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Success! The Fuck Up's Guide To Failing sold 113 pre-orders by May 17, 2017, was queried to 24 publishers, and will be self published.

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The Fuck Up's Guide To Failing

How to Fight Your Way Back From A Loss

A narrative-driven handbook for facing your own failures head-on and getting back up after a knock-out. This book tells you how to turn negative situations, losses and major personal failures into a win.

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Self-Help Entrepreneurship
50,000 words
25% complete
12 publishers interested


A narrative-driven handbook for facing your own failures head on and getting back up after a knock-out. This book tells you how to turn negative situations, losses and major personal failures into a win.

What do you do after you've failed completely?

Sooner or later, you’ll experience abject failure. I want to rip that bandaid off right away. Sooner or later, everything is going to go wrong. I know this, because I’ve seen it over and over again. I know it because it’s happened to me, over and over again.

It’s a tough thing to go through. It can be almost completely demoralising, when it happens to you. But you’ve got to be ready for it, because you’ve got to be prepared enough to handle it when you go walking around a pretty normal looking corner and get laid out by a right hook.

I don’t like this thing where people are proud of their startups failing. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with starting a business and having the whole thing work out because you planned it and you had your shit ready. But if you do fail, you’ve got to find a way to push through it and learn from it. And that’s the case if you’re a student or a designer or a writer or anything else

That's what this book is all about. It's about the people who have fucked up, and the ways that they've found to push through. Against the odds. Against themselves. Against the world. 



What is failure? What does it mean to set goals and fall short, or to make decisions that cause us to experience a set back or a loss? By its very definition, isn't failure the end of the line?

Chapter 1: Hi, My Name Is Jon

When I was 18, I walked off the grill at McDonald's and started my own company. It was such a disastrous failure that it took me years to get back on my feet, and it triggered another series of screw ups - from dropping out of law school to losing a major record deal. This is how I got through it and what I learned. 

Chapter 2: Life Isn't A Straight Line

The problem with our current definition of failure is that we think life has to be a straight line, from point A to point B. The reality is completely different. Life is a squiggly mess, from point Z to point Y via point C. Accepting that is vital. 

Chapter 3: You Can't Waste Time On Wishes Or Pity

When failure happens, wishing it was different or feeling sorry for yourself is a natural reaction. But just because it's natural doesn't mean it's right. In fact, the more energy and effort you put into wishing and pitying, the less you'll have to make a difference. 

Chapter 4: Accept That You're Good Enough (And Accept That Failure Didn't Change That)

Being good enough has nothing to do with how much you've failed or won. It has to do with how much you've learned, repeated, and grown. 

Chapter 5: When You Fail, Question Why

It’s not enough to just blame yourself, throw up your hands and say you’re done. That’s not useful. It’s not enough to blame your environment, your competitors, your teachers, your investors, your family…none of this is positive. What you’ve got to do is find your black box. Work out exactly what went wrong. This doesn’t mean dwell on it and mope about it, it means sitting down with a notebook and a pen and analyzing your failure. Finding the real reason.

Chapter 6: When You Fail, Take Time To Recover

I don’t mean take a holiday — although if you could, it’d help — I mean take time away from whatever it is you’ve failed at. Put down your project for a week or so, and let yourself recover from the experience. Sometimes failure knocks you about pretty badly, and you need that time to get back on your feet. Sometimes, failure absolutely wipes you out, and if you don’t get your recovery time, you’ll never get back to 100% of who you used to be.

Chapter 7: When You Fail, Ask For Help

When you fail, that’s when you most need the help and the assistance of other people. You need people to work through your mistakes and challenges with, who can give you that outside voice and even just share a few beers. But here’s what sucks. When you fail, that’s when you most want to be completely alone. You have to fight against that inclination towards solitude when you’re in the throes of failure. Reaching out to your network and saying that you need to spend some time with them is important. This is where I’ve always struggled. I’m not great at maintaining close relationships, for whatever reason. Having a network of friends that I can talk to who are open and available to me has proved even harder lately than ever before.

