Reading Recommendation: Flash Boys

Flash Boys by Michael Lewis is a riveting nonfiction thriller that exposes the dirty world of high-frequency trading on Wall Street. Lewis is an award-winning journalist whose investigative reporting reads like a first-rate page-turner. Finishing Flash Boys left me in awe of his mastery of the craft and reminded me how much I have to learn.


Enjoy this tip? Then you’ll probably like my reading recommendations curating amazing books that explore the intersection of technology and culture.

Book Review: The Cartel

The Cartel by Don Winslow is a gritty epic set in the midst of the Mexican drug war. Traffickers, DEA agents, corrupt politicians, and everyday people are caught up in a deadly game with no true winners. Although the book is fiction, Winslow spent more than a decade researching the conflict and many of the scenes in the book are based on real-life events. It's a disturbing, ambitious, violent political thriller that's worth your time.


Enjoy this tip? Then you’ll probably like my reading recommendations curating amazing books that explore the intersection of technology and culture.

3 tips for building a startup investment portfolio

My friend Josh Maher (@joshmaher) is a prolific angel investor, President of Seattle Angel, and author of the new book STARTUP WEALTH: How the Best Angel Investors Make Money in Startups. STARTUP WEALTH delivers engaging interviews with early-stage investors in Google, Invisalign, ZipCar, Uber, Twilio, Localytics, and other successful and not so successful companies. It outlines how an amazing IPO can result in early investors getting pennies on the dollar—or a 10x+ return. I asked Josh to write this guest post sharing some of the key insights from the book. You can learn even more about it here. Here's Josh:

Six years into Shark Tank, three years into the JOBS Act, and we’re seeing a record number of investors adding early stage investments to their portfolio. Building an early stage portfolio is easier and easier with software such as DreamFunded, AngelList, and OurCrowd reducing the friction to finding and investing all over the world. This is good and bad news for entrepreneurs. Free flowing capital without the connections, advice, and mentorship that usually accompanies early stage investment can put a company at a competitive disadvantage against other new entrants.

After interviewing over 50 of the best angel investors in the country for my new book Startup Wealth: How The Best Angel Investors Make Money In Startups, I found three themes repeated over and over again that investors looking to build a portfolio of early stage investments shouldn’t ignore.

  1. Decide if it’s a full or part time commitment. Deciding this up front is critical, you’ll easily get wrapped up in an investment that needs a full time commitment and you may be un-prepared to offer the assistance they need to succeed. Here’s what John Ives (@jives), founder of Boulder Angels and Tahoma Ventures advises, “I would make sure that that person makes a conscious decision between is this a hobby or is this your career.” This sentiment is further clarified by this quote from Jim Connor (@jconnor_sha), member of the Sand Hill Angels, CEO of First Focus Learning Systems, and Producer/Host of the talk show Game Changers Silicon Valley“… as an angel investor, you have to decide if you totally want to be a passive investor. Maybe you give advice, you help out, you do some mentoring but that's all you can do because you're in a lot of companies and you have limits on your time. You can easily get your time fully consumed.”
  2. Are you a trend spotter or hidden value finder? Figuring out if you’re great at spotting the next trend isn’t necessarily easy. Would you have picked the iPhone, WhatsApp, or Fitbit? Or would you have been more comfortable making an investment in the next healthcare device with the possibility of becoming the standard of care? Chris Sheehan (@c_sheehan), past director of Boston’s CommonAngels, currently Sr Director, Delivery at Applause advises, “Find your own comfort zone of the style of angel investing that you want to do.” Digging a little deeper, Bob Bozeman of Eastlake Ventures and early investor in OpenTable and PayPal: “…this idea of vision investing versus metrics investing, if you’re really more comfortable with metrics investing then don’t do angel investing. The early stage really isn’t going to be good for you and you’re going to be driving the entrepreneurs for all the wrong reasons. They don’t have metrics until they’re well into their business. A pure metrics investor should try to participate more in A rounds, or something like that, or syndicate behind people that are vision investors.”
  3. Start slow and proceed with caution. Investing too quickly is the easiest mistake to make, writing big checks or just writing too many checks is easy to do when you start seeing the amazing ideas being brought into the world by so many incredibly capable people. It takes more than ideas and people though and learning how you prefer to invest takes time. Christopher Mirabile (@cmirabile) is the co-Managing Director of LaunchPad Venture Group and cofounder of Seraf counsels, “…one mistake that you see a lot of times is people tend to write a little bit too big of a check in their first couple of deals. What I’m trying to say is ‘Don’t be impulsive. Being quick and decisive is necessary but be thorough too – don’t be impulsive.’” This sentiment is repeated over and over again, Chris Sheehan states, “I would just be a little cautious about really rapid pace of investment.” Matt Dunbar, managing director of the Upstate Carolina Angel Network chimes in with, “You got to be patient. You can't go into these things expecting to get your money out next year.” Rudy Gadre, partner at Founders Co-op agrees, “Try to minimize the impact of mistakes. If you're worth 5 million dollars, don't make your first check 1 million dollars. Try 25 thousand dollars or something like that. Start learning about what can go wrong.”

