News Post: Dumber Camp, Part Two

Jul. 21st, 2017 07:45 pm
[syndicated profile] pennyarcade_feed
Tycho: I have every faith that I’ve said something very much like if not identical to the last line in the strip.  I could apologize, I guess, but I’m not 100% sure it isn’t true. There is a more detailed version of this tale presented in an old post, maybe, what…  fourteen years old at this point?  I have a condition where when I remember things I also feel all the feelings in the memory.  It makes forgiving people very challenging because even if I’ve developed an antibody to, say, a Betrayal, I always feel that first when I go back. When I think…

making space to be creative

Jul. 20th, 2017 11:32 pm
[syndicated profile] wwdn_feed

Posted by Wil

One week and about ten hours ago, I decided to step away from Twitter for a little bit. The specific details aren’t important, and I suspect that many of you reading this now are already nodding in agreement because you grok why. But I took it off my phone, and I haven’t been to the website on my desktop since. For the first 48 hours, I spent a lot of time wondering if I was making a choice that mattered, and thinking about how I wasn’t habitually looking at Twitter every few minutes to see if I’d missed anything funny, or to see the latest bullshit spewing forth from President Fuckface’s mouthanus. I was, ironically, spending more time thinking about Twitter since I wasn’t using it than I spent thinking about it when I was.

It started out as a 24 hour break, then it was a 48 hour break, then it was the weekend, and here we are one week later and I don’t feel like I’m missing anything important. I feel like I’ve given myself more time to be quiet and alone, more time to reflect on things, and I’ve created space in my life to let my mind wander and get creative.

I’m not creating as much as I want to, and I’m starting to feel like maybe I’ll never be able to create as much as I want to, but I’ve gotten some stuff done this week that probably wouldn’t have gotten done if Twitter had been filling up the space that I needed.

Here’s a little bit from my blog post that became a short story that grew into a novella that is now a novel, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything:

My mother was leaning against her car, talking with one of the other moms, when we arrived. My sister was throwing a Strawberry Shortcake doll into the air and catching it while they watched. I walked out of the bus and across the blazing hot blacktop to meet her.

Willow, catch!” My sister cried, sending Strawberry Shortcake in a low arc toward me. I caught her without enthusiasm and handed her back. “You’re supposed to throw her to me!” Amanda said, demonstrating. Her doll floated in a lazy circle, arms and legs pinwheeling, before falling back down into my sister’s waiting arms. The writer in me wants to make a clever reference to how I was feeling at that moment, about how I could relate to Strawberry Fucking Shortcake, spinning out of control in the air above us, but it feels hacky, so I’ll just talk about how I wanted to make the reference without actually making the reference, thereby giving myself permission to do a hacky writer’s trick without actually doing it. See, there’s nothing tricky about writing, it’s just a little trick!

It’s still in the first draft, and I may not keep all or even any of it, but after putting it aside for months while I was depressed about too many things to look at it, it feels so good to be back into this story.

Oh, speaking of writing, I got notes back from the editors on my Star Wars 40th anthology submission. I thought that, for sure, they’d want me to rework a ton of it, but all they asked me to do is change a name! And they told me it was beautiful! So I’ve been feeling like a Capital-W Writer for a few days.

And speaking of feeling happy for a change, Hasbro and Machinima announced that I’m a voice in the next installment of the Transformers animated series, Titans Return. And it feels silly to care about this particular thing, but Daily Variety put my name in the headline, which made me feel really, really good.I’ve always felt like the only thing that should matter is the work, and that the work should be able to stand on its own … but that’s not the reality even a little bit. Daily Variety is the industry’s paper of record, so when it chooses to put you in the headline of a story, people pay attention and it matters in the way that can make the difference between getting called for a meeting, or the last ten years of my life as an actor.

It’s also a good reminder that, even if I’m not getting the opportunities I want to be an on-camera actor, it is entirely within my power to create the space I need to be a writer.

 

[syndicated profile] pennyarcade_feed
Tycho: We always offer a space for especially for indies with the PAX 10 - our cadre of experts selects their favorites from the submitted titles, and the chosen games get free booth space at the show.  We’re proud to announce the list!  Here is the link to the official page, but they are also right here!  Use whichever links you want.  They all go to the same places! Antihero by Tim Conkling Celeste by Matt Makes Games Inc. Cosmo’s Quickstop by Big Sir Games Keyboard Sports by Triband No Heroes Here by Mad Mimic Interactive Ship It by Think On Labs (First VR Game…

Morning Routines and Strategies

Jul. 19th, 2017 11:06 pm
[syndicated profile] fourhourworkweek_feed

Posted by Tim Ferriss

“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.”
– W. H. Auden

This is a special episode of the podcast. After more than 200 conversations with the world’s top performers, you start to spot certain patterns. These are the shared habits, hacks, philosophies, and tools that are the common threads of success, happiness, health, and wealth.

These commonalities were the premise of my most recent book, The New York Times #1 bestseller Tools of Titans — a compilation of my favorite lessons, routines, and tips of many of my guests.

In this episode, I’ve gathered some of the best advice about morning routines from:

Enjoy!

TF-ItunesButtonTF-StitcherButton

Want to hear another episode of featuring multiple guests and their best tips? In this episode, we explore meditation and mindfulness with Chase Jarvis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Harris, and Rainn Wilson (stream below or right-click here to download):



This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. I have used them for years to create some amazing designs. When your business needs a logo, website design, business card, or anything you can imagine, check out 99Designs.

I used them to rapid prototype the cover for The Tao of Seneca, and I’ve also had them help with display advertising and illustrations. If you want a more personalized approach, I recommend their 1-on-1 service. You get original designs from designers around the world. The best part? You provide your feedback, and then you end up with a product that you’re happy with or your money back. Click this link and get a free $99 upgrade. Give it a test run…

This podcast is also brought to you by Four SigmaticI reached out to these Finnish entrepreneurs after a very talented acrobat introduced me to one of their products, which blew my mind (in the best way possible). It is mushroom coffee featuring chaga. It tastes like coffee, but there are only 40 milligrams of caffeine, so it has less than half of what you would find in a regular cup of coffee. I do not get any jitters, acid reflux, or any type of stomach burn. It put me on fire for an entire day, and I only had half of the packet.

