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Fail Harder - with notes - Pecha Kucha to SYP

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Pecha Kucha (with notes) on the importance of failure. Given by Peter Collingridge to Society of Young Publishers, London Book Fair, 2009

http://aptstudio.com/timesemit/2009/04/23/london-book-fail-09-fail/

Pecha Kucha (with notes) on the importance of failure. Given by Peter Collingridge to Society of Young Publishers, London Book Fair, 2009

http://aptstudio.com/timesemit/2009/04/23/london-book-fail-09-fail/

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Fail Harder - with notes - Pecha Kucha to SYP

  1. 1. “Fail Harder.” Peter Collingridge 1 www.aptstudio.com / fail@aptstudio.com - Talk given to Society of Young Publishers - London Book Fair - Pecha Kuch (21 seconds per slide!) - 21 April 2009
  2. 2. “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure 2 without losing your enthusiasm.” Sir Winston Churchill - Asked to do this 12 months ago - “Fail” seemed apt then - Since then - lots of big failures - capitalism, economy. - Failure seems a bit grand for my minor personal disappointments - Some things you want just don’t work out - Inspire you to fail - Winston quote - Twitter?
  3. 3. 3 Who Am I? Why am I here? - Not existential dilemma - Don’t consider myself publisher - On fringes of publishing for 12 years: Canongate, Film, Apt, Enhanced Editions - Evangelising about technology, creativity, beauty and the web - PASSIONATE that Books and web made for each other - Uphill struggle for last 11 years - Suddenly all going on
  4. 4. 4 How Did I Get Here? By failing to get what I wanted. - If you had asked me when I graduated where I would be 12 years later, not here - Here is glamourous Acton, where I live - But actually I’m very happy. Working on incredible projects with great people, making beautiful stuff - But only because I failed to get what I wanted - Harry Beck’s tube map: struck me on this slide that similar: Harry was evangelical about technology improving something (Tube map) so did it on his own, and believed it would ultimately work out. It did. - So - here’s some failures
  5. 5. 5 1993: Wanted Oxford. Fail. Got Edinburgh. - School. Wanted to do graphics. Made me do as 4th A level so I could go to Oxford. - Worked hard and focused on going to oxford to read english and French. Fail - Went to Edinburgh, found out had to do 9am lectures on linguistics in this building. Fail. - Tried to switch to School of Art - wouldn’t have me. Fail. - French department rubbish. Dropped it. Fail. - BUT! English Literature was perfect for me. - Courses on hiphop, film, cultural theory, economics, history, psychology. - Made me decide I wanted to be “paid to be pete”
  6. 6. 6 1995: Wanted Paris. Fail. Got Vienna. - Heart set on Paris as part of lit (hey, I was a 18 year old arts student!) - Applied ERASMUS. Fail. - Got Vienna. - Only requirement of literature was to speak English. Yay! - Spent all time listening to hiphop and writing my thesis on Tricky (see picture) - And getting into books, literature, finally. - Also got into the internet. - But - still had 8 am jacobean poetry seminars on a MONDAY!
  7. 7. 7 1996: Wanted to be a hiphop DJ. Fail. - Had been in bands at Uni. - Taught me about being a “producer”. - All about the getting the crowds (and the girls) in. - No musical talent. - Worse than drummer: Scratch DJ - Loved it. Minor success, but incompatible with career. - Abandoned in 1998 other than Book Fair party slots. Which don’t count!
  8. 8. 8 1997: Wanted to be an ad exec. Fail. - Ah. Advertising. - Perfect communion of my love for language & visual communication - Glamour, creativity, wealth, recognition - Fuckers wouldn’t have me - Application forms dripping with 2:1 post-Marxist / Jameson theory. - No dice.
  9. 9. 9 1997: Wanted a (Guardian Media) job. Fail. Lots. Fails: JWT. Kiss FM. Grey London. The Guardian. Pentagram. Penguin. HarperCollins. Wieden + Kennedy. Mook. Poke. - When graduated had zero interest in publishing. - Lots of job applications that I convinced myself i REALLY wanted - Ended up setting up a cashmere outlet for friend’s dad - Thank fuck not at JWT, KissFM, Grey.... other ones I’m still bitter about! - Then met girl through band who lived on a canal boat - She was editor at Canongate....
  10. 10. 10 1997: Joined Canongate Books (Parent) Fail. - Got job Canongate: knew Jamie from Chocolate City (funk club) - Pre-life of pi days - “Lucky” to get £10 day. Parents supported me. - First task was counting the books in every store in Ediburgh. Yup. - Most visible part of Canongate (to my parents) was Rebel Inc: Irvine Welsh. Gave appearance of publishing the odd pamphlet from smacky stairwells. - Really good for me: entrepreneurial, cult, fun, creative. Taught me to be maverick in approach.
  11. 11. 11 The Pocket Canons Second Coming. - Fantastic project: republish bible in individual books with celebrity introductions (Nick Cave, Bono, Will Self) - Most staggeringly beautiful book design I’ve ever seen - Brilliant. Audacious. - Taught me that people buy good ideas. - But it’s all in the execution. - Also, my parents got it. It was in the paper! And they were proud! - “Second coming of the bible”. Jamie compared to jesus etc (hair!). Blasphemy. - Talking of second comings....
