What It Takes

On Bookbuying and Events

By Callie Oettinger | 45 Comments

When I want a surprise read, I hold my three-year old daughter over the Costco book table and let her pick out a few books. (recent picks: Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Marilynne Robinson’s Home, and Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge.) Or—I do a reverse pin-the-tail on the donkey in airport and train station book sections. I close my eyes, spin around, and then buy whatever book I grab. (recent pick: Wm. Paul Young’s The Shack). Some rock, others stink—all are a surprise.

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By Callie Oettinger | 37 Comments

I visited a CrossFit “box” last week. CrossFit came on our radar two years ago, when it referred thousands of CrossFitters to Steve’s site, via one small mention on the CrossFit site. Between that first link and last week’s visit to one of their “boxes,” I realized how much I’d forgotten—and then had to refocus upon—the fundamentals. Here’s how things went down:

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The Two Cultures

By Shawn Coyne | 9 Comments

In 1959, Cambridge University selected Charles Percy Snow for its annual Rede Lecture, a centuries-old series of oratories that dated back to 1550. Previous presentations covered such scintillating topics as Terrestrial magnetism and the ionosphere and Libraries in the Medieval and Renaissance Periods. Snow seemed to be the perfect candidate. He was the UK’s civil service commissioner, bestowed with all sorts of highfalutin titles—Baron, Peer, and in due course Knight. And quite reasonably, the Fellows of Cambridge assumed that Snow would deliver the lecture’s traditional awkward British elocution…the sort that John Cleese would later parody for Monty Python’s Flying Circus.…

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Selling Books in the Trenches

By Steven Pressfield | 8 Comments

So far, we’ve been talking in these What It Takes posts from our own point of view, from the angle of the writer and his agent and publicist. Today I’d like to turn that around. Let’s get down and dirty–in the trenches, selling books to bookstores. We’ll talk with Random House’s David Glenn, who’s one of the key sales reps working to “sell in” The Profession—and one I’ve had contact with since Gates of Fire back in 1998. SP: David, welcome and thanks for giving our readers, many of whom are writers and artists, a peek into the real world…

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Art & Commerce

By Shawn Coyne | 9 Comments

In my last post, Rubber Meets Road, I talked about “the number.” Here’s what I said: A number gives you clarity. Don’t fear a number. Embrace the number. It will focus you like nothing else. After some analytical research, I came to the conclusion that THE PROFESSION’s number is 15,000.  Fifteen thousand sold copies will put THE PROFESSION on The New York Times bestseller list its first week on sale.

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Rubber Meets Road

By Shawn Coyne | 15 Comments

My last post was about the tried-and-true book publishing methods of making sure that the most important element of publication—getting books in stores and displayed—is successful. Selling-in a book at the retail and wholesale level is vitally important. So the early discussion at our December 1, 2010, marketing/publicity meeting at Crown covered this ground. Here is what is planned for The Profession. Crown will feature The Profession as a lead title in its summer 2011 catalog. A publisher’s catalog is a sales rep’s calling card. Getting featured placement in it is crucial to launch a bestseller campaign. Crown will produce…

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The Elephant in the Room

By Callie Oettinger | 14 Comments

[This Friday’s “What It Takes” is the first from my publicist Callie Oettinger. I’m sure the first thing most readers will think is, ‘Does a writer really need a publicist? How can you afford it? Isn’t that over the top?’ I first worked with Callie on a job-by-job basis. Her forte is the military; she’s based in Washington, D.C., and has done outreach for a number of successful military writers. She helped me on the launch of The Afghan Campaign. Her work has been invaluable. But what really got us working together full-time is this blog. “Writing Wednesdays” was Callie’s…

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The Sell In

By Shawn Coyne | 13 Comments

I ended last week’s post discussing “publishing meeting” Personae.  As Steve’s manager/agent, one of my jobs is to secure the best possible sales campaign for THE PROFESSION.  Easier said than done. As Steve’s representative, I went to the Crown marketing meeting with an internal agenda.  Just as a publisher needs to define the proceedings of a marketing meeting with an agenda, so does the manager/agent.  If the manager/agent’s goal is to goose the meeting into breaking precedent and discussing new initiatives that could help sell your client’s book (which it should be) then he has to not only accept that…

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The Empty Chair

By Shawn Coyne | 9 Comments

[This is post #2 of a story by Shawn Coyne. Read post #1, Getting the Meeting.] So there we were . . . On Wednesday Dec. 1, 2010 at 10:37 a.m. Steve and I took the two seats at the head of the 14th floor conference table, in the Random House building in midtown New York. Steve was in the left chair. I was on the right. Counterclockwise from me sat the head of Crown’s eBook group, then Steve’s editor, Steve’s editor’s assistant taking notes, an empty chair, Crown’s head of marketing, Steve’s in-house publicist, the head of Crown’s publicity…

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Horror Stories

By Steven Pressfield | 32 Comments

[Continuing our “What It Takes” series, an inside look at the process of publishing and promoting a book in 2010-11 … here’s Post #3:] The first book signing I ever did was for The Legend of Bagger Vance. It was at a Books-a-Million store in Lakeland, Florida. I flew 3000 miles from Los Angeles. Nobody showed. Not a soul. I felt terrible for the store manager, who had set up a beautiful table with stacks of books and even a poster-sized photo of me. We were there at seven in the evening, all alone. It was like a scene out…

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