People are always asking me what I use for cognitive enhancement right now — this is the answer. You can try it right now by going to foursigmatic.com/tim and using the code Tim to get 20 percent off your first order. If you are in the experimental mindset, I do not think you’ll be disappointed.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

  • Connect with Jocko Willink:

Echelon Front | Twitter | Facebook

  • Connect with Seth Godin:

Website | Twitter

  • Connect with Jamie Foxx:

Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

  • Connect with Scott Adams:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

Show Notes

  • Why your morning should have a predictable and scripted sequence. [06:45]
  • My morning non-negotiables. [07:57]
  • Jocko Willink’s morning routines and how he structures his ideal day. [10:01]
  • Who Jocko thinks of when he hears the word “successful.” [15:00]
  • What are Jocko’s struggles? [17:44]
  • The first two hours in Seth Godin’s day, and what his typical breakfast looks like. [22:05]
  • The value of having an office. [25:29]
  • Seth’s views on educating kids to succeed in the 21st century. [26:40]
  • “Busy” as a trap, and practices parents can follow to regularly spend quality time with their children. [30:06]
  • As an educator, here’s Seth’s strategy for retaining online students. [31:34]
  • Seth on self-discipline. [34:12]
  • Jamie Foxx’s morning routine doesn’t involve coffee. [36:10]
  • Advice Jamie would give to his younger self. [39:47]
  • Jamie’s daughter’s advice to his current self. [46:08]
  • The structure of Scott Adams’s morning. [47:47]
  • On clearing and “flooding” the brain and paying attention to what the body model is trying to tell us. [49:26]
  • Moving art into the domain of craft and understanding the six dimensions of humor. [51:18]
  • Stories about coincidences and affirmations. [55:07]

People Mentioned

News Post: Dumber Camp, Part One

Jul. 19th, 2017 07:23 pm
[syndicated profile] pennyarcade_feed
Tycho: I have been left completely and entirely alone, abandoned by my Mork, such that he left me with four or so .jpegs and flew away.  Mechanically assisted, obviously.  He didn’t just “throw himself at the ground and miss.” He was telling me about an Adult Summer Camp, of which there are apparently several, and like so much else that a normal person would do it turns out I don’t have the receptors for it.  So many bedrock concepts that get absorbed in an ambient want by other people, simply… inhaled somehow just accrue on the skin.  Accrue, and…

Savage Love

Jul. 19th, 2017 04:00 am
[syndicated profile] savagelove_feed

Posted by Dan Savage

Man's roommate is in a femdom relationship by Dan Savage

I'm a 35-year-old straight woman, recently married, and everything is great. But I have been having problems reaching orgasm. When we first started dating, I had them all the time. It was only after we got engaged that it became an issue. He is not doing anything differently, and he works hard to give me oral pleasure, last longer, and include more foreplay. He's sexy and attractive and has a great working penis. I am very aroused when we have sex, but I just can't climax. It is weird because I used to very easily, and still can when I masturbate. I have never been so in love before and I have definitely never been with a man who is so good to me. Honestly, all of my previous boyfriends did not treat me that well, but I never had a problem having orgasms. My husband is willing to do whatever it takes, but it's been almost a year since I came during vaginal intercourse! Is this just a temporary problem that will fix itself?

My Orgasms Are Now Shy

"This is a temporary problem that will fix itself," said Dr. Meredith Chivers, an associate professor of psychology at Queen's University and a world-renowned sex researcher who has done—and is still doing—groundbreaking work on female sexuality, desire, and arousal.

"And here's why it will fix itself," said Dr. Chivers. "First, MOANS has enjoyed being orgasmic with her partner and previous partners. Second, even though she's had a hiatus in orgasms through vaginal intercourse, she is able to have orgasms when masturbating. Third, she describes no concerns with becoming sexually aroused physically and mentally. Fourth, MOANS has a great relationship, has good sexual communication, and is sexually attracted to her partner. Fifth, what she's experiencing is a completely normal and expected variation in sexual functioning that probably relates to stress."

The orgasms you're not having right now—orgasms during PIV sex with your husband—the lack of which is causing you stress? Most likely the result of stress, MOANS, so stressing out about the situation will only make the problem worse.

"I wonder if the background stress of a big life change—getting married is among the top 10 most stressful life events—might be distracting or anxiety-provoking," said Dr. Chivers. "Absolutely normal if it were."

Distracting, anxiety-provoking thoughts can also make it harder to come.

"Being able to have an orgasm is about giving yourself over to pleasure in the moment," said Dr. Chivers. "Research on brain activation during orgasm suggests that a key feature is deactivation in parts of the brain associated with emotion and cognitive control. So difficulties reaching orgasm can arise from distracting, anxiety-provoking thoughts that wiggle their way in when you're really aroused, maybe on the edge, but just can't seem to make it over. They interfere with that deactivation."

Dr. Chivers's advice will be familiar to anyone with a daughter under the age of 12: Let it go.

"Let go of working toward vaginal orgasm during sex," Dr. Chivers advised. "Take vaginal orgasm off the table for at least a month—you're allowed to do other things and come other ways, just not through vaginal-penile intercourse. Instead of working toward the goal of bringing back your vaginal orgasm, enjoy being with your sexy husband and experiment with other ways of sharing pleasure, and if the vaginal orgasms don't immediately come back, oh well. There are, fortunately, many roads to Rome. Enjoy!"

My advice? Buy some stress-busting pot edibles if you're lucky enough to live in a state that has legal weed, MOANS, or make your own if you live in a suck-ass state that doesn't. And tell your husband to stop trying so hard—if his efforts are making you feel guilty, that's going to be hugely counterproductive.

But last word goes to Dr. Chivers: "If your vaginal orgasms don't return, and you're unhappy about that, consider connecting with a sex therapist in your area. In the USA, AASECT, the (AASECT.org) is a great resource for finding a therapist or counselor.”

Follow Dr. Chivers on Twitter @DrMLChivers.


I'm a straight man who recently moved in with a rich, straight friend. He sent me an e-mail before I moved in letting me know he was in a femdom relationship. He was only telling me this, he said, because I might notice "small, subtle rituals meant to reinforce [their] D/s dynamic." If it bothered me, I shouldn't move in. Finding an affordable place in Central London is hard, so I told him I didn't mind. But I do. Their many "rituals" run the gamut from the subtle to the not-so-subtle: He can't sit on the furniture without her permission, which she grants with a little nod (subtle); when he buzzes her in, he has to wait by the door on his hands and knees and kiss her feet when she enters and keep at it until she tells him to stop (NOT SUBTLE!). She's normal with me—she doesn't attempt to order me around—but these "rituals" make me uncomfortable and I worry they're getting off from my witnessing them.

Rituals Often Observed Mortifying In Extreme

His apartment, his rules—or her rules, actually. If you don't want to witness the shit your rich and submissive friend with the great apartment warned you about before you moved in, ROOMIE, you'll have to move your ass out.


I know a teenager in a theater production who is receiving inappropriate advances from an older member of the cast. Her refusals are met with aggression and threats that he'll make a scene, ruining the show for everyone. I believe that fear is causing her to follow through with things she isn't interested in or comfortable with. What advice would you have on how she gets out of this situation? She's otherwise enjoying the theater experience.

