Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday

Introduction

  • Lindy Effect: every day something lasts, it increases the chances it will continue to last increase (6)
  • “I don’t believe I have created masterpieces that will last a thousand years, but I humbly submit that longevity has been the aim of my work” (9)

The Creative Process

  • The Work Is What Matters

    • “To be great, one must make great work, and making great work is incredibly hard. It must be our primary focus” (19)

    • “It starts by wanting to create a classic” (20) - Robert Greene

  • Ideas Are Not Enough

    • Ideas are cheap

    • “I’ve met with no shortage of smart, accomplished people who, I’ve realized, don’t actually want to write a book despite what they say. They want to have a book” (22)

  • Why Create?

    • “To create something is a daring, beautiful act” (23)

  • What Will You Sacrifice?

    • “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness” (24) - George Orwell

    • “You should only be a writer if you can’t not be a writer” (26)

    • “To actually give something up in the pursuit of your work is not only necessary but rewarding” (26)

  • It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

    • La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona (1882 to 2026 planned completion)

  • Great Things Are Timeless and Take Time

    • Toyota: take a long term view and focus on process (30)

    • Alexander Hamilton: “he plumbed the timeless principles behind contemporary events” (30)

    • Jeff Bezos: “focus on the things that don’t change” (31)

  • Short Term vs. Long Term
  • Creativity Is Not a Divine Act. It Is Not a Lightning Strike

    • Ernest Hemingway: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed” (37)

  • The Drawdown Period

    • you need silence; John Boyd called these “drawdown periods”: “an idea must be given space to develop” (40)

  • Test Early, Test Often

    • “The key is to catch them early. And the only way to do that is by doing the work at least partly in front of an audience. A book should be an article before it’s a book, an a dinner conversation before it’s an article” (42)

  • The Question Almost No One Asks

    • Who Is This For? - Who is your audience

    • “An audience isn’t a target that you happen to bump into; instead, it must be explicitly scoped and sighted in. It must be chosen” (45)

    • “Picking a lane isn’t limiting. It’s the first act of empowerment we take as a creator” (45)

    • “Bad writing is almost always a love poem addressed by the self to the self” - Toby Litt (46)

    • References Stephen King’s “single ideal reader"

  • Not Just, “Who For?” Also, “For What?”

    • “the key to success in nonfiction was that the work should be either ‘very entertaining’ or ‘extremely practical’” (49)

  • Bold, Brash, and Brave

    • “The best art divides the audience…between people who don’t like it and people who really like it” (55)

    • be brash, but within the confines of your industry/genre so that you can be appropriately controversial

  • Is it the Best You Can Do?

    • “literature is writing meant to be read twice-everything else is mere journalism” - Cyril Connolly (57)

Positioning

  • Halfway to Halfway
  • You’re the CEO

    • You are the CEO of your work and your career. Be an adult.

  • Find Your “Editor”

    • You need an editor for detached objectivity

    • “When people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong” - Neil Gaiman (73)

  • Polish and Perfect, Test and Retest

    • Have the discipline to keep working until it meets your standards

  • One Sentence, One Paragraph, One Page

    • Amazon: write to think

    • Explain your project in: one sentence, one paragraph, and one page: “This is a ____ that does____. This helps people _____.” (79)

  • Who Are You Aiming For?
  • Is Bigger Better?

    • service the core audience first in a way that does not alienate others

  • Positioning, Packaging, and the Pitch

    • Positioning is what your project is and who it is for

    • Packaging is what it looks like and what it’s called

    • The Pitch is the sell-how the project is described and what it offers to the audience

  • Why Are You Doing This?

    • Elon’s Mars as a model of clarity of purpose

  • Coming to Terms with Commercialism
  • One Last Thing

    • “To begin with your project is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling it to the public” - Churchill (105)

Marketing (anything that gets or keeps customers)

  • Marketing Is Your Job

    • "If you don't see any salespeople, you are the salesperson" -Peter Thiel (112)

  • The Rule You Can’t Forget

    • People won't care about what you made if they don't know about it

  • Anything Can Be Marketing
  • Only One Thing Matters: Word of Mouth
  • The Launch

    • the artificial nature of a launch is even more important now since there is so much to choose from (124)

  • What Do We Have to Work With?
  • Free. Free. Free.

    • "The problem for most artists isn't piracy, it's obscurity" -Tim O'Reilly (128)

  • If Not Free, Cheap
  • Find Your Champions—The More Influential, the Better

    • Ideally, influencers will be people who influence you also (143)

  • Making the Ask (And What to Do When You Hear Yes)

    • The best way is not to ask

    • cultivate relationships first

  • Getting Media Coverage
  • OK, I Still Want to Get Press
  • It’s About Grabbing Attention, Not Getting It
  • The Art of Newsjacking: Making It All About You
  • The Art of Paid Media

    • generally, you shouldn't need to

  • One Last Thing

    • Most important: create word of mouth

    • try everything and see what works for you

Platform

  • Intro

    • focus on building a career: your next work, creating fans (1000 true fans)

  • What’s a Platform?

    • Platform: "the combination of the tools, relationships, access, and audience that you have to bear on spreading your creative work" (179)

  • Why You Need a Platform
  • Build Your List. Build Your List. Build Your List.

    • Build an email list: only you control it and it gives you direct access to your fans

  • How to Build It So That They Will Come

    • Create a list and deliver incredible value (190)



      • give something away for free


      • create a gate


      • etc...



  • Your Network Is your Net Worth

    • Never dismiss anyone

    • Play the long game

    • Focus on pre-VIPs

    • "the best time to get to know people and develop relationships is before you have some favor you want to ask them (194)

  • Relationships Are a Platform Too

    • relationships need to be earned and maintained

  • The Most Important Relationship

    • your fans

  • Settle In for the Long Haul
  • Marketing Can’t Stop. The Work Can’t Stop. The Hustle Can’t Stop. It Must Go On and On.
  • *Build a Body of Work

    • making is marketing

  • Reach Out to New Fans
  • Build an Empire
  • One Last Thing

Conclusion

  • luck matters a lot
  • What Happens If We Don’t Get Lucky?

    • "successfully fulfilling our creative need is greater than hunger or sex or thirst, a need to leave a thumbprint somewhere on the world" (226)


Created: 2017-08-07
Updated: 2022-03-16-Wed