Think of the last 3 books you actually read.

Why did you choose them?

I’ll bet you $1,000 it wasn’t because the author recommended them or you saw an advertisement.

I’ll bet at least 2/3 you read because someone else recommended a book to you.

Authors ask me about book marketing every day. I always tell them the same thing “I don’t sell books. I write books people sell to each other.”

90% of Marketing is in the positioning and writing of the book. 10% is what most people think of as “book marketing.”

Think of a paper airplane — Marketing is a good throw, but the book is the well-designed, well-balanced craft that floats far beyond its peers.

So here’s the important question: What books do readers sell to each other? What does a book have to be to become a great “airplane”?

Here’s what I think you need to have:

  • Finishable.
  • Unique, Excellent, or both.
  • Memorable.


This is the most underrated concept in all of book writing. It is as obvious as wheels on a suitcase, but most authors never even consider it. Here it comes. If readers do not finish your book, they will not recommend it.

No one wants to recommend a book, then have you call them about it and say “oh I never finished it.” We have this 8th grader inside of us, terrified someone will catch us ‘not doing our homework.’ It seems dumb, but it’s true.

If you want readers to recommend (sell) your book for you… make your book finishable.

Shorten it. Tighten it. Simplify it. Accelerate it.

Make them wish it was longer. Leave them to yearn for your next book.

If you work on crafting a book people are eager to finish, you already may have something approaching unique or excellent.

Unique, Excellent, or both.

Your book should stand out. The only two (good) ways to stand out are to be uncommonly great… or just uncommon.

Atomic Habits is excellent. There are many books about habits. Atomic Habits is simply the best one, perhaps ever.

Tucker Max’s books are unique. There are no other books with that voice, those jokes, and that structure.

Both sold millions of copies, across years. Both were driven by word-of-mouth.

To get people to remark upon your book — write something remarkable. Literally. Worthy of remark.

Humans are programmed to remember and share the new and surprising. If you are unique or excellent, you are well on your way to becoming memorable.


Readers don’t wake up in the morning and put “Recommend books” on top of their to-do list.

When people get asked questions or topics arise, specific books come to mind. (Other books do not.) You want your book to be one of those that come to mind, and get recommended.

Beyond being read and enjoyed, it must be remembered to be recommended.

Is it any surprise people remember The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck? No.

But you don’t need a construction-orange cover to be memorable.

You do need to be specific and useful.

When someone says “I’m trying to learn ___” or “I wish I could fix _____” people often reply with ONE key book recommendation. You want to be one of those.

Is it any surprise people still recommend How to Win Friends and Influence People? No.

It is a useful book to solve a specific problem: Building trusting relationships. A problem everyone has, has always had, and will always have.

So write a book that is useful, for a specific purpose. Work hard to make it unique, excellent, or both. And polish until it is easily finished.

Easier said than done. But do this and you will have the foundation of a word-of-mouth driven bestseller.