Theatrical Harassment Really Enrages Adult Torontonian

The awesome band Whitehorse invited me to Toronto to celebrate their new album, Panther in the Dollhouse, which features songs inspired by sex-workers-rights activists and—blushing—the Savage Lovecast. (Luke and Melissa and the band rehearsed and played the Savage Lovecast theme live, which was magical.) Anyway, THREAT, I answered your question during the show and I kindasorta jumped down your throat. I thought you were a member of the theater company and an eyewitness—and passive bystander—to this harassment. ("You ask what this kid can do about this," I recall saying, "but the better question is why haven't you done something about it?")

But there was nothing in your question to indicate you were an eyewitness and a passive bystander, THREAT, which I didn't realize until rereading your question after the show. Sigh. I have more time to digest the questions that appear in the column or on the podcast, and my copy editor (peace be upon her) and the tech-savvy at-risk youth live to point out a detail I may have missed or gotten wrong, prompting me to rewrite or rerecord an answer. But I'm on my own at live shows—no copy editor, no TSARY, no net—upping the odds of a screwup. My apologies, THREAT.

But even if you're not an eyewitness, THREAT, there are still a few things you can do. First, keep listening to your friend. In addition to offering her your moral support, encourage her to speak to the director of the play and the artistic director of the theater. This fucking creep needs to be fired—and if the people running the show are made aware of the situation and don't act, they need to be held accountable. A detailed Facebook post brought to the attention of the local media should do the trick. Hopefully it won't come to that, THREAT, but let me know if it does. Because I'm happy to help make that Facebook post go viral. recommended


On the Lovecast, Amanda Marcotte on Game of Thrones: savagelovecast.com.

mail@savagelove.net

@fakedansavage

ITMFA.org

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Tycho: I like all the PAX shows, but PAX South is one of the shows where people bring me beef jerky so it definitely earns a few extra points.  I eat pounds and pounds of jerky at night in bed while I watch The Town with Ben Affleck.  It’s an incredible convention, on and off the showfloor. Last year also saw the debut of Acquisitions Incorporated there, live on stage - it’s tradition, now, and I can’t wait to bring it back there.  It’s funny, there wasn’t even a “C” Team yet.  My life moves fast and is very strange.  Anyway! …

News Post: Gardinex

Jul. 18th, 2017 01:01 am
[syndicated profile] pennyarcade_feed
Tycho: Destiny 2 is - I don’t think this is a spoiler, because it’s the whole point of the game - the part where the hero drags themselves up out of the Underworld.  I suspect you won’t drag yourself up for very long; optimally, the buttons on your controller do things in a game, though there are some notable iconoclasts. I got into it so late, compared to most of the people I know; I got in when the getting was very, very good, with the House of Wolves DLC.  I made partner - whatever the Destiny equivalent is, I guess I was Raid Ready - in what felt like twenty…

johnny sokko and his flying robot

Jul. 17th, 2017 11:22 pm
[syndicated profile] wwdn_feed

Posted by Wil

A young boy aids in the fight against a mechanized terrorist organization as the sole controller of a prototype giant robot.

I couldn’t sleep, so I wandered into the weird and comforting landscape of UHF television’s modern equivalent, which in this case is a digital antenna station on 56.4 here in Los Angeles, called Comet TV*

For the next half hour, I watched this magnificently bizarre thing called Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot. As far as I can tell, there’s this little kid called Johnny Sokko, and like all the other kids in school were all “Johnny Sokko, you’re a stupid face!” so he was like “h*ck you guys, I’m going to get a giant robot and live on a boat for some reason. Oh, and also, I’m like 8 or whatever, and I’m in charge of a giant flying murder machine. So watch your step, bitches.” Johnny gets this this giant robot who flies, and he controls him by issuing commands into a gold wristwatch. Instead of telling the robot to breakdance for his endless amusement, Johnny cries a lot and makes the robot save the world from a squid guy or something who lives in a sunken spaceship, adjacent to a pineapple under the sea? It’s all a little fuzzy in the translation, I’ll be honest, but I think I got the gist of it.

Anyway, I probably made some of that up, but this is all true: There’s a Flying Robot who is vaguely Egyptian. There’s a Gargoyle Gang, the Emperor Guillotine, a military group of children who are called Team Unicorn and are the only thing between Earth’s survival and intergalactic destruction for some reason, and all the bizarre 1960s Kaiju visual effects you could ever hope for. The music is exactly what you want it to be, and at one point, an entire freeway overpass is destroyed, because who among us hasn’t wanted to do that!

A quick search on a few of the Internets made it clear to me that I was not just way late to the party on this (the short I saw was originally released in Japan in 1967, as Giant Robo because obviously) but I am also discovering this literally decades after it became popular with the cool kids. So if you’re like OH GREAT WIL WHEATON THANKS FOR WASTING MY TIME WITH SOMETHING I ALREADY KNEW ABOUT now you can feel like a jerk because it’s new to me, Roland. It’s new to me!

It’s weird, and fun, and overflowing with potential audio samples, so I thought I would share it with you today. Here’s what I think is the first episode, in which we meet Johnny Sokko, the Flying Robot, an unsettling sea monster, and more:

There are several collections of Johnny Sokko films at the Internet Archive. I guess you can also buy remastered DVDs if you want to go that route (though I strongly believe that the faded and aged look of the originals at archive.org is a significant contributor to the charm of the thing.)

Good luck. We’re all counting on you.

*It’s owned by the profoundly evil Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which is a giant bummer. You can buy evil offsets by supporting ACLU and SPLC, if it makes you feel better.

*pokes comm gently*

Jul. 17th, 2017 09:09 am
rydra_wong: Two bare feet and ankles sticking out of rolled-up jeans. (body -- barefoot)
[personal profile] rydra_wong posting in [community profile] playeatsleep
It's been a while, but ...

MovNat (Erwan LeCorre's lot) have started releasing free follow-along-at-home movement vids, designed to be a supplement to/preparation for outdoor MovNat practice.

Here's the first one.

It's pretty yoga-ish (not that there's anything wrong with that), but with some nice variations.

