I read Ryan Holiday’s Perennial Seller on a lark, even though I’ve been writing a book of my own for months now. Truth is, I didn’t even really know what Perennial Seller was about. I just knew that I was a fan of Holiday’s work in The Ego is The Enemy and The Obstacle is the Way, so when I saw it available from my library, I picked it up. Turns out, this was exactly the book I wanted to read, and didn’t know it. Not only does it contain the collection of inspiring stories that define Ryan Holiday, and his mentor Robert Greene’s work, but it speaks to the people who really care about their work, and are not interested in shamelessly becoming rich and famous. Holiday says if you focus on the work, and not the quick pay day, you have the advantage.

But, Holiday, being the marketer that he is, does give strong advice on how to take that work that you’ve worked to make a masterpiece, and market it in an effective way.

I had a conversation with Tim, an author who chose to eschew the traditional publishing route for his novel . Tim is starting to focus on marketing his book. Since advice is easy, but following your own advice isn’t always, I thought I’d write down everything I currently think Tim should do, so that when I finish my book I have a plan that I believe I should follow.

But first, I’ll include some bullet points of axioms Holiday puts forward.

  • 80% of marketing is building the best damn product possible.
  • Marketing is your opportunity to beat the everyone else out there who is too lazy, or too entitled to market their work.
  • Only one thing matters: Word of mouth.
  • Nobody cares about your work as much as you do. Being ‘just the creator’ and letting someone else handle marketing is not realistic. Your product needs a champion.
  • Most artists problem is not piracy, it’s obscurity.
  • Start with small PR outlets.
  • Create a platform. Build an email list.
  • The best time to have built an audience is yesterday. Second best time is now.
  • Develop relationships before you have a favor you want to ask of them
  • Marketing is about allocating resources. Send more power to the wheels getting traction, send it away from those that are spinning. Invest more in strategies that are working, and move away from those that are not.

Now, we’ll focus on actionable steps we can take to get our work out there.

  1. Let’s focus on the message first. This is a ____ that does _____. It helps people ____. Nailing down this message will make it easier to get it out to those who can help get your work in front of more people, and when those people understand that message, they’ll buy.
  2. With our message, we can now determine, who is your product for? This is more of a creation question, but, can your audience see themselves as the hero and/or see their friends as the heroes so they can recommend it to them?
  3. Put a post out on Facebook, Twitter, where ever. “As some of you know, I’ve been working on ____ for quite a long time. It’s a ____ that does ____. It helps people _____. Does anyone I know have anything at all they can do to help me reach (People who my product as for)? Nothing is too big or small.” You can have people comment, respond, or put together a Google Form for free. Get their name, what they can offer, and how to get in contact with them.
  4. Use every one of those resources you can afford to put time and effort in to.
  5. Don’t first target the biggest outlet. Though it’d be great to be featured on the front page of the New York Times, reporters there are inundated with requests. Since we know who our product is for, start with smaller, more specific media outlets who may get less requests and are more specific to your product. Those people are the most likely to first champion your work. Those initial smaller and/or more specific media outlets are often looked at by the larger outlets, meaning you’ll be in a better position to step up to bigger targets.
  6. Remember, reporters need to publish more than ever, they’re not doing you a favor by covering it, you’re doing them a favor by giving them something good and clear to cover. Make it easy for them, and they’ll help you.
  7. Give away your product. Whether it’s through contests, or just sending to friends and fans, give away your product. You want people using and talking about your product, make it as easy as possible by putting it in their hands.
  8. Give away samples or tastes of your product. Can you get people hooked, interested, or talking more about it? Do you have an absolutely crazy story in your book? Share it. Give that gold away for free, and promise more in your book. Leave them wanting more.
  9. Podcasts are a great platform to talk about your book, again a place to give away for free a few of your best stories.
  10.  Use sales liberally. Initially you’ll want to make your product as cheap as possible without damaging the perception of your product.
  11. Think about your platform. The combination of tools, relationships, access, and audience that you can put together for spreading your creative work. This platform that you build can insure financial freedom and the goal unto itself, not just a means to an end.
  12. Build an email list. Form a direct line of communication with your supporters. Figure out something valuable you can offer them, even if it’s small.
  13. At a certain point, the best marketing you can do for your book is to start writing the next one. Creating more work can be the most effective marketing technique of all.
  14. Remember that luck is not an accident. “The harder you work, the luckier you seem to get.”

For the “free taste” of Ryan Holiday’s book, check out his site PerennialSeller.com. You can give your email address, and a he’ll email you some case studies, and extended interviews from the book. Or, go ahead and buy Perennial Seller. I very much endorse this book.

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