Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Doers and Waiters

"It will be interesting to see what happens."

"No one can predict what will come."

"The publishing industry is changing."

"Let's wait and see."

I've seen these comments, and variations of them, quite a bit lately, all over the interwebs.

People seem to believe things are getting shaken up. And the overwhelming majority of them respond to this call to action by waiting around to see what happens.

This is a trait of human nature. No one wants to be the first to do anything. Because it's scary being first. You could be wrong. You could look foolish. You could make a mistake. You could lose money, or burn bridges, or destroy your reputation.

Look at agent Andrew Wiley. He published ebook versions of his clients' books, presumably because Random House wouldn't negotiate higher royalty rates. In response, RH stopped dealing with Wiley. Yesterday, Wiley announced they'd come to an agreement, and RH would once again be the publisher.

Wiley acted, and on the surface, it looks like Wiley caved in and lost.

That's why most people wait. They watch, and wait, and watch, and make comments about those who are actually DOING something. Some support the doers. Some belittle the doers.

But the actual doers are few and far between.

While I understand how difficult it is for people to take chances, I also have to wonder how these waiters view themselves.

Don't they know that waiting around doesn't make you successful? That the rich, the famous, the ones that society remembers and reveres, are the doers?

In the case of the current publishing climate, most of my professional peers, and all of the Big 6 NY publishers, are playing the waiting game. Rather than jumping into these scary new waters, they're at most dipping a toe in.

No chance taking. No commitment. Just waiting until they can be sure.

But there's a problem with waiting around to be sure. By the time you are sure, it might be too late.

I believe that if you aren't failing, you aren't trying hard enough. Sitting around and letting other people decide the fate of something important to you makes zero sense.

Sure, it's scary and risky to put your money where your mouth is, and to back up your opinions with action.

But history is written by those who do. Not those who wait to see what happens.

Wiley did it. For a month. I wish he'd stuck to his guns, but I applaud him for at least giving it a try.

What about you? What have you tried lately? What have you failed at lately?

As Meister Eckhart said, “The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake.”