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30 Second Book Review: Content Rules

Who has time to read books? We all should, but it's tough to know what is worth reading. Each week, this blog will spotlight a new book relevant for marketers or people in business with ideas worth learning and sharing. Through a combination of a personal interview with the Authors, and short review – you'll get the basic premise of the book and why you might want to read it. To recommend a book to be featured, send an email pitch to

This week's featured book is Content Rules – How To Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and more) That Engage Customers And Ignite Your Business, a thorough and step by step guide to creating effective content online.

THE 30 SECOND REVIEW (Why You Should Read It):

IMB_Book-Review-Content-Rules-Ann-Handley There is a content revolution happening in business and it is based on the surprisingly rare insight that marketing generally works better when you have something to say. Just because you have a good story to tell, however, doesn't mean that you'll always have the right skills to tell it. Luckily, Content Rules is the book that can help you build those skills, even if your experience with social media to date mainly consists of trying to avoid getting overloaded by it. Unlike most other books written about social media or content, the authors of this one are actually good at it. From the quality of the writing to the strength of the ideas, this is a great book for anyone who wants (or needs) to create compelling content online and wants a useful guide book on how to do it. (Review written by Rohit Bhargava)

THE INTERVIEW (Thoughts from Ann Handley):

1. I've been waiting for some time to see a book from you (as I'm sure your other admirers have been) and was thrilled to see the topic and focus. Why did you finally decide to write the book now and what inspired you to begin the project?

Yes – you have been waiting! I remember you asked me, "So when's your book coming out?" just around the time that you published Personality Not Included.

In a larger sense, I wanted to write Content Rules to demystify this whole idea of businesses as so-called publishers. So many marketers know they have to producing content as a cornerstone of their marketing, but it's harder to know how. So the book gives actionable ideas of how we all can make the most of the tremendous, exciting opportunity we all have: To speak directly in very human, engaging terms with a broad number of people we want to do business with, with the goal of furthering our relationships with them and creating momentum for a business.

On a personal level, Content Rules is probably the only marketing book that I feel qualified to write, in part because content is one of the few topics I feel completely versed in. So many others — including you! — probably can run circles around me (metaphorically speaking) in dreaming up and executing the specifics of campaigns, and triggering response emails, and developing branding strategies and the like.

I know enough about those topics to know what’s smart thinking and what’s  not, but I also know enough to know what I don’t know.

Content, on the other hand, is something that’s near and dear to my heart. Developing great content that engages audiences and using social tools to build community is a kind of mission that excites me, and all of that passion and energy is what I’ve poured into this book.

2. The power of great content for marketing is a topic close to my heart. What is the big thing that you feel sets Content Rules apart from other books that might talk about this topic?

There are lots of books and resources out there that talk about the role content should play in your marketing mix, and how it should increasingly be a cornerstone of any inbound strategy. There's a lot of talk about the why, in other words, but I couldn't find many good resources that address the how: How do I create content consistently? What's "compelling" mean? Why doesn't my blog have any comments? It's hard work, right?

This book breaks it down, offering how-to, actionable advice. As you know, MarketingProfs is all about the actionable and the how-to, and I wanted people to have similarly clear takeaways on how to implement a content marketing strategy. In fact, I got a note from someone on Twitter the other day who said that the book inspired a content idea for him. He wasn't new to the idea of content — in fact, he's a long-time podcaster — and the fact that even he got something from it was pretty gratifying to me.

And finally, one last thing: This book isn't just another boring business book. Some business books really plod along, don't they? So not yours — but SOME.

As a writer, I couldn't write a book that wasn't fun to read. So, I didn't.

3. Who is the ideal person to read this book – and what is one unexpected group of people who you hope might read it (but probably won't)?

The ideal person is someone who is looking to use content and social tools to grow any kind of organization — a business, certainly. But also other kinds of entities: Writers who want to sell more books, bands that want to sell more music, churches that want to increase their congregations, as well as B2C companies and B2B companies (we devoted a whole chapter to the special needs of the B2B organization). In essence: Anyone who wants a sustaining, effective, energized and fun content strategy.

Does that sound like a pretty broad group? Yes. But it's intentionally so, because truly there's no one doing business online today who shouldn't be considering content.

4. As you launch and promote the book, what have you seen the most success from in terms of getting people to purchase the book?

Well, it's hard to say what's been MOST effective. I can tell you the combination of things that have been effective, though:

  1. Being content creators ourselves. So: having a blog ( as a home base, where C.C. and I have been creating all kinds of content around the writing of the book and the launch, as well as furthering the ideas we lay out in the book. This post I wrote on how painful it is to actually write a book gave us an early boost. Later, C.C. created a video asking people to define content: What is it? What does it mean? That video, "Content Is……" — which C.C. shot at BlogWorld — helped raise visibility for the book, get people excited about it, and vest them in the project.
  2. Connecting with people online and in-person. C.C. and I are both passionate about using social tools to connect with people — I  mean, that was true before we had a book. I know I s
    ound like a dork when I say that stoking those relationships has been key… and it even makes me cringe a little to hear me say it. (LOL) The reality is that our existing platforms have helped — but it's not anything we planned or calculated; it's just the only way we know how to be. Of course, no online relationships ever take the place of in-person meetings, and we've done a number of speaking events this past fall to test out the concepts in the book and introduce the ideas. That's helped, too.
  3. Finally, I think the reason why this book is doing so well (it's hovering in the top on both Marketing and Web Marketing on Amazon) is because we simply believe sincerely in creating great content, and we feel so lucky to have had an opportunity (thanks to Wiley) to share what we know. That's a pretty awesome thing.  And at the same time, humbling: We feel so grateful to everyone who supports us — from the folks at Wiley, to our sources who were interviewed for the book, to our families, and to everyone out there who has read the book, saying — in a small way — that our content… well, rules!


Official Book Website:

REVIEW PHILOSOPHY (Why This Review Matters):

All the books that are reviewed in this series are worth your time. That's why you won't find any negative book reviews on this blog. As an Author myself, I have hundreds of book on my shelf and have researched hundreds more. I get many invitations to preview books and choose just one every week to share here on this blog. Read my other book reviews at

5 thoughts on “30 Second Book Review: Content Rules”

  1. Great ’30 Sec’ take, It really gives you a taste of what you can expect and definitely prompts me to find out more about the book. I am a long time admirer of Ann Handley (and MarketingProfs) so it was especially interesting to me to see what she had to say on a topic that is so often discussed yet not often resolved.


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#1 WSJ & USAToday Bestselling Author

Rohit is the author of 8 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.

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