Every Book Is a Startup
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Every Book Is a Startup
Beijing • Cambridge • Farnham • Köln • Sebastopol • Tokyo
Every Book Is a Startup
Ly Touu Satteisten
Copyiight © 2011 Touu Satteisten. All iights ieseiveu.
Piinteu in the Uniteu States ol Ameiica.
PuLlisheu Ly O`Reilly Meuia, Inc., 1005 Giavenstein Highway Noith, SeLastopol, CA 95+72.
O`Reilly Looks may Le puichaseu loi euucational, Lusiness, oi sales piomotional use. Online euitions
aie also availaLle loi most titles (http://ny.sajariboo|son|inc.con). Foi moie inloimation, contact oui
coipoiate/institutional sales uepaitment: (S00) 99S-993S oi corporatc¿orci||y.con.
Editor: ]oe Vikeit
Production Editor: Teiesa Elsey
Proofreader: Teiesa Elsey
Cover Designer: Maik Paglietti
Interior Designer: Daviu Futato
Illustrator: RoLeit Romano
]uly 2011: Fiist Euition.
Nutshell HanuLook, the Nutshell HanuLook logo, anu the O`Reilly logo aie iegisteieu tiauemaiks ol
O`Reilly Meuia, Inc. Evcry Boo| |s a Startup anu ielateu tiaue uiess aie tiauemaiks ol O`Reilly Meuia, Inc.
Many ol the uesignations useu Ly manulactuieis anu selleis to uistinguish theii piouucts aie claimeu as
tiauemaiks. Vheie those uesignations appeai in this Look, anu O`Reilly Meuia, Inc., was awaie ol a
tiauemaik claim, the uesignations have Leen piinteu in caps oi initial caps.
Vhile eveiy piecaution has Leen taken in the piepaiation ol this Look, the puLlishei anu authois assume
no iesponsiLility loi eiiois oi omissions, oi loi uamages iesulting liom the use ol the inloimation con-
Table of Contents
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii
1. Black Swans, Long Tails, and Big Dreams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Vhen Aveiages Voik Vell 1
Anu Vhen They Don`t 2
A Raie Biiu 3
The Long, Long Tail +
The Haish Reality 5
Sticks anu Stones 7
Vhat Have Ve Leaineu? 7
2. Help The Heroes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Vhy Ve Fail 9
The Real Question 9
A Voiu liom the MBAs 10
Felt Neeu 10
The Block 11
The Dinnei 12
Make Useis Awesome 12
The Diiest Tinuei 13
Piesent anu Futuie 1+
Vho Again? 1+
Appendix: What’s Next . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Book puLlishing is a 16th-centuiy technology Laseu on a 19th-centuiy Lusiness mouel
tiying to suivive in the 21st centuiy.
Eveiyone loves this line. My liienu Maik Bloomlielu shaieu it with me seveial yeais
ago as we uiscusseu the institutional Laiiieis that liustiateu Loth ol us anu kept the
inuustiy we loveu liom moving loiwaiu.
Il you aie ieauing this, you aie liustiateu, too. You uon`t Luy something calleu Evcry
Boo| |s a Startup thinking eveiything is just line in the woilu ol Look puLlishing. You
see the same Lioken Lusiness piactices I uo. You see same uisiuption I uo. Anu what
you see is the same oppoitunity I uo.
A sense ol entiepieneuiship neeus to Le Liought Lack to Look puLlishing. Ve launch
moie piouucts than any inuustiy on the planet anu somehow we can`t seem to leain
anything liom that. I hope you will ieau this manilesto as an antiuote to the compla-
cency that peimeates the inuustiy.
In keeping with what we aie pioposing, Evcry Boo| |s a Startup is a staitup. I have Leen
uoing customei uevelopment loi the last yeai, piesenting the Leginning ol this mateiial
in puLlisheu essays anu small woikshops to gathei leeuLack. Vhat you aie ieauing is
a minimum viaLle piouuct÷5000 woius uiviueu into two chapteis as an initial ielease.
I plan to upuate anu auu to this Look seveial times ovei the next six months. By pui-
chasing this Look now, you get all ol those upuates loi liee.
Vhat comes next uepenus on you. I want to continue to oiient this Look to the cus-
tomeis who Luy it anu aie helpeu Ly it. Vhat knowleuge, skills, anu attituues uo en-
tiepieneuis in Look puLlishing neeu to Le successlul? You can join us at the Get Sat-
islaction site loi the Look oi senu me an email at todd.sattcrstcn¿gnai|.con. Theie aie
some iueas anu moie instiuctions at the enu ol the Look.
Can`t wait to heai liom you.
Black Swans, Long Tails, and
Gazing at the powei laws., we caught a glimpse ol a new anu unsuspecting oiuei within
netwoiks, one that uisplayeu an uncommon Leauty anu coheience.
The liist guestion people ask when they linu out I woik in puLlishing is ¨How many
copies uoes a successlul Look sell?¨
I always answei, ¨It uepenus.¨
Hoping to get a stiaight answei, the peison lollows with ¨Vell, then, how many copies
uoes the aveiage Look sell?¨
To which I always iesponu, ¨That`s the wiong guestion.¨
When Averages Work Well
Let`s stait with the seconu guestion liist.
