Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

156: Avoid the Ravenous Monster of the Bestseller Game: Interview with Elizabeth Marshall

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that traditional publishing and hitting the bestseller lists is a game. You don’t write a bestseller so much as you launch one. And yet, for those who want their work to endure, the question hangs in the air: is the game worth playing?

156: Avoid the Ravenous Monster of the Bestseller Game: Interview with Elizabeth Marshall

As a writer and five-time author, I’d be lying if I told you that hitting the Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller lists meant nothing to me. Honestly, it feels good.

But you know what?

The two books that hit the list were released very differently.

With the latest title, Real Artists Don’t Starve, I was mostly hands off during launch week while the first book, The Art of Work, I was relentless in knocking on as many doors as possible to ensure it’s success.

Two different books. Two different launches. Two opposite stress levels.

Same result.

This week on The Portfolio Life, author and platform consultant, Elizabeth Marshall, and I talk about key differences between an expert and a thought leader, paths to mastery, and avoiding the allure of bestseller lists in exchange for an enduring message.

Listen in as we discuss the stages of a thought leader, why your message doesn’t always translate across all mediums, and how opportunities lead to more opportunities.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you’re reading this via email, please click here).

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Show highlights

In this episode, Elizabeth and I discuss:

  • Exploring what it is you’re uniquely called to share
  • Why knowing the “bookshelf” your work belongs on provides necessary clarity
  • Challenges of translating workshop principles to book form
  • Developing habits of consistency and ubiquity
  • The value of creating a content strategy
  • 10 different elements of a platform
  • Knowing when to say “no” to enticing offers that don’t align with your purpose and vision
  • What it takes to become a recognized leader in certain industries
  • Keeping the message relevant and maintaining fresh connections across your platform
  • Reaching the stage of unconscious competence
  • The “charge neutral” nature of marketing tools and best practices
  • Why chasing a badge of success is an insatiable monster

Quotes and takeaways

  • Finding your purpose is more of a path than a plan.
  • “Becoming a thought leader is not for the faint of heart.” –Elizabeth Marshall
  • You have some control over whether your not your ideas and message endure.
  • “There is no cookie cutter blueprint that guarantees you’ll be recognized as a thought leader in your industry.” –Elizabeth Marshall
  • If you don’t know what stage you’re at, you can misapply strategies or try things that you and your audience aren’t ready for.
  • “Messages have a path of their own. If we’re not listening and open, we might miss some of the greatest trajectories it might take us towards.” –Elizabeth Marshall
  • If you feel like your message is for everyone, you need to spend more time incubating it.
  • Be grateful for the opportunities you’re given. No matter how small.
  • Be present in the moment and make the most of it.
  • The best relationships are not based on transactions.
  • Becoming a New York Times bestseller doesn’t happen by accident.

Resources

Click here to download a free PDF of the complete interview transcript.

Do you consider yourself a thought leader? What stage are you at? Share in the comments

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Heather C Button

    Great Message. I think I wasn’t sure how this really applied to me as a fiction writer until the Mastery goal. Then I knew. The rest I can apply to my architectural profession.

  • There were a number of points I appreciated but two that stood out were about the uniqueness of each person’s platform building (one size does not fit all) and about the importance of relationships for the sake of relationships. Too often these days it feels as if everyone is simply leveraging (maybe even exploiting) relationships only as a means to an end. Sometimes that’s intentional. Other times its because we’ve read that we need to connect with influencers to build our platform and we misunderstand how to connect wisely and thoughtfully. Though an overused word, “authentic” comes to mind as a way of describing what Elizabeth noted as being so essential: Cultivate authentic relationships and you’ll not only be in the game for the long run, you’ll enjoy the process even more. I loved the irony of this that Jeff expressed: You start by cultivating and seeking out relationships only to find that you reach a point where you don’t have the time or room in your life for new ones. But your collective comments on aligning with the ethos and values of the people helps provide the best filter for determining those new relationships. All really insightful and refreshing points. Oh, one last thought: Jeff, you should do a post on leveraging connections per Elizabeth’s point on how you use your podcast and conference conversations to get to know people AND let your audience into the mix at the same time. I thought that was a great way to be productive, get to know new people and bring your audience along at the same time. I had never thought of it in that way before.

  • Brian Bedford

    I listened to this episode today and really enjoyed it. It was interesting to think of the influence that a thought leader has as a progression over time. We don’t often see the building phase; usually when we hear of a thought leader they are already in the momentum or mastery phase. It helped to realize that a lot of patience and persistence can eventually reward you with the type of influence we all look forward to. Great interview!