Help Me With My Next Book

May 16, 2013 — 32 Comments

I’ve talked a little bit about my next two projects in my reading newsletter and in the occasional interview, but for those of you who don’t know, I am working a two new books: one will be a Kindle Single and the other, a full length book. As many of you have inquired and requested, the full length book will be about stoicism. I’m really excited about it and am nearing the light at the end of the tunnel on it.

I’m also working on another project which will come out first that I could use your help on. A few months ago, an article I wrote for Fast Company about growth hacking was optioned into an ebook for Portfolio/Penguin. Since many of my readers are involved in marketing, looking for jobs in marketing, or trying to launch or sell a product, I have a simple question: What are you having trouble with? What are you looking to learn about marketing and promoting? What would you like to hear from me?*

A word of warning before you answer. This is going to be a short ebook (less than 15,000 words) and it is about a specific approach to marketing, so I only have so much room. I am exploring how startup methodology has changed the marketing game forever. Within that framework, however, I want to address the practical needs or problems you are having. My main aim is to prevent people from picking up a lot of the bad habits and bad assumptions of traditional marketing, so this book will be much more about mindset rather than tactics.

Anyway, very curious to hear from all of you.

*This is itself a growth hacking trick. You don’t get to product market fit without asking questions from prospective customers. 

Ryan Holiday

I'm a strategist for bestselling authors and billion dollar brands like American Apparel, Tucker Max and Robert Greene. My work has been used as case studies by Twitter, YouTube and Google and has been written about in AdAge, the New York Times, Gawker and Fast Company.

32 responses to Help Me With My Next Book

  1. How to sell an a-typical service with a decent track record to a large risk adverse industry.

  2. Neil Rackamn’s ‘SPIN Selling’ was really good because it broke selling down into two distinct categories (smaller sales and larger sales). It showed people how the dynamics of the sale change in each circumstance. It would be nice to see the equivalent done for marketing where you have the dynamics of small business marketing campaign compared to medium and large business marketing campaigns. Not tactics, but more about how your mindset and objectives change as the playing field grows.

  3. In the scope of what you’re asking for, two questions come to mind:


    If you were to join a shoe-sting budget startup (one that didn’t lend itself to media sensationalism or outrage) what would your mindset be in laying out a marketing plan to garner exposure and traffic?


    In your first book you mentioned lending advice to a friend’s Kickstarter campaign, highlighting specific elements to make the most impact. The campaign was in turn a great success. So the question is, when looking at the project (and video) what was your thought process behind picking these specific sections for highlighting? (What made them appeal to you as things that would resonate with people watching?)

  4. I guess finding a job in marketing without a degree in that field is proving to be difficult. Should I teach myself or go on a course/degree? Looking to learn how you construct a long term marketing plan. Also, how do you bounce back from failure.

  5. What we’re having trouble with is attracting enough high caliber people. The people we work with are great, but what we want is smart, high caliber people that can work with us for a season or two. We don’t want ‘lifers’ we want to always have a process that gets people working with us.

  6. Might not be directly related to marketing, but – picking which projects to work on. Opportunity costs. Deciding which projects to go through “the dip” on (as Seth Godin would put it). I find there are a million things I want to do and only so many hours in the day.

  7. How do you sell yourself without just rambling about yourself?

  8. How do you establish a beach head? It is easier to be hired or sell after your initial success. I struggle deciding between two options. 1. Completely invest everything you have into one project (D-day) or 2. Attempt a series of smaller projects that may lead to your ultimate goal (island hopping).

    I am also interested in the period of your life when you were at UC Riverside “waiting to be called up to the majors.” How good were you when Tucker Max noticed you? I know your post on being a young man wanting to go somewhere is the general answer. Maybe you could go into more detail. If you could write to that version of yourself, what would you write?

    Also, is there a chance you will publish analog version. You know that analog books are better.

  9. Cool, I’m really looking forward to your stoicism book coming out. That’s the writing of yours that makes me keep coming to this site.

    • I concur. I’m not too interested in Ryan’s marketing and PR content as it’s not particularly innovative and is drilled into us by many of the ‘gurus’ out there.

      Stoicism is far more interesting to me and is useful to every single one of us. I thoroughly enjoy Ryan’s writings on the subject.

      Ryan, keep up the good work.

      • I get that there is very much a split in my audience but you do understand that the marketing I talk about is about as far as you can get from what other people write about, right? Like it’s literally the opposite.

        You either know a lot more about marketing than you think you do and so it seems basic, or you know absolutely nothing.

        • What you discuss is notably different from the current marketing paradigm, but marketing is a huge field with a ridiculous amount of coverage. No stone goes unturned and as a result there is so much literature embracing all these thought leading ideas.

          Stoicism on the other hand receives limited coverage. All it takes is simple search on Amazon to highlight the low attention it receives.