Aveiages aie a veiy uselul gauge in the iight ciicumstances. Ve use aveiages, oi
ncans, as the statisticians call them, so olten that we uon`t even consiuei when we
shoulun`t use them.
Aveiages woik well when eveiything you aie compaiing is ioughly the same. Take
height ol human Leings. Il we uiew a pictuie ol what the heights ol 6 Lillion people
lookeu likeu, we woulu see a majoiity ol them clusteieu aiounu the mean. As we moveu
to the lelt oi iight ol the mean, we woulu see the numLei ol people who weie tallei oi
shoitei woulu slowly anu then guickly uiop oll. You have all seen this pictuie Leloie.
It`s calleu a Lell cuive.
This phenomenon is also ieleiieu to as a norna| distribution. That name alone is guite
telling. Ve see these uistiiLutions eveiywheie: commute times, Louy tempeiatuie, ie-
sults ol stanuaiuizeu testing, anu size measuiements ol manulactuieu paits. These sys-
tems show a stiong pieleience towaiu eguiliLiium, a uesiie to stay close to a miuule
Book puLlishing uoesn`t look like this.
And When They Don’t
In 2005, I sell-puLlisheu a Look titleu Morc Spacc: Ninc Antidotcs to Conp|accncy in
Busincss. Ve solu 237 copies. You pioLaLly know someone who has wiitten anu puL-
lisheu a Look, too. Youi liienu pioLaLly solu hunuieus oi mayLe thousanus ol copies
ol hei Look. This is the level ol success ieacheu Ly most ol the hunuieus ol thousanus
ol authois that aie puLlisheu each yeai.
You also know Looks that have uone veiy well, the one Look eveiyone ieaus each yeai.
The seven-Look Haiiy Pottei seiies has solu moie than +00 million copies. ]ames Pat-
teison solu 1+ million copies ol his Looks in 2009 alone. Amanua Hocking Lecame the
liist authoi maue Ly the Kinule platloim, selling moie than a million copies in less than
Books lall into two categoiies: the tiivial many anu the vital lew. My aujectives may
sounu a little haish, Lut il we aie measuiing the impact on conveisations people aie
having oi the commeicial viaLility ol cieating the woik, this is the ieality.
Il this phenomenon sounus lamiliai, the same piinciple is Lehinu Paieto`s Law anu the
S0/20 iule. A ielatively small numLei ol people contiol the woilu`s wealth. The majoiity
ol acciuents in a lactoiy can Le tiaceu Lack to a lew causes. Sell-help guius like to
iecommenu this methou ol soiting youi lew, high-impact tasks liom the iest.
Scientists ielei to these uistiiLutions as powcr |aw curvcs anu the lieguency ol theii
occuiience shoulu cause us to call them ¨the othei noimal uistiiLution.¨ Foi eveiy S.0
magnituue eaithguake that we heai aLout each yeai, moie than a million 2.0 eaith-
guakes happen without notice. The polymath Lewis Richaiuson noteu that a lew wais
hau millions ol causalities while vast majoiity ol aimeu conllicts hau only a lew. The
population ol cities, the lieguency ol woius in a text, anu the musical inteivals in
2 | Chapter 1:Black Swans, Long Tails, and Big Dreams
Beethoven`s Filth Symphony all lollow the same pattein ol a lew Lig anu many small,
ol a lew hits anu many non-hits. Il I weie selling the stoiy ol powei laws as a movie, I
woulu go into the pitch meeting with the tagline ¨Vheie Black Swans anu Long Tails
A Rare Bird
Nicholas Nassim TaleL populaiizeu the teim b|ac| swan to uesciiLe an event that was
Loth iaie anu unpieuictaLle. His locus was on the lallacy that Vall Stieet tiaueis coulu
pieuict the movements ol the maiket anu his Leliel that theii uepenuence on noimal
uistiiLutions unueiweighteu the likelihoou ol paiticulaily laige movements in the mai-
ket, the exact kinu you woulu want to anticipate il you weie managing someone else`s
In his Look Ioo|cd by Randonncss, TaleL says theie aie thiee piopeities to a Llack swan
Fiist, it caiiies upon its occuiience a uispiopoitionately laige impact. Seconu, its inci-
uence has a small Lut incomputaLle pioLaLility Laseu on inloimation availaLle piioi to
the inciuence. Thiiu, a vicious piopeity ol a Black Swan is its suipiise ellect: at a given
time ol oLseivation theie is no convincing element pointing to an incieaseu likelihoou
ol the event.
Dan Biown, Stephenie Meyei, anu ]ohn Giisham uon`t seem iaie oi unintenueu. Ve
all know who these authois aie, having ieau one ol theii Looks (oi known someone
who has ieau one ol theii Looks). Oui awaieness ol these LlockLusteis makes them
seem common anu almost pieuestineu, Lut without an awaieness ol the hunuieus ol
thousanus ol Looks puLlisheu the same yeai that laileu to gainei oui attention, we
mistake the populaiity ol the woik loi the lieguency ol occuiience. PuLlisheis chase
Lestselleis not Lecause they aie easy, Lut Lecause they aie haiu.
