By: Aaron Stanton
I've been out of town for the last few weeks, but I'm back now. For future trips, I've asked one of our team members, Dan Bowen, if he'd be willing to help keep the blog on target (meaning, helping writing posts, and also pushing me to write posts) when life gets hectic. I haven't gotten a response from him on it, yet, but I think he'll be agreeable.
In a way, these last few weeks have been a watershed moment for Novel Projects. Specifically, a year ago I couldn't have left the company for two weeks and expected much to get done. The fact that I could take my first vacation in 3 years and leave for two weeks without the world crumbling at the home base is a good sign. Between Paul, Tony, Eileen, and the rest of the crew, things functioned as they should. Business phone calls still got made. Work was still done.
In fact, it turns out that so much got done that when I got back, my office had been moved into another room. They claim it's because they want to keep the developers isolated from the business development people - who they claim talk a lot - but I'm not so secretly convinced that what they really mean is that JUST I talk too much, and they discovered how much they get done when I'm not around.
So before, where I was grouped in with the developers, I'm now sectioned off with the "business development" team - mainly Tony, myself, and David. The three of us work in what we call the "Anthill", and Dustin, Paul, Eileen, Tyler, Soren, and the others work down the hall in the "Fishbowl". Don't ask where the names come from... I don't really know.
David is a recent full time addition to our team, and comes on board with a very relevant work background. He was a director at Amazon in the early days of the company - he used to work with Jeff Bezos when there were only 200 employees in the company, most of who worked in the warehouses.
When he joined Amazon, there were 200 employees, and when he left there were over 7,500. He has a law and licensing background, but wears a number of different business development hats. So not only does he bring some background experience working at a growing technology company, he has a fair amount of experience in the publishing industry specifically. That's good for us.
His Amazon history is a potential double edged sword, though - I think it's safe to say that Amazon has a mixed reputation with publishers these days. They now share a "frienemy" style relationship - both publishers and Amazon rely on each other, but their agendas sometimes differ substantially. Since much of our business revolves around our relationship with our publishers, it's a reputation we don't particularly want to inherit.
That said, I think David's return to publishing technology is akin to finishing unfinished business for him. In other words, he left Amazon as they moved more into non-book related products, and he's always felt there work still to be done in publishing. Like all of us, he's involved with Novel Projects because he believes that we can offer a great deal to publishers through a technology base that's both powerful AND safe.
Doing business in the old industry of publishing is very different from doing business in the relatively new industry of software development. Almost an East Coast/West Coast thing. I think many of the clashes between technology companies and publishing houses come from that difference.
We are, in a sense, an advanced technology company with the heart of a publisher in terms of our sensibilities - we approach the industry carrying a "we come in peace" flag.
I want to finish this post with a thank you for responding to my request for ratings in my previous post - we've had several thousand people step forward to rate snippets for us, and it's very useful.
I also want to add, because I can (though off topic), that my thoughts are on Iran. I have family living in Iran, and I don't think it's easy to overstate the impact that recent events are having on the lives of the people living there. My heart goes out to them.