        • It sounds like he falls under the “knows more about marketing than he thinks” category. If you’re in the start-up world you know a lot about growth hacking, viral loops, optimization, etc, etc. You know AirBnB sent thousands of fake emails a day to craigslist posters and reddit used fake accounts to start discussions in the early days. You know creative ways to get in front of your target audience without spending a ton of money

          If you come from a traditional ad/pr agency or work in-house at a big company, chances are you’re trained in much more traditional techniques. I think his point is–if you want to learn about growth hacking there are resources and a growing body of work. That said, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a well-researched book added to the mix. Looking forward to the book

  10. Tying into Josh’s comment here, but small business marketing mindset vs. large business in the B2C space. I work for a smaller company, and I find our executives/marketing managers often try to emulate the tactics of our larger competitors, while not giving enough thought to the fundamentals.

  11. I’m interested in how you evaluate marketing opportunities. How you decide which media / ad campaigns etc. are most likely to yield a good ROI and build your brand? This is something I have difficulty with, as there are so many opportunities available, but limited time, money and energy to execute with.

  12. American Apparal and Tucker Max have brands that are a bit edgy. As such, you had a chance to really flex your creative muscle and trigger the emotion of “anger” in people to go viral. How can boring brands or enterprise organizations spark similar responses without damaging their brand? Is there another emotion they can go after? Examples?

  13. What are the best ways to market to a local audience online without giving away too much of your product, i.e. groupon? What are some of the best ways to bring current customers into your online sphere to keep up the conversation?

  14. If I only have 30 minutes a day to spend on marketing my business, what should I do?

    (My business is getting people to come to live performance events and merchandise sales, both physical and digital. But I don’t think the response would have to be specific to just that.)

  15. The line, ‘whatever works is marketing’ really stands out in your FC piece.

    A few questions…

    -How have you built lasting relationships with bloggers and affiliates for yourself and with clients?

    -What platforms (blogs, TV, print…) have you found most effective in ultimately driving sales (and what should we as marketers be spending our time pursuing)?

    -In growing a loyal following by putting out free high-quality content, should one expect a reaction when then looking to sell high-ticket products/events? (see painful-to-read comments: …Or is there a better way to set this expectation?

    -Where do you stand on the ‘sequencing’ of product development/marketing? Being involved in the direct-response marketing world, I’m hearing more and more of people refining their message as a launch email, or even as concisely as a banner BEFORE any stage of product development (such as your example with Amazon).

    Lastly, getting back to my email re: ‘bootstrapping opportunity’ when you get a sec would be much appreciated.


  16. How do I effectively remove my preferences from my clients Digital/Social Campaigns without sacrificing my influence and or creativity?


  17. I dont care as long as its addictive as “Trust Me I’m Lieing” I’m reading it.

  18. How do you turn yourself into a brand and reach out to an audience that would be receptive to your brand?
    Good stuff about blog workings in “Confessions.”

  19. I’d like to plus 1 James’ comment. I just build a great brand around sleep supplements. Any type of controversial marketing could potentially backfire in a way that would damage the brand. How can you keep your brand integrity safe while still creating the kind of marketing content that appeals to popular bloggers and content drivers?

  20. I think it would be most interesting to see your perspective on metrics, research, etc. From the start-up perspective, clearly a lot of emphasis has been put on measurement since The Lean Startup came out in 2011. Simultaneously, it seems, there has been a heightened emphasis on metrics in the marketing world (see the recently unveiled Social Media Metrics Standards effort).

    My guess is that these two paths (rapid “learnings”-based research in the Startup world & evolving measurement in the Ad/PR/Marketing world) can/will converge for some really interesting developments for everyone interested in measurement and research — whether they’re agency, corporate, startup or consultant (or some combination of those).

  21. I’d like to see you flesh out the idea of the “Inner Citadel” in your new book. More specifically, at what point does enduring a difficult situation become withdrawing from the world while needlessly suffering? More to the point, when is it time to quit and move on?

    We’ve all seen people killing themselves in the wrong job, wrong relationship, or wrong environment, and the push on in misery, like good soldiers. When the solution is not to endure, it’s to leave and search for greener pastures.

    I’ve been sort of an armchair stoic for nearly 20 years, and learning to ignore pain and suffering has been extremely useful. But pain is useful, it’s there to tell you something is wrong. So where is that line? How do we know where we’ve reached it?

    I look forward to reading your new stuff. I hope this helps.

  22. This comment might be a little later, but what I would love to hear from you are the top mistakes entrepreneurs make when it comes to marketing and the right mindset we need to have in order to avoid making these mistakes.

    It’s evident that there is no such thing as “good” marketing (just like we can’t say what’s “good” writing), but we can say there is “bad” marketing – marketing that fails to produce an ROI or attention (via likes, comments, linking, etc.) . I think perhaps the biggest problem marketers have is that they don’t know what they are doing wrong. But if they’re able to find out what’s not working for them and why, then they have a much better chance to be strategically creative (which is what true marketing is really about).

  23. In TMIL you mention a company building “a userbase of 25,000 paying customers in two months without advertising.” How can your readers do this?

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