Senior Editor at The Atlantic Releases Book To Predict Popularity In New Distraction Age with writer Derek Thompson


In Episode #626, Nathan interviews Derek Thompson. He’s a Senior Editor at The Atlantic, one of the biggest media companies out there. His first book, Hit Makers, is about the science of hits, pop culture, and technology and why people like what they like. He currently resides in New York.

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Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – Homo Deus
  • What CEO do you follow? – Mark Zuckerberg
  • Favorite online tool? — Evernote
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— No
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – “Take more risks because people are fundamentally resilient and can handle the downside of those risks”

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:40 – Nathan introduces Derek to the show
  • 02:15 – The reason people go into journalism is because they seek answers to questions
  • 02:21 – For Derek, the best reason to write a book was to answer questions
    • 02:29 – Derek loved writing about what people like
  • 02:33 – People say a book has to have an “elevator pitch”
    • 02:39 – Books are more of a broken elevator
  • 03:36 – “Creativity is the ability to come up with surprising answers to familiar problems”
  • 04:36 – Derek wrote his book to allow himself the opportunity to be curious about anything he found interesting
  • 05:00 – Derek worked with Penguin Publishing
    • 05:10 – Derek had an agent who was Derek’s proposal doctor
    • 05:35 – Derek and his agent sent the proposal to every publisher they could reach
    • 05:43 – Derek also talked directly to publishers
    • 06:06 – There are a lot of different audiences for a single book
    • 06:10 – Derek’s agent was his first audience member
  • 06:18 – Derek picked his agent because she’s unsentimentally intelligent and has a motherly approach
  • 07:27 – Hit Makers came out in February 2017
  • 08:08 – The rating in Amazon was quite high for a first-time book writer
  • 08:40 – “Self-publishing is riskier”
  • 09:15 – The average amount an author gets for the book sales
  • 10:30 – Derek hasn’t talked about his advance with his agent
    • 10:58 – The delta was probably about 2X
  • 11:11 – There are publishers who believed that Derek’s book wouldn’t work at all
  • 11:20 – Almost all book proposals from first-time authors are rejected and the best example of this is J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter
  • 12:46 – “The future of popularity is a very tricky business”
  • 13:13 – The easiest metaphor for the science of popularity is the weather
  • 14:09 – One of the theses in the book was to ask the question: is virality a myth?
  • 16:45 – The Famous Five

3 Key Points:

  1. Creativity is the ability to come up with surprising answers to familiar problems.
  2. Most book proposals from first-time authors are rejected, but there will be that ONE who will believe in you.
  3. People are fundamentally resilient, so TAKE that risk – the regrets of not taking that risk will be more difficult to handle.

Resources Mentioned:

  • The Top Inbox – The site Nathan uses to schedule emails to be sent later, set reminders in inbox, track opens, and follow-up with email sequences
  • Organifi – The juice was Nathan’s life saver during his trip in Southeast Asia
  • Klipfolio – Track your business performance across all departments for FREE
  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • Host Gator– The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for the cheapest price possible
  • Audible– Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5-hour drive) to listen to audio books
  • Freshbooks – Nathan doesn’t waste time so he uses Freshbooks to send out invoices and collect his money. Get your free month NOW
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives