Sunday, November 1, 2009

How I Met Someone Way Ahead of the Curve

Back in the early 1990s I was an editor at Crown and I got a really smart proposal from a new author/packager for a book with a novel idea: it would show how to find a job using the internet. This was way before or Hotjobs came into being--in fact as I recall it was before most people even had web browsers. You used clunky services like AOL or Pipeline to access the net (in my case, on a Mac SE with a screen the size of a coaster).

I thought this was a terrific, ahead-of-the-curve idea. But it was too far ahead. We finally turned down the proposal because a) for the reason just mentioned, very few jobs were actually listed on the internet back then and b) it was going to be too much of a hassle to package the required 3.5 inch floppy disk with the book.

The really smart guy
who pitched this idea to me was named Seth Godin. I've been a fan of his ever since, and constantly find sharp new ideas in his blog and books. What he's been talking about--the need to develop and engage with a network of people who care about what you do--seems to me the most urgent subject for anyone in publishing, or writing for that matter, for the foreseeable future. His blog post of the weekend, "Why celebrate Halloween?" led me back to an even better one that gets across a key idea in a pithy way: first, find ten people. If they like what you're doing, they'll spread the word.

With luck there are more than ten people reading this page. But I hope you'll prove Seth right.

1 comment:

miriam said...

This reminds me of Fred Ross's theory of community organizing; at least, it was a low-tech (or no-tech) version of the same idea. A student of Alinsky and the mentor of Cesar Chavez, Ross pioneered the idea of "house meetings" in the 1950s when he organized in poor Mexican communities around California -- Invite 10 friends to a meeting at your house. Pitch the idea/cause/program. Out of that group, one or two people will sign on. Ask them to have house meetings. They invite 10 friends over. And so on. Until you build to critical mass. Basic, grassroots organizing ...