‘… OF MAKING AND MARKETING WORK THAT LASTS’ part four
by Ryan Holiday
Published by Portfolio
eBook ISBN: 9781101992142
Copyright (c) 2017 by Ryan Holiday
“I’ve even tried to apply this contrarian thinking to my own writing. 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. I’ve tried to model my own books on the perennial mindset and have started to see the results of those efforts. You wouldn’t know it from the New York Times bestseller list, but in the years since they’ve been published, my books have sold more than four hundred thousand copies in more than twenty-five languages and continue to sell steadily day in and day out. These works may go out of print someday, but every morning that they stick around increases their chances through another evening.
How to make something last—whether it’s for a few months more than the average or for a century—has been my lifelong fascination. It’s also become a question central to my livelihood. Is there a common creative mindset behind work that lasts? How is it different from work that’s popular one day, gone the next? How do such creators think about the vocabulary used to package their work? What kind of relationship do they have with their fans and followers? Is there a pattern to perennial sellers that we can learn from?
These questions are what led me to research and write this book. In the pages that follow, we’re going to examine these questions in many forms, from many industries, from many eras. Not just the incredible amount of work that goes into the creation of works that stand the test of time. But how to position them. How to market them. How to build a career around them. And how to avoid falling for the seduction of short-term notability to focus on the real brass ring: long-term success and renown.
In my quest for answers, I’ve spoken to everyone from Craig Newmark of Craigslist fame to legendary music producer Rick Rubin to Jane Friedman, whose company Open Road publishes for the estates of timeless authors like Thomas Wolfe, Isaac Asimov, and H. G. Wells. I interviewed agents, marketers, publicists, entrepreneurs, business owners, and academics about how to make things that last. And I tested some of my findings within my own company, often with surprising results.
A Decade? A Century? That’s Impossible!
Makers of great work are intimidating. It’s easy for us to look at them and think: They are better than me. They’re special. The gods must have smiled on them. Only geniuses can achieve that level of success, and only flashes of inspiration from the muses can spur it. It’s all about the right person at the right time in the right place.
The number of people in the entertainment industry who have told me some version of “You could never do that today” while discussing certain classic shows and works of brilliance is both heartbreaking and mystifying. How uninspiring is that? How fatalistic and defeatist? Surely one way to ensure that creating amazing, lasting work is impossible is by convincing everyone that it cannot be done on purpose.
I’ve seen too many clients do it too many times to know that longevity isn’t an accident. Anyone who studies the history of literature, film, or art can see that while luck is certainly an important factor, perennial success is also the result of the right decisions, the right priorities, and the right product. There are too many commonalities among perennial sellers across many different mediums and industries for luck to be the only factor. With the right mindset, the right process, and the right set of business strategies, you can increase the likelihood that your work will join the ranks of these classics. Their success can be your success.
Yet, too often, the approach of the average creator is to hope to get lucky. On top of that, we focus on all the wrong metrics for measuring our success and, in the process, actually diminish our chances for longevity. Making a beloved classic that lasts for a hundred years may seem like a tall order. Fine, put that aside. What if we start by just trying to make something that lasts longer than average?
Cut flowers can outlast movies that people have poured millions into. Investors dump businesses and businesses shed products faster than a deer sheds its antlers. The average NFL lineman has a longer career than a book is given time to find its legs.
Let’s start by rejecting those flawed assumptions from the outset. Let’s start by internalizing the best practices of those who’ve achieved intermediate and lasting success so we can give ourselves the best chance of joining the lofty perch of those who have made something truly perennial and timeless. Let’s be truly ambitious.
To that end, this will not be another marketing book—though marketing will be an important part of it. Instead, this book examines every part of the process from the creative act to creating a legacy. It will teach you:
* How to make something that can stand the test of time
* How to perfect, position, and package that idea into a compelling offering that stands the test of time
* How to develop marketing channels that stand the test of time
* How to capture an audience and build a platform that stands the test of time
I personally love books, and a lot of my clients and readers are authors, so there will be a lot here about books (not a bad industry to study, by the way, with over $70 billion a year in revenue). But the ideas put forth in this book are in no way limited to authors.
We’re all selling ideas. Whatever the form, the process is the same. And if we get really good at it and we think about it the right way, our idea can sell forever, an infinite number of times.
That’s the dream. To matter, to reach, to last.
So let’s go get it.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Part 1: THE CREATIVE PROCESS
Part 2: POSITIONING
Part 3: MARKETING
Part 4: PLATFORM”
How did the movie The Shawshank Redemption fail at the box office but go on to gross more than $100 million as a cult classic?
How did The 48 Laws of Power miss the bestseller lists for more than a decade and still sell more than a million copies?
How is Iron Maiden still filling stadiums worldwide without radio or TV exposure forty years after the band was founded?
Bestselling author and marketer Ryan Holiday calls such works and artists perennial sellers. How do they endure and thrive while most books, movies, songs, video games, and pieces of art disappear quickly after initial success? How can we create and market creative works that achieve longevity?
Holiday explores this mystery by drawing on his extensive experience working with businesses and creators such as Google, American Apparel, and the author John Grisham, as well as his interviews with the minds behind some of the greatest perennial sellers of our time. His fascinating examples include:
” Rick Rubin, producer for Adele, Jay-Z, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who teaches his artists to push past short-term thinking and root their work in long-term inspiration.
” Tim Ferriss, whose books have sold millions of copies, in part because he rigorously tests every element of his work to see what generates the strongest response.
” Seinfeld, which managed to capture both the essence of the nineties and timeless themes to become a modern classic.
” Harper Lee, who transformed a muddled manuscript into To Kill a Mockingbirdwith the help of the right editor and feedback.
” Winston Churchill, Stefan Zweig, and Lady Gaga, who each learned the essential tenets of building a platform of loyal, dedicated supporters.
Holiday reveals that the key to success for many perennial sellers is that their creators dont distinguish between the making and the marketing. The products purpose and audience are in the creators mind from day one. By thinking holistically about the relationship between their audience and their work, creators of all kinds improve the chances that their offerings will stand the test of time.
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author ofTrust Me, Im Lying; The Obstacle Is the Way; Ego Is the Enemy; and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. 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 multi-platinum musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.