Don't Miss a Thing
Free Updates by Email

Enter your email address


preview  |  powered by FeedBlitz

RSS Feeds

Share |

Facebook: Seth's Facebook
Twitter: @thisissethsblog

Search

Google


WWW SETH'S BLOG

SETH'S BOOKS

Seth Godin has written 12 bestsellers that have been translated into 33 languages

The complete list of online retailers

Bonus stuff!

or click on a title below to see the list

all.marketers.tell.stories

All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth's most important book about the art of marketing

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

free.prize.inside

Free Prize Inside

The practical sequel to Purple Cow

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

linchpin

Linchpin

An instant bestseller, the book that brings all of Seth's ideas together.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

meatball.sundae

Meatball Sundae

Why the internet works (and doesn't) for your business. And vice versa.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

permission.marketing

Permission Marketing

The classic Named "Best Business Book" by Fortune.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

poke.the.box

Poke The Box

The latest book, Poke The Box is a call to action about the initiative you're taking - in your job or in your life, and Seth once again breaks the traditional publishing model by releasing it through The Domino Project.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

purple.cow

Purple Cow

The worldwide bestseller. Essential reading about remarkable products and services.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

small.is.the.new.big

Small is the New Big

A long book filled with short pieces from Fast Company and the blog. Guaranteed to make you think.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

survival.is.not.enough

Survival is Not Enough

Seth's worst seller and personal favorite. Change. How it works (and doesn't).

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.big.moo

The Big Moo

All for charity. Includes original work from Malcolm Gladwell, Tom Peters and Promise Phelon.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.big.red.fez

The Big Red Fez

Top 5 Amazon ebestseller for a year. All about web sites that work.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.dip

The Dip

A short book about quitting and being the best in the world. It's about life, not just marketing.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.icarus.deception

The Icarus Deception

Seth's most personal book, a look at the end of the industrial economy and what happens next.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

tribes

Tribes

"Book of the year," a perennial bestseller about leading, connecting and creating movements.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

unleashing.the.ideavirus

Unleashing the Ideavirus

More than 3,000,000 copies downloaded, perhaps the most important book to read about creating ideas that spread.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

v.is.for.vulnerable

V Is For Vulnerable

A short, illustrated, kids-like book that takes the last chapter of Icarus and turns it into something worth sharing.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

we.are.all.weird

We Are All Weird

The end of mass and how you can succeed by delighting a niche.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

whatcha.gonna.do.with.that.duck

Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?

The sequel to Small is the New Big. More than 600 pages of the best of Seth's blog.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:


THE DIP BLOG by Seth Godin




All Marketers Are Liars Blog




Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 08/2003

« Simple permission marketing | Main | the other side of the seatbelt story »

Advice for authors

Always beware free advice. It is worth what it costs!

That said, I get a fair number of notes from well respected, intelligent people who are embarking on their first non-fiction book project. They tend to ask very similar questions, so I thought I'd go ahead and put down my five big ideas in one place to make it easier for everyone.

I guarantee you that you won't agree with all of them, but, as they say, your mileage my vary.

1. Please understand that book publishing is an organized hobby, not a business.
The return on equity and return on time for authors and for publishers is horrendous. If you're doing it for the money, you're going to be disappointed.

On the other hand, a book gives you leverage to spread an idea and a brand far and wide. There's a worldview that's quite common that says that people who write books know what they are talking about and that a book confers some sort of authority.

2. The timeframe for the launch of books has gone from silly to unrealistic.
When the world moved more slowly, waiting more than a year for a book to come out was not great, but tolerable. Today, even though all other media has accelerated rapidly, books still take a year or more. You need to consider what the shelf life of your idea is.

3. There is no such thing as effective book promotion by a book publisher.
This isn't true, of course. Harry Potter gets promoted. So did Freakonomics. But out of the 75,000 titles published last year in the US alone, I figure 100 were effectively promoted by the publishers. This leaves a pretty big gap.

This gap is either unfilled, in which case the book fails, or it is filled by the author. Here's the thing: publishing a book is really nothing but a socially acceptable opportunity to promote yourself and your ideas far and wide and often.

