4 unexpected ways to make your book a perennial bestseller

The 4 best takeaways and a book review of Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work That Lasts by Ryan Holiday–plus a free downloadable PDF art print to inspire you to become a perennial seller!


“That book has taken on a life of its own.”

I blinked at this—what did that mean? It was 2009, and I was working at a Big 5 publisher in New York.  I had asked one of the senior editors about a backlist book that was still selling and selling, even after 10 years.

The book was a perennial seller for the publishing house. It had built momentous word-of-mouth and now needed almost no help from the author or publisher to keep it selling steadily.  You can recognize these books because they wave you down with numbers: “2 million copies sold,” “now published in 15 countries!”

how to write a perennial seller book 1

What I wanted to know was exactly how that book had become a perennial bestseller. Was it the author’s platform? Was it the idea? Had they marketed the heck out of it?

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How to get a book deal with your blog

How to go from blog to book–the 3 things publishers and literary agents look for in bloggers!


“Can you give me a number I should aim for?”

I could hear the hopefulness in her voice, the resolution to get started. I shifted in my desk chair and moved the phone to my other ear. I hate this question.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I loved this blogger and her writing. I’d admired her work for a long time, and it had been so much fun to finally talk to her and hear the behind-the-scenes of her blog.

But there was just one tiny problem.

Her author platform wasn’t big enough yet for a book deal.

from blog to book deal

She was doing all the right things—writing consistently, sharing her work, getting to know her readers and other influencers in her space. But I knew publishers would want her stats to be higher for a book deal, and I knew she would need to have a bigger readership to make a book successful.

I squirmed and gently suggested that she wait a little longer to pursue a book deal.

I knew she had a book in her, and I could just see how beautiful and inspiring it would be. But I also know I’m not doing anyone a service if we put a book out too early in an author’s career, before they have thousands of loyal fans who are clamoring to buy it. It’s worth doing a book at the right time in your career.

But how do you know if your blog can get you a book deal? How can you gauge whether you have enough readers to support a book? What are the blog traffic and social media numbers to aim for?

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How John Green won millions of fans (and 4 ways you can build a fanbase, too)

I was scrolling through my daily Publisher’s Weekly a few weeks ago when I spotted the news: John Green is writing a new book called Turtles All the Way Down, and it will be published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House, on October 10th.

Cue the fan fare! 🎉🎉🎉

Within days of the announcement, Turtles All the Way Down shot up the Amazon bestseller list, and it’s now keeping it’s spot as the #5 bestseller out of all books. John Green is beloved by millions of readers, and he’s the kind of novelist every literary agent and publisher would dream of having on their list. But I’ve always been curious about what makes John Green so successful, other than his writing (because having a great book is always Step 1, but it’s no guarantee your book will breakout.) So how did John Green get to have a fan club of millions of readers, a whole world of fan fiction surrounding his books, and such impressive accolades for his writing?

john green fandom nerdfighters short

If you want to excel at anything, watch the people who are already excelling. But if you want to really get deep and understand what separates the bestselling authors from the struggling authors, you need to talk to their readers.

So today I’m thrilled to have Lydia DuBois on the blog to talk about the 4 things writers can do to build a massive and loyal fan base and readership like John Green. Lydia is a sophomore at the University of Richmond (my alma mater!) and a summer intern at Stonesong, and she’s been working behind-the-scenes to spot great manuscripts in the submissions inbox, scout potential new authors, and learn everything she can about what makes books work. She’s smart as a whip, an avid reader, and a close watcher of the John Green craze of the past few years.

So enough from me–here’s Lydia on what younger readers really think of John Green:

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The only program I’ll recommend for writers + bloggers

It’s Friday, and it’s summer, and probably the last thing on your mind is next week’s to-dos. Pepper is definitely checked out already:

literary agent book blog

(Job update: our local post office is hiring, and we’re helping Pepper work on her resume and cover letter so she can apply. Progress is slow. Hope is dwindling.)

Anyway, if you give me your ear for just 2 minutes on this pretty summer Friday, I want to tell you about one of my favorite things ever: Food Blogger Pro, which is closing for enrollment this coming Tuesday, the 27th.

If you don’t know Lindsay and Bjork of Pinch of Yum, they’re behind FBP, and they run one of the best blogs out there. Let’s pause on that thought: they run one of the best blogs out there. Not best food blogs, but best blogs, period. (And yes, FBP is great for all kinds of bloggers!)

I’ve worked with hundreds of bloggers, all who were already at the peak of their games, since by the time they get to me, we’re talking about publishing a book. I’ve read and scouted and sorted through thousands of blogs over the years, and there are only (and forgive me for saying it, but literally) 5 blogs I follow regularly, religiously, excitedly. Pinch of Yum is one of them.

And you know why? It’s not about the food. (But you should definitely eat this, because WEEKEND.

It’s because Lindsay and Bjork have what every blogger and writer wants:

an authentic voice + a big-time platform + integrity.

Lindsay and Bjork can teach you how to grow a blog and make a fantastic income from your writing, without having to be one of those shout-y, pushy marketing types who make the internet just plain annoying.

As you all know, I almost never recommend courses in this space. (Because the truth is: most “experts” out there aren’t experts. They’re just trying to brand themselves as experts. And part of my job is weeding out the true experts from the hyped-up, big-talkers.)

But I have the utmost respect for Food Blogger Pro because I’ve seen it produce dozens of top-tier bloggers who went on to get big book deals. Everybody who comes out of FBP, whether they’re a food blogger or blog about anything else under the sun, has that special mix of voice + platform + integrity. And I won’t name names, but probably some of your favorite authors have gone through FBP in the many years it’s been running.

And because I could shout about FBP from the rooftops all day, but I promised I’d only take up a few minutes of your precious Friday, here are just 2 more things I especially love about it:

  • Learn From The Best: Every writer and blogger I know dreams of making a full-time income from their words, but they don’t know how to get traffic or monetize their creative work. Every month, Pinch of Yum makes between $40,000 to $60,000 in income and receives over 4,000,000 page views. Why learn from someone else when you can learn from the best?
  • It’s a Surprisingly Great Deal: You get 300+ videos, access to a forum where you can ask more experienced bloggers anything (!), and discounts to tools you really need, like ConvertKit, Tailwind, SwankyPrints, and others. Also, because they’re overachievers, this year Lindsay and Bjork are also including their Edit Academy course (which teaches you how to make food videos and usually sells for $129) and Nutrifox (which is their nutrition labeling tool and costs $89/year) in FBP membership. Which by the way, costs only $29 per month. Which by the way, is less than I spend on treats for Pepper each month. Which by the way, results in no return whatsoever in my investment.

But enough from me–if you’re interested in learning more, you can read all about Food Blogger Pro here. If you decide it’s for you, you can use my link to get 10% off membership. I get a tiny percentage if you use my link; you get a great discount off the retail price; Pepper gets an allowance to buy treats. That’s a win-win-woof. (I couldn’t stop myself! Please forgive me.)

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