Publishing's Distant Shore
There is one thing that has yet to become digital in the publishing world. In all likelihood, it is an impossible algorithm for programmers to write, although I expect them to try. I am speaking of the legendary entrepreneur. The world of publishing has always been filled with them, those hearty souls that start magazines despite the odds, practical sense or financing. They are very much like Columbus sailing off to the edge of a flat world, seeking the riches of the Spice Islands somewhere just over the horizon. Some of them can actually see what others cannot.
What is it about entrepreneurs? They have been around since the beginning of time. Is it in the gene pool of some but not all of us? Where do they come from? What is it about the ability and desire to make something out of nothing? Does it take courage? Yes. Does it take a spirit of independence? Yes. Does it take a unique idea? No, that is not necessarily a meaningful component to the entrepreneur or a successful campaign.
What it does take is a strong personal vision. It takes a Columbus-like self-assurance that you are seeing something that others have missed. As we all know, not all entrepreneurial vision is reliable, and some of it requires glasses to correct misperceptions in our dreams.
I sometimes wonder if I, as a consultant who helps many a start-up entrepreneur, am acting as a set of corrective lenses, creating some clarity where there was a slightly blurred and inexperienced vision. I never tamper with the enthusiasm. I encourage the entrepreneurism. But I am compelled to clear the fog of the distant shores with a spreadsheet of experience and the costs of reality that I have learned over the years.
After starting dozens of publications, I speak to them as one entrepreneur to another, with the full and complete knowledge of the drug-like experience of launching a new magazine. There is very little that can compare and compete with the headiness of a first edition. It is the dream of many, and the reality of few. Still, I wish to encourage any and all with the will to cross the ocean and land on prosperous literary soil.