News Post: Irrepairable

Jul. 14th, 2017 07:01 am
[syndicated profile] pennyarcade_feed
Tycho: Having made a reality show myself, I’m aware that they don’t project an authentic truth necessarily.  You can change quite a bit about how something is perceived when you alter all the context that surrounds it, or do things in a different order.  For example: I didn’t come up with the idea that contestants in Strip Search should pin up their winning comics until, I think, the third Artist Battle.  So, we just filmed them doing that as though it had always been done.  We wove lies into a kind of textile.  Your brain just sort of fills in the mortar.…

How to Create a Perennial Bestseller

Jul. 13th, 2017 11:41 pm
[syndicated profile] fourhourworkweek_feed

Posted by Tim Ferriss

Note from the editor: The following is a guest post by Ryan Holiday. Ryan (FB/IG/TW: @RyanHoliday) is the bestselling author of six books, including The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego Is the Enemy and The Daily Stoic. His books are used by many NFL teams, including the Seahawks and Patriots, and was read by members of the Warriors on their way to NBA championship in 2017. His work has been translated into twenty-eight languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as multiplatinum musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world.

His latest book, Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts is a meditation on the ingredients required to create classic books, businesses, and art that does more than just disappear.  


Nobody sits down to make something they hope will be immediately or quickly forgotten. Elon Musk compares starting a business to “eating glass and staring into the abyss of death,” and no one would willingly do all that if they thought their efforts were going to disappear with the wind.

The vast majority of creative work, sadly, is not only forgotten, it never had a chance to be anything but forgettable. In the United States alone some 300,000 books are published on average per year. Roughly 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Since it launched in 1985, some 6,000 films have appeared at Sundance. How many of these products endured for years or decades? Not many.

But some people do figure it out. The publishing industry, the music industry, the movie industry, despite what you read in the newspapers, are successful not because of the hits that come out each week, but because of their library of content—what insiders call “perennial sellers.”

Perennial sellers are movies like the Shawshank Redemption, artists like Iron Maiden, startups like Craigslist, books like the 48 Laws of Power, (and The 4-Hour Workweek, which is 10 years old and still sells more than 100,000 copies per year in the U.S. alone). Look at Craigslist, now 20 years old, which makes annual profits of over half a billion by monetizing just 2-3 categories of listings. These are the kind of products that customers return to more than once, and recommend to others, even if they’re no longer trendy or brand new. In this way, they are often timeless and unsung moneymakers, paying like annuities to their owners. Like gold or land, they increase in value over time because they are always of value to someone, somewhere.

All my life (and career) I have been studying these kinds of perennial sellers. Not just because it’s what I do for a living as an advisor to writers, musicians and entrepreneurs, but to incorporate them in my own writing. What follows in this post are some of the lessons we can learn from the creators who have made things that last—not for months but for years. I’ve split them into two distinct buckets, how to make something that lasts and the kind of marketing required to develop a loyal audience that lasts.

***

The Work Is What Matters

It was the great Cyril Connolly who would tell writers that, “the true function of a writer is to produce a masterpiece and that no other task is of any consequence.” This is true of anyone setting out to produce a perennial seller in any space in any era. Phil Libin, the founder of Evernote, has a quote I like to share: “People [who are] thinking about things other than making the best product never make the best product.” The legendary investor and Y Combinator founder Paul Graham explains why, “The best way to increase a startup’s growth rate is to make the product so good people recommend it to their friends.”

The point is: The first and most essential step of a perennial seller is creating something truly great. As my mentor Robert Greene put it, “It starts by wanting to create a classic.” If you’re sitting down to make something and thinking about how famous it’s going to make you, how rich you’re going to get, how fun it’s going to be, or all the people you’re going to prove wrong, you are thinking about the wrong thing.

Frank Darabont, the director and writer of The Shawshank Redemption, was offered $2.5 million to sell the rights so that Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise could be cast as the stars. He turned it down because he felt this was his “chance to do something really great” with his screenplay and the actors of his choosing. Turning down that kind of money couldn’t have been easy, but that’s the difference between what might have been a forgettable mid-level blockbuster to one of the most enduring and popular movies of all time.

Think Long Term, Don’t Chase Trends — What Doesn’t Change?

Darabont’s decision probably seemed crazy at the time. Hollywood says “We want to give you a bunch of money to put these two movie stars in your film,” and he rejects it? Why? He didn’t want to make a movie dependent on big names. He wanted to make a movie that captured the essences of Stephen King’s book, a movie that wasn’t about flash and marketing but rooted in something deeper.

Consider Amazon, now arguably the most valuable company in the world. Jeff Bezos’ dictum to his employees is not to focus on what will make the most money right now, he’s not rushing to capture every fad or opportunity. Instead, he has this surprising command: “Focus on the things that don’t change.”  

Bezos isn’t rushed, and he is thinking long term. He knows that customers will, always prefer cheap prices, fast shipping and reliable service. That’s what he is optimizing for, not what’s trendy right now. The great writer Stefan Zweig once recounted a youthful conversation with an older and wiser friend. The friend was encouraging him to travel, believing that the experience would broaden and deepen Zweig’s writing. Zweig believed he had to write right now and he needed to finish his book as quickly as possible. “Literature is a wonderful profession,” the friend explained patiently, “because haste is no part of it. Whether a really good book is finished a year earlier or a year later makes no difference.”

It doesn’t make a difference because really good stuff is timeless. It doesn’t need to be rushed.  

Who was rushed? All the people who started “businesses” right before the first dot-com bust, or apps for Myspace pages. Or Groupon clones. Or QR codes. Or gourmet cupcakes. Or published adult coloring books. Or people selling fidget spinners.

Take the Star Wars franchise. In one sense, the films were undoubtedly futuristic and took advantage of then cutting-edge special effects. But George Lucas borrowed far and wide…and new and old. He acknowledged that his initial conception of the movie was for a modern take on the Flash Gordon franchise, going as far as trying to buy the rights in order to do so. He also borrowed heavily from the 1958 Japanese movie The Hidden Fortress for the bickering relationship between R2‑D2 and C‑3PO. Yet for all these contemporary influences, Lucas’s most profound source material was the work of a then relatively obscure mythologist named Joseph Campbell and his concept of a “hero’s journey.” Despite the special effects, the story of Luke Skywalker is rooted in the same epic principles of Gilgamesh, of Homer, even the story of Jesus Christ. Lucas has referred to Campbell as “my Yoda” for the way he helped him tell “an old myth in a new way.” When you think about it, it’s those epic themes of humanity that are left when the newness of the special effects fall away. Why else would ten-year-olds—who weren’t even born when the second set of three movies were made, let alone the original trilogy—still be captivated by these films?

As Rick Rubin said on Tim’s podcast, he urges his bands not to listen to the radio while producing an album. He doesn’t want them thinking about what’s popular right now. “If you listen to the greatest music ever made, that would be a better way,” he says, “to find your own voice to matter today than listening to what’s on the radio and thinking: ‘I want to compete with this.’ It’s stepping back and looking at a bigger picture than what’s going on at the moment.” He also urges them not to constrain themselves simply to their medium for inspiration—you might be better off drawing inspiration from the world’s greatest museums than, say, finding it in the current Billboard charts.

