What It Takes

What It Takes

The Change Up #1: Six Months and Three Books

By Callie Oettinger | Published: July 22, 2011

Steve finished The Profession.

Seth Godin contacted Steve about the The Domino Project.

Steve wrote Do The Work.

Steve wrote The Warrior Ethos.

The Domino Project published Do The Work.

Steve and Shawn created Black Irish books and packaged and printed a special run of Warrior Ethos for friends in the military, and released the book for print on demand via Amazon.com.

Crown published The Profession.

All around and in between—planning, doing, revising. (And wondering if traditional publishing is right—that readers aren’t interested in more than one book from one author in a short period.)

Going back six months, I wouldn’t change the number of projects being released.

I would change the outreach.

Do the Work was released April 20. Within two months, The Warrior Ethos and The Profession were out, too.

If I could do it over, I would send all three books to those in Steve’s “crossover” readership at one time.

By sending them out as they were released, we hit many of the same people up for help within a few months.

I approached each book on a per book basis. In the instances where we had crossovers—readers interested in all of the books—friends/supporters were hit up a few times within a short period of time for help. By the time The Profession came out, we’d been knocking on doors for a while.

Sending someone three books at once is different from sending three books, three separate times, over the period of a few months. Sending at once is a way of saying: “I respect your time. I understand you are busy. This is what I have going on. You’ve been an amazing supporter in the past. Thank you.” And then you leave it up to them to decide if they’ll help with one or none of the books. And because you’ve sent everything at once, it isn’t as awkward when you follow-up. (You haven’t been contacting them once a week for three months…)

The three-hit is annoying. For a while, it felt like every time I got on the phone or wrote an e-mail, I was asking for something in return. And certainly my end requires asking over and over to make things happen, but when I’m feeling awkward myself, I know something needs adjusting. And then there’s the time for the post office and the cost of postage, too.

Next Week: The Change Up #2, Going Postal.

Posted in What It Takes

13 Responses to “The Change Up #1: Six Months and Three Books”

  1. July 22, 2011 at 9:00 am

    I think I disagree… because I don’t think you were hitting anyone up. You were doing folks a favor, these books were generous gifts, aggressively priced, easy to recommend, life changing and certainly worth sharing.

    I think the recipient has a huge capacity for stuff that’s wonderful, and it’s hard to overdo wonderful.

    • July 22, 2011 at 12:45 pm

      I agree with Seth. I am a high school English teacher, and at the beginning of summer, I received this offer from you, and I was giddy, and I don’t get giddy. You made my entire summer with The Warrior Ethos, and I’ve been working my tail off all summer, inspired by Warrior Ethos and Do the Work. If you offered 100 books at the same time, I’d buy them all, and I sincerely mean that. Your offerings are not, nor will they ever be, an imposition. The only imposition you could ever inflict upon me would be if you stopped writing. You are THE MAN. Don’t ever forget that, sir.

    • July 23, 2011 at 4:44 am

      Totally agree. Having just read “Do the work”, I find it very difficult to jibe the idea of you “hitting people up” with the content of the book. I’m not a big fan of reading endless books about the creative process – I’d just rather get on with the work – but this is a must read for anyone doing almost anything of anything significance in their life.

      I’ve hit the wall with my project and your book reassured me that this is total normal and has given me fresh eyes to see I should not ring the bell and keep going.

      It was worth 5 times what I paid for it. And then some.

  2. July 22, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I think Seth is right…when I discovered you Steve (and Seth, for that matter,) I scooped up everything of yours I could find. I LOVE that there’s an influx of your stuff, and obviously, I’m not alone.

    And rather than be chapped at being hit up to help spread the word, I relish in the opportunity to share my “finds” with people.

    Sure, some fish just don’t bite, but we’re interested in the ones that DO, and the only way to gaff one is to keep putting lines in the water…and if you’ve had someone flinch at the request, then the problem probably lies with them, not necessarily in the asking.

    But the question of dropping 3 books at once – even for diehards – might THAT begin to have the flavour of imposition, even slightly? One can only take so big of a bite before chewing and swallowing are impeded. I’d (and this is just my two bits here) prefer to have it just the way it came; a steadyish stream of enjoyable, digestible treasures!

    Haven’t we all had the experience of procrastinating on even our favourite things when presented with a great whack of it?

  3. July 22, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Hmmm, I agree with both Seth and Owen. I judge the imposition factor on the quality of what I’m receiving and I trust the quality of what you create.

    I like the consistent stream because I’m busy and getting too much at once might leave me dithering on what I had time to bite into: I rather prefer courses in my meals.

  4. Rita Vail
    July 22, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Ditto. I just finished “Do the Work” and it kicked me into gear. You are an inspiration. Just keep churning it out. I recommend you and this site to all my writing friends.

  5. Trish
    July 22, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Have to agree with the other commenters. All at once would imply I’d have to choose among the books, while one at a time means I have time to read one, then the next, etc., all the while having the excitement from one carry over to enthusiasm to buy the next one.

    (But I wasn’t the one having to ask for favors over and over, either.) I would have thought the audiences – tribes? :) – would have been different for each of the books, except for here, of course.

    There is a linearity to them if you look at the sequence of Do the Work (here’s what you do) to Warrior’s Ethos (here’s WHY you do the work) to The Profession (here’s The Work).

    Works for me, anyway. I’m not ordinarily an audience for military thrillers, for instance, but I did buy The Profession because of Mr. Pressfield’s work here. I guess there’s a fourth tribe: those of us who like to see the tangible results (even in ebook form) from Doing the Work.

  6. July 23, 2011 at 7:32 am

    I got all three books and it was really cool. Kind of like getting three presents instead of just one.
    …mail comes…
    “What’s this?”
    …Opening package….
    “Nice! Hey Jesse, check out this book I got.”

    For me, getting one at a time kept me interested and I devoured the book, posted on it, and told others about it. It was a very “digestible” serving. I’m afraid if I had gotten all three at once it would have ended up in a pile labeled “To Read”.

    On another note, have you considered a table or promotion at the CrossFit Affiliate Owners gathering coming up in Big Sky, Montana on Aug 19-21?

  7. July 23, 2011 at 8:53 am

    As a marketer, if your “list” values your “products” — buys your products — you would do them and yourself a disservice by not continually feeding them more.

    The only shame is you don’t have a big enough “back end” to continually feed them Steve’s books every single month.

    Book-of-the-Month Club certainly wasn’t apologizing, fretting of feeling guilty about making millions while satisfying millions year after year.

  8. July 26, 2011 at 7:06 am

    I have read Do the Work, The Warrior Ethos and started 2 days ago on The Profession. I provided no help nor was I on your list of calls, but I can tell you that the resulting 3 works have been of benefit to me. Thanks.

  9. August 6, 2011 at 11:04 am

    These books are challenging and life changing. Personally these books have had a great influence on me. Anyone that would not appreciate the gift of your wisdom doesn’t deserve it. Thank you for your insightful words.

    • June 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm

      Wow, very interesting responses from all. What do you think, Callie? I know I share your ultra-sensitivity to hitting anyone up for an “ask,” as I hate it so much when people do that to me. I guess there are two sides to everybody.

      Let’s start bugging everybody!

      • June 11, 2012 at 12:28 pm

        Oops, meant to say “two sides to everyTHING.”