10 people who owe their success to a book

“You’re no one. You don’t know anyone. You don’t have any money, I’m not representing you.”

Amy Lyle let the lawyer’s sentence hang in the air for a few seconds. She had spent months on this screenplay. She had connected with this lawyer through a friend. That friend warmed up the call. She had done EVERYTHING right.

Or so she thought.

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“I’m not going to lie,” Amy replied after a while. “That makes me really f**king sad.”

The lawyer laughed.

What was it Amy had done so wrong? After the devastating conversation, she was bold enough to ask.

“I’ll give you some free advice,” the lawyer said. “You need to get on the map. When I search your name on Google, something better come up related to comedy. Right now there is nothing.”

So what did Amy do? She wrote a book.

The Book of Failures, her first effort, immediately became an Amazon Best Seller. Calls asking her to speak flooded in. She accepted everything from comedy clubs to black-tie galas. Over the past years, her best seller status on Amazon has remained, her following has grown, and Amy enjoyed all the glories of author-dom.

Oh, and the lawyer called her back. She’s getting her movie made.

When I surveyed my audience, nearly 90% of them said they wanted to write a book. I think that’s a smart move, no matter their other goals.


Why? Well, it’s simple: most media today is seen and forgotten in a matter of moments. Blog posts are nice, but books have a sense of permanence to them. When are the author of a book, that means something.

In a world of distraction, a book can offer you distinction.

My books — The Creative’s Curse and The Unstoppable Creative both opened doors for me. As a matter of fact, they are the only reason I recently found myself sprinting through the rain in London with a millionaire.

In addition to Amy Lyle above, here are 9 more incredible people who used a book to build a business.

Marie Kondo

Kondo made waves in Japan by releasing this book in 2011, long before her presence in the United States was ever heard or felt. Before reaching American audiences, Kondo’s book earned her a television dramatization, multiple spots on Japanese talk shows, and a country-renowned video series on folding.

The English translation launched October 2014, and Kondo has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in the States, up to and including her series on Netflix.

Here’s where it gets fun. Kondo now certified others in her branded method of organization — the KonMarie method. The price tag? At least $2,700 for the training and $500 to stay certified.

Nathan Berry

If you know of Nathan Berry, it’s likely because of his breakthrough email software — Convert Kit.

Long before he became the CEO of every creative person’s favorite email tool, though, he jump-started his career with a series of books: The App Design Handbook and Designing Web Applications.

He then leveled up by writing a 3rd book — Authority. I can’t explicitly say the books caused the success of Berry’s software service… but they couldn’t have hurt.

Convertkit made $13.9 million in revenue in 2018. Not bad for a guy who started out writing books only a programmer could love.

Eric Thomas

If you are a speaker, you can get paid reasonably well. If you are a speaker with a BOOK, well, that’s another ballpark entirely.

If you ask Thomas and the team, the business really started rolling whenever they were finally able to get a book published. Thomas started selling copies of The Secret to Success, his story spread, and now he is an international speaker, boasting clients with the NFL, NBA, and NCAA.

Eric Thomas (or ET the Hip Hop Preacher) now charges anywhere up to $100,000 to speak at corporate events. Not bad for a guy who used to be homeless.


A former client of SmartBlogger who prefers her last name and business details to not be released, Julia runs a coaching business for C-Level Executives. That means if you’re in a corner office, Julia has her eye on you.

But how does she break down the walls of these elite positions and get her foot in the door? You guessed it, a book.

According to SmartBlogger, Julia’s book is barely 120 pages. However, the topic is tailor fit to information every executive can be interested: The strengths and weaknesses of different leadership styles.

The book gets her in the door. The coaching deals get her anywhere from $50,000 — $80,000 per engagement.

Dale Carnegie

Nope, not that book.

Although most people are unaware of this fact, Carnegie’s first book was called Art of Public Speaking. You can see he had progressed a little with his titles by the time he broke the market down with How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Before he was winning friends, Carnegie used that first book to drive interest in his public speaking courses. When the book was doing its best and registration for those courses really started to pick up, Carnegie started raking in $500 dollars a week ($12,500 in today’s dollars)

Win Friends simply extended the success he was already feeling, catapulting Carnegie into a category untouched by most authors — 31 million copies sold by the time of his death. Dale Carnegie Institute still runs strong today largely on the back of this one book’s performance.

James Altucher

Altucher became a millionaire as a web wunderkind of the 1990s and early 2000s. Then, he lost everything. At least it gave him something to write about.

After crashing and burning on Wall Street, Altucher found a home as a well-respected and admired author. His Choose Yourself series became self-published Wall Street Bestsellers. Altucher gained considerable attention by telling the world exactly how he achieved such a thing.Altucher has launched online courses, a private newsletter, a successful podcast, and of course, more books from the success of his writing.

Declan Wilson

Walking back down the popularity scale a little bit, Declan Wilson is a business owner who ALSO started with a book.

His blog and book — The Millennial Way — launched in 2016 and gained a lot of traction when Declan decided to give away the audio book free of charge.

Declan used his success there to quit his job and start his own business — Brick NClick — which performs website services for overwhelmed service-based businesses. The lean operation funds his family adventures as a stay-at-home father of two.

Ash Ali and Hassan Kubba

Ash is a serial tech entrepreneur with several sold companies under his belt. Hassan is a startup strategist, leveraging experience running his own digital agency and creating a consistent stream of passive income.

Despite this massive success, they ran into a problem as they prepared to launch their startup training and mentorship business —almost NOBODY knew who they were.

Now, The Unfair Advantage is set to launch this August from a big-time publisher, and potential mentees are knocking on their doors every day

In last week’s post, I asked you to dream about where a book could take you. Now, I want to ask a more practical question: How could writing a book change YOUR life?

Fill in this blank:

Writing a book could help me ___________


Writing a book could help me reach my goal of ________

Please do not read that question, think about it for a few minutes, and then move on with your day. This is actual homework.

Write down 10 possible books which would establish you as an expert. Start this exercise….now. Bonus points if you put your answer in the responses below. I enjoy seeing what everyone is up to.

Much love as always — Todd B

This article originally appeared on Medium. 

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