As you are deciding what to make, it’s essential that you root it in what is timeless. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter how great it is in the moment—it won’t last.

Seek Out A Blue Ocean

Creators gravitate towards competition because it seems safe. If pop punk is popular, they re-tool their band because they think that’s what labels and fans are looking for. If venture capitalists are funding VR or drones, that’s the company they start. Unfortunately, this makes it harder to break through the noise.

As famed investor Peter Thiel has said, “competition is for losers.”

An essential part of making perennial, lasting work is making sure that you’re pursuing the best of your ideas and that they are ideas that only you can have (otherwise, you’re dealing with a commodity and not a classic). Not only will this process be more creatively satisfying, it will be better for business. In 2005, business professors W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne described a new concept that they called Blue Ocean Strategy. Instead of battling numerous competitors in a contested “red ocean,” their studies revealed that it was far better to seek fresh, uncontested “blue” water. Can you redefine or create a category, rather than compete in one?

To tell another Rick Rubin story: In 1986, he was signed on to produce the first major label album for Slayer, then a notoriously heavy but obscure metal band. The natural impulse for many would be to help the band make something more mainstream, more accessible. But Rubin knew that would be a bad choice both artistically and commercially. Instead, he helped them create their heaviest album ever—maybe one of the heaviest albums of all time: Reign in Blood.

As he recounted later, “I didn’t want to water down. The idea of watering things down for a mainstream audience, I don’t think it applies. People want things that are really passionate. Often the best version is not for everybody. The best art divides the audience. If you put out a record and half the people who hear it absolutely love it and half the people who hear it absolutely hate it, you’ve done well. Because it is pushing that boundary.”

In the short term, this choice almost certainly cost them some radio play. But when Rubin says that the best art divides the audience, he means that it divides the audience between people who don’t like it and people who really like it. Ultimately, it was the polarizing approach that turned Reign in Blood into a metal classic—an underground album that spent eighteen weeks on the charts and has sold well over two million copies to date.

When I decided to write a modern book that relied heavily on Stoic philosophy, I knew I didn’t want it to be like other books on the subject. First off, the originals like Seneca and Marcus Aurelius are so good that they are essentially impossible to beat. It would have been suicide to compete with them. Many of the subsequent books about stoicism seemed to be content to retread what these great thinkers had said and thus only reached a small niche of hardcore philosophy fans. I decided to take a different route entirely—I would illustrate Stoic principles through historical and business stories. This has angered many fundamentalists in the academic Stoic community—but that’s OK. They weren’t who I was trying to reach anyway. By creating something fresh and new I was able to find an audience that had never considered philosophy.

In the last three years, The Obstacle is the Way has sold more than 300,000 copies and is translated in more than a dozen languages. It sold more copies in 2017 than it did in 2016, and more in 2016 than it did in 2015 and 2014. That’s what can happen when you sidestep competition and create something new—while still basing it on timeless principles and ideas.

Know Your Audience

It’s important to “scratch your own itch” as the saying does, but are you actually sure people share your itch? I know you’re not going to be satisfied selling just one copy. Whatever you’re making is not for “everyone” either—not even the Bible is for everyone.

Paul Graham of startup incubator Y Combinator, which has funded over a thousand startups including Dropbox, Airbnb, and Reddit, says that “having no specific user in mind” is one of the eighteen major mistakes that kills startups: “A surprising number of founders seem willing to assume that someone—they’re not sure exactly who—will want what they’re building. Do the founders want it? No, they’re not the target market. Who is? Teenagers. People interested in local events (that one is a perennial tar pit). Or ‘business’ users. What business users? Gas stations? Movie studios? Defense contractors?”

It pays to be specific.

Think of Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines, who has an incredibly clear mission statement illustrated via one question: Will this help us be the lowest-cost airline? As he put it, “I can teach you the secret to running this airline in thirty seconds. This is it: We are THE low-cost airline. Once you understand that fact, you can make any decision about this company`s future as well as I can.” Because of this, his employees knew who their customers were and what those customers needed.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting is for soon-to-be parents. The person who sat down to write the song Happy Birthday was creating something for people at birthday parties (and created an incredibly valuable copyright in the process). When Susan Cain published her book about introversion, she had a very specific audience in mind: introverts. (Which has since sold over a million copies and launched a massive TED talk.) The Left Behind series is obviously for Christians. Its films, novels, graphic novels, video games, and albums are preaching with a very specific choir in mind.

The famous music promoter and later movie producer Jerry Weintraub (The Karate Kid and the Ocean’s series) has a good story in his memoir When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead. He once proposed renting out Yankee Stadium for a celebrity softball game with Elvis. On a day the stadium wasn’t in use, the owner of the Yankees took Weintraub out onto the field and forced him to look at all the empty seats—each one symbolizing someone who would have to be marketed to, sold, and serviced. It was a formative lesson, he said. “Whenever I am considering an idea, I picture the seats rising from second base at Yankee Stadium. Can I sell that many tickets? Half that many? Twice that many?”

What if you can identify a perennial problem and solve it? If you can create something for an audience that renews itself each year (like college grads or people turning 50)? Then you’ll have something that can last and sell by word of mouth.

The more important and perennial a problem (or, in the case of art, the more clearly it expresses some essential part of the human experience), the better chance the products that address it will be important and perennial. As Albert Brooks put it, “The subject of dying and getting old never gets old.” The filmmaker Jon Favreau, who created Swingers and Elf and directed Iron Man, has said that he aims to touch upon timeless problems and myths for specific groups of people in his work, and that all great filmmakers do as well. “The ones who get the closest to it,” he said, “last the longest.”

If You Don’t Care Enough To Market Your Work, Why Should An Audience Buy It?

Let’s stipulate that you have made something amazing. In some ways, now you have an even harder job ahead of you—because now you have to make people care. Art is a kind of a marathon where, when you cross the finish line, instead of a getting a medal placed around your neck, the volunteers roughly grab you by the shoulders and walk you over to the starting line of another marathon: marketing.

In a recent interview, the novelist Ian McEwan complained lightheartedly about what it was like to go out and market a book after spending all that time creating it: “I feel like the wretched employee of my former self. My former self, being the happily engaged novelist who now sends me, a kind of brush salesman or double glazing salesman, out on the road to hawk this book. He got all the fun writing it. I’m the poor bastard who has to go sell it.”

Fortunately, this is a learnable skill, and there is a process that greatly increases your likelihood of success. I’ve used this process with dozens of New York Times bestsellers, musicians whose work has been downloaded millions of times, and products and brands that have grossed hundreds of millions in sales.

