Wisdom from Godin

Every now and then I receive emails from Seth Godin’s “Domino Project.” As a new author I find them very intriguing, and while sifting through old emails yesterday I culled these lines, which were taken from a handful of different articles. Each seemed helpful in its own way:

  • Lower your expectations. The happiest authors are the ones that don’t expect much to come of the process.
  • Understand that a non-fiction book is a souvenir, just a vessel for the ideas themselves. You don’t want the ideas to get stuck in the book… you want them to spread. Which means that you shouldn’t hoard the idea! The more you give away, the better you will do.
  • The 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.
  • The best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out. Three years to build a reputation, build a permission asset, build a blog, build a following, build credibility and build the connections you’ll need later down the road.
  • Don’t market to everybody. Obsess about a little subset of the market–that subset that you have permission to talk with, that subset where you have credibility, and most important, that subset where people just can’t live without your book.
  • Most books that sell by the truckload sell by the caseload. In other words, sell to organizations that buy for their members/staff.
  • If you’ve got the patience, bookstore signings and talking to book clubs by phone are the two lowest-paid but most guaranteed to work methods you have for promoting a really really good book. If you do it 200 times a year, it will pay.
  • Bryan Stevenson, a professor at NYU, spent years honing his stump speech and it all came together with a TED talk he gave two weeks ago. In just a few days online, he has reached more than a quarter of a million people–he doesn’t use a book, he uses himself to spread the idea.