If you don't promote it, no one will. If you don't have a better strategy than, "Let's get on Oprah" you should stop now. If you don't have an asset already--a permission base of thousands or tens of thousands of people, a popular blog, thousands of employees, a personal relationship with Willard Scott... then it's too late to start building that asset once you start working on a book.

By the way, blurbs don't sell books. Not really. You can get all the blurbs in the world for your book and it won't help if you haven't done everything else (quick aside: the guy who invented the word "blurb" also wrote the poem Purple Cow).

4. Books cost money and require the user to read them for the idea to spread.
Obvious, sure, but real problems. Real problems because the cost of a book introduces friction to your idea. It makes the idea spread much much more slowly than an online meme because in order for it to spread, someone has to buy it. Add to that the growing (and sad) fact that people hate to read. Too often, people have told me, with pride, that they read three chapters of my book. Just three.

5. Publishing is like venture capital, not like printing.
Printing your own book is very very easy and not particularly expensive. You can hire professional copyeditors and designers and end up with a book that looks just like one from Random House. That's easy stuff.

What Random House and others do is invest. They invest cash in an advance. They invest time in creating the book itself and selling it in and they invest more cash in printing books. Like all VCs, they want a big return.

If you need the advance to live on, then publishers serve an essential function. If, on the other hand, you're like most non-fiction authors and spreading the idea is worth more than the advance, you may not.

So, what's my best advice?

Build an asset. Large numbers of influential people who read your blog or read your emails or watch your TV show or love your restaurant or or or...

Then, put your idea into a format where it will spread fast. That could be an ebook (a free one) or a pamphlet (a cheap one--the Joy of Jello sold millions and millions of copies at a dollar or less).

Then, if your idea catches on, you can sell the souvenir edition. The book. The thing people keep on their shelf or lend out or get from the library. Books are wonderful (I own too many!) but they're not necessarily the best vessel for spreading your idea.

And the punchline, of course, is that if you do all these things, you won't need a publisher. And that's exactly when a publisher will want you! That's the sort of author publishers do the best with.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b31569e200d83424239e53ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Advice for authors:

» Seth Nails Part of the Whole Non-Fiction Book Thing from BeConnected

If you don't have an asset already--a permission base of thousands or tens of thousands of people, a popular blog, thousands of employees, a personal relationship with Willard Scott...... That could be an ebook (a free one) or a pamphlet (a cheap ... [Read More]

» Seth Nails Part of the Whole Non-Fiction Book Thing from BeConnected

If you don't have an asset already--a permission base of thousands or tens of thousands of people, a popular blog, thousands of employees, a personal relationship with Willard Scott...... That could be an ebook (a free one) or a pamphlet (a cheap ... [Read More]

» Advice for Authors from Seth Godin from Dave Burke's Blog
If anyone should be able to give good advice for aspiring authors, it's Seth Godin.  I bought my... [Read More]

» Sensible Advice for Non Fiction from checkraise
Sensible Advice for Non Fiction Writers [Read More]

» Sensible Advice for Non Fiction from checkraise
Sensible Advice for Non Fiction Writers [Read More]

» The Realities of Writing Non-Fiction from Working Solo
Many of my consulting and coaching colleagues have a secret desire to write a book about their field of expertise (some even want to write a book whether they have some expertise or not). It seems to me that the [Read More]

» Seth Godin has more sage advice for authors from Ripples: post-corporate adventures
Seth Godin is a remarkably savvy guy. In one short post, he has managed to build an unbelievable case for blogging as a launch pad for publishing a non-fiction book. He also hints at a disturbingly simple strategy to get your ideas out and still make ... [Read More]

» Montreal Business Book Club – All Marketers Are Liars By Seth Godin – Next Week from Twist Image Multimarketing Studio - Mitch Joel's Blog - Marketing and Communication Insights
Just a friendly reminder that the Montreal Business Book Club will be meeting next Thursday, July 28th at 6:30 pm to discuss All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin. As always, we will be starting at 6:30 pm. Please feel... [Read More]

» Seth Godin: Advice for authors from Publish and be damned - the blog
Seth Godin's book are selling by the million. He also writes a blog every self publishing author should read. Take a look at this, a post titled Advice for authors: So, what's my best advice? Build an asset. Large numbers... [Read More]