Now, the bad news: no one “trick” will do the job. Marketing isn’t about hacks.

As renowned venture capitalist Ben Horowitz says: “There is no silver bullet. We’re going to have to use a whole lot of lead ones.”

What Do We Have To Work With?

The first thing you should do at the launch of any product is to sit down and look at your assets, and ask: What are we working with here? The first thing anyone planning a launch has to do is sit down and take inventory of everything they have at their disposal that might be used to get this product in people’s hands.

This asset assessment can also be used to make great products, and the process is similar, so let’s begin with an example. This was director Robert Rodriguez’s approach—now famous as the “Rodriguez List” approach—to making his award-winning movie El Mariachi. As he told Tim on their podcast together, “I just took stock of what I had. My friend Carlos, he’s got a ranch in Mexico. Okay, that’ll be where the bad guy is. His cousin owns a bar. The bar is where there’s going to be the first, initial shootout. It’s where all the bad guys hang out. His other cousin owns a bus line. Okay, there will be an action scene with the bus at some point, just a big action scene in the middle of the movie with a bus. He’s got a pitbull. Okay, he’s in the movie. His other friend had a turtle he found. Okay, the turtle’s in the movie because people will think we had an animal wrangler, and that will suddenly raise production value. I wrote everything around what we had, so you never had to go search, and you never had to spend anything on the movie. The movie cost, really, nothing.”

The point is: Not every launch is the same and every launch should be tailored around your specific needs. For instance, when we launched The 4-Hour Chef, Tim was looking at a tough retail situation because the book was published with Amazon. We put our heads together and thought about who we knew who could help. Matt Mason, then the CMO of Bittorrent was an old friend of mine. I connected him with Tim and bam—the first Bittorrent author bundle was born and was downloaded more than 2 million times. (Also see the “free” section below for more on this kind of approach.)

Without that brainstorming, one of the single best marketing strategies of that campaign never would have come together. So kick things off by doing a deep dive into:

  • Relationships (personal, professional, familial, or otherwise)
  • Media contacts
  • Research or information from past launches of similar products (what worked, what didn’t, what to do, what not to do.) (Ramit Sethi’s Growth Lab had an excellent post recommending that you pick a competitive product to yours and track all the places they got press, all the things they did to move units and use that to form the basis of your campaign. No need to learn by trial and error if someone has already done some of it for you.)
  • Favors you’re owed (if nobody owes you favors then you should pause your launch and go help other people. Build up debt you can call in to help promote your stuff. Adam Grant’s book Give and Take describes this well.)
  • Potential advertising budget
  • Resources or allies (“This blogger is really passionate about [insert some theme or connection related to what you’re launching].” And if you don’t know who the influencers and gatekeepers in your space are? That’s a bad sign! Don’t leap into a pool you haven’t familiarized yourself with first. Study the terrain.)

It is essential to take the time to sit down and make a list of everything you have and are willing to bring to bear on the marketing of a project.

Aside from racking your own brain, one of my favorite strategies to kick off this process is simply: ask your world. I call this the “Call to Arms”—a summons to your fans and friends to prepare for action (see Platform, later in this post). I create a quick online form and I post it on my blog as well as on my personal Facebook page and other social media accounts. In a previous era, different tools would have been used (a physical Rolodex?), just as there will doubtlessly be newer, different tools in the future. Regardless of the tools used, though, what you’re saying is the same:

“Hey, as many of you know I have been working on ______ for a long time. It’s a ______ that does ______ for ______. I could really use your help. If you’re in the media or have an audience or you have any ideas or connections or assets that might be valuable when I launch this thing, I would be eternally grateful. Just tell me who you are, what you’re willing to offer, what it might be good for, and how to be in touch.”

Eric Barker, author of Barking Up The Wrong Tree, sent a similar note to his 300,000 person email list prior to his launch. He replied to each offer to help—but there was so many he actually got temporarily blocked from his his own gmail account! Yet this process unearthed a number of podcasts, book clubs, speaking opportunities and interviews that helped the book debut on the national bestseller list. Depending on the size of your platform, the number of messages you get might range from a few dozen to a few thousand, but there will almost always be something of use in there.

Free Is One Of The Best Ways To Get Fans

How much does the thing you’re selling cost? Twenty dollars? Fifty dollars? A thousand dollars? Whatever the price, that is not the full price. In addition to the actual dollar cost, there’s also the cost of buyers’ time to consume the product—there are all the things they’re missing out on by choosing to consume your product (what economists call opportunity costs). I can’t ever get two hours of my life back if the movie isn’t good. Life is short, and we can read only so many books—by choosing one, I’m choosing explicitly to not read another. That weighs heavy on consumers.

There’s another cost that creators tend to miss too: How much does it cost for people to find your work? To read the reviews or read an article about it? How much time does it cost to download, wait for it to arrive, or set up? These costs—discovery and transaction costs—exist even when your work is free! Think of the free concerts you haven’t attended, the samples you didn’t bother to walk over and try, the products you didn’t buy even though they were 100 percent risk-free, love it or get your money back, no money down. When you think about it this way, it’s really amazing that people buy or try anything at all!

Tim has posed an interesting related question: “If TED charged for their videos from the beginning, where would they be now?” The answer is probably closer to “obscurity” than ubiquity—they’ve racked up billions and billions of views since the first videos went up. Why should our work be any different?

When we say, “Hey, check this out,” we’re really asking for a lot from people (time, attention, opportunity costs,etc.). Especially when we are first-time creators. Hugh Howey, author of the wildly popular Wool series and one of the first big creators in the self-publishing era, has said that it’s essential for debut authors to give away at least some of their material, even if only temporarily. “They’ve gotta do something to get an audience,” he’s said. “Free and cheap helps.” So does making the entire process as easy and seamless as possible. The more you reduce the cost of consumption, the more people will be likely to try your product. Which means price, distribution, and other variables are essential marketing decisions.

Why do you think Steven Pressfield gave away nearly 20,000 copies of a special edition of his book The Warrior Ethos to soldiers? Because he knew they were his target audience and he knew that if a small percentage of the millions of vets and soldiers in the US Army read his book, it would spread by word of mouth from there (first month it sold 37 copies, five months in it was selling 500 copies per month and now it sells 1,000-1,500 copies per month five years post launch.)

Sure, free is an easier strategy for some products than others. The indie musician Derek Vincent Smith aka Pretty Lights did this so often and so prolifically, it not only built him a huge audience for live shows, but also earned him a Grammy nomination. Starting with his first album in 2006, Pretty Lights has given all eight of his albums and EPs away for free on his website. “I knew I’d probably have to support myself and my music through live performance, so I wanted to get it through as many speakers as possible,” he told Fast Company.

