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How to Create a Perennial Bestseller

Note from the editor: The following is a guest post by Ryan Holiday. Ryan (FB/IG/TW: @RyanHoliday) is the bestselling author of six books, including The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego Is the Enemy and The Daily Stoic. His books are used by many NFL teams, including the Seahawks and Patriots, and was read by members of the Warriors on their way to NBA championship in 2017. His work has been translated into twenty-eight languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as multiplatinum musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. His latest book, Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts is a meditation on the ingredients required to create classic books, businesses, and art that does more than just disappear.   Nobody sits down to make something they hope will be immediately or quickly forgotten. Elon Musk compares starting a business to “eating glass and staring into the abyss of death,” and no one would willingly do all that if they thought their efforts were going to disappear with the wind. The vast majority of creative work, sadly, is not only forgotten, it never had a chance to be anything but forgettable. In the United States alone some 300,000 books are published on average per year. Roughly 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Since it launched in 1985, some 6,000 films have appeared at Sundance. How many of these products endured for years or decades? Not many. But some people do figure it out. The publishing industry, the music industry, the movie industry, despite what you read in the newspapers, are successful not because of the hits that come out each week, but because of their library of content—what insiders call “perennial sellers.” Perennial sellers are movies like the Shawshank Redemption, artists like Iron Maiden, startups like Craigslist, books like the 48 Laws of Power, (and The 4-Hour Workweek, which is 10 years old and still sells more than 100,000 copies per…

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