Influence, Publishing 1 min read

How to Publish an Instant Bestseller

Writers tend to focus on creation, but the process of curating existing content also offers a great opportunity to build an audience and deliver value.
Publishing via curation. Icons by Fontawesome.

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant is a collection of ideas shared by Naval Ravikant over the years via Twitter, podcasts and his essays. If you’re not familiar with Naval, he’s a successful investor who participated early-stage in companies like Uber, FourSquare, Twitter and many others. It’s a great read (there’s a free web edition).

But what’s interesting about this book is that Naval didn’t write it. Or rather, he didn’t publish it. It was curated and edited by Eric Jorgenson (with Naval’s cooperation).

In this way, Jorgenson leapfrogs two obstacles: 1) having to create content that people want and 2) having to establish his own authority. Naval’s teachings have proven demand, and he is an established authority, so by curating Naval’s work Jorgenson gets his share of the reward for the value he is distributing.

It’s not a new idea. For example, history’s most famous philosopher, Socrates, left no written teachings. What we know if his ideas has been relayed to us by Plato, who took it upon himself to write them down. By curating his teacher’s ideas, Plato gets a share of his teacher’s authority and fame. And even if the ideas Plato shares are his own rather than those of Socrates, the use of his famous teacher’s name amplifies his own influence.

Not everyone who possesses ideas of great value has the time, the inclination or the ability to share them. We tend to focus on creation, but the process curation can also generate tremendous value. The originator of the ideas gets to share them, the audience gets wider access to them, and the curator gets his or her share of fame and authority.