Whether you’re thinking about adding early stage investments to your portfolio or have already begun, these three tips will help you build a portfolio of companies that you can be happy with over the long run. You need to decide if this is a full or part time commitment, if you’re a trend spotter or better at finding hidden value, and you should start slow, proceed with caution, and discover the pace that you can comfortably invest every year for the rest of your life.

If you like this post, you might also enjoy How to raise money from angel investors.

Nothing beats connecting with fans in-person

This was really special. My favorite thing about writing books is seeing the community that connects with the story and congregates around it. Novels are such an intimate connection between writers and readers and other readers (and characters!).

My email newsletters are essentially love letters to fans of The Uncommon Series. But email only goes so far. Too often, we let screens intermediate our relationships. So when I travel, I always try to connect with fans in-person.

In June, I grabbed beers with a fan in Dublin who's in the process of building his own startup. Last week in Boulder, I had lunch with Daniel Zacek, a fan who is a veteran entrepreneur and runs a software development firm (I also made sure to visit the locations of many scenes from the novels, hence the Laughing Goat hat).

As always, the conversation went deep. We covered living in Boulder vs. abroad, the psychological toll that entrepreneurship takes, sources of inspiration and motivation, and living a creative life. It was a lovely reminder of focusing on what's most important: finding those moments of connection with all the other humans making their own way through the labyrinth of life.

Daniel wrote up a wonderful blog post about our chat:

I look forward to continuing it next time I'm in Boulder. In the meantime, I'll keep writing.

Interview on The Eastern Shore Podcast

Brock Winstead interviewed me for The Eastern Shore, one of my favorite podcasts that focuses on creativity, new ways of thinking, and Oakland. As a fan of the show, it was really fun to come on as a guest.

Brock actually lives a few blocks away so I walked over to his place and we recorded in his living room. We talked about the creative process, research, and personal history behind my novels. If you haven't yet checked out The Eastern Shore, I highly recommend giving it a whirl.

In Brock's words:
"Eliot Peper is the author of the Uncommon Stock trilogy, a series of thrillers set in the world of tech startups and venture capital. They tell the story of Mara Winkle and her company Mozaik, which makes financial fraud detection software. Over the course of the trilogy, Mara and her team must handle not only the challenges of growing the business, but also a deadly conspiracy that wants to murder them because of what and whom their software threatens to expose. Eliot and I talked about how he came to writing, why the startup world seemed like a good setting for thrillers, and how he navigated the business of publishing and marketing books as a first-time, unknown author -- plus a lot more."
You can listen to the full episode here:

Book Review: The Water Knife

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi is a Tarantino-worthy thrill ride through a near-future American Southwest ravaged by drought and climate change. It follows a journalist with a death wish, a desperate Texan refugee, and a professional assassin water-rights-hunter as they fight to survive and uncover the dark political machinations shaping their world. Bacigalupi won the Hugo and Nebula awards for The Windup Girl in 2008 and he comes back swinging in this disturbing tour-de-force.


Enjoy this tip? Then you’ll probably like my reading recommendations curating amazing books that explore the intersection of technology and culture.

Dr. Evil's Milk Run

I was thrilled when Brad Feld agreed to host this post about the lessons I learned over the course of writing my last three novels. The article focuses on cybersecurity and vulnerabilities in our public and financials institutions and is based on interviews with technologists, international money laundering investigators, and federal special agents. You can read it here:

Brad is a leading venture capital investor at Foundry Group, cofounder of Techstars, and author of the classic, Venture Deals. He was was also the first reader of the first book, published Version 1.0 and the Power Play through FG Press, and has been an enormous champion of The Uncommon Series along the way. Over the past few years he's become a true friend and his support and encouragement have been key motivators for my writing efforts.

That made working up this post particularly fun. I was shocked by what the research behind the books turned up. The organizations charged with protecting our most sensitive data are incredibly insecure. The regulators who are supposed to police them are often clueless. Flawed software architecture is often the core culprit and there doesn't appear to be enough political will to seriously address the issue.

I'm interested to hear what you think. It's an area in desperate need of creative problem solving.

7 Ways Growing Your Startup Is Like Writing A Novel

I was honored when Jon Nastor asked me to work on this story for Entrepreneur with him. He challenged me to dig deep into my experience with startups and creative writing in order to distill some lessons that founders might be able to learn from novelists.

The exercise was a lot of fun, particularly because my books are about a pair of startup founders (I know, meta). It turns out that artists and business leaders have more in common than we think.

You can find the full article here:

Jon and I met through his excellent Hack the Entrepreneur podcast. I've joined him as a guest on the show to talk about optimizing for discomfort and other life hacks, you can listen to the episode here.

Uncommon Stock: Exit Strategy launches today!

Drum roll...

Uncommon Stock: Exit Strategy is here at last! Mozaik is the fastest-growing startup in America and the envy of the Silicon Valley. But just as Mara and her team are rocketing towards their IPO, the conspiracy that's been haunting them since day one swoops in for the kill. I've got a feeling you're going to love the conclusion to The Uncommon Series and I can't wait to hear what you think. You can find it right here in digital or paperback formats:

To be honest, I can't quite believe the day has finally arrived. It seems like no time at all since I sat down and started writing Version 1.0. Over the course of the trilogy, I really got to know Mara, James, Lars, and the rest of the cast. They started out as fragile figments of imagination and have changed and evolved until they started making decisions that surprised me. That was one of the most magical parts of the creative process.

Another unexpected, magical part of the process has been getting to know you. It still feels incredible to me that other people enjoy reading the stories I sit down to write. Nothing is more validating to an author than seeing the story come alive in the imagination of readers. Without you, books do nothing but collect dust.

You're a diverse bunch. I've heard from readers in Kenya, Ireland, Germany, Lebanon, India, Canada, Turkey, and across the US. Many of you share Mara's entrepreneurial resolve and James's creative brilliance. It's an honor getting to know you better. I couldn't be more giddy about the community that has grown around The Uncommon Series.

Books are a group effort and all of you have contributed to these stories as editors, beta readers, technical experts, and champions. I've consistently eschewed traditional publishing and promotional paths. That's because I try to think like a reader. I don't find new books on fancy billboards or via sophisticated marketing schemes. In fact, there's only one way I discover new books: recommendations from friends.

I don't have a publicist. That's how I know all the success these stories have found so far is thanks to YOU. It makes a world of difference every time you write an Amazon review, gift a copy to a friend, mention the story at happy hour, post a selfie with the cover, forward the newsletter to a colleague, or share the story on Facebook/Twitter/Reddit/Goodreads/Product Hunt etc. It may feel insignificant, but the impact is incredible. That's how the trilogy has climbed to #1 in its category on Amazon. That's how we've earned critical acclaim from industry leaders and tastemakers. So let's pull out all the stops as Exit Strategy is finally released into the wild. Share with wild abandon. Word of mouth is how good books find new readers.

Thank you for making this such an incredible journey. The act of writing books (or making anything) is fraught with pain, frustration, and existential crisis. It is so, so, so easy to give up along the way. Having friends and readers like you is an unbelievable boon. Your support gives me the energy I need to press on through a tough rough draft. Your enthusiasm gives me the inspiration I need to dream up new stories. That's why the first thing I did when we sent Exit Strategy off to the printers was... start a new novel :). Don't worry you'll here more about it in the months to come.

Once again, you can find Exit Strategy here:

I still can't fathom that the trilogy is finally complete and I look forward to getting your take on the story.

Are Humans the Key to Discovery in a World of Digital Abundance?

I wrote a column for Xconomy about how the internet has changed the way we discover new stuff (books, songs, movies, news, etc.). The shift has been far more fundamental than most people realize. For example, the vast majority of traffic to The New York Times comes not through their front page but through social referrals, i.e. us sharing stories on Facebook/Twitter/etc.

The digital landscape makes curation far more democratic. This is wreaking havoc on legacy business models (record labels, publishers, newspapers, etc.) but is very exciting for the next generation of creatives.

In a fun twist, new services like Product Hunt Books (which launches today) and Apple Music are building platforms to enable more efficient human curation, so we're not left stranded with the current standard of algorithmic mediocrity embedded in Pandora, Google News feeds, and Amazon also-boughts.

Excited to hear your thoughts on the trend. You can read the full article here:

What authors actually think of Amazon’s ‘Pay-Per-Page’ Model

Warning: geeking out about the books business for a moment. Last month Amazon changed its policies for how it pays out authors who participate in the Kindle Unlimited program. It caused a major media ruckus.

At first I was very concerned, especially because Uncommon Stock: Version 1.0 is in the program. Then I did my research and discovered that the uproar was nothing more than hot air.

Check out this article from Reedsy for a balanced perspective on the situation from a wide spectrum of authors:

Your Strategy is Your Story

I had a lot of fun doing this interview for the entrepreneurship podcast. We talked about the importance of storytelling to anyone hoping to build a company as well as the craft of shaping the best story for the right audience. Really cool to have the novelist/business worlds collide. 

In their words:
"Eliot Peper, author of the Uncommon Stock fiction series, talks with us about the critical importance of nailing your story. From communicating with customers, to investors, to employees, your story has to matter. He shares some fantastic strategies and techniques to make sure you're framing your story in the most impactful way."
They also cherry picked a few fun pull quotes:
"Storytelling is the skill that distinguishes the top 1% of founders."
"To tell a good story - focus on the obstacle, not the ending." 
"A strategy is not a roadmap, it’s understanding why you’re important." 
You can listen to the full interview here: 

Interview on the Breaking Biz podcast

Fred Williams was kind enough to ask me to return as a guest to his Breaking Biz podcast. The show normally covers entrepreneurship topics but Fred wants to start exploring lessons are generally applicable to all creative types.

We talked about the lessons I've learned over the course of writing The Uncommon Series (i.e. the mistakes I've made!), idea generation, internal motivation, why I write, and the value of fiction in a busy world. You can listen to the full interview here:

Art makes the world smaller

A couple of weeks ago I got a cold email from Phil Ruggiero. Phil said he had never written to an author before but he had just finished reading Version 1.0 and Power Play, loved them, and saw bestselling author Dave Eggers mentioned in Power Play (bonus points if you can find the reference!).

Dave worked with Phil's son Ryan for years at 826 Valencia, the fantastic  non-profit writing center (that Dave founded). He even wrote Ryan's letters of reference for graduate school, where he's now concentrating on social inequalities in education.

It's these kinds of connections that bring true joy to my heart (and that of any other artist/maker/writer/etc.). It's incredible that something as simple as a story can reach through space and time to link people leading entirely separate lives.

Phil ended up writing about The Uncommon Series in his first ever book review on his personal blog. I was delighted, honored, and humbled by his thoughts.

Art makes the world smaller.

What MUST happen next?

One writing heuristic I’ve found useful is to constantly ask myself, “What absolutely must happen in order to advance the story? What scene can this story absolutely not exist without?” Not, “What might happen next?” or “What could happen next?” but “What MUST happen next?”

Then I write that scene. I often feel like I’m getting ahead of myself. Isn’t that skipping a bunch of stuff? Aren’t I jumping right to the end? Won’t that turn this novel into a short story? I always feel that way but I always turn out to be wrong. The faster I advance the action, the more the momentum builds, and the more richness, depth, and conflict develops between the characters.

Complement with the anatomy of story and these three quick writing tips for novelists.


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Building the HBO of books | Sean Platt interview

Sean Platt isn't just a writer. Not content to simply pen novels, Sean founded Sterling & Stone, a self-described story studio where he and his partners have published more than two dozen fiction series across multiple genres over the past six years. They've been very open about their process in the excellent and wildly popular Self-Publishing Podcast. Sean's entrepreneurial perspective and relentless drive to expand his stories beyond the traditional boundaries of literature reminds me a bit of James Patterson's famous thriller-mill or George Lucas's franchise acumen. In short, Sean isn't just a writer. He's an empire-builder.

If you're interested in self-publishing or learning about how artist-entrepreneurs are breaking just about every possible mold, you'll enjoy the interview. We tackle questions including:

1. Why do you only do afternoon interviews? What's your creative process like behind-the-scenes? How is collaborative writing similar/different than solo?

2. How does the Sterling & Stoner [sic] business model work? What does it mean for fans, middle men, and rose purveyors?

3. What are the biggest mistakes that first-time authors make?

4. What's the most counter-intuitive thing you've learned about writing fiction?

5. What tools or resources do you recommend for new writers? How can first timers go about finding their first one thousand true fans?

6. What does book discoverability mean? How is it different for fiction and non-fiction? Why is discoverability for fiction broken? What does this mean for readers and writers?

7. How does your funnel work? How do you mix fiction and non-fiction content into it? How to you ensure you’re delighting your True Fans?

8. What's something about publishing or storytelling that you believe in but most people disagree with?

9. What are your deepest doubts and fears about what you’re trying to accomplish with Sterling & Stone? What keeps your up at night as an artist and entrepreneur?

10. What are the best books you’ve read recently?

11. What’s the most important question I’m not asking?

You can find out more about Sterling & Stone here, check out Sean's books here, and follow him on Twitter here.


Enjoy this interview? Then you’ll probably like my reading recommendations curating amazing books that explore the intersection of technology and culture.

Interview on The Notable

Brandon Sneed is an author and veteran journalist who maintains a blog called The Notable about "how and why people make and do great things." He asked to interview me for the series and although I can't even pretend to lay claim to an archetype that lofty, I was happy to oblige if it could benefit his readers.

I'm glad I did. I've done loads of interviews but Brandon really dug deep with specific and personal follow up questions. I found myself thinking through the responses multiple times to make sure I was really addressing the core issues he wanted to mine. The resulting conversation really forced me to look in the mirror and think through things like creative process, how writing has changed my life, and the sacrifices I've made along the way to bring the Uncommon Stock Trilogy to readers.

Check it out here and let me know what you think:

Science fiction and predicting the future | Ramez Naam interview

“Science fiction is really important. But it’s not important because it is right – because it is almost never right. Science fiction is important because it makes us think deeply about what might be.” 
-Seth Godin

What role does human imagination play in shaping the world we live in? How can science fiction help us to wrestle with the issues raised by new technological advances? Can crafting visions of possible futures enable us to better navigate the present?

Few people are more qualified to answer these questions than Ramez Naam. Ramez is the author of the bestselling Nexus Trilogy, an ambitious technothriller series that deftly juggles themes ranging from transhumanism to geopolitics. I'm a huge fan of Ramez's novels and Apex, the third and final book, just launched. Ramez is also a veteran technologist and helped build blue chip products like Internet Explorer and Outlook.

We recorded this interview a few months ago and I'm excited to share it now to coincide with Apex's release. If you like the Uncommon Stock Trilogy, you'll definitely appreciate the world Ramez has envisioned. Here are a few of the questions we tackle:

1. What is the value of science fiction? How does it impact people’s lives?

2. How do you imagine the future in which your books take place?

3. What’s the biggest mistake people make when they think about the future of technology?

4. Have you discovered any counter-intuitive similarities/differences in your career at Microsoft and now as an author?

5. You write both fiction and non-fiction, is there tension there? Do your readers cross over? What’s similar/different about the writing/publishing/marketing process?

6. What's your creative process like behind-the-scenes? Any tips for new writers/artists working to build an audience and make a living?

7. What are the best books you’ve read recently?

Enjoy and let me know what you think.


Enjoy this interview? Then you’ll probably like my reading recommendations curating amazing books that explore the intersection of technology and culture.