» Publishing Isn't What We Think It Is from jay sennett's blog
I've been spending quite a bit of time thinking about publishing and marketing my-anthology-in-the-making, Self-Organizing Men. So I'm up at 2:30 this morning, out of bed at 4:00, sitting on the couch, with my cat Mr. Jack purring away on [Read More]

» Good Writing Advice by Seth Godin from FrederickFaulkner.com
Seth Godin writes a great post on writing advice for those looking to publish a book. The point I particularly like is that he points out that you can publish a book very easily on your own with minimal investment. That is why I like blogs and e-books.... [Read More]

» Happy Links from WorkHappy.net: killer resources for entrepreneurs
OpenCD offers a host of excellent free programs including replacements for Office, your web browser (uses FireFox), and even photoshop. Looks like these guys have a downloadable book and supporting site about it too. James Archer offers some great advice [Read More]

» If (hobby == obsession) writing is for you; from the0phrastus
It is for me, but that's what hobbies should be, right? Something you really really want to do, something you'd pay to do, and if it works out to be the other way around (they pay you) so much the better. My question for Mr. Godin: is this a new phenom... [Read More]

» Seth's Blog: Advice for authors from Engineer2Entrepreneur
Link: Seth's Blog: Advice for authors. To think about. The hardest thing in the world is building a list. A blog helps but it takes time, a very big issue in itself. It is like networking, if you need it [Read More]

» Aspiring authors - Don't miss this one from Life Beyond Code
Seth has great words of wisdom in this post Advice for Authors. If you are planning to write a ... [Read More]

» Writing is about ideas, not writing from Writelife
When you read Seth Godin’s post Advice for authors, pay attention to how often he uses the word idea. There’s a good reason for this. I think many writers of books aren’t aware of what that reason is and therefore [Read More]

» Non-Fiction Book Publishing -- Gone Is the Glam Of Yesteryear from Virtualosophy
I used to work with best-selling authors, and learned a lot about the traditional publishing process during that time from the author's perspective. It didn't take long before I saw enough to burst my bubble around the mystique and glamour [Read More]

» seth on publinging books from gapingvoid
Seth Godin gives advice to people wanting to publish non-fiction books:4. Books cost money and require the user to read them for the idea to spread. Obvious, sure, but real problems. Real problems because the cost of a book... [Read More]

» On publishing … from Is there a PC Doctor in the house?
“A book agent I know tells me that at leat half the people he meets who are writing the first book, are doing so not because they have anything particualrly interesting to say, but because the idea of “the writer’s life” appeal... [Read More]

» seth on publishing books from gapingvoid
Seth Godin gives advice to people wanting to publish non-fiction books:4. Books cost money and require the user to read them for the idea to spread. Obvious, sure, but real problems. Real problems because the cost of a book... [Read More]

» Advice for Indie Game Designers from tony.dowler.com
So if you're a marketer and you got this far, watch out for the Indie gamers coming up behind you. If you are or want to be an Indie game publisher, start reading Seth Godin, because marketing does matter. [Read More]

» Advice for Authors from Web Marketing Strategy Update
Real-world advice for non-fiction writers embarking on their first book project: arguments against publishing a book in the traditional way. ... [Read More]

» Seth's Blog: Advice for authors from mediagirl: aliza sherman rants and raves
Link: Seth's Blog: Advice for authors. In the category of Good Advice from Smart People, I give you this blog posting from Seth Godin, marketing guru. I've put some of my own comments and experiences as "a non-fiction author of [Read More]

» The challenge of getting people to buy your book! from Make Easy Money with Google: The Blog
Make Easy Money with Google has been out for a bit more than a month now, but I think it's still trying to find its way to its audience. Let me tell you, the hard part about writing a book isn't writing it, it's getting people to buy it! Seth Godin, a... [Read More]

» Slam! Reloaded from The Vision Thing
I stand by my previous assertion about the non-fiction books of today: The book itself is often the product, not the contents therein. Your job is to buy it, period. [Read More]

» Advice for Authors from Hismethod
I’d like to write a book. And I’d like to say I will write a book or two between now and the time that I leave this earth. Seth Godin lists some helpful pointers for the world of non-fiction publishing. And herein lies the trick; anyone c... [Read More]

