I Would Rather Write a Classic Than a Hit



This post has been brewing in my head for over a year.

After reading Mitch Joel’s great post Buy Your Way To The Top, I knew it was time to finally sit down and write it.

Music fans will instantly understand the difference between a hit song and a classic track.

The hits get all the glory as they rocket up the charts. The flavor of the day gets the magazine covers, headlines and media attention. You never know if they are a one-hit wonder or are an actual artist.

A classic will hit the charts and some even become hits, but they rarely get the attention they deserve. But, the moment one comes on the radio or shuffles into your ears from your iPod you smile and crank it up.

When Ann and I sat down to write Content Rules (affiliate link), I vividly remember us having conversations about how we were going to market the book. Early on we decided we didn’t want to do the standard push that is done and we didn’t even send out a single review copy ahead of the release.

We had dream sales numbers in our heads and even talked about the “wouldn’t it be amazing if we hit number.”

Since the book hit shelves in 2010, we’ve crushed every number we ever talked about. Every week since the book has come out it has sold a chunk of copies. Now, two and a half years later it continues to sell every week and the sales are just starting to happen in other languages.

I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to see it sell every single week and to continue to sell higher than we ever dreamed possible.

Content Rules in my mind is a classic. It was written to be timeless and not ride a sudden wave of popularity, but rather to be enjoyed over and over again. A book that people and businesses could continue to use and learn from years after purchasing.

Sure, as an author I dream about one of my books hitting the New York Times Best Sellers list. It is a goal that most authors dream about and very few ever achieve. The current game allows anyone to buy their way there, but I’m comfortable with only getting there if a book I write is good enough to sell that many copies.

But, until then I’m comfortable writing more classics. No one will ever be able to call me a one hit wonder.

Rock on!

  • C.C. (Classic Creator) Chapman. Nuff said. Why are “one hit” creators considered “wonders?” Seems those who create a classic are bigger wonders.

  • Bingo.

    One of the best compliments I ever got about my blog (back when I did bloggy sorts of things) was from my mother.

    (waiting for you to stop laughing.)

    She doesn’t read blogs at all, and therefore doesn’t understand the rat-race and themes and memes and inside baseball. Here’s what she said:

    “It seems like everything you write is Timeless.”

    And she was right. The pieces I was proudest of were not of the moment, they weren’t temporary dustups and squabbles. The great posts were the ones that tapped into something universal, and almost primal.

    I’ve thought about taking my archives down, and just reintroducing them one at a time. I’ll bet more than half of them would re-post without needing temporal edits.

    And that is what Classics look like among the Hits.

    (Thanks for finding an eloquent and compact analogy.)

  • Content Rules is definitely a classic. Mission accomplished. I’d say that hit and classic are not mutually exclusive however. “Billie Jean” was a hit and remains a classic.

    • I agree. I was just trying to say that if I only get to be one I’ll take the classic.

  • I loved Content Rules. I recommend it to everyone. I agree with Jay, it is a classic. Amazing Things… also a classic! What an inspiring book.

    Keep up the great work, C.C. See you in Austin.

  • WSJ: February 21, 2013, 9:54 p.m. ET
    The Mystery of the Book Sales Spike
    How Are Some Authors Landing On Best-Seller Lists? They’re Buying Their Way


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