There are certain occupations that most of us would agree take a good deal of skill to perform. Neurosurgeon comes to mind. Airline pilot. Cirque du Soleil performer.
And then there’s the kind of job that everybody thinks they could do, if only they weren’t too busy doing something more important. For example, hosting a radio show. Or writing a book.
Everybody can write. And most people believe they’ve got at least one great story to tell. But if you’ve ever actually sat down to write a piece of fiction, or even non-fiction, you very quickly discover it’s not as easy as it looks. And if you do have the discipline and perseverance to write an entire book – whether it’s a serious examination of the role of leadership in business, or a whimsical examination of the inner life of cats – you then have to traverse a minefield of publishing-politics to get anyone to read it.
Then, if everything goes right and you’re a published author, one of the glamorous things you get to do is go on a radio show and podcast about business, and share your first-hand insightful observations about the state of the publishing industry.
That’s the situation both of Peter’s lunch guests find themselves in on this edition of Out to Lunch.
Adam Bryant is a New Orleans resident and creator of the popular New York Times column, The Corner Office. Adam wrote the column as part of his 18-year career at The Times. Adam is also the author of three books. They’re all based in some way on his interviews and consulting work with business people, including his most recent, THE CEO Test: Master the Challenges that Make or Break All Leaders, which was published in March 2021 by Harvard Business Review Press.
Jim Gabour has been a columnist for the British newspaper, The Guardian. He’s also a producer and director of music videos, filmed live concerts, and long-form documentaries that literally span the music world, from Spinal Tap to Nora Jones. Living in New Orleans for most of his life, and sharing his home with cats, Jim hit on an interesting thought. When New Orleans was originally settled by French people, they brought their cats with them. Eventually, the French humans were outnumbered by people of other nationalities. But the French cats remained, well, French. The result of this observation is a book called Meow Monsieur: The French Felines of New Orleans, which was published in March 2021 by Pelican Publishing.
If you walked into a teenager’s bedroom any time in the past 50 years you would see photos pinned to the wall – of pop stars, rock stars, sports stars, movie stars, and today TikTok and YouTube stars.But you would have to visit a lot of bedrooms to find fan photos of authors. What’s statistically interesting about this observation is that in 2020, over 750 million books were sold. And that’s not including e-books which account for another 300 million-plus sales.
Maybe in the future, A.I will write books, but for now, every one of these billion books that were sold in the last 12 months were written by somebody. And yet, despite this enormous popularity – authors are generally not celebrities in our society. For that reason, you can get to meet extraordinarily talented authors at book signings at your local bookstore. And for a couple of slices of pizza they’ll even agree to come on a radio show. For which we are very grateful.
Photos by Jill Lafleur, recorded over lunch at NOLA Pizza. Here’s more lunchtime conversation about newspaper and app publishing.