How to write a book proposal that makes publishers drool

If you want to publish a non-fiction book, don’t start by writing it. Start by writing a proposal. Tell the editor at a publishing house what’s in it and why it will sell. If you can’t do this, you’ll never be able to write (or sell) a book. Nobody writes a book first and then … Continued

Jeff Bezos’ non-denial denial of the New York Times Amazon takedown

The New York Times published a brutal takedown of Amazon culture this past weekend. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos sent around an internal email to deny the charges. But Bezos’ reply is so weak, it makes you wonder if his heart it is in it. The Amazon story, “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace,” … Continued

Spreadsheet wars, camaraderie, and the pink slime incident

It’s not about what you’re building. It’s about who you’re building it with, and how it feels. It’s the hot summer of 1985 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I’ve left Software Arts, the company that created VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet. After Software Arts lost focus, a new competitor called Lotus 1-2-3 came along and crushed it. I’m still … Continued

You should write like Larry Page in his Google-Alphabet announcement

Google CEO Larry Page’s reorg announcement — about creating a new parent company called Alphabet — is clear, direct, and personal. It’s way better than any press release. You should learn to write like this. Frankly, I had just been reading all the articles attempting to “clarify” this announcement until I finally read Larry Page’s post … Continued

An interview with no-bullshit dietitian Kerri Hawkins

No topic has more bullshit than people writing about diets and nutrition. I learned that from my favorite food expert, Kerri Hawkins. Today, I interview her about the way diet companies, food companies, restaurants, and media bullshit us about food. Kerri is the the past president of the Massachusetts Dietetic Association and has helped people to lose … Continued

Would you buy this book? Writing Without Bullshit

Today, I unveil the plan for my book. I’ll be pitching it to publishers soon. Here’s the title, subtitle, and table of contents. I took a shot at the flap copy, too. I’m avidly interested in your reaction. (I wrote the title, subtitle, and flap copy as they would appear on the book. I enhanced the … Continued

Write the marketing pitch first, before you build the product

Trying to figure out what you’re building? Figure out first how you’re going to sell it. Write that. Then you’ll know what to build. When Charlene Li and I sat down to plan our book, we needed to start somewhere. She had a lot of great ideas about social media, but we didn’t know which of those … Continued

Jon Stewart: The best defense against bullshit is vigilance

Jon Stewart inspires me. In my moments of absolute fantasy I imagine I am in some small way contributing to the work he began. So it gives me great pleasure that he devoted the final moments of his final show to the theme “Bullshit is everywhere.” He cites, for example: The bullshit of infinite possibility: … Continued