» Becoming a Published Author from Entrepreneur's Journey
I enjoy writing and I hope one day to write a book. While it’s not quite the same as creating a business, writing a book and publishing it for profit certainly has many similarities. Authors like most creative artists often struggle to make a li... [Read More]

» Advice for authors from Michael Romkey
Seth Godin, marketing guru, author and all around wise man, has an excellent "advice for authors" entry on his marketing blog. The blog itself is always good reading. Here's a direct link to the advice posting. [Read More]

» Advice for authors from Michael Romkey
Seth Godin, marketing guru, author and all around wise man, has an excellent "advice for authors" entry on his marketing blog. The blog itself is always good reading. Here's a direct link to the advice posting. [Read More]

» Seth Godin Has Some Great Advice for Would-Be Non-Fiction Authors... from Boys Wear Pants, Men Wear Trousers

Seth's Blog

...and I'll have more when my boo... [Read More]

» Don't do it for the money - Seth Godin on book publishing from Tenebris
Seth Godin of all people offers a useful reality check for would-be book publishers in a recent post: "Advice for Authors" (discovered via Publishers Lunch). His tips for those considering writing a book for publication include 'not doing it for the mo... [Read More]

» Don't do it for the money - Seth Godin on book publishing from Tenebris
Seth Godin of all people offers a useful reality check for would-be book publishers in a recent post: "Advice for Authors" (discovered via Publishers Lunch). His tips for those considering writing a book for publication include 'not doing it for the mo... [Read More]

» The Great American Novel from Mostly Muppet Dot Com
If you’re being honest, you’ll admit that somewhere, deep down, you’ve always wanted to write The Great American Novel (TGAN). Something like Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises or FitzgeraldR... [Read More]

» Everything For Free from SalesBrief
Is "free" a great way to make money? That is the questions posed by Gaping Void, in response to Fred Wilson's recent post on his blog. Fred, a venture capitalist at Union Square Ventures mentions a number of highly popular, well funded, services that... [Read More]

» Self Publish or Perish from Fractals of Change
Andy Kessler and Seth Godin convinced me to self publish. Although Seth first suggested it, it was Cory Doctorow who gave the compelling reasons for making the online version of My Novel (I’m being coy about the title for now) available free. In the da... [Read More]

» More on authors missing out on Google marketing from Orangepalm.net
Yesterday I argued that authors overreacted to Google's plan to scan and make searchable the entire book collections of five major libraries. Today, more on that topic. Jeff Jarvis tells us Tom Evslin is working on a novel. Which he [Read More]

» on self-publishing (and just publishing) from limon :: by Laura Lemay
Here are a bunch of links I've been storing up for a while about self-publishing. Assuming one has experience in writing, editing, illustration, book design, and printing, or can outsource some or all of those tasks, the only hurdles one has to worry a... [Read More]

» Self Publish or Perish from Fractals of Change
Andy Kessler and Seth Godin convinced me to self publish. Although Seth first suggested it, it was Cory Doctorow who gave the compelling reasons for making the online version of My Novel (I’m being coy about the title for now) available free. In the da... [Read More]

» Ladies Presents from Gift Ideas Blog
A Gift Guide For Women. Gift Ideas For All Occasions... [Read More]

» Best Music Buys CD Search and Price Comparison from Music Downloads mp3 lyrics and more
It's generally considered one of the best albums in pop music history. For all that renown, Astral Weeks is anything but an archetypal rock & roll album: in... [Read More]

» Thinking of writing a book to develop business? Listen to Godin, not the Mother Bloggers from idealawg
Seth Godin has a certain degree of irreverence mixed with much wisdom and practicality. I typically give more weight to what he says than to many in the blogosphere, especially the Mother Bloggers. What's a Mother Blogger? I will explain at the end of ... [Read More]

» Authors Beware: New Information on the Traditional Publishing vs. Self Publishing Argument from Kenneth A. McArthur - Marketing Thoughts
No TagsHey Folks, Last night I got an email from Glenn Dietzel saying, Wowyou are really doing your homework. I think thats a compliment coming from Glenn, because he has an amazing background as an educator.  Thats ... [Read More]

« Simple permission marketing | Main | the other side of the seatbelt story »