Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

Two Days Only: “War of Art” eBook for $1.99!

By Steven Pressfield | Published: October 20, 2010

Once upon a time, I worked in advertising. I used to write those TWO DAYS ONLY (exclamation point!) headlines all the time, for toothpaste or dog food or checking accounts. It’s a giggle to be doing it now for The War of Art.

Buy the eBook!

Wednesday and Thursday Only: Click to buy!

Here’s a link to the store. Today and tomorrow only—10/20 and 10/21—get the eBook for a buck ninety-nine. Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks (iPad and iPhone), Barnes & Noble Nook, Borders Kobo and Ingram Digital. There’s also a .pdf version you can download and read on your computer. If anything goes wrong, write me or Michael Ashley—mashley@fastpencil.com—and we’ll fix it.

My life as a Mad Man

I worked in the ad biz a little bit after Don Draper. He was gone by the time I showed up. Here’s a post about the single greatest lesson I learned working on Madison Avenue. But what I want to talk about today is the least prestigious ad gig I ever had.

The lowliest ad job I ever worked on

This job was a significant turning point for me, in terms of becoming a professional. Let me set the stage:

I was in my mid-thirties. Not a kid anymore. I had long since left Mad Ave and crashed and burned a number of times in other endeavors. I had migrated at last to L.A.—dead broke, no prospects, writing screenplays that nobody wanted and scraping by on whatever freelance ad stuff I could dredge up. Somehow (I forget the exact circumstances) I got the following assignment:

It was what they call a data sheet. Not even an ad. The job paid twenty-five bucks. The product was an egg carton. The audience was not the public; it was egg farmers and producers. The assignment was to sell them on this specific brand of egg carton. I remember thinking, “Steve, this is about as low as you’ve ever gone as a writer.”

I was wrong. That attitude was egotistical (not to say narcissistic), snot-nosed, defensive, condescending, entitled and all-around bullshit. Fortunately for me, the egg carton was about to teach me a lesson.

What I learned from an egg carton

Did you know that there’s a fat side to an egg and a skinny side? I never did. An egg is not a perfect oval. An egg carton has to accommodate the fat side. It goes in down. This particular brand of carton had a way to do that, so that the machines that packed the cartons didn’t break any eggs. Wow, I thought as I’m working on this, that’s pretty cool. Who knew?

An egg carton’s main job is to protect the eggs. If one egg cracks, the customer will see it and put the whole dozen back on the shelf. This brand of egg carton had particularly high “shoulders” between each egg pocket. This protected the eggs better.

That’s not all. Egg cartons have to be stacked on top of the other, sometimes twenty high—in the truck, the warehouse, on the handtruck as they’re wheeled out to be stocked on the market shelves. What if a carton caves in? Now all the eggs break. That’s why my brand of egg carton had six reinforced posts (not four like Brand X cartons) to support the weight of up to thirty cartons stacked on top of it.

An ad for a nail

Don Draper

I got into the biz a few years after this guy

Young & Rubicam, the ad agency, once did an ad for a ten-penny nail. The ad was actually for the agency itself. The visual was a simple nail, nothing more—except what they call “call-outs,” meaning little blocks of text with arrows pointing to a specific part of the nail. Each call-out described a humble but fascinating part of the nail—the head that was reinforced so it wouldn’t snap off when you pulled it out with a claw hammer, the four-sided point that drove through wood without splitting it, the little grooves just under the head that bound the nail tight into the wood when you hammered it down.

Bottom line, said Y&R: “There are no boring products, only boring ads.”

A professional attitude

A pro turns up his nose at nothing. A pro respects everyone and everything, however humble. A pro keeps his eyes and ears open. All things are fascinating to the professional, because he understands how much thought and effort go into even the most unassuming articles (and jobs and concepts and people, including ourselves) in our lives.

I got more than twenty-five bucks from that egg carton. It was doing me a favor, not the other way around. And did I tell you about the locking devices on the carton’s lid that snugged down tight so the customer felt secure when she took the eggs home? Or the wide space on top for your egg farm to put its name and logo?

And the Mad Men “call to action” …

Don’t forget the eBook War of Art for $1.99!  Two days only!!! Buy now!!!

