Show Your Work - Book Review & Summary

10 Ways to Share Your Creativity And Get Discovered by Author Austin Kleon

Published On 9 October 2022

show off your work book summary


Quick Summary

  1. Share your work online. Get noticed. Build your audience. Change your life.
  2. You do not have to be perfect before you begin promoting your work, so go ahead and do it regardless. Start with free and then put a price tag as you go along.
  3. Build a social network that will help you in your rough times.

Who Should Read This Book?

Most people can relate to this book — not just creators and writers. It’s not big, so finishing it won’t take you days. You should read this book regardless of whether you’re trying to become an entrepreneur, start a new business, or build an online presence. Show Your Work offers value to everyone.

Some Of The Best Quotes From The Book

That’s all any of us are: amateurs. We don’t live long enough to be anything else.

Find your voice, shout it out from the rooftops, and keep doing it until the people that are looking for you find you.

Carving out a space for yourself online, somewhere where you can express yourself and share your work, is still one of the best possible investments you can make with your time.

The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful; it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.

Detailed Summary

Here is a detailed summary of the book for those who like to dive deeper.


According to the author, being good at what do is not enough. You need to self-promote yourself and be findable. So while you are focussed on doing good, make attempts so that others can discover you through your promotion channels.

You should share online whatever you are doing. It does not have to be a finished product all the time. You can also share while the work is in progress. That way, the audience would know your methods and appreciate you for that, and follow you at every step of your process.

1. You don’t have to be a genius

Be a Scenius

You do not have to be a genius, especially when you are just starting. The author uses the term “Scenius,” which means those individuals who collaborate with others and provide value. So it’s about asking others what we can do for them instead of what others can do for us. Examples are blogs, social media sites, email, and forums, where people hang out and discuss things they care about.

Be an amateur

The author says that amateurs can sometimes teach better than experts. Ideally, people do not care about amateurs from an amateur’s point of view; they experiment a lot as they don’t have anything to lose in public. So there are good chances you would learn something new from an amateur.

Read Obituaries

People who have near-death experience knows that each new day is a blessing, and hence they try to make the most out of it. People who have not experienced such a thing should read obituaries to be reminded that our time in this world is limited and not infinite. This habit is not for everyone, but the author, through some examples, claims that if you do this, then you will be more productive each passing day.

2. Think process, not product

Become a documentarian

Everyone focuses on the finished product because they all believe that that is what matters. But the Author exerts that sharing the process to get to the final product makes more impact, and your audience will value your final product even more.

So whether you are writing a story or creating artwork, you can record your ongoing work in various ways, like recording your voice or taking photographs while you are working, to name a few. It’s easier these days as we have the tools to do that without spending any extra money on it.

3. Share something small every day

Share all small things while you are on the journey of your creative project. Create a website or a personal online space where you can share everything you want to share with your audience. Don’t wait for the final product thinking that your audience will not like unfinished work. Share the influences that got you into the work you are doing; show your method of execution, etc.

Don’t say you don’t have time. When people ask, “How do you find the time for all this?”, Say, “Look for it.” You will find the time the same way you find the spare change, i.e., nooks and crannies.

4. Open up your cabinet of curiosities

Create your cabinet of curiosities that you can share with the world. Take inspiration from “Wunderkammern,” in other words, a “wonder chamber” that people in Europe used to create in the 16th and 17th centuries.

show off your work book review and summary
Don’t feel guilty about your pleasures

When you genuinely enjoy something, do it, and don’t let other people feel bad about it just because they do not like it. Being honest and open about what you want is the best way to find or connect with like-minded people.

Give credits

Always remember to give credit where it’s due. You may have got influenced by someone else’s work, or you would have used parts of someone else’s creation to create your own. Be sure to credit that person via proper attribution.

5. Tell good stories

Work doesn’t speak for itself

You should be able to explain your work to people so that they make the most out of it. Don’t just push something and let the audience do the guesswork. The author gives the example of an artwork in a museum that is not explained properly; it will not enlighten the audience who came to watch it, and there will not be any key takeaways from it.

show off your work book review and summary
Create a proper structure

Your story needs a proper structure. If you have a good story, and if it’s not structured properly, then it will not get the right attention that it deserves. Great storytelling is a skill that takes time to master. It will get better over time the more you tell them.

6. Teach what you know

Teaching doesn’t mean competition

Always teach others what you have learned. Don’t think it will create competition as it will reveal your secret. Just because someone knows how you do it doesn’t mean that they will be able to emulate it right away. When you share with others what you have learned, you improve your knowledge of that subject by getting others’ opinions.

Make people better at something they want to be better at.

7. Don’t turn into human spam

If you want fans, be a fan first

Don’t be the person who doesn’t listen to other people’s ideas but wants theirs to be heard. Develop a habit of forward-thinking. Don’t look for just fans; look for potential collaborators who can help you make your work even better, and in the process, you make theirs better.

Be an open node

If you want to take, you have to give. If you want to be noticed, you have to notice. It’s a two-way feedback system, so be thoughtful and considerate.

Don’t worry about fan following

Do not think too much about how many people follow you online, and only worry about the quality of the people that follow you.

Don’t waste time reading articles about how to get more followers.

Don’t talk to people you don’t want to talk to, and do not talk about things that you do not want to talk about.

Meet up in metaspace
  • Meet your online friends “IRL” (in real life). Try to catch up with your online friends who are probably living in the same place as you.

8. Learn to take a punch

Don’t take criticism personally

When you put your work online, be ready to get the good, the bad, and the ugly feedback. The more people will engage with your work, the more criticism you might face, and you need to absorb those punches. Take a deep breath and relax. Don’t let the bad criticism take you down. And the way you would go about practicing is to put more work out there, so you get more feedback. During this process, you will strengthen yourself and soon realize that it no longer hurts you.

9. Sell Out

Convert audience to patrons

When your audience starts liking your work, take a leap of faith and turn them into patrons. Don’t be shy to ask for donations; it can be as simple as the PayPal button or “Buy me a coffee” button on your website. However, you need to do this only when you feel confident that the work that you put in online is truly worth something.

Never betray trust

When you make your audience sign up for your work and collect emails, Only send an email when you have something remarkable. Do not try to push your luck too much and spam them for everything that you think could be worth trying to sell them.

10. Stick around

Don’t quit your show

Life has ups & downs, and so is the case with your career. Don’t let the downs influence you in any way. You will only get what you are after if you stick to it long enough. If you quit prematurely, then it’s a shame.

A successful project is not a guarantee for the success of the next project.

A failed project does not dictate the failure of the next project.

You always have to face this question, “What’s next?”. Perseverance is the key to a long-lasting career which will be a mix of success & failure. You don’t get only success or only shortcomings.

We work because it’s a chain reaction; each subject leads to the next.

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