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The surprising truth about how to succeed in the book business

Is it possible to succeed in the book business in an underdeveloped or developing country like Nigeria considering that Nigerians don’t read? As the founder of a platform that teaches people how to claim a right in what’s been called the expert industry, with a focus on book writing, these are the kinds of questions I’m bombarded with by most of my candidates. This article addresses these concerns.

As JF Kennedy once noted, the French Grand Marshal Lyautey once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow growing and would not reach maturity for another 100 years. The Marshal replied: ‘In that case, there is no time to waste; Plant it this afternoon! A typical hobbyist author with a short-term mindset sees the world as the gardener, while those with a long-term focus tackle every venture, be it education, stock investing, or book writing, like Marshall Lyautey. As hackneyed as the following cliché is, it bears repeating, nothing good comes cheap. As Malcolm Gladwell pointed out in his elegant book, Tipping Point, reaching the tipping point in any company requires about 10,000 man-hours of serious practice. It’s about 10 years of effort. So jumping into the book business and expecting to make it big overnight is like speeding up a pregnancy. It is impossible under normal circumstances; you have to go through the full cycle of nine months.

A close look at three authors who have become wildly successful, such as Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Pink, and Tony Robbins, shows that they have one thing in common: they are prodigious in their output. Take Malcolm Gladwell for example. He is such a detail-oriented author that when he sets out to describe something, he paints such a vivid picture that you can’t put it down until the end. For example, if you are writing about something as mundane as a door key, you would describe the color, size, texture, make, make, and type of key, the iron the key was made of, and not forgetting the country the mine is located in, and the technology used to turn iron ore into iron ingots and ultimately into a key. Is it any wonder that all of his books, including Outliers, Blink, Tipping Point, What the Dog Saw, and David and Goliath, became instant best sellers? How did you hone his skills? He honed it over the years as a journalist, including more than twenty with The New Yorker. On the other hand, Daniel Pink is oriented towards trends and research. He watches trends, follows them with research, and writes about them with an uplifting spirit that can’t stop reading his tomes to the end. Is it any wonder that Free Agent Nation, A Whole New Mind, To Sell Is Human and Drive became instant best sellers? Tony Robbins, for his part, is a master motivator and skilled storyteller. He is so talented in these arts that his books like Unstoppable, Awaken The Giant Within, and Money: Master The Game are all runaway bestsellers.

As you can see, Malcolm, Daniel and Tony are not only prodigious, they are also deep. These attributes would make publishers pay millions to have them in their stable. You can’t become a wonder overnight. It takes years of canvas and sweat to become a worldwide sensation. Take the case of JK Rowling. A single mom, no publisher would touch her first Harry Porter fantasy novel. To them, it had no market value. So what did she do? She stood her ground on her weapon. She believed in the value of her work and persisted and today, Harry Porter’s her series is the best-selling book series of all time. The Harry Porter series has been turned into films that propel her to the pinnacle of success as the UK’s richest auteur, worth over $1 billion in 2014. The same can be said for Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hanson’s Chicken Soup For The Soul series. The first book in the series, according to the authors, was rejected more than 400 times by major publishers because they believed the stories would not sell. What about the Guerrilla Marketing series started by the late Jay Conrad Levinson in 1984? Guerrilla Marketing’s first book was self-published and today it is the best-known marketing brand in history, named by Time as one of the 25 best business books, with more than 21 million copies sold. Guerrilla concepts have so influenced marketing that the books have been translated into 62 languages ​​and are required reading in MBA programs at most IVY League schools around the world.

Again, what is common, even with these initially self-published authors, is prodigious production, focus, and self-confidence, or, they would say, persistence and determination. They didn’t just write a shallow or even great book, they uploaded it to Amazon, composed gospel music to announce the release, and hoped the world would pour in on their doorstep like your average amateur author does. Also, these authors did not set out to write bestsellers. They wrote about what they were passionate about and their passion shone through their art. So the ingredients that make an author that people are willing to read, follow, and like are a series of books (no less than three, but the more the merrier), a niche that allows you to express yourself and your passion, and finally, dig deeper. If you lack depth, no one is going to take you seriously. Depth requires focus, thought, and enthusiasm. Depth requires you to go where no one else has been. Depth requires you to develop your own unique style. Uniqueness is both the foundation and the icing on the cake.

Author of five iconic titles, including Trust Me, I’m Lying, Growth Hacker Marketing, The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego Is the Enemy, and The Daily Stoic, which have sold more than 500,000 copies combined, Ryan Holiday advises all aspiring authors who want to go the distance to write books that will last forever, creating what he calls “timeless work.” By that he means dig deep, travel the road less traveled and, by all means, avoid the weird, here today, gone tomorrow fad. If you want to be like one of the icons featured here – Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Pink, Tony Robbins, JK Rowling, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hanson, Jay Conrad Levinson or even Ryan Holiday – start writing and you never know where your endeavors will lead you. Forget about the brakes. When you get it right, the brakes will come. Do you have a story in you? Start counting today. Let the end of one story be the beginning of another, and before a decade is out, you’ll be on a pedestal as one of the immortals. Your book will make you immortal.

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