  12. 12. 12 “Amanuensis.” Fail. - This is _really_ embarrassing failure. Ego. - I thought I was doing well at canongate, really enjoying working with Jamie - Flourishing under his leadership - Drinks with one of the board, late at night (common occurrence) - He said “We thought you were Jamie’s amanuensis when you joined” - Yay! - I thought this was some Christian word and that I was destined to be the second coming of Byng. - Until I looked it up in a dictionary. - It means gimp. - FAIL.
  13. 13. 13 Wanted to be an internet entrepreneur. First business plan. - Realisation at Canongate that I was not going to be a designer or art director, or editor or publisher - Self-glorified PA - Had been getting increasingly into the web - Friends filmmakers - Decided to have creative business ideas instead - business plan: pop promos for books - taught by ex-MBA how to write business plan - learned a huge amount and am indebted to him (David Graham) - Submitted business plan to Scottish Arts Council for £25,000 funding
  14. 14. 14 Got Funded! (Premise fail.) - And it worked! - Was good idea: make good films, let people watch them, they will buy books from a site that is converting 8% of visitors to customers - Well executed: Gil, Life of Pi (3m). Others not so much. - Flawed strategy. People watched but didn’t buy. In their millions. - Fail. - Made me resolute to focus on commercial AND creative success. - To this day more focused on it than some of our clients!
  15. 15. 15 2000: Really wanted this jacket to be better. Fail. - All going well at Canongate then? Good company, good job? - Also acquiring books. - The Testament of Yves Gundron, Emily Barton. - I was the only one who had read it. - Someone briefed in the most awful jacket. - I had a vision for Angus (Pocket Canons) to do it: could see it in my head. Instead sub-Tolkein fantasy photoshop disaster. - In the end I had to fight to get US edition (above) used. - Epiphany: no room for me here. Not being listened to. - Accepted offer from Screenbase, company who had built Canongate web site with me - Left publishing.
  16. 16. 16 2001 - 2005: Dot Com Dream Full of Fail. - Dot Com Dream - all going off - be part of a rock group in a bubble - Boss who promised me everything and, in particular, trusted me and gave me space and latitude - Also offered me bigger salary. - Bubble burst. FAIL! - Perversely, I decided to focused new business on publishing (not famous for technophilia or pecunious) - Boss was weird mix of trust and micromanager: whenever we did something, he’d come in and change it at the last second - I ended up running new business and production - learned a huge amount - Personal clashes led most of us to leave and set up on our own: company died - Owed lots of money. Horrible. Horrible. - But luckily learned some very very valuable lessons - which jobs to take on, cashflow, running a small business and team - whilst (just) being paid - during a recession. - Left in May 2005.
  17. 17. 17 2005: Apt Fail-free! - Set up Apt to consult to publishers - Joined in 2007 by James Bridle. Wasn’t looking for people to join, but he was just awesome and very convincing. - Done great work together: Granta, 4th Estate, James Frey - Had some minor failures together: lost pitches really wanted, been close to killing clients, some twitter-based indescretions - But maintained focus on quality of idea and execution - Evening Standard “50 most influential” in publishing - Both shortlisted British Council Young Publishing Entrepreneur: India trip above - Update: UKYPE FAIL! (Congrats to Davy the winner)
  18. 18. 18 2006: BlenderTen Decision Fail - 2006 Apt was fine, growing, but I was in a bit of a rut. Still “dark ages” in publishing and the web - Had lots of very rich friends in superstar industries - Still had/have advertising hangup - Massively talented friend / colleague and I cooked up a brilliant idea for getting rich quick - Both “had a clue” about web. Independently and jointly very experienced. - High-quality, high-price “White label” web stuff for the legions of design and (particularly) ad agencies who don’t have a clue. - I was moving house, to London, having babies - couldn’t commit. Couldn’t decide. - He went off and got a £250,000 year job.... - Source of very great frustration to me
  19. 19. 19 2009: Enhanced Editions. - 2008 the day Apple launched the App store - Blogged as to why publishers were not in there - Decided that this is what I would do instead - Broke rule that would never become publisher - Set up “A team” - Used all 12 years experience of books and tech - Enhanced eBooks on iPhone - Launching this summer - No idea if it will fail - Got a good feeling....
  20. 20. 20 Fail Harder. - Enhanced Editions pulls together all my working passions (as did English Lit) - Where I’m at now is the logical conclusion of my failures. - Failure recently got me to India with the British Council - Persistent, tenacious, ambitious failures. - Mini revelation in India (predictably!). “Found myself” - UKYPE made me comfortable with “entrepreneur” - Encourage you to...
  21. 21. “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. 21 Fail again. Fail better.” Samuel Beckett - Most of you at beginning time in career. - See yourselves as an object in movement, not at a point in time - Economic climate great time to think things through. - I would encourage you to be wildly ambitious. - Take risks, CHEAPLY! - Follow your passion with integrity and quality. - Do what makes you happy, not rich. - Fail quickly, cheaply, forwards. - If I’d got what I wanted I’d be very unhappy now.

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