What it feels like to finish writing a trilogy

Yesterday I sent the rough draft of my third novel, Uncommon Stock: Exit Strategy, to my editor and first cohort of beta readers. Exit Strategy is the final book in the Uncommon Stock Trilogy which follows a college student who drops out of college to launch a tech startup and gets sucked into an international money laundering conspiracy along the way.

Typing "The End" was a powerful moment of catharsis for me. Obviously there are mountains of work ahead and tides of red ink to wade through before the final version sees the light of day (it will launch in Summer 2015). Nevertheless, getting the rough draft out the the door is a big milestone made more so because it's the ultimate chapter of a three book narrative arc.

I've been living and breathing Mara, James, and all the other characters since I started writing the series in fall of 2012. The themes, settings, and plot twists distilled into an alternate reality in my head. The fabric of the story is always hanging out in the background, skirting the edges of my thoughts and populating my daydreams.

Do you know that feeling when a song gravitates towards its final note? How you intuitively know what the last chord will be even before it's played? That elusive quality of coming full circle hit me when I finished drafting the final scene.

It was quickly followed by anxiety. What if the ending isn't good enough? What if readers are left frustrated and wanting more? What if I'm overlooking a gaping hole in the story or not doing the characters justice? Paranoia is the constant companion of any creative act. I work hard to banish it by just trying to get everything out on paper before starting to edit and optimize. But that evil little elf is never far away.

After getting paranoia back on its leash, I discovered this incredible feeling of lightness. Stories have momentum. Narrative arcs demand satisfaction. Creative people are more like art's slaves than its masters. Ever since 2012, I had been working to complete an unfinished sentence. Having finally hit that last full stop, the Uncommon Stock Trilogy was now an entity in itself, apart from me. It can go off and do whatever it wants now, and so can I. What I want to do is start a new story. I'm not sure about the details yet but I think fans of the trilogy will like it.

Books are slow dances. They're an intimate journey that the reader and writer take together. Stories don't happen on paper. The words are just hints and guides. The real action is in the reader's imagination, that all powerful theater of mind. With help from the many expert hands required to produce the final version, I hope that Exit Strategy will mature into a conclusion that makes fans stay up all night turning pages, think, feel, and reflect.

Now, please excuse me. I'm going to go open a beer...

Anatomy of a book launch

Uncommon Stock: Power Play, my second novel, launched on December 3rd, 2014 from FG Press. I've tried to capture some of the results from our launch efforts below to share with fans and provide insight to other authors. I continue to be amazed by the outpouring of reader support for the series. All of our success so far has come from grassroots word-of-mouth!

Highlight reel:

Uncommon Stock: Power Play currently has a 5 star average rating on a base of 42 Amazon reviews. It was featured in Amazon's "Hot New Releases" list and debuted in the top 100 in its category.

Book Review: Uncommon Stock, Power Play. The infamous Jeremy Shure pens the first review for Huffington Post Books.

A ridiculously bad idea. We serialized all of Uncommon Stock: Version 1.0 and published it in ten parts on Medium. To my knowledge, this was the first novel to ever be published this way.

Interview with the Elusive Mozaik Founder Mara Winkel. Industry blog Tech Cocktail runs an exclusive "real" interview with the protagonist of the Uncommon Series, Mara Winkel. This complemented the "real" website we built for her fictional startup, her "real" Twitter profile, and her "real" Series B investment from Foundry Group last April Fool's Day.

We ran a short giveaway of Uncommon Stock: Version 1.0 in partnership with Startup Books, Book Gorilla, and others to coincide with Power Play's release. We hit #1 in our category on Amazon during the giveaway.


The Uncommon Eliot Peper. Bestselling science fiction author William Hertling gives his review. I'm a huge fan of Will's books so this meant a lot to me.

Book Short: Internet Fiction, part II. Return Path CEO Matt Blumberg shares his perspective as a veteran venture-backed entrepreneur. Matt wrote Startup CEO and knows more about building companies than anyone.

This Page Turner Turned a Page in Me. Franco Faraudo writes how the story made him think even while it kept him entertained.

The Rise of Startup Fiction. Ian Eck predicts the rise of a new genre pioneered by the Uncommon Series.

