that I keep hedging.

There’s a question on my website, my company brochure, and even a postcard I send out. It asks:


Here’s the story behind that image.
In the high-stakes NYC publishing world, there’s an art to acquiring new authors and projects for one’s list and imprint. As an editor, it’s a mix of meeting lots of people in and out of the business, reading tons of proposals and manuscripts, and developing an eye and a nose for what you like, what’s good, what’s new, what’s timely and relevant, what will sell, and what you have a special affinity for shaping and launching to the wider world.
You want to chase projects that not only are you passionate about, but that your colleagues will understand and be passionate about too. However, if you’re too particular, you might go through droughts of acquiring nothing (and that’s what you’re getting paid to do), or you might bring up too many projects and you lose your credibility or dilute the excitement about the projects you propose.

I once heard a very seasoned publisher say that when an editor literally got out of his or her chair to talk about a new project, he knew to say Yes and to approve the money to bid for that book. He knew the editor had the right passion and vision to make it work.

Well, my boss for many years, Bill Shinker (at HarperCollins and as part of the start-up team at
Broadway Books), once said something to me that has always stuck in my mind. He said I circled around the process of deciding about projects like a cat circling a mouse with its eyes. But when I was ready, I’d pounce. I’d jump up and down and bubble with enthusiasm and urgency. And he’d
want to pounce with me and authorize the money to bid.


It’s occurred to me that the “ready” part of “ready to pounce?” is hard.

It entails mental preparation, research, planning, commitment-making–even if it’s about getting ready for something small in scale.

Getting ready–when it comes to the work that matters to us most–can involve a lot of practical and deeply emotional points of
introspection and exploration. Is it good? Do I care? Will someone else
care? Is it “me,” or is it too (fill in the blank) self-serving, prosaic,
familiar, obvious, unoriginal, poorly thought out, minor, grandiose.
questions NEED TO BE ASKED. Not every project or idea is a go. We
husband our energy and pounce when it is right–when we have the right
mix of want (hunger), preparation, and resources.

And it may be that we can break “ready” into smaller pieces. We can be ready to talk about an idea; ready to research it or
plan an outline; ready to get help; ready to try; ready to just write.

Writing isn’t always effortful but it
hard. It takes courage to put words, beliefs, characters, theories,
one’s identity and “brand” to the page. But the “not doing it,” the
“getting ready” part, is often harder than the “doing it.” When we
finally have the will, and we carve out the time, we break the inertia
and we produce our work. It’s hard, but not as effortful and looming as
the moments before. We create, we write, we draw–one stroke, one word
at a time.

Do you know what you want?
Are you ready? Can
you say yes?
Can you say no? What will get you ready?
Can you get ready for a small
piece of what you want? Can you reach out for help?
Are you ready to
pounce? Now? When? Can you set a deadline?
Can you do it?
In terms of my own Not Doing Is Harder
Than Doing, I’ve been making plans for this
newsletter and my blog (not with the goal of becoming a “blogger”!) and
kept myself in the “wanting” mode more than the “ready” or “pouncing”
I’ve decided to opt into one of the many blog challenges I’ve seen – 31
posts in 31 days. My idea is to keep the posts fairly short and informational
and to maintain a sense of ease in terms of formats, voices, guest posts and outside contributions.
It’s more for ME to experiment than a grand design to grow my readership.

to experience what happens when I do it.
I’m READY to
promise to myself that I can get small bites of tips, inspiration,
resources, and stories out of my head and notes and into a form I can
Time to POUNCE.

I would LOVE you to subscribe
to my blog. PLEASE add your comments, and
send me your examples. If there’s
enough interest, or even a tiny bit of interest, I can pull some of
those comments out and can use them for new blog posts. I NEED help.
Hear that?

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