I consider myself profoundly lucky to have the immense privilege of having Steve Ross as my agent. He approached me after I wrote an article for the New York Times, with a suggestion as to how it could be turned into a book. He then worked with me to turn the idea into a fully fledged 100 page book proposal which he then sold to a major publisher within 48 hours after submission. Steve has incredible vision- taking the tiny germ of an idea and turning into something impressive and marketable. His editorial judgment and guidance while writing my book proposal was rare and truly impressive. He can often make what look like tiny editorial suggestions about a piece of writing which then, when you try them, turn out to totally transform the whole thing. Steve is immensely generous with his time and input as an editorial advisor and mentor. The only disadvantage of his selling my book was that now I have to write it without his help!
When I was looking for a publisher for Look Me in the Eye I interviewed most of the big houses. I was particularly impressed by Steve and his organization. He was able to act decisively to make a deal, then move promptly into production to meet an aggressive on-sale target. I am convinced Look Me in the Eye would not have achieved the success it has seen (over 25 US printings, over 500,000 copies in print as of winter 2011) without his leadership and vision.
So much of a book's long term success depends on the work that's done in editorial shaping. Steve headed Crown throughout that critical time. Production of any major bestseller is a team effort, and the current staff at Crown certainly deserves credit for their ongoing management and marketing, but it all started with Steve Ross.
I found Steve Ross to be strategic, decisive, and thoroughly engaged as an executive, with no investment in wasted motion or political posturing. These qualities allowed us to operate with speed, cohesion, and clarity as a group. I learned a great deal and valued the experience of working with him.
I first worked with Steve several years ago, and reconnected with him when he became President and Publisher of Collins. I was pleased to find that the intervening years had done nothing to diminish his unabashed enthusiasm for what he does, his wide-ranging curiosity, his supportive, collegial style, and his sense of humor. One of the standout people I've worked with in my career.
Steve is a wise and enthusiastic leader who brings passion and expertise to the book business. Not only is Steve's energy always contagious (a great quality in a boss), I also really admire his instinct about books, which seems to be infallible.
Steve was a hands on publisher who got to know everyone in his department at Collins. He made the effort to understand how a role worked and what, if anything, needed to be improved upon. I would glady work with him again.
In working with Steve for almost two years he clearly demonstrated all the key components of a great leader -- decisive actions, smart decisions and support for his team.