A Rare Bird | 3
The chase is also uiiven Ly the unloieseeaLle natuie ol puLlishing Looks. Don`t Lelieve
any euitoi oi puLlishei who says he knew in auvance his acguisition was going to spenu
months on Amazon`s Lestsellei list. Theie aie just too many vaiiaLles at play anu, moie
impoitantly, the vaiiaLles inlluence one anothei.
In noimal uistiiLutions, the vaiiaLles that inlluence the outcome aie inuepenuent ol
one anothei. Il we weie tiacking commute times, we coulu tiack the inuiviuual seg-
ments sepaiateu Ly stoplights anu on-iamps, enaLling us to iuentily the ellect ol each
inteisection on the oveiall time it took to tiavel to woik. The impoitant pait is that the
wait time at one light uoes not inlluence the wait time at anothei.
Powei laws aien`t that simple. Vhat makes powei laws what they aie is that a veiy
small change in one vaiiaLle can have veiy laige impacts, anu we guickly linu ouiselves
in the woilu ol positive leeuLack loops, viituous cycles, anu complex auaptive systems.
In each ol these cases, it is haiu to linu a vaiiaLle oi action that is not inlluenceu Ly
Vhen we weie in the eaily stages ol piomoting Thc 100 Bcst Busincss Boo|s oj A||
Tinc, the puLlicity lolks woikeu tiielessly to lanu that liist Lig inteiview. In oui case,
this liist Lieak was Kai Ryssual at Ameiican PuLlic Meuia`s Mar|ctp|acc. The auuience
anu ieach ol APM`s alteinoon Lusiness piogiam was impoitant loi Look sales, Lut
what was moie impoitant was the valiuation the inteiview pioviueu loi othei meuia
outlets. Oui Look enueu up Leing coveieu Ly eveiy majoi Lusiness puLlication in the
Uniteu States. Small staits can cieate huge unpieuictaLle ellects.
The Long, Long Tail
The availaLility ol a Look, alLum, oi movie loi most ol the 20th centuiy was laigely
contiolleu Ly what was stockeu on a shell in a stoie. Recoiu stoies anu Lookshops weie
tastemakeis hanuselling lounu tieasuies to theii loyal customeis.
Chiis Anueison aigues in his Look Thc Long Tai| that the linite space ol the ietail
enviionment aitilicially tiuncateu the powei law cuive ol meuia, making availaLle only
the Llack swans. The typical inuepenuent Lookstoie can stock only 20,000 titles. A
typical Baines e NoLle stocks live times moie titles, Lut still nothing compaieu to the
millions ol Looks that coulu Le shelveu il theie weie enough ioom.
4 | Chapter 1:Black Swans, Long Tails, and Big Dreams
That 15-yeai-olu image ol meuia uistiiLution is haiu to iememLei. Amazon, iTunes,
anu Netllix have so uiastically changeu what we ieau anu heai anu watch that we almost
uon`t iememLei not Leing aLle to oLtain what we wanteu. Mooie`s Law gave us the
piocessing powei, stoiage space, anu ample Lanuwiuth to access uigital iepositoiies
with millions ol items: pieviously out-ol-piint Looks availaLle in a uay (oi a minute),
the Lest tiacks liLeiateu liom the meuiocie alLums, anu movies stieaming to any uevice
with a scieen anu a connection. The long tail has always Leen theie anu, piogiessively,
the Inteinet has given us the aLility to linu anu enjoy the non-hits as much as the hits,
the exact hope ol eveiy authoi.
Anueison`s naming anu populaiization ol the long tail siue ol the powei law cuive was
incieuiLly uselul, Lut we neeu to go to a uilleient souice loi the implications ol long
tails loi authois.
Author Note: The giaph aLove may Le conlusing. Chiis Anueison has
always shown the long tail as you tiavel uown the hoiizontal axis. I have
chosen to switch the axis loi two ieasons. Fiist, I wanteu to Le consistent
with how I piesenteu noimal cuives anu powei law cuives eailiei in the
chaptei, with lieguency on the veitical axis anu magnituue on the hoi-
izontal axis. The moie impoitant seconu ieason was to emphasize the
enoimous numLei ol Looks in the long tail veisus the ielative lew that
Lecome Llack swans.
The Harsh Reality
Shoitly altei the papeiLack ielease ol Thc Long Tai| in 200S, Haivaiu Business School
piolessoi Anita ElLeise puLlisheu a well-ieseaicheu ieLuttal to Anueison`s thesis. El-
Leise uiun`t guestion the existence ol the long tail. All ol hei ieseaich suppoiteu the
same uistiiLution ol uemanu loi hits anu non-hits. ElLeise`s piimaiy complaint stem-
meu liom the conclusions uiawn. Anueison`s Leliel that the inlinite shellspace ol the
Inteinet woulu iaise all Loats in the long tail just wasn`t suppoiteu Ly the uata.
Using uata liom the online music seivice Rhapsouy anu Austialian DVD-Ly-mail seiv-
ice Quickllix, ElLeise iuentilieu two veiy uilleient kinus ol customeis. The liist kinu is
the light usei (the majoiity ol customeis), who occasionally oiuei a song oi movies.
Vhen a light usei makes choices, she lavois the most populai piouucts. In most seg-
ments, this uesciiLes how each ol us Lehaves.
