Seth Godin Becomes Self-Publisher

Amazingly interesting move, reported in the Wall Street Journal:

In a significant defection for the book industry, best-selling marketing author Seth Godin is ditching his traditional publisher, Portfolio, after a string of books and plans to sell his future works directly to his fans.

The author of about a dozen books including “Purple Cow” said he now has so many direct customer relationships, largely via his blog, that he no longer needs a traditional publisher. Mr. Godin plans to release subsequent titles himself in electronic books, via print-on-demand or in such formats as audiobooks, apps, small digital files called PDFs and podcasts.

This has very little to do with average self-publishers, who don’t have his kind of fan base. So an up-and-coming writer can’t leap into self-publishing and expect instant success. But if more successful writers jump ship that will totally change the perspective of self-publishing as a viable outlet. Forget the future: that’s already happened.

He’s more of a progressive thinker, so this was pretty much inevitable, but it’s a sign of things to come, especially when ebooks take up a major share of the market and writers don’t need traditional bookstore distribution. On his blog, he writes:

As the medium changes, publishers are on the defensive…. I honestly can’t think of a single traditional book publisher who has led the development of a successful marketplace/marketing innovation in the last decade. The question asked by the corporate suits always seems to be, “how is this change in the marketplace going to hurt our core business?” To be succinct: I’m not sure that I serve my audience (you) by worrying about how a new approach is going to help or hurt Barnes & Noble.

My audience does things like buy five or ten copies at a time and distribute them to friends and co-workers. They (you) forward blog posts and PDFs. They join online discussion forums. None of these things are supported by the core of the current corporate publishing model.

About Seth Godin:

SETH GODIN is a bestselling author, entrepreneur and agent of change.

Godin is author of ten books that have been bestsellers around the world. His most recent titles include The Dip and Meatball Sundae. Free Prize Inside was published in early May, 2004 and All Marketers Are Liars was published in 2005. His books that have been bestsellers around the world and changed the way people think about marketing, change and work. Permission Marketing was an Amazon.com Top 100 bestseller for a year, a Fortune Best Business Book and it spent four months on the Business Week bestseller list. It also appeared on the New York Times business book bestseller list.

Unleashing the Ideavirus is the most popular ebook ever written. More than 1,000,000 people downloaded the digital version of this book about how ideas spread. Featured in USA Today, The New York Times, The Industry Standard and Wired Online, Ideavirus hit #4 on the Amazon Japan bestseller list, and #5 in the USA.

  • lindareedgardner@yahoo.com

    How interesting is this. I am still trying to understand why it takes TP years to bring out a book, when POD is readily available & they don’t seem to offer much of anything in the way of a tour or an advance to ayone but the handful of big guns anymore. When something newsworthy happens, the explosion of the shuttle, for instance, a book on the event quickly appears in the grocery stores, so it can be done. Years to find an agent, years while he tries to sell it, years before the book actually appears, who can waste that kind of time.
    When Sara Gruen hit the big time with Water For Elephants, I understood her next book would be out shortly. That was years ago-where is it?
    One well-intentioned agent said on his web site that new authors “have to be patient, keep writing queries, and understand that they may not be published until they have written at least nine or ten books.”
    You must be kidding. By that time you would be way too old to be of any interest to a publisher. Young and attractive looks best in People magazine,clearly. I don’t doubt that the tenth book would be better than the first, but it seems to me you may as well send number one out into space and let the market decide what it wants. I think the larger problem is that fewer and fewer adults have any time left at the end of the day to read-especially after having spent 8-10 hours reading on a computer screen. Take me out to the movies, too much reading already for the day. The culture is simply changing, no way around it. The market is swinging to teens and preteens. Our big B & N has already made kiddie and YA books the centerpiece of the store. Follow the money. It’s not their fault.

    • It takes a year because: the book, as it develops, spends roughly eleven months gathering mold on the desks of the non-functioning members of the publishing “team”. The author gets 18 minutes to accept or rejects edits and another three minutes to proof the book. It also takes a year for the marketing staff to get back from lunch so they can bitch about the title and run coin tosses to determine which useless cover art will do the book the most harm.

  • lindareedgardner@yahoo.com

    Okay. I am not disagreeing at all that good writers should improve steadily as they go along, but there seems to be no “career” out there for writers anyway. I( can’t count the number of wonderful ( I thought) books I’ve read from an author who subsequently simply disappeared. Way too much work for way too little money, I suspect. McDonalds pays better & is a whole lot more dependable. I saw ann article heading on the Internet that asked, Should Everyone Have The Right To be Published?”
    Hoo boy. Why sure, along with the right to breath and find love and vote. Open the gate, baby. May the best vampire win.