How to Get a Book Deal with World's Largest Publisher… and Beat Harry Potter?!


Wow — what a day! The 4-Hour Workweek ended up at Amazon #10, as well as around #20 in Canada and #88 in the UK! In celebration, I decided to answer one of the most common questions I get these days: How on earth did you sell a book to Random House?

It’s not as straight-forward as you might think. Most assume that you should write a book and then pitch it to a publisher, which — especially with non-fiction — is total suicide. I created a mock-up cover for my book when we sent out my proposal to publishers, and one came back and asked point-blank: “Why is there a UPC code on this? Is it self-published or already written? We never buy either.”

So how did I get signed with the hottest imprint at the world’s largest publisher (Crown within Random House) as a first-time author? I followed a few simple steps that I explain on my friend Noah Kagan’s blog.

The New Challenge: Beat Harry Potter!

If I can break the top 5, huge things happen like foreign rights worldwide. The book will become an unstoppable force! The price has been reduced to $11.97 for unknown reasons, and I need a cluster of orders tomorrow and Thursday to make it all happen.

Please check out the book and consider it if you haven’t! Ignore “available May 1”, as they’ve temporarily sold out (!) but will receive more stock tomorrow.

Here’s what I suspect I’ll sound like if I beat Harry Potter

Posted on: April 25, 2007.

Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.

Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.

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19 comments on “How to Get a Book Deal with World's Largest Publisher… and Beat Harry Potter?!

  1. Well Amazon UK seem to be doing the best to ruin your stats. I pre-ordered the book a couple of weeks ago, then on Sunday night checked to see when it would be delivered – according to them, not until end of June, beginning of July. I then double check and found that they had discounted it some more (so it was new less than the my pre-order) so I cancelled and reordered only to have it say estimated delivery on 5th May. Weird.


  2. Here’s to beating Harry Potter! I just picked up a copy from Amazon, heard a few of your podcasts and they are really interesting. Cheers.


  3. Just ordered the book… I’m already doing much of what you advocate but I was intrigued with this statement:

    “How to cultivate selective ignorance—and create time—with a low-information diet.”

    My guess is that not only can you “create time” by doing this but you will avoid a lot of the nay-sayers along the way and actually take on (and accomplish) more.


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  5. Paul, the UK is a puzzle to me (for book distribution, I mean). I still haven’t been able to figure out why the book seems to take longer to come out in London than it does in Tokyo or Moscow! The translation from Yank to POM shouldn’t take that long! I expect that turnaround will speed up a lot after distributors in the UK see the results of this launch, 48 hours in. No offline PR or advertising has even started!

    Adam, the low-information diet has been a huge factor for me in terms of not just increasing output, but also hugely decreasing unnecessary (di)stress caused by the overflow of irrelevant and inactionable “news”. Once you identify your sphere of influence and cut accordingly, the results are a thing of beauty.

    Thanks again to all!


  6. Tim,
    Thanks for writing this book. I just ordered my copy from and am eagerly awaiting its arrival. As an entrepeneur and writer myself, I am thrilled for your success. There IS hope for the rest of us. Congratulations. I can’t wait to start getting more done in less time.


  7. I’ve long thought the idea of waiting to travel and retire until you’re in your sixties is ridiculous. Why not enjoy some life while you’re still young? Can’t wait to read the book.


  8. Hello Tim
    I saw this book at Borders last Friday and immediately picked it up! I rarely pay full price for books, but I grabbed it and knew it contained GOLD!!! I jsut reserved my domain names and am ready to live my life by my rules. i”m not even half way through but want to sincerely thank you for the motivation and realization that I’m NOT the only one who believes LIFE IS SUPPOSED TO BE EASY & FUN!
    I hope to cross your path in Chicago or maybe soem exotic beach in the near future. Thanks a MILLION. (**)


  9. Way to go Tim. Who would have known I was rubbing with elbows with someone so famous? I ordered my copy and can’t wait to read it.


  10. Hey Tim,

    I downloaded the book from knowing nothing about you or the book. It just sounded interesting.

    About an hour into it I realized my life would never be the same and just had to order a copy of the book from as well.

    Now I have finished listening to the book and need to order a few more copies to give to friends and family.

    Thank you so much. Your ideas have done more to improve my attitude than the Lexipro that I have been taking for the last couple of years just to get through the day.


  11. Tim: I just read your interview with Darren Rowse over at ProBlogger.Net. That was such an interesting interview. You mentioned in that interview that one of your next big project is “trying to get every teacher in every public school in the US access to private investors for better materials, trips, etc.” As a Behavior Specialist working for a public school system on a low SES-island in the Pacific Ocean, I applaud your efforts and hope that you will succeed. Have a nice day. 🙂


  12. Hey Tim
    Just discovered your blog and the book sounds so interesting that I’ve jsut sent out a request to all the libraries i know to stock it. Am not entirely sure about this next part…but did i see you on Regis and Kelly trying to break a world record in Tango?? Besta Luck…


  13. Tim, I posted my overly long review of your book here.

    Thanks for the great read- I am going to start outsourcing some market research tasks later in May.


  14. Thanks for this post. I put your steps into action a year and a half ago. Worked like a charm. Blockbuster to hit stores in October. The actionable advice was invaluable.


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    My guess is that not only can you “create time” by doing this but you will avoid a lot of the nay-sayers along the way and actually take on (and accomplish) more.