Book Marketing: Wisdom From Seth Godin


Wondering how a master marketer thinks about books and the launch process?

To explore book marketing, blogging and podcasts, I interview Seth Godin.

More About This Show

The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media Examiner. It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.

In this episode I’ll interview Seth Godin, author of 17 books, including Purple Cow, Permission Marketing and Tribes. He blogs every day on topics related to marketing, leadership and more. He also has an excellent podcast mini-series called Seth Godin’s Startup School.

Seth and I explore his latest book along with his thoughts on publishing and marketing books.

You’ll discover Seth’s philosophy on writing, the importance he puts on blogging and more.


Listen as Seth Godin share wisdom for book marketing.

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Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

Book Marketing

Seth’s new book

Seth Godin's latest book.

Seth Godin’s latest book.

Seth’s latest book is called, What to Do When It’s Your Turn (and It’s Always Your Turn). He explains that he usually comes up with the title early in the process, and then writes the book to go with it. However, in this case, the title came second to last.

The book exists because when his son was heading off to college, he asked Seth to write down his advice. A letter to his son turned into a book for everyone. It’s a heavily illustrated book about fear, bravery and doing work that matters.

Seth’s background is in publishing and he was a book packager for 12 years, during which time he and his team wrote 120 books. These included almanacs, books on gardening, business and everything in between.

In 1999, he started writing books as a solo author. One person with a point of view. That’s when things shifted for him, he says. “I didn’t say, ‘What book do I need to write next, because I need to pay the bills?’ I said, ‘What do I care enough about saying to put myself through all the pain and suffering it takes to bring a book into the world?’

Seth’s first “real book” was Permission Marketing which has his picture on the cover.

Listen to the show to discover why Seth believes all of his books are marketing books.

How Seth decides what to write when it comes to his books

Seth doesn’t think he has much say in what he chooses to write about. While he is very strategic in most elements of his life, his best writing is not strategic at all. “I start with an itch and the writing is my scratching of the itch,” Seth reveals.

He starts a new book every few days, and some of them only last a paragraph or two, which is why it’s great to have a blog. If a book won’t go away, then he has to write it.

Seth Godin

Seth starts a new book every few days. Most turn into blogs. But if a book won’t go away, he has to write it.

Seth believes most people shouldn’t look at the book business as a way to make a living. The book business is an organized hobby, and a fabulous way to bring ideas into the world and a great thing to leave behind.

For those who want to write a book to become a paid, professional author, Seth says, don’t. Instead, think about using books as a generous way to spread ideas and earn trust.

Listen to the show to learn why Seth doesn’t discuss upcoming projects with his peers.

Why Seth decided to publish and distribute this book on his own

Since most people don’t finish the books on their Kindle, Seth wanted What to Do When It’s Your Turn to be only available on paper. He also didn’t want people to buy just one copy of the book.

“If you buy 1 copy, I send you 2. If you buy 3 copies, I send you 5. If you buy 8 copies, I send you 12,” he explains. “If you get an extra copy of a book, you have to give it away.”

Since ideas are now spreading person to person and not top down, Seth wanted this book to be his experiment with horizontal publishing. He knew he could reach a certain number of people directly through his blog. By shipping extra books to the people who already understand his message, he has turned them into his distributors. By sharing his words, his audience is helping make the world a better place.

Listen to the show to discover how building a following, 10 people at a time, is the key to success.

The importance of blogging

Seth started his Typepad blog about 10 years ago, and says that even if no one read his blog, he would still write it every day. The act of writing has done more for him than any other habit. Blogging pushes you to notice things, it gives you a schedule and puts you on the hook to publish something daily.

Everything starts as a blog post, Seth shares. “Sometimes I don’t publish it, because by the time I finish writing it I decide that it should be an ebook. Then, by the time I finish the ebook, I decide it should be a book.”

The free ebook that is one of Seth’s proudest achievements is Stop Stealing Dreams. He also did a TEDx talk, based on the book.

Seth’s other ebooks include one on the placebo effect, called Placebos, and a series on Flipping the Funnel.

Listen to the show to discover why Seth publishes so many free ebooks.

Seth’s unique book launches

The first edition of Purple Cow came in a milk carton.

The first edition of Purple Cow came in a milk carton.

For the release of his latest book, Seth didn’t do any fancy promotion or SEO. He relied on his following and fans. Basically, he put up a blog post and released the book.

Seth explains how his book is about tension, and how he used tension to get people to buy it.

He always does something unique that relates to the book for all of his book launches. For Permission Marketing, he created a way for his audience to get 1/3 of the book for free. For Unleashing the Ideavirus, a book about how ideas spread, he made the book free to share as an ebook. The first edition of Purple Cow came in a milk carton.

Listen to the show to find out why Seth believes he had a successful book launch.

The role of podcasts in book marketing

Seth believes podcasts don’t sell books because the number of people listening aren’t going to immediately buy them. The New Yorker is a great way to sell books, AM radio is a bad way to sell books, and podcasting is somewhere in between. Over time, we will see podcasts get better.

Seth doesn’t write books to sell them. He writes books because he wants his ideas to change things. Getting his books to a new audience through a podcast, especially if that audience changes as a result of the conversation, is a win.

Listen to the show to learn what Seth considers a winning result of a podcast.

Advice from Seth to his younger self

Seth says, “The thing that people who create for a living wrestle with is living with ‘this might work’ and ‘this might not work’ at the same time.”

That is what keeps almost everyone who isn’t a creator from creating. People can’t utter a sentence unless they know something’s going to work. However, they don’t know if it’ll work, since they never said it before.

Listen to the show to discover what successful creators understand.

Discovery of the Week

Are you an iPhone user? Do you put your phone on mute, but it still vibrates and disturbs you each time you get an alert? Rather than put your phone in airplane mode, try out this cool feature, called Do Not Disturb.

Go into settings and turn on Do Not Disturb whenever you need it. You can also schedule it for different times for productivity. When it’s on, you will not get text messages or any other alerts. However, you can allow calls from certain people, like your spouse.

The iPhone Do Not Disturb setting allows you to block texts.

The iPhone Do Not Disturb setting allows you to block texts.

There’s also a way to shut off email when you’re on vacation or just need to focus.

Go into settings and scroll down to “Mail and Contacts.” Click on your email account. You will see a mail icon that you simply drag to ‘Off’. When you’re ready, go back in and turn your email on again.

Listen to the show to learn more and let us know how turning off your alerts and email works for you.

Other Show Mentions

Today’s show is sponsored by Social Media Marketing World 2015.

We are super-excited about Social Media Marketing World 2015. It’s the world’s largest social media marketing conference. By attending, you’ll make connections with 100+ of the world’s top social media pros (plus 2,500 of your fellow marketers) and you’ll discover amazing ideas that’ll transform your social media marketing.

Hear testimonials from our 2014 conference speakers.

This is just a sample of industry experts talking about their experience at Social Media Marketing World.

In the show, you’ll hear about the fabulous networking opportunities at this conference. Even if you know everything there is to know about social media, the opportunity to be surrounded by your peers is a good reason to attend. To be surrounded by 2,500 marketers in every conceivable niche from more than 40 countries can be very valuable. Develop mastermind groups, discover partnership opportunities, meet people you’ve only seen online and more.

This is the largest conference of its type in the world. I would love for you to come and have an incredible experience with us.

Take your social media marketing to the next level and join us in San Diego, California on March 25, 26 and 27, 2015. Hundreds of people have already secured their tickets. Click here to check out all of the speakers and the agenda, watch our video and grab your ticket.

Listen to the show!


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