The Harsh Reality | 5
The seconu class ol customeis is the heavy useis. These useis typically consume two
to thiee times moie meuia than light useis in a given month anu have a much wiuei
iange ol taste, olten ventuiing ueep into the long tail to satisly those tastes. Again, theie
is nothing unusual heie, given what we know aLout oui own Lehavioi anu those aiounu
us. Ve all have niche tastes that senu us seaiching luithei to linu what we like.
Vith these two gioups in minu, ElLeise lookeu at the iatings that these two classes ol
customeis gave to the piouucts they Lought. The iatings themselves aien`t as inteiesting
as how the classes compaie to each othei. Light useis iateu the hits they puichaseu in
a ielatively similai way. Heavy useis who seaicheu ueep into the tail iateu the oLscuie
non-hits consistently lowei than the light useis anu iateu populai hits highei. This
linuing is completely counteiintuitive. Ve woulu expect heavy useis to linu anu illu-
minate the gems hiuuen in the tail, Lut they insteau Luiy them anu at the same time
iaise the hits even highei.
ElLeise ieleiences anothei ieseaichei to explain this Lehavioi. Sociologist Villiam
McPhee lounu the same phenomenon in the eaily 1960s anu puLlisheu his linuings in
the Look Iorna| Thcorics oj Mass Bchavior. McPhee uesciiLeu the uneven populaiity
ol a lew items anu how they monopolize the attention ol the light useis. These aie the
Llack swans ol commeice. Vhen comLineu with the uisceining eye ol heavy useis, the
long tail ol Looks is caught in a uouLle jeopaiuy situation. As ElLeise uesciiLes it,
¨Niche piouucts have a uouLle uisauvantage: Fiist, they aie not well known; seconu,
when they Lecome known, it is Ly people who `know Lettei` anu pielei the populai
So pieleience is uiiven Ly what is alieauy populai anu Ly what Lest lits the ieauei`s
neeu, Lut the new uiscoveiies that may pioviue Lettei guality aie uampeneu Ly mavens
anu theii ¨supeiioi¨ tastes. This theoiy is also suppoiteu Ly the netwoik ieseaich uone
Ly AlLeit-Laszlo BaiaLasi: in paiticulai, the pieleiential tieatment, the iuea that ieaueis
giavitate towaiu Looks that aie alieauy populai, is lunuamental in explaining the loi-
mation ol powei law uistiiLutions.
Heie is the message loi entiepieneuis: Looks stuck in the long tail uon`t magically
Lecome Lestselleis. Reaueis now have the tools to linu Looks in the long tail, Lut Le-
coming awaie ol those Looks is anothei mattei.
Vhat piouucts anu puLlisheis neeu to have aie connections, Lecause connections Leget
moie connections. The liont taLles at youi local Lookstoie cieate connections that
cieate moie connections. Twittei lolloweis anu email newslettei suLsciiLeis aie con-
nections that leau to moie connections.
The act ol puLlishing cieates connections. You can ceitainly tiy to gathei a llock one
peison at a time, Lut Look puLlishing allows people to inteiact with iueas without the
piesence ol the authoi oi puLlishei. Books, like letteis, pioviueu asynchionous com-
munication centuiies ago. The lasting powei ol Loth is the poweilul connections they
6 | Chapter 1:Black Swans, Long Tails, and Big Dreams
Sticks and Stones
Inuustiy veteians unueistanu the tyianny ol the powei law cuive. They woulun`t ue-
sciiLe it that way. PuLlisheis woulu say that S0 peicent ol theii ievenue comes liom
20 peicent ol theii piouucts.
I put this chaptei in the liont ol the Look Lecause not enough people unueistanu the
game ol puLlishing. But what suipiises me is how olten, even altei I uesciiLe the tyianny
ol the powei law anu the neeu loi populaiity, they aie still ieauy to go, piepaieu to uo
whatevei it takes to Le successlul.
Entiepieneuis aie uelusional. Consiuei the uelinition liom the Ncw Oxjord Ancrican
An iuiosynciatic Leliel oi impiession that is liimly maintaineu uespite Leing con-
tiauicteu Ly what is geneially accepteu as ieality oi iational aigument.
Anyone in seaich ol a new Lusiness mouel oi launching his latest piouuct neeus some
amount ol uelusion. You can Le taken auvantage ol in that state ol minu, Lut uelusion
also gives you ioom to cieate wonueilul things that most people thought weie impos-
siLle. I wonuei il, at some point, we`ll accept uelusion as necessaiy iathei than
PioLaLly not. Look at the thesauius alteinatives:
misappiehension, misconception, misunueistanuing, mistake, eiioi, misinteipie-
tation, misconstiuction, misLeliel; lallacy, illusion, lantasy
It`s lunny Lecause, Laseu on these alteinative meanings, dc|usion is a woiu you apply
altei the lact. ¨That was cleaily a mistake; he must have Leen uelusional.¨ The iesult
leaus to the laLel. Genius il you succeeu; lool il you lail.
PuLlishing is Laseu at some level on uelusion. The iational aigument is that only a small
numLei ol Looks will ieach any soit ol commeicial success. Il we accepteu ieality, no
one woulu waste the time, the elloit, oi the money.
Ve all have to emLiace oui uelusions.
