The Art of Yes: On Will Powers

My friend and former colleague Will Powers died suddenly in August. He was the design and production manager par excellence at the Minnesota Historical Society Press. We’ve seen copious tributes to him since then, and a memorial is planned in the Twin Cities this coming Saturday. This remembrance of Will captures his inimitable self quite perfectly. Thanks, Pam.


Like many editors, I am a master in the art of no. Show me your prize and I’ll find a way to reject it or tear it apart and have it completely redone. But Will was a master in the Art of Yes. Yes, the budget is tight, but we can do this. Yes, that schedule is crunched, but we can do this. Yes, that text is a conundrum of words and maps and charts and translations, but we can do this. I got so jazzed bringing a unique problem Will’s way and watching him solve it: Hey Will, looks like we’ve got an Arabic publisher interested in our English edition of the Swedish Moberg titles. What say? And then I’d receive e-mails, typed so hard and fast I could hear his fingers hitting the keyboard like an old newsroom reporter on a Smith Corona. I’d have queries and solutions and links to New York Times articles and then maybe a day or two later a sample, borrowed from the local library.

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