Starting in 2008, his music was available for paid download on iTunes and Amazon, while still being free for anyone to download from his website. This gave his fans a choice of supporting him financially while still growing his audience through free downloads. By 2014, Smith was averaging, per month, 3,000 paid album downloads, 21,500 single downloads, and three million paid streams on platforms like Spotify. His album A Color Map of the Sun was nominated for a Grammy in 2014, after being downloaded free more than a hundred thousand times in its first week of release.

Of course, you don’t have to do “free” to succeed, but it’s worth considering how you would if you had to.

Find Your Champions

When the New York Times profiled me and my book The Daily Stoic, it took the book to about #1,500 on Amazon. When Tim posted a picture of the first page of The Daily Stoic on January 1st on his Instagram, it took the book to #44. Below is a chart of The Daily Stoic’s weekly book sales:

When he shared a photo of the “memento mori” coin that DailyStoic.com produced, we were seeing orders come in practically every minute for most of the day. When a real person, a real human being that many others trust says, “This is good,” it has an effect that no brand, no ad, no faceless institution can match.

Marc Ecko built his clothing brand Ecko Unltd into a billion-dollar company and a staple of streetwear and music by perfecting what he called the “swag bomb”—a perfectly tailored and targeted package to the person he was trying to impress. His first influencer was a popular New York City DJ named Kool DJ Red Alert. Marc was addicted to his weekly show, which often featured the latest and coolest trends in hip-hop. To get attention for his company, Marc would camp out in Kinko’s and fax in special drawings he made to Red Alert’s station fax machine. Then he started sending airbrushed hats and jackets and T‑shirts. He never asked for anything—he just made great work and sent it to select influencers he knew might appreciate it. Eventually, he got his first shout-out on the air, and the brand was officially born.

Marc wasn’t just sending out random stuff to random people—he knew who mattered and he knew what they liked. When Spike Lee directed the movie Malcolm X, Marc “sent him a sweatshirt with a meticulously painted portrait of Malcolm X on it.” The sweatshirt took two days of work to make—even though there was no guarantee Spike would even see it. It turned out that Spike loved the gift and sent Marc back a signed letter. Two decades later, Spike Lee and Marc Ecko are still working together.

The story of John Fante, one of my favorite writers, is a heartbreaking one. A great novelist’s career was partly ruined by Hitler—and the world was deprived of many great books. Yet there is another wrinkle in that story that gives it a somewhat happy ending. After fifty years of languishing in obscurity, Ask the Dust was discovered in the Los Angeles Public Library by the writer Charles Bukowski. Bukowski was blown away and began to rave about Fante to everyone he knew—including his editor. What ensued was a resurgence of Fante’s work. He spent his dying days finishing one last novel, and today there is a public square in downtown Los Angeles named after him—a man who was nearly forgotten by history.

I heard about Fante from another one of his champions, the writer Neil Strauss, who had called Ask the Dust his favorite novel in an interview. I picked it up because of that recommendation. In turn, I have become a champion of Fante and helped sell thousands of copies of his work to my own fans. I tell this story to illustrate the power of champions—it can bring art back from the dead.

Some networking strategies from I’ve learned from Tim that I think help with influencer relationships:

Never dismiss anyone — You never know who might help you one day with your work. Tim’s rule was to treat everyone like they could put you on the front page of The New York Times . . . because someday you might meet that person.

Play the long gameIt’s not about finding someone who can help you right this second. It’s about establishing a relationship that can one day benefit both of you.

Focus on “pre-VIPs” The people who aren’t well known but should be and will be. It’s not about who has the biggest megaphone. A great example for me was meeting Tim in early 2007 before The 4-Hour Workweek was published. He hadn’t sold millions of books then and didn’t have a huge platform. Now he does and I am writing this post.

In my experience, one of the most effective use of influencer attention is not simply in driving people to check you out, but instead as a display of social proof. A blurb on the back of a book isn’t bringing new fans to the book; it’s there to convince an interested reader, “Hey, this thing is legit.” Katz’s Deli has photos of the owner with all the celebrities who’ve eaten there—but they’re hanging inside the restaurant. It’s to reaffirm to the customers: You’re in a special place. Special people eat here. In the middle of the restaurant there’s also a sign hanging from the ceiling that reads, Where Harry Met Sally . . . Hope You Have What She Had!

Social proof sells. The perennial seller acquires it by being legit, and then comes up with interesting ways to use it to their advantage.

Fun Ways To Get Media Attention

One of my previous guest posts on Tim’s site dealt with the process of getting media so I won’t repeat it all here, but I do want to give some some high level thoughts on the subject:

  • Media is a seller’s market — It might not seem that way, but trust me, no reporter has ever complained that there are too many good stories out there. They want to write about you…if you’re interesting and cool and nice.
  • One size does not fit all — If you’re sending press releases or standardized pitches, you’ve already lost. You’re just contributing to the noise. Really study the work of the people you want to write about you. Don’t pitch people who don’t cover what you do. Build a relationship (before you ask for anything). Be a human being.
  • Focus on what’s unique and special — Remember, competition is for losers. Whatever is most special about you, lean into it with your pitch.
  • Don’t be afraid of controversy — As Elizabeth Wurtzel put it, “Either you’re controversial, or nothing at all is happening.” Not all press is good press, but most of it is.
  • Take advantage of the cycle — Almost every day Google gets press for its Google Doodles—because they celebrate a theme, or a historical event, a famous person’s birthday. If there is a big story about cybersecurity in the news and that’s what your product does, jump into the fray. My third biggest week ever for my first book Trust Me I’m Lying came 4+ years after release because I wrote an article about the violent protests in Berkeley (see: David Meerman Scott’s newsjacking.)
  • Start small — In 2015, I appeared on a small podcast to discuss The Obstacle is the Way’s impact in professional sports. That led to this piece on PatriotsGab.com which led to a Sports Illustrated piece headlined: “How a book on stoicism became wildly popular at every level of the NFL.” It sold so many books the publisher ran out of stock—but that wouldn’t have happened had I pitched SI. The story had to be traded up the chain.

Now, I’ll now touch on two other things: paid media (advertising) and publicity stunts.

The most important thing to remember if you have a budget for your work: Advertising can add fuel to a fire, but rarely is it sufficient to start one. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s editor Maxwell Perkins once wrote to one of his authors the following, comparing advertising a product to a man attempting to move a car,

“If he can get it to move, the more he pushes the faster it will move and the more easily. But if he cannot get it to move, he can push till he drops dead and it will stand still.”