What Have We Learned?
In this opening chaptei, we have leaineu that aveiages can`t uesciiLe what happens in
Look puLlishing, Lecause the sales ol Looks aie not similai. Insteau, Look puLlishing
is a woilu with a lew enoimous hits anu many, many non-hits, a woilu ol Llack swans
anu long tails. Anu what`s woise is that il youi Look lanus in the long tail, it is uillicult
to get it out. Populaiity anu connections lueleu Ly the positive powei ol uelusion cieate
success in a woilu ol powei laws.
What Have We Learned? | 7
Let me enu Ly answeiing the guestion I openeu with: ¨How many copies uoes a suc-
cesslul Look sell?¨ Like most things in lile, success is in the eye ol the Leholuei, Lut let
me also suggest that theie can Le a iange ol possiLilities in a powei law woilu.
Il we look at the size ol companies in the Uniteu States, aveiages uon`t woik to uesciiLe
the uiveise amalgamation ol commeice engageu in. The magnituue ol ievenues lollow
the same powei law uistiiLution we have Leen uiscussing in this chaptei. Mega-
coipoiations like GE anu Exxon, with hunuieus ol Lillions ol uollais in ievenue, aie
lew anu laige. On the othei enu, million ol small Lusinesses opeiate successlully in the
long tail ol capitalism. These solo entiepieneuis, small stuuios, anu moueiate-size
manulactuieis employ myiiau Lusiness mouels to suivive.
Book puLlishing is in a state ol llux; one inuustiy Lusiness mouel has openeu into
uozens, Lut as we tiavel uown the chaits liom the swans to the spaiiows, theie is still
a cutoll point loi when the motivation tuins liom money to love. Seeing the oveiall
game moie cleaily Lettei positions us to make uecisions aLout the piojects we cieate
anu the methous we employ to make them successlul on oui own teims.
In Chaptei 2, we`ll spenu some time thinking aLout who neeus to Le liont anu centei.
8 | Chapter 1:Black Swans, Long Tails, and Big Dreams
Help The Heroes
Reporter EmiIy Chang: Given how last innovation seems to Le happening acioss the
countiy, what uo staitups these uays neeu to uo to have a successlul exit, whethei it`s
an IPO oi Luiluing a gieat Lusiness?
Y Combinator founder PauI Graham: They have to make something that actually
makes people`s lives Lettei. It`s lunny how stiaightloiwaiu it is.
÷BloomLeig TV, ]une 16, 2011
Why We Fail
Nine out ol ten Lusinesses lail in the liist live yeais ol theii existence. You`ve pioLaLly
heaiu a statistic like that Leloie. Viiteis use olten use this statistic as a setup loi pio-
viuing auvice on how to Le in the successlul 10º, anu the piesciiptions always point
Lack to the same pioLlem.
New Lusinesses lail Lecause they uon`t have enough customeis. This may seem like an
oLvious conclusion. The tiouLle is that when we talk aLout staiting a small Lusiness,
the conveisation guickly moves to technigues like applying loi low-inteiest loans anu
uoing some clevei gueiiilla maiketing. Acguiiing capital anu cieating awaieness aie
impoitant activities in any lleuging Lusiness, Lut they aie seconuaiy activities.
Finuing customeis who will pay you loi the piouuct oi seivice you pioviue is paiamount
to the success ol youi new Lusiness.
The Real Question
Have you lounu a pioLlem woith solving?
The staitup community lixates on this guestion. Ventuie capitalists like to ask staitup
lounueis, ¨Aie you selling aspiiin oi vitamins?¨ Those two meuicines have veiy uillei-
ent value piopositions.
You take aspiiin now anu the Lenelits aie lelt in minutes. Vitamins, on the othei hanu,
uelivei theii payoll uecaues latei, anu the Lenelit ol such loiethought is haiu to connect
to the iesult.
VCs want entiepieneuis to linu the pain anu sell the ieliel.
A Word from the MBAs
The PC inuustiy has long solu its eguipment on leatuies using gigaheitz, teiaLytes, anu
pixel count to ueline its piouucts. This loim ol maiketing makes compaiison among
potential suitois easy Lut entiiely misses the point ol why most customeis Luy a com-
putei in the liist place.
Evei notice how Apple commeicials always show you what you can uo with its uevices?
Apple is making a Lenelits aigument, pioLaLly without you iealizing it. In one ol the
commeicials, Apple mentions its use ol a new lithium polymei Latteiy in the iPhone +.
The mention ol the Latteiy as a new leatuie is lolloweu Ly Lenelit altei Lenelit: how
you can ¨woik longei, play longei, laugh longei, listen longei; shoot, euit, shaie, up-
uate, uownloau, ieau, wiite, anu even FaceTime longei.¨
Haivaiu Business School piolessoi Teu Levitt woulu say to stuuents in his classes,
¨People uon`t want to Luy a guaitei-inch uiill. They want a guaitei-inch hole!¨
Featuies say, ¨Hey, look how cool I am.¨
Benelits say, ¨Hey, look how cool you aie.¨
My liienu Ray Baiu, who iuns Baiu Piess in Austin, Texas, says that successlul Looks
always engage ieaueis on a visceial level. He uses the teim ¨lelt neeu¨ to uesciiLe that
stiong attiaction necessaiy to conveit awaie piospects into Luying customeis.
