April 19, 2018

If you could recommend only one book for an Indie Hacker to read, what would it be?

Exactly as the title states. If you could only recommend one book that you think would help an Indie Hacker get closer to success, what would it be and why?


  1. 16

    Check this one out: https://makebook.io

    1. 4

      Hard to beat this . It's raw, from the trenches, genuine, practical, containing zero fluff/BS (a huge feat in and of itself these days).

    2. 1

      I get the impression that Pieter leverages his massive following when launching products. How applicable is his advice for Indie Hackers who don't have that sort of network in place?

      1. 1

        I can’t think of a denser book with that much practical advice than Pieter’s book.

        Indeed, nowadays he leverages his following, and that is a lesson in itself!

        He didn’t start with 46k Twitter followers. Start building your network, be more open about your process, interact with people, share valuable information.

        Some people go as far as saying that you only need 1,000 true fans to make a decent living from your work, check this out:

        http://kk.org/thetechnium/1000-true-fans/

    3. 1

      Came here to comment this, this book is absolutely amazing, it goes in to sufficient detail while being packed with lots of concrete advice. I read the whole thing in 1-2 days but still often reread some sections when I'm stuck. Pieter really knows what he is talking about sharing how he built his current projects but also the ones that did not take off and why they failed. Even the book itself is built with its users! I highly recommend it to everyone, especially since it's only $30.

    4. 1

      +1 for makebook

  2. 9

    Getting Real by the 37signals team. It provides a grounded approach to getting started, gaining momentum, and learning from mistakes.

    1. 1

      This is a great book. Lots of great advice in there from the Basecamp guys.

  3. 6

    The Millionaire Fastlane, it's full of awesome tips.

    A few notes I highlighted:

    "The ultimate judge-and-jury of ideas is the world"

    Me-too businesses make me-too incomes

    Forget about your competition 95% of the time. The other 5% should be used to exploit their weaknesses and differentiate your business

    Successful businesses rarely evolve from some legendary idea

    "Someone is doing it" is a monumental illusion imposing as an impassable obstacle

    Focus on your business, which is to innovate and win over the hearts and minds of your customers

    When you fill needs and your army of customers grows, something suddenly happens: everyone follows you (my note: in terms of business following or leading)

    Businesses that are run like hobbies pay like hobbies

    These are just some random ones I have in my Kindle. Highly recommended, and easy to relate as an IH as the author ran an online business.

    1. 2

      Yes. I love this book. The title makes it sound like get-rich-quick BS book but it's anything but. Great stuff.

    2. 1

      Never heard of this but just added it to my backlog. Thanks!

    3. 1

      Great stuff!

  4. 4

    The Millionaire Faslane, by M.J. DeMarco is possibly the most honest, actionable book on indiehacking that I've ever read. Don't let the cheesy title scare you off!

  5. 4

    Not related to entrepreneurship as such, but one of the best books I've read over the past couple of years has been Cal Newport's Deep Work:

    http://calnewport.com/books/deep-work/

    Definitely useful for all creators who need uninterrupted time to focus and get work done.

    1. 3

      This one helped me as well. I read (and even reread) it last year and completely changed the way I work. Cal Newport's words helped me quit Facebook and other distractions that were eating huge amounts of my time, now I'm able to do quality work & focus for longer strains of time.

      In the first part he talks about all the modern-day distractions (from social media to always checking emails, open space offices, etc) and how they impact the quality of our work, and in the second part he talks about various solutions (since it depends on our style / needs and there's no universal approach for everyone).

  6. 3

    I would suggest Zero to One. It helped me develop a new framework for thinking about innovation.

    1. 1

      That was probably the most thought-provoking and insightful business book I've ever read. It seems more aimed at a top decile Stanford/MIT/Tsinghua student than a typical indiehacker, though.

      1. 2

        Since it seems like we both liked that book so much...I have to ask: what is another thought-provoking / insightful business book you would recommend I read?

        PS - signed up for your project (StatWatch). My project (Tribe of Five) hasn't launched yet so it'll be a flat line . But it'll be cool to use this service to track growth over the next few months when we do launch!

        Cheers,

        Jonathan

        1. 1

          I haven't encountered any other anything close, but a dozen years ago both Paul Graham's book, Hackers and Painters and Tim Ferriss's, 4HWW were eye-opening for me.

          Recently, one that I found interesting was Motivation Hacker by Nick Winter (of Skritter and Code Combat).

          1. 2

            We definitely read a lot of the same books (I've read 4HWW and Motivation Hacker already).

            Just added Hackers and Painters to my list. Thanks!

            Not that you asked, but I want to share a book recommendation with you too! Have you read The Art of Learning?

  7. 3

    Founders at Work... why? Because it will show you there is no "one right way" to achieve success. Every store in this book is different. They choose different strategies, different models, different paths and all achieved success.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the recommendation. I really enjoy reading these kind of stories. It's inspiring because it's authentic (warts and all).

  8. 3

    The 4 Hour Workweek.

    Not to try and only work 4 hours, but to take his principles about starting a company the correct way.

  9. 3

    It's not a book, and I'm obviously biased here, but I'd recommend reading through the Indie Hackers interviews. Learning by repeated exposure to different examples is underrated, and most books will only ever give you one person's perspective.

    I'm also partial to the The Personal MBA. I've never read anything else that so clearly lays out the fundamental business concepts that every founder should be aware of.