Chapter 8: When You Fail, Get Up And Try Again

If you let it keep you down, you’ll always stay down. When everything goes to hell, my first impulse is to hide in a dark room listening to Tom Waits and drinking. But I know that what I absolutely have to do is find a way to try again, even if its in small actions. When my last business flamed out, it took me 3 days before I made a list of the skills I had that I could sell immediately and picked one to start a new project with. If I hadn’t done that, I don’t know where the fuck I’d be now.


My core audience is creative freelancers, marketers, entrepreneurs and tech focused life hackers. This is a demographic that is predominantly male, with a strong age range of 25-35. Most of my audience are based in the United States. They tend to follow myself, Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk closely, and spend on average $50-100 per year on influencers' content. 


Jon Westenberg is a multifaceted creative. He guides hundreds of thousands of writers, founders and artists through building businesses, becoming freelances and embracing their creative inner-weirdo.


This book will be marketed largely through the existing Creatomic network of over 110,000 subscribers on Medium. That's a large audience who already are invested in my work and understand its value. I will be launching the campaign with weekly emails to that subscriber base and weekly blog posts focusing on the content. 


  • 30,000 subscribers to the Creatomic medium blog
  • 80,000 subscribers to Jon Westenberg personal blog

I will be reaching out to podcasts that I have previously appeared on, and focusing on it during my own weekly video blogs and podcast (5 Minute Founder). 



Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

By Seth Godin

Published by Portfolio; 1 edition (October 16, 2008)

This book helps leaders turn a scattering of followers into a loyal tribe. If you need to rally fellow employees, customers, investors, believers, hobbyists, or readers around an idea, this book will demystify the process. Tribes will make you think—really think—about the opportunities to mobilize an audience that are already at your fingertips.

Outliers: The Story of Success
By Malcolm Gladwell

Published by Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (June 7, 2011)
This book explains how leaders make change in any type of industry. Gladwell explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band. 

Crush It: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion

By Gary Vaynerchuk

Published by Harper Studio; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (October 13, 2009)

This book shows why now is the perfect time to take that passion and make a living doing what you love. Readers learn how to harness the power of the Internet to make their entrepreneurial dreams come true, step by step.

Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!

By Tony Robbins

Published by Free Press (November 1, 1992)

How to wake up and take control of your life! Tony Robbins shows you his most effective strategies and techniques for mastering your emotions, your body, your relationships, your finances, and your life. Another step-by-step program teaching the fundamental lessons of self-mastery.

12 publishers interested
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Blooming Twig logo Blooming Twig

BLOOMING TWIG is an award-winning boutique publishing house, media company, and thought leadership marketing agency. Based in New York City and Tulsa, we have represented and re-branded hundreds of thought leaders, published more than 400 titles in all genres, and built up a like-minded following for authors, speakers, trainers, and organizations with our bleeding-edge marketing strategies. Since 2005, at Blooming ...

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LifeTree Media logo LifeTree Media

LifeTree Media is an award-winning, values-driven, forward-thinking hybrid publishing company specializing in books and ebooks that help, heal and inspire. We believe that authors should have access to high-quality, elegant publishing services and full-scale in-store distribution without having to give up their publishing rights or control over the timing and execution of their book. Many of our clients are first-time ...

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RedDoor Publishing logo RedDoor Publishing

RedDoor Publishing is a new and innovative publishing house that bridges the gap between traditional publishing and self-publishing services. We operate exactly as a traditional publishing house would except that our authors underwrite the cost of publishing the UK edition of their book. Our service is entirely selective and we apply robust selection criteria to the books we publish in ...

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Authors Unite logo Authors Unite

Looking for a team of professionals to publish and market your book for you? Authors Unite has helped 250+ authors become profitable bestsellers and grow their businesses. Check out this short video testimonial from one of our top best-selling authors, Jolie Dawn: Schedule a call with me to discuss Authors Unite & all of our options here: Have ...

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Firewords logo Firewords

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  • Rich Gaski on Jan. 28, 2017, 2:08 a.m.

    Good luck! Fix that double signature above!

  • Jon Westenberg on Jan. 28, 2017, 2:19 a.m.

    Thank you!

  • Lee Constantine on Jan. 28, 2017, 2:28 a.m.

    Love the title, man! Good luck. Can't wait to read it!

  • Carin Kilby Clark on Jan. 28, 2017, 2:45 a.m.

    Can't wait to read it!