Felt neeu comes liom a multituue ol souices. Having an inloimeu opinion Leloie any-
one else is the goal ol eveiy maven. Cuiiosity Ly eaily auopteis also uiives puichases
in the eaily stages ol a piouuct launch. Foi the majoiity ol people, the lelt neeu is linuing
the solution to a pioLlem, whethei it`s what Look they will ieau on theii summei
vacation oi how they aie going to iecieate theii lile altei a joL loss.
As entiepieneuis, we want lelt neeu to Le high on any pioject that we launch, Lut the
othei lactoi we have to consiuei is the numLei ol people inteiesteu. Ray Baiu always
connects lelt neeu to the size ol the auuience anu uesciiLes the inteisections as uilleient
Louies ol watei:
These piojects aie the tiivial many; the piouucts ol the long tail. They have neithei
the uepth noi size to gain tiaction in the maiketplace.
10 | Chapter 2:Help The Heroes
These piojects excel Lecause ol the ueep lelt neeu among a small, passionate gioup
ol people. This is a gieat spot loi entiepieneuis to Legin.
These aie the piojects loi which you see watei loi miles in eveiy uiiection, Lut it
nevei gets ueepei than 1S inches. Staitups heie sense a laige maiket potential loi
theii solutions Lut hoiiiLly oveiestimate the lelt neeu ol the pioLlem.
These piojects comLine stiong lelt neeu anu a vast pool ol piospects. Black swans
appeai in these wateis.
The entiepieneuiial loim ol puLlishing I am auvocating in this Look ieguiies linuing
the lelt neeu, Lut iathei than executing on what is alieauy known, authois anu puL-
lisheis neeu to seaich loi alteinative maikets anu Lusiness mouels. This is the moie
uillicult path, Lut we have a compass. Felt neeu keeps us oiienteu towaiu customeis
anu leaus us to maikets that can sustain oui elloits.
My son Ethan Liought home a Looklet he maue at the enu ol his yeai in the seconu
giaue. Each page showeu a uilleient answei to the same guestion, answeieu each Mon-
uay ol the school yeai: ¨Vhat uiu you uo this weekenu?¨ It was an entiie yeai ol week-
enus uepicteu thiough the eyes ol oui eight-yeai-olu.
Foi most ol oui eaily lives, this is the kinu ol wiiting we uo. The act ol putting pen to
papei gives us an oppoitunity to show what we know anu exploie how we leel. Thiough
high school anu even much ol college, we woik to make sense ol how we lit into the
woilu, whethei pioviuing oui liteiaiy ciiticism ol a captain`s unhealthy oLsession with
a whale oi compiling a souice-Laseu iesponse to the political event ol the semestei.
These wiiting oppoitunities aie impoitant to oui uevelopment ol language skills anu
cognitive analysis, Lut they also uo us a uisseivice. Viiting in those loimative yeais is
inwaiuly locuseu, with a lens that locuses on why we think something is impoitant.
Successlul authois unueistanu that the locus must Le put on the ieauei anu satislying
the ieauei`s neeus. Even in the most peisonal wiiting, a memoii oi an autoLiogiaphy,
the wiitei shaies hei stiuggles anu tiiumphs in an elloit to help the ieauei make Lettei
The Block | 11
sense ol his own. Anu when an authoi conceins heisell with the neeu to answei gues-
tions loi someone else, she cieates a Look that has a Lettei chance ol iesonating in the
Success comes when we locus on the success ol otheis. Reau any Look on sales, anu
the authoi will tell you to concentiate on the pioLlems ol the Luyei iathei than youi
pioLlem ol making this month`s guota. A locus on the liist solves the seconu. Entie-
pieneuis anu staitups neeu to uo the same.
Vhen people tell me they aie inteiesteu in puLlishing, I always ask them to tell me
aLout the Look they want to wiite. They most olten stait with this statement: ¨I woulu
like to wiite a Look aLout ¦some topic ol gieat impoitance oi novel that has nevei Leen
I totally unueistanu the iesponse. The peison is simply answeiing the guestion I poseu.
He is answeiing the veiy impoitant guestion ol ¨Vhat`s the Look aLout?¨
Eveiy once in a while, the hopelul authoi pioviues an even Lettei answei: ¨I woulu like
to wiite a Look loi.¨
Business authoi ]im Collins tells a stoiy aLout a uinnei wheie one ol his ieaueis leans
ovei to say, ¨You know, ]im, we love Bui|t to Last aiounu heie. You anu youi coauthoi
uiu a veiy line joL on the ieseaich anu wiiting. Unloitunately, it`s useless.¨ The ieauei
goes on to explain that he has a uilleient pioLlem than the one Collins uesciiLes in the
Look: ¨Vhat aLout the vast majoiity ol companies that wake up paitway thiough lile
anu iealize that they`ie goou, not gieat?¨
Each ieauei Liings hei own expeiiences to a Look as she makes sense ol how it lits into
hei lile. Authois expect constiuctive ciiticism aLout theii woik. Collins coulu have
taken the comments lightly anu moveu on. But he uiun`t.