Posted in Writing Wednesdays

40 Responses to “Two Days Only: “War of Art” eBook for $1.99!”

  1. October 20, 2010 at 3:34 am

    Wonderful Steven!
    What a powerful post reminding us to be humble and grateful for every situation, which presented itself before us.
    Yes, the greatest treasures are very often “hidden” in a places where no “wealth hunter” would go, as it might “smell” like work and you might need to wear overall for digging it up.

    Professional is totally grateful, when she can gets her hands “dirty” and explore totally unknown territories.

    I wish loads of eureka moments to all curious professionals

    cheers from Slovakia,
    i.

  2. October 20, 2010 at 4:26 am

    OK you sold me. Where can I get me one of those egg cartons?

  3. October 20, 2010 at 4:27 am

    Loved reading about the humble egg carton Steven! Wow as they say the best things come in small packages :-) I share the same philosophy, one should minimise assumption and judgment and instead allow reality and truth to shine the way.

  4. John Holzman
    October 20, 2010 at 5:00 am

    Just reading your description of an egg carton reminds my why you are one of my favourite writers!

  5. October 20, 2010 at 5:59 am

    Well done, great offer. Unbeatable value. Order and download worked fine for me. Well done to the guys at FastPencil too. Now I just have to find time to read it!

  6. October 20, 2010 at 6:24 am

    Got the book, after fighting through FastPencil’s annoying registration process. (If you have a captcha requirement, maybe show it BEFORE the user submits the information? And if you don’t, maybe don’t erase half the entered information when you do show it?)

    I already have the book in paper but am so thrilled to have it on my iPhone as well now. Portable motivation!

    • October 20, 2010 at 9:59 am

      Hi Heather, thanks so much for your feedback. We are working to make the system friendlier in the near future. Glad you liked the eBook! Mash

  7. Brett
    October 20, 2010 at 6:44 am

    Amazon is still listing the Kindle version as $9.99. Will the Kindle version be offered for $1.99 as well?

    • October 20, 2010 at 10:01 am

      The $1.99 deal is only at FastPencil. If you purchase at Amazon or iBooks or Barnes and Noble and take advantage of their automatic synchronization, etc… they are charging full price. If you purchase at FastPencil you’ll download the EPUB or PDF and put in on your device manually.

  8. Mark
    October 20, 2010 at 7:30 am

    Steven, thanks for the generous offer. I had the same issue with Amazon still showing the price as $9.99 for the Kindle version. I’ll buy the pdf if we can’t get the Kindle version but wanted to check first.

    • Avatar Koo
      October 20, 2010 at 7:57 am

      After buying the $1.99 ePub version, I emailed mashley@fastpencil.com and he sent me the Kindle file.

      • Dan Elliott
        October 20, 2010 at 9:11 am

        I did the same. Terrific service from Fast Pencil!

        • Mark
          October 20, 2010 at 11:40 am

          Thanks Avatar & Dan, I’ll give that a try…Mark

      • October 20, 2010 at 4:29 pm

        Thanks for posting that email address and info. I emailed him and he sent me a kindle version in about thirty seconds. Great service.

  9. October 20, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Steven,

    Thanks loads to you and Fast Pencil. I have several copies of War of Are, have given a number of them as gifts, and try as I might, I never have one handy when I want to take a look. Now I have it on my iPad, my Droid, and my computer as well as several hard copies. Great deal.
    Thanks. Again.
    Mike

  10. Pedro Kroger
    October 20, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Hi Steven,

    The link to “the single greatest lesson I learned working on Madison Avenue” is pointing to the wordpress admin page and not to the blog post.

    • October 21, 2010 at 4:11 pm

      I blew it, Pedro. Sorry! Will try to fix, I promise …

      • October 21, 2010 at 4:15 pm

        Pedro, try it again. It’s working for me now.

  11. October 20, 2010 at 8:50 am

    I just told my mailing list about this, Steven. I couldn’t let them miss this!

  12. Mark Hilverda
    October 20, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Thanks very much for this…for the sale and for overcoming the Resistance to write this book.

    Also want to note that the customer service at Flyleaf was exceptional. Being on the road I was not able to sync my reader, but Flyleaf made sure I was able to get up and reading in the interim.

    • Mark Hilverda
      October 20, 2010 at 11:29 am

      …and by Flyleaf I mean FastPencil. Michael was quick and responsive.

