1984.

Dracula.

There’s something gripping about famous one-word book titles.

The latest book to join that list is called Sapiens. It was written by the now-slightly-famous Israeli writer Yuval Harari, and it’s a story about how Homo sapiens came to dominate the Earth.

Because the story is an engaging look at who we are, chances are that at least one Homo sapien around you was/is dying to talk to you about Sapiens.

In short, Yuval suggests that the reason why we dominate the Earth is because we are the only species capable of large-scale cooperation. He also elegantly explains that the fuel which makes that cooperation possible is stories. (Surprised?)

“An evergreen topic + an engaging story + an intriguing title — the book was likely an instant international bestseller,” you may be thinking.

And, sadly, you’d be wrong. :(

But hey, don’t take my word for it.

Let’s hear how it all happened directly from Yuval Harari:

“After I published Sapiens in Hebrew and it became a bestseller in Israel, I thought it would be easy to publish an English translation of it. I translated it and sent it to various publishers, but all rejected it out of hand. I still preserve a particularly humiliating rejection letter I got from one very prominent publishing house.

So, I then tried to self-publish it on Amazon. The quality was quite dreadful, and it sold just a couple of hundred copies. I was very frustrated for some time.

Then I realized that the DIY method just doesn’t work, and that instead of looking for shortcuts, I needed to do it the hard and long way and rely on professional help.

My husband, Itzik, who is a far better businessman than me, took over. He found us a wonderful literary agent, Deborah Harris, whose advice led us to hire an outstanding editor, Haim Watzman, who helped me rewrite and polish the text. With their assistance, we got a contract from Harvill Secker (a division of Random House).

My editor there, Michal Schavit, turned the text into a real gem, and hired the best independent PR agency in the UK book market — Riot Communications — to do the PR campaign.

I make a point of mentioning their names because it was only thanks to the professional work of all these experts that Sapiens became an international bestseller.

Without them, it would have remained an unknown rough diamond, like so many other excellent books that nobody has heard about.

From the initial failure, I learned the limits of my own abilities, and the importance of going to the experts instead of looking for shortcuts.”

// As Yuval Harari told Tim Ferriss in ‘Tribe of Mentors.’ //

– – –

Successful folks like Yuval know that even a single consultation with someone who has experience in crafting attractive ‘packages’ for ideas can help them level up their game.

But here’s the kicker: Most people don’t ask for that kind of help.

They take the do-it-yourself route. (Just like Yuval initially did.)

And sometimes those who take the do-it-yourself route get lucky. Everything works out well.

Often, however, the ending’s a little different. This, in part, is because it’s very difficult to accurately assess your own weaknesses and then go about improving them systematically.

Listen, I get it. Asking for help is always a tall order. But what’s the alternative?

Dec 17, 2017

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