    1. 1

      Books go so much deeper though. And for me at least, I can read long-form much, much faster than interviews or collections of blog posts. For me the ideal is to read about 2 hours each evening from a kindle or paper books.

      I do read the interviews in batch though, and there have been a couple that are highly relevant to me that I've reread.

    2. 1

      Interestingly enough, I was reading through the interviews when I had the thought to post this. You aren't the first person to mention The Personal MBA, so I might have to check it out. Thanks Courtland.

      On an unrelated note, are you sure your first and last name didn't accidentally get switched on your birth certificate?

      1. 3

        Courtland is indeed my first name :-) I've met two other Courtlands, but never anyone with the last name Courtland.

  10. 2

    For me it would be 4 Hour Work Week. If you're going to work solo and want to get an overview of what is possible and what effects might come of your actions.

    I'd be keen to know what you are willing to learn?

    I have been trying to organise my thoughts after a few years in the game. More from a actionable / processes / frameworks perspective. You can see the beginnings of it here...

    https://twitter.com/MrGrillet/status/987324405343768582

    1. 2

      Hey Peter!

      Amazing book, people critic this book for being unrealistic even though it explains the entire DEAL strategy (Delegation, elimination, automation, and liberation).

      Also Tim Ferris defines work at the beginning of the book as basically something you don't enjoy doing or that can use the DEAL approach.

      Love how you are doing Notion it is amazing, I want to make the switch but they don't have an Android app yet and I use Todoist heavy user so the switch can be tricky.

      What's your framework to organize all this?

      Cheers!

      1. 1

        Hello mate,

        I know what you mean, I always expect blow-back when I mention this book. I have to say, I know a few people who have chosen parts of the book and actioned it and got the results the book described. I find the people who criticise it, rarely have actually committed to it. I committed to the 'muse'/ automated business and got it down to like 2 hour work month at one point.

        Notion has been amazing. I remember thinking one weekend that I would just commit and moved EVERYTHING over to it. I put so much stuff in it, a member of their team reached out to me about it. lol

        I highly recommend giving it a go. I know the Android app is in the pipeline (https://www.notion.so/What-s-New-157765353f2c4705bd45474e5ba8b46c), but until then the the mobile web app is pretty good.

        I don't really have a framework for it at this point. It's a brain dump that I hope to turn into a book. I going to use common terms and frameworks used in the startup community to describe a lot of things which will shape it, but I also have other influences which will make it a little-less Silicon Valley... not sure if that answers your question.

        1. 2

          2 hours a week, congrats! That's was almost the name of the book Tim Ferris said in an interview haha :)

          Didn't know there was a mobile webapp, if it works well I might make the switch, thanks!

    2. 2

      Great book. Helps change your perspective on what "success" can look like.

  11. 2

    Make by @levelsio. period.

    I know you specifically asked for one book, so feel free to ignore the rest, but these are also very good:

  12. 2

    How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business, by Douglas W. Hubbard, has taught me more about how and when to measure than anything else and has been immensely helpful.

  13. 2

    The lean sartup

    1. 1

      Awesome recommendation. However, this is also the book that most people imply that they've read, but based on what they then do day-to-day, it becomes clear they are just using the word "lean startup" as a buzz word. Sigh...

  14. 2

    Thinking Fast & Slow

    https://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-and-Slow/dp/B005Z9GAJG

    Long but excellent read that digs into how we think and some insights into why and how to use that to our advantage and prevent it being used against us. Very useful for understanding pricing, positioning, and negotiation from a psychological perspective.

    1. 2

      I'm of the idea of using as much referral links as you can on sites like Amazon.

      They already make so much money so MORE MONEY for indie hackers less for them!!

  15. 1

    The one that started it all for me: Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson. Never has a book inspired me so much to take an alternate route in life.

    https://www.amazon.com/Losing-My-Virginity-Survived-Business/dp/0307720748/

  16. 1

    The LEAN Startup by Eric Ries

  17. 1

    Recently read Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau and they have an awesome step by step process that IH could follow but the moto is "From Idea to income in 27 days" and each tip is supposed to be done in a day which is just not realistic but still found the book really good.

    Think and Grow Rich, 4HWW, The War of Art,Predictably Irrational and Rework are problably the most impactfull ones that made me dive deeper into subjects by reading similar books.

    Soo good they can't ignore just arrived today hope it's a good one too!

  18. 1

    I'd recommend books on product design. Most things around running and starting a business don't matter unless you make something valuable.

    I'd build a basic proficiency in:

    -Design methodologies: human centered vs activity centered vs jobs theory; Don Norman is a great start

    -Graphic and visual design: know the basics of what creates a good aesthetic; The Elements of Graphic Design by White is a good start

  19. 1

    The book from Clifford (bootstrapping a SaaS) is really good :

    https://cliffordoravec.com/

  20. 1

    waiting for @csallen to recommend poor charlie's almanack :)

    1. 1

      One of my favorites for sure!

  21. 1

    It's hands down Rework by 37signals/Basecamp.

    What you really need to do is stop talking and start working

    https://www.amazon.com/Rework-Jason-Fried/dp/0307463745

    1. 2

      Amazinf book, Jason Fried is so good at uncovering the bullshit of some startups and their productivity stuff is just gold!

  22. 1

    Well, if you’re not from a technical background, any programming book that teaches you step by step on building an app.

    For business books, Traction is a good one as it frames your mindset on how to find your customers.

  23. 0

    Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup - by Rob Walling