Entrepreneurial Lessons in Fiction. David Nikel publishes a review on Technoport all the way from Norway.

Book Review: Uncommon Stock. Aanarav Sareen calls the book a must-read for startup founders.

Book Review - Uncommon Stock: Power Play. Techstars Ventures' Partner Ari Newman shares his perspective on the story.

Book Review: Uncommon Stock Series by Eliot Peper. Boulder entrepreneur Sarah Brown gives an inside view as a woman CEO based in Boulder.

Uncommon Stock: Power Play by Eliot Peper. Eric Walker shares his two cents on the Uncommon Series.

An enterprising early reader even posted the book to Product Hunt:


Eliot Peper's New Startup Thriller: Uncommon Stock, Power Play. Serial tech entrepreneur Lucas Carlson digs deep into the backstory behind the book.

Disrupting the Publishing Industry. Michael Sacca picks my brain about how technology is changing the business of books for the popular Rocketship Podcast.

Startup thriller Uncommon Stock: Power Play is written by an entrepreneur for entrepreneurs. Startup community organization, Built In Colorado, asks me some great behind-the-scenes questions.

How You Should Be Launching Your Books in 2015. I give the inside scoop on what I've learned about being an author to the founders of Reedsy in this interview.

Optimizing For Discomfort. Jon Nastor, host of top entrepreneurship podcast Hack The Entrepreneur, interviews me about perspectives on life and business building.

The Emotional Impacts of Entrepreneurship. Fred Williams asks me about what's inside the hearts of entrepreneurs on his Breaking Biz podcast.

Broadswords, hot tubs, and giant killer robots. Leading VC Brad Feld and I experiment with a Twitter interview.

Uncommon Stock. AuthorMBA's Matt Gartland grills me on how to launch a book like a startup launches a product.

Other fun stuff:

Eliot Peper's Uncommon Stock: Power Play is here! Dave Heal, my editor and friend at FG Press, shares the publisher's perspective and reveals that I'm a *difficult* author.

Behind-the-Scenes of cover design. Kevin Kane, FG Press's indefatigable designer, describes the ridiculously cool efforts they made to create such a beautiful cover (see above photo).

A Heretical Holiday Gift. We partnered with serial entrepreneur Pascal Finnette to share the story with his fans and readers.

Gifts Made with Passion. Passion Co CEO Jessica Semaan included the book in her 2014 holiday gift guide.

A View from the Crossroads: an interview with Ricardo Fayet of Reedsy. Reedsy CEO Ricardo Fayet names Uncommon Stock his standout book of 2014.

My 34 Favorite Books of 2014. Entrepreneur and author Lucas Carlson includes both Version 1.0 and Power Play in his top books from last year.

Books on the beach. Arnold Waldstein recommends Power Play for waterfront reading.

Fiction books I've read in 2014. Alan Mendelevich recommends the books for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Boulder startup PivotDesk recommended the series in their holiday OOO email autoresponder.

Friends and readers initiated a social media maelstrom around the launch. Everyone from college buddies to leading CEOs and bestselling authors got in on the action. Check out one of my favorite moments:


The Tech & Startup Mixer asked me to lead a panel with the inestimable Eric Schweikardt (CEO Modular Robotics), Jessica Semaan (CEO The Passion Co.), Cammy Houser (Cofounder Given Goods), and Ryan Orbuch (Founder Basil, Designer Finish).

We partnered with TechCrunch to share Version 1.0 with attendees at their Disrupt SF event.

San Diego startup accelerator EvoNexus invited me to do a talk on storytelling for startups. They also gave copies of Version 1.0 to all of their resident founders. Techstars bought a site license to the book and made it a permanent part of the package they distribute to new founders.

I joined fellow startup fiction author Michelle Miller to in a salon-style dialogue about following you passion.

The JAAMM Festival had me give a talk on startup life at Galvanize in Denver. While in Colorado, I visited FG Press and we recorded a series of videos about the Power Play production process.

The School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at UC San Diego (where I went to grad school) invited me to sit on a panel of alumni entrepreneurs. I'll also be doing talks at a few business schools later this year.

I was a guest on two Silicon Valley talk radio shows.