  • Steffen Juenger on Jan. 28, 2017, 9:29 a.m.

    Hi Jon,
    I am reading your articles in medium with great interest and finding myself again and again in awe how much our views of the world are very much in sync.

  • Michael Litman on Jan. 29, 2017, 9:34 p.m.

    Good luck with the campaign Jon, looking forward to reading it.

  • Cyndy Shafer on Jan. 30, 2017, 6:55 a.m.

    Love ya Man, keep up the good work

  • Matthew Fisher on Jan. 30, 2017, 1:19 p.m.

    Looking forward to it!

  • Jason Kaye on Jan. 31, 2017, 12:20 a.m.

    Best of luck with it Jon. I hope you make the target man. I want to read this thing!

  • Katrina Robinson on Jan. 31, 2017, 12:50 a.m.

    You rock!

  • Steve Peha on Jan. 31, 2017, 1:32 a.m.

    Wishing you well on this venture. Thanks for your time the other night. --Steve Peha

  • Brenda Haverkamp on Jan. 31, 2017, 2:47 a.m.

    you are awesome Jon, imo. ty!

  • Matthew Davio on Jan. 31, 2017, 4:59 a.m.

    Jon super excited to read the honest authentic story of your walk! Pumped and cheers to your continued success. Matt

  • Grace Kim on Jan. 31, 2017, 6:56 a.m.

    Can't wait to read this! You are awesome!

    - Grace

  • Diraj Goel on Jan. 31, 2017, 8:04 a.m.

    Good luck Jon.

  • Jason Bell on Jan. 31, 2017, 4:46 p.m.

    Good Luck at getting to 500!

  • Alicia Cronkite on Jan. 31, 2017, 4:51 p.m.

    It's the least I can do, I have enjoyed your Medium posts daily for months. Good luck!

  • Christophe Ferauge on Feb. 1, 2017, 6:57 a.m.

    I wish you all the best and that you may reach the goal you want :-)

  • Evelina Urbonaviciene on Feb. 1, 2017, 11:21 a.m.

    Looking forward for more of your ideas to bring common sense each day!

  • Daniel Life on Feb. 1, 2017, 4:26 p.m.

    Very excited for you and for your work. Keep rockin'.

  • Ashley Cirilli on Feb. 2, 2017, 12:08 a.m.

    Good Luck! I have enjoyed your posts on Medium.

  • Guy Vincent on Feb. 2, 2017, 10:29 a.m.

    Great work Jon, I'm looking forward to reading this. Wishing you success with your campaign!

  • Kurt Dietrich on Feb. 2, 2017, 4:59 p.m.

    Big fan, religious (non denominational) follower and all around believer in your work! Keep it up. Much luck with the book and getting it published. Can't wait to check it out.

  • Aileen McDonough on Feb. 3, 2017, 12:05 a.m.

    Love your articles, can't wait to read your book!

  • Jonathan Gervasi on Feb. 5, 2017, 9:52 p.m.

    Thank YOU. Your the fucking man. Good luck!

  • Forest Linden on Feb. 7, 2017, 12:16 a.m.

    Looking forward to reading the book, Jon! Good luck on blowing past your publishizer goal and getting the book published!!

    Thanks for everything you do and all of the amazing free content you continue to crank out on Medium!

  • Philip Ward on Feb. 8, 2017, 10:02 p.m.

    I look forward to reading your book when it comes out.

  • Ellie Guzman on Feb. 9, 2017, 5:49 a.m.

    Yay go Jon!!! Woooo!!!!!

  • Hashem Aldhaheri on Feb. 9, 2017, 5 p.m.

    Good luck ;)

  • Chanel Arnfinson on Feb. 9, 2017, 8:50 p.m.

    Can't wait to read it :)

  • joseph compton on Feb. 21, 2017, 7:43 p.m.

    looking forward to it!

  • Adam Stone on Feb. 25, 2017, 1:32 p.m.

    Congrats Jon!

  • Joshua Morgan on March 8, 2017, 6:19 p.m.

    I look forward to reading your book, Jon!

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Jon Westenberg

Jon Westenberg

Writer, Creative & Digital Evangelist - HubSpot, New York Observer, Huffington Post, as well as TIME, Inc., Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Lifehacker and more.

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