      • October 20, 2010 at 2:41 pm

        Thanks for the kind words but I just have to ask, how do you get Flyleaf out of FastPencil? We’ve been called all kinds of things, but never flyleaf 😉

        • Mark Hilverda
          October 21, 2010 at 4:37 am

          Good question – one of those times when commenting while doing 3 other things doesn’t mesh well. Thanks again for the great service.

  13. Holly
    October 20, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Thank you and Fast Pencil for the $1.99 offer.

    I’m the Mom who carried a well-worn paperback TWofA in my Chevy Suburban door pocket for a quick hit of wisdom and inspiration during moments when I was stuck waiting. I’ve just put TWofA on my i-Phone. I actually love the way it looks and reads. The short, punchy writing style is a natural fit for the glance-and-swipe mode of the small screen. Well done, Mr. Pressfield.

    Also, I heard a nice mention of you on Hugh Hewitt’s show yesterday, during his interview with Vince Flynn.

  14. October 20, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Many thanks to you, Steve, and the kind people at Fast Pencil for making this happen. I am digging into the book now, mining its value and searching for those nuggets that I can use to thrash the monsters that hinder my creativity!

  15. October 20, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Oh, how I love this. Of course, I’d have loved it more if I hadn’t just bought my Kindle copy of the book two months ago!

    Seriously, this is a really cool move. I hope you have so many customers they break down the e-doors.

  16. John La
    October 20, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Steven,

    I’m a long time reader / lurker of your blogs and, like everyone else here, look forward to your work every Wednesday. Thank you so much for getting WoA out in digital form. When I picked up the book version a while back I distinctively recall thinking “that was the best 10 bucks I’ve spent in a long time”. Now I can say the same about my buck ninety nine I’ve spent on the digital .pdf version.

    I do have a question for you, however. Maybe I missed the official announcement somewhere but in the opening pages of my new pdf WoA contains a list of your work. One of them is The Profession (dated for 2011). Where can I find more information on this piece?

    Thanks again,
    John

    • October 21, 2010 at 4:13 pm

      John, that’s my next book, coming out in June next year. In fact I’m just sending the “final” manuscript in tomorrow. It’s a story about mercenary armies about a generation into the future.

      • John La
        October 21, 2010 at 4:16 pm

        I’m sure I’m not alone when I say: I’ll be looking forward to it. Thanks!

  17. Erik
    October 20, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Thanks for this, Steven. I already had a paper copy but wanted a digital one to carry with me at all times.

  18. October 20, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Your attitude of professionalism sounds much like Musashi’s art of strategy. He saw the true strategist as knowing all arts, learning from everything. Great post at a great timing.

  19. Stacy
    October 20, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    I blogged this and got a complaint from one of my readers that she had to register with FastPencil to get the book, but the truth is, I’m pretty pleased with FastPencil’s response to my query.

  20. October 20, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    desperately wanted to buy the ibook format, but it’s not available in the Australian store…had to buy the pdf version instead. bummer! (but still greatful to get a great book so cheap!)

  21. October 20, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Oh man!

    I just bought the book from amazon after searching for it for months at the local bookstores where I am (in Singapore). Oh well, better fortunes next time!

  22. October 21, 2010 at 8:24 am

    It’s my lucky day. Just listening to your podcast with Jen Grisanti and decided to check your blog out. I had the silver copy of The War of Art from the library (which I didn’t want to give back cause NEEDED it on my iPad) and saw the ePub version on sale. Made my day. I’ll never be without this inspiration again. Many thanks. : >

  23. October 21, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    I’ve done my share of bitchin’ and moanin’ about doing ads and other creative work that was “below me.” I’m glad I’ve grown up and away from that way of thinking. Just downloaded “The War of Art” and really looking forward to reading it. Thanks.

  24. October 22, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    I just heard about the $1.99 deal. So bummed. :(

  25. February 24, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Shucks I JUST found your web site today
    Feb 24th

    And you still have the 2 day special up.
    I’m so disappointed. ;-(

    But I guess it was for October some time. ..

    Cheers,
    Ken

  26. Jacqui Douglas
    January 27, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Will the e-book or PDF be avail again for this special price?

    thanks
    Jacqui