The stoiy I just tolu opens Collins`s lollow-up Look, Good to Grcat. Collins spent the
next live yeais ieseaiching his ieauei`s guestion, tiying to linu out il companies can go
liom goou to gieat. Collins took a thiowaway comment ovei cocktails anu tuineu the
leeuLack into one ol the Lest-selling Lusiness Looks ol the last uecaue. The Look has
solu loui million copies anu shows the powei ol listening to youi customeis.
Make Users Awesome
In 2002, Kathy Sieiia anu hei husLanu, Beit Bates, ueciueu they weie going to wiite a
Look aLout computei piogiamming. Having lost theii joLs in the uot-com Lust, they
12 | Chapter 2:Help The Heroes
neeueu theii Look to Le a success. Kathy was met with skeptical iesponses aLout hei
aLility to cieate success anu tolu that luck was moie impoitant than anything. Unwilling
to accept that, Kathy staiteu on a mission to see il she coulu engineei a success in
She staiteu Ly looking thiough live-stai ieviews on Amazon in the computei/
technology categoiy. Vhen she ietolu this stoiy at O`Reilly`s 2011 Tools ol Change
Conleience, she askeu the auuience to speculate aLout those ieviews:
Diu most ol the ieviews say:
A. ¨This Look is awesome¨?
B. ¨This authoi is awesome¨?
It was a tiick guestion.
The piopei answei was:
C. ¨I`m awesome.¨
In uesciiLing the ieviews, Kathy saiu, ¨They weie talking aLout themselves. Vhat the
Look uiu loi them. They weie using liist-peison language. They weie talking aLout
themselves in ielation to what they got out ol that Look.¨
These aie customeis expiessing theii lelt neeu. Vhen Kathy talks aLout the powei ol
making people Lettei at something they want to Le Lettei at, theie is concieteness anu
connection that is so much stiongei than when we use woius like ¨pain¨ oi ¨Lenelits.¨
Ve get past the tension cieateu when authois (at the encouiagement ol puLlisheis)
wiite to look smait (oi cieuiLle/cieative/awesome) anu in tuin make ieaueis leel stupiu
(oi Loieu/conluseu/like they suck).
Rathei than ieaueis shaiing how awesome the Look is, we want to know how awesome
the Look maue them leel. Rathei than talking aLout the meal, we want customeis
talking aLout the hospitality they lelt at youi iestauiant. Heaiing aLout a gieat lawn
mowei is nothing compaieu to a customei iaving aLout how gieat his yaiu looks.
The Driest Tinder
Anothei thing we can uo once we unueistanu the lelt neeu ol oui customeis is linu the
ones who will help us when we launch oui piouucts.
Steven Blank uesciiLes it like this:
Eailyvangelists aie willing to make a leap ol laith anu Luy liom a staitup. They may uo
so Lecause they peiceive a competitive auvantage in the maiket, Liagging iights with
theii peeis in theii neighLoihoou oi in an inuustiy, oi political auvantage within theii
company. Recall who these visionaiy customeis aie. They not only unueistanu they
have a pioLlem, Lut they have spent some time actively looking loi a solution, to the
point ol tiying to Luilu theii own. Theieloie, when you walk thiough the uooi, they
The Driest Tinder | 13
immeuiately giasp the pioLlem you aie solving is one they have, anu they can see the
elegance anu value ol youi solution. Little oi no euucation is neeueu.
]ust stop anu think loi a minute aLout what Steve is saying. In whatevei puisuit you
can imagine, theie aie people who have coLLleu togethei the Lest solution they coulu,
Lut who aie still actively looking loi a Lettei way. Vhen we locus on those people,
pioviuing them a Lettei way, oui staitups linu success.
Present and Future
Even with the most ieceptive ol auuiences, though, we must unueistanu that theie is
a piocess ol acceptance. Vhen potential customeis aie intiouuceu to oui Lettei way,
they take a moment to Lalance a simple eguation in theii heaus: uoes the peiceiveu
Lenelit ol change outweigh the immeuiate pain ol auoption?
Nancy Duaite calls this the contour oj connunication, the alteinating consiueiation ol
¨what is¨ veisus ¨what coulu Le.¨ The lelt neeu is the uiive that piopels us to get Lettei,
Lut il we uon`t acknowleuge the cuiient state, we sounu alool anu miss meeting oui
customeis wheie they aie. Ve iisk selling a solution to a pioLlem oui customeis uon`t
Vhat we neeu to iememLei is that the highlight ieel is maue up ol the uelining moments
when we linally accepteu the impioveu state: Neo choosing the ieu pill, Luke choosing
to leave Tatooine. Ve neeu to iememLei that neithei ol oui heioes maue that latelul
choice the liist time aiounu. Both iesisteu ¨what coulu Le¨ until they saw theie was no
This iuea ol heioes is an inteiesting notion as we enu the chaptei on lelt neeu. Ve like
the iuea ol the heio. ]ack Velch oveicame stutteiing to Lecome CEO ol GE. Baiack
OLama wasn`t even on the guest list loi the Demociatic National Convention in 2000,
anu eight yeais latei he ieceiveu the paity`s nomination loi piesiuent. Haiiy Pottei
ietuins liom the ueau to ueleat Loiu Voluemoit. Anthiopologist ]oseph CampLell
14 | Chapter 2:Help The Heroes
iuentilieu this iepetitive aic as a Lasic pattein lounu in many cultuial naiiatives aiounu
the woilu, calling it thc hcro`s journcy.
