In an interview posted on IndieReader.com, marketing maverick Seth Godin declares that “Self-publishing is the responsibility of choosing oneself.”
Seth Godin is the author of 18 books (including Linchpin, Tribes, The Dip, and Purple Cow) that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership, and most of all, changing everything. His blog is one of the most popular in the world, and in 2013, he was inducted into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame.
In 2012, when Seth Godin self published, he set the book publishing industry on its ear by launching a series of books via Kickstarter. The campaign reached its goal after three hours and ended up becoming the most successful book project ever done this way. His 2014 book, What To Do When It’s Your Turn, is already a bestseller.
Two years ago you launched The Icarus Deception via Kickstarter and reached your goal in three hours. Why would Seth Godin self publish?
There were two goals:
1) To show authors how this platform could turn a following into a mechanism for making books in a new way. To find books for readers, not readers for books.
2) To make a statement to the publishing/bookselling world about adopting a book that had a proven audience. Generally, traditional book publishing is based on hope, the clean slate. In this case, an author with a permission base had the chance to organize the readers in advance.
My new book, What To Do When It’s Your Turn takes this a step further by being 100% based on the audience connection. No bookstores, no online bookstores, no single copies. A book to share, for people who want to share.
Can you define “industrial propaganda? How does it force us to “stand out, not fit in?”
Industrialism made our culture. It took us from mud huts to private jets, from a handwritten diary to a blog read by millions. Industrialism is based on repeated, improved effort to maximize productivity. It’s about average stuff for average people, in quantity.
It actually forces us to fit in, not to stand out! Because when we fit in, as workers or as consumers, the industrial system can profit.
Does traditional book publishing fall into the realm of industrial propaganda? What does that mean to writers?
Traditional book publishing has always been a shining light of individualism, the work of a single person with something to say, amplified by an institution. The thing is, book publishing has also always been a lousy industry from an investment point of view, low return on equity, slow growth. It’s been anti-industrial.
Now, of course, there’s a new opportunity, because the mass approach of most other forms of media is fading, fast, and books have always been the long tail!
Do you think most social media is propaganda?
Propaganda is generally something that’s done to us by an outside agency for gain. In the case of social media, it’s mostly something we do to ourselves, the acceptance culture whittled to a sharp point of a simple set of numbers and some banality.
What’s the infinite game?
James Carse named it. It’s the game we don’t play to win; it’s the game we play to play. It doesn’t have a time limit or a scorecard, but instead benefits us merely for playing. Raising kids is an infinite game, so is collaborating with people we care about.
In Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art he talks about how fear keeps us from working, from creating. You also talk about this type of fear and how it demotivates us. Is the idea of motivation a myth?
Motive as in move. And yes, we must move. The myth is that we need a fancy trick, or an external one. That reassurance can eventually cause us to move. That’s a trap. We become professional when we realize that movement is our job.
Do you consider yourself indie in all aspects of life (i.e. writing, work, love)?
Well, I don’t live in Brooklyn or have interesting facial hair. But when I can, I’d rather forge a path than follow one.
Why does change hurt so much? And why does it take guts?
Change might not work. That’s why we find it interesting. All humans associate, at some level, change with risk, risk with failure, failure with death. So change might be death.
How are self-published authors changing the traditional publishing landscape? How are they changing the way readers read and choose titles?
Self-publishing is not merely a new way to get to the market. Self-publishing is the responsibility of choosing oneself. And that changes everything, completely and forever.
How did you know it was your turn? And what did you do?
How could it not be my turn? So many privileges, so much leverage. How dare I (how dare we) waste it?
This post originally appeared on IndieReader.com, the essential consumer guide to self-published books and the people who write them. Reprinted with permission.
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