That’s how you should think about advertising. It’s not how you launch your product—it’s how you keep it going once it has already broken through. Ian Fleming, the commercially minded creator of the James Bond franchise, advised his publisher to advertise for his books after they’d begun to sell well, not only offering to share the costs (£60 for every £140 the publisher put in), but even submitting some of his own ad copy:

Ian Fleming has written 4 books in 4 years. They have sold over one million copies in the English language. They have been translated into a dozen languages, including Chinese and URDU. No. 5 is called FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE.

As for getting media attention, my strategy is this: If you want to be in the news, make news. Reporters sit around all day hoping to find good stuff, anxious to beat their (many) competitors in getting to it. In this way, the modern media is really a seller’s market. Reporters want stuff, but you have to catch their attention.

A fun example: I was working with a band called Zeds Dead and I saw an article about a woman who had worn a Fitbit while having sex. The article blew up online. So we had Zeds Dead put heart rate monitors on their fans during a show. The subsequent piece from BoingBoing, the biggest blog in the world, did great. One of the things we did when James Altucher launched Choose Yourself! was to announce that James was accepting Bitcoin payments for the book. He was one of the first authors to do it, and even though James only had about ten readers actually take him up on offer, the stunt got him on CNBC to talk about that and the book itself. This certainly moved a lot more units. But again, neither of these stunts would have mattered without a great product to back them up.

There are lots of cool stunts you can do with advertising even. Look at Tim’s decisions to buy actual billboards featuring answers to his famous podcast question: “What would you put on a billboard?” It resulted in a video that did close to 80,000 views and all sorts of social media impact. Neil Strauss bought a billboard on the Sunset Strip for his book The Truth that said, “ON BEHALF OF ALL MEN, I APOLOGIZE.” American Apparel’s controversial advertising got it all sorts of publicity, and that publicity, in turn, introduced lots of people to the brand.

If you’re interesting and provocative enough, the pitch is easy: just email reporters and tell them what you’re doing.

Keep Your Platform in Mind

After the comedian Kevin Hart experienced several disappointing career failures in a row, he was at a crossroads. The movies he’d expected to make him a star hadn’t hit; his television deal hadn’t panned out. So he did what comedians do best—he hit the road. But unlike many successful comedians, he didn’t just go to the cities where he could sell the most seats. Instead, he went everywhere—often deliberately performing in small clubs in cities where he did not have a large fan base. At each and every show, an assistant would put a business card on each seat at every table that said, “Kevin Hart needs to know who you are,” and asked for their e‑mail address. After the show, his team would collect the cards and enter the names into a spreadsheet organized by location. For four years he toured the country this way, building an enormous database of loyal fans and drawing more and more people to every subsequent show.

As his name grew, Hart began to take television gigs that he thought would allow him to grow his platform. In 2011, he hosted the MTV Music Awards and snagged, by his count, more than 250,000 Twitter followers in one swoop. Across social media and e‑mail, Hart’s fan-by-fan ground game—in his words, “years of me building and building and building and reaching out to my fans on the personal level”—built up a platform of more than fifty million people, people he can launch each of his products too.

The problem is people want to have a platform, they don’t want to build one. How many bestselling books came out in 2007? Many, but few took the time to build a blog around their book, featuring other writers no less, but it was Tim’s decision to do that that was instrumental in the book continuing to sell over time.

You’re probably familiar with Kevin Kelly’s theory of 1,000 True Fans: “A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author—in other words, anyone producing works of art—needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.”

Look at a band like Iron Maiden—they haven’t been on the radio in decades, but they built a platform of loyal fans. As Bruce Dickinson, their lead singer, would say, “we have our field and we’ve got to plough it and that’s it. What’s going on in the next field is of no interest to us; we can only plough one field at a time. We are unashamedly a niche band. Admittedly our niche is quite big.”

With one thousand true fans—people “who will purchase anything and everything you produce”—you’re more or less guaranteed a livable income provided that you continue to produce consistently great work. It’s a small empire and one that must be kept up, but an empire nonetheless.

And if I could give a prospective creative only one piece of advice, it would be this: Build a list.

Specifically, an e-mail list. It’s the most durable of platforms and it’s the most direct. Sure, that could change, but I think email (over four decades old) is a safer bet than Facebook or Twitter (just one decade old). With my book The Daily Stoic, we built a 40,000 person email list by sending out one additional free meditation every single morning. This is an incredible amount of work—basically, one additional book written per year—and I do it totally free. BUT—it helped the book spend 5 weeks on the Wall Street Journal list and without really any other marketing, the book now sells 1,000-1,200 copies per week.

Launches Matter But Keep Going Past Them

History shows that good work eventually finds its audience, but, as John Maynard Keynes so accurately expressed it, the market “can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.” If an artist starves to death before the world comes around to appreciating her genius, it doesn’t help the artist much. Launches are about getting attention sooner rather than later. Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power took a decade to start to hit bestseller lists, but with some slight shifts in his approach, we were able to get Mastery to debut at #1 on New York Times (and 4 years later it is regularly ranked sub-1000 on Amazon.)

Record labels know that the more times you hear a song, the more likely it is to be a hit. That’s why they hold tracks back until they get a threshold number of stations committed to playing it. It’s the same thing with the marketing of any product. You’re doing the work in advance so that to the public it feels like you’re suddenly everywhere.

At the same time, it’s worth remembering that Star Wars was beaten at the box office by Smokey and the Bandit. A launch is important, but we must bear in mind what Kafka’s publisher wrote to his author after poor sales: “You and we know that it is generally just the best and most valuable things that do not find their echo immediately.” In other words, it is far better to measure your campaign over a period of years, not months. If you don’t have the patience for that, at least months over weeks or days. I’ve seen this play out with my own launches. Looking at my 5 previous books, all have sold more than 90% of their total sales in the weeks AFTER launch week. For my most successful book, The Obstacle Is The Way, over 98% of sales have happened since launch week.

I remember early on I asked my agent Stephen Hanselman what separated his bestselling clients from his smaller ones. He said, “Ryan, success almost always requires an unstoppable author.” Throughout my career, I’ve seen this played out not just in books but in all products.

As I see it, not everyone who publishes a book is an author. They’re just someone who has published a book. The best way to become an author is to write more books, just as a true entrepreneur starts more than one business. The best way to become a true comedian, filmmaker, designer, or entrepreneur is to never stop, to keep going. They hustle, they keep creating. Very few of us can afford to abandoning our gift after our first attempt, convinced that our legacy is secured. Nor should we. We should prove to the world and to ourselves that we do it again…and again.

I’ll leave you with one last thought related to that and it’s from Craig Newmark. I asked him what it felt like to know that he had created something used by millions of people, something that’s still going strong after twenty years, his answer was the perfect note to end this post on: “It feels nice for a moment, then surreal, then back to work.”

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