As entiepieneuis, it is easy to get conluseu aLout who is the heio. Any level ol success
aiounu a pioject uiaws inteiest liom lans wanting to know the stoiy Lehinu the stoiy.
]ouinalists wiite theii aiticles, anu it is haiu not to Lelieve youi piess. Many entiepie-
neuis make the mistake ol Luying into the attention lawneu on them Ly investois,
iepoiteis, anu employees, anu uiscount the iole that luck plays in theii success. The
locus again appeais in the wiong place.
Ve aie not the heioes. Il we listen to Kathy Sieiia oi Nancy Duaite, Steven Blank oi
Teu Levitt, theie is no way we can Le conluseu. The people we help aie the heioes in
the stoiy. Ve aie Allieu on call to help Batman. Ve aie Youa iiuing on Luke`s Lack.
Ve aie Moipheus holuing the coloieu pills, uoing nothing moie than piesenting the
choices to Neo.
Theie is only one message you neeu to take away liom this chaptei:
Who Again? | 15
As I mentioneu in the Intiouuction, I woulu like youi help in ueteimining what shoulu
come next in this Look, what woulu help you make the next step to Lecome moie
entiepieneuiial in Look puLlishing. Chaptei 1, B|ac| Swans, Long Tai|s, and
Big Drcans, leu the Look to make suie we all unueistoou the game Leing playeu.
Chaptei 2, Hc|p Thc Hcrocs, showeu what we must uo to linu customeis who have a
ueep lelt neeu loi the piojects we cieate.
Heie aie some ol the topics I was thinking aLout coveiing in the next seveial chapteis.
A boo| is a nctwor|
Steven ]ohnson intiouuceu a veision ol this concept in his Look Whcrc Good |dcas
Conc Iron, anu this is a poweilul way to think aLout how we shoulu Luilu
Adding vcrsus subtracting
Eveiy Lusiness makes a uecision aLout how it goes to maiket, a tiaue-oll Letween
Lettei anu simplei, one Letween liuelity anu convenience. Entiepieneuis usually
aie Lettei oll choosing one path ovei the othei.
Sometimes it seems like the pitch matteis moie than the piouuct. It`s not tiue, Lut
il the pitch isn`t peilect, no one is going to use the piouuct. Ve`ll uiscuss the live
guestions eveiy staitup neeus to nail.
This topic will pioLaLly Le coveieu ovei a seiies ol chapteis. Ve want to talk aLout
piice uisciimination veisus piice elasticity; the powei ol veisioning; anu why you
shoulu make Valentines, sell youi sawuust, anu caielully consiuei liee.
Mininun viab|c product
The woilu ol staitups has emLiaceu this iuea with gusto. PuLlishing uoes the same
thing in a vaiiety ol ways, Lut it is time to wholly integiate this concept into how
we uevelop piojects.
The woilu ol staitups ievolves aiounu getting lunueu÷sounus an awlul lot like
getting a contiact in Look puLlishing. As angels change the uynamics ol the staitup
woilu, new lunuing mechanisms aie changing the ways puLlishing piojects get
Ve uiscuss the cuiient Lusiness mouels useu in puLlishing anu piopose some
Attitudc oj thc cntrcprcncurs
Knowleuge anu skills aie impoitant, Lut so aie the attituues we holu. Ve might
uiscuss a set ol attituues that innovatois holu anu how they help cieate success.
Viiting aLout the evei-evolving woilu ol technology is haiu when you aie tiying
to wiite a Look, Lut we coulu covei some ol the technologies that will suiely impact
the woilu ol puLlishing. This woulu not Le aLout picking hits anu misses, Lut
iathei what new lounuations might Le laiu loi entiepieneuis to Luilu upon.
Again, these aie iueas. I woulu ieally like to heai what you think.
Ve have set up a leeuLack community at Get Satisilaction to captuie youi leeuLack
aLout the Look anu iueas loi what the pioject might Lecome. Moie impoitantly, you
can inteiact with otheis who`ve ieau the Look anu shaie youi peispective aLout the
lutuie ol Look puLlishing.
You can also email me at todd.sattcrstcn¿gnai|.con to get in touch uiiectly. I look
loiwaiu to heaiing liom you.
18 | Appendix:What’s Next
About the Author
Todd Sattersten is the lounuei ol Poitlanu, Oiegon÷Laseu BizBooklaL, a company
that helps puLlisheis anu authois iuentily, uevelop, anu launch Lusiness Looks aiounu
the woilu. Touu is a seiial puLlishing entiepieneui as coauthoi ol Thc 100 Bcst Busincss
Boo|s oj A|| Tinc, stewaiu ol ChangeThis.com, uevelopei ol Look giveaway site In-
BuLLleViap, anu puLlishei ol eLooks anu Looks aiounu piicing, entiepieneuiship,
anu the lutuie ol puLlishing.
The covei lont loi Evcry Boo| |s a Startup is AuoLe ITC Gaiamonu. The text lont is
Linotype Biika; the heauing lont is AuoLe Myiiau Conuenseu; anu the coue lont is