"I read Uncommon Stock: Power Play in one sitting. Actually, three sittings because I needed bathroom breaks, diaper changes, and coffee. Shady venture capitalists? Desperate founders? World-changing technology? The entrepreneurial roller coaster threw flaws into sharp relief and left no character's life untouched. I highly recommend it."
-Huffington Post Books

"The perfect book for anyone who wants a thrill ride through the world of tech startups." 
-David Cohen, Founder and Managing Partner at Techstars 

"A Michael Crichton style page-turner."
-Franco Faraudo, angel investor

"If you liked the first one, then this is a no brainer - buy it!"
-Jason Mendelson, co-founder and Managing Director at Foundry Group

"Everyone's favorite iron-willed, iron-bodied, rock-climbing startup CEO is back. Only this time she has a gun holstered underneath her blouse."
-Ian Eck, freelance writer

"It's rare that a sequel really ratchets up the story and takes the things you loved about the first book to a whole new level. Power Play does so brilliantly!"
-Josh Anon, founder and CEO at Visioneer Studios

"Must read. But be prepared to stay awake until finished. Eliot's first book was a one-session page-turner, now this second installment is, if anything, even better. Somebody should pick up the rights and turn this into a House of Cards style series."
-Keith Teare, founder at Chat Center, Partner at Archimedes Labs, co-founder at TechCrunch

Take aways:

I've learned a few things from the Power Play launch:

  • Launches are exciting but real success comes when stories resonate with readers over time. 
  • Improving someone's life is always more powerful than increasing the volume.
  • I only want to cultivate long-term friendships, not transactional relationships.
  • Word-of-mouth recommendations are the way that good books find new readers.
  • The most important thing I can do is write my next story.

Authors write alone, but books succeed only with the helping hands of friends and readers. I owe you all this and so much more. To summarize:

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Broadswords, hot tubs, and giant killer robots

Leading venture capitalist Brad Feld gets real on the future of finance, defeating bad guys, and Foundry Group's investment in Mozaik.

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What's the most important trend nobody is paying attention to?

Welcome to the Good Question Series where I ask the most interesting people I know a single question that they are uniquely qualified to answer. It's interview haiku, short and thought provoking. I'm out to prove that brevity and depth can coexist.

Marc Andreesen is the co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, a leading venture capital firm. He also co-founded Opsware and Netscape and sits on the board of Hewlett-Packard, Facebook, eBay, and several other private companies.

Join the 700+ friends and readers in my Inner Circle newsletter to get the inside scoop and stay in touch. I’ll hook you up with my new books, recommendations, insights, and adventures.

What's the hardest part of raising a seed round?

Welcome to the Good Question Series where I ask the most interesting people I know a single question that they are uniquely qualified to answer. It's interview haiku, short and thought provoking. I'm out to prove that brevity and depth can coexist.

The hardest part of raising a seed round is aligning serendipity, investor education, and timing.

Whether or not you're in Silicon Valley, just getting in front of active investors is challenging. Cold emails are rarely the ticket, so I've had to become a professional networker in order to gain access to capital. For angel or institutional investors who aren't professional venture capitalists, ensuring they understand seed investment structure and the dynamics of early stage investing can be challenging and time consuming. All investors look to their own experience when making investment decisions. If an angel only has experience with other areas like real estate or biotech, you can expect to spend hours with them explaining how everything works. Confusion over standard parts of a startup term sheet can kill a deal as easily as trepidation over the company or product in question. Just like anything else in life, timing is everything. It's always better to raise capital when you don't need it and strike while the iron is hot to ensure you're adequately capitalized in the face of future uncertainty.

Stefan Martinovic is the Co-Founder and CEO of Create, a real estate data platform for investors and the construction industry. Like SimCity for the real world, Create is built around an immersive 3D map of the entire city that is packed with building and property data including structural, ownership, residential and commercial market, construction cost, tenant, financing, transit, zoning, city planning, environmental, and demographic data sets which are constantly updated through live feeds from 3rd party partners.  

Join the 700+ friends and readers in my Inner Circle newsletter to get the inside scoop and stay in touch. I’ll hook you up with my new books, recommendations, insights, and adventures.