Yesterday I received an email from Seth Godin about his new book project. Which isn’t too unusual…I get emails everyday from Seth, as I’m signed up for his blog. Although I’m usually inundated with messages by the time I start drinking my first cup of coffee, rather than consider Seth’s missives an intrusion, I think they’re more like a power drink…wise words to digest (along with a jelly doughnut) before I begin my day.
Back to yesterday, when the title of Seth’s blog was, “This might work (my new book)”, which generally outlined his plan to “find a better way to make and promote books…” by “…launching a hybrid experiment…. The idea is to do it in public, and to use widely available tools that can be emulated by other authors and other publishers if it works.”
Seth’s reasoning, quite sound, is that, “Books take a long time to invent, produce, ship and go on sale. Almost all of that work happens on faith, and it’s then followed by a frenzy of promotion and anxiety, as the publisher and author try to find out if there’s actually desire for the book.” Further, “For the reader, it’s annoying to hear about a book 32 times from a panicked author who has her back against the wall, and then in every media outlet you turn to.”
So Seth has created a Kickstarter page to launch his idea: Kickstart + bookstore + ebooks.
This morning I got a follow-up email from Seth entitled, “Reflections on today’s Kickstarter”, which noted, “To say that I had an overwhelming day is a bit of an understatement. The Kickstarter reached its goal in record time, less than three hours after I first posted it.”
You can read both full posts…I did. And then I sent Seth a few questions, which he very nicely found time to answer.
Seth: “The publisher (my key to the bookstore) is only willing to go ahead with the rest of the plan if my Kickstarter works.”
AHE: Who’s the “publisher”? I mean, since you’re raising the funds I would imagine it’s you…so does that mean you just have a distributor? Please share the deets.
Seth: The publisher isn’t me, and we’ll be announcing soon. But my deal with them was that if the kickstart failed, the project was cancelled.
AHE: What happened to self-pubbing? Trying to find a better model?
Seth: The notion of ‘self published’ changes when the author has the relationship with readers. In this case, I think I’m getting the control and leverage to do what I want without taking the risk of printing up a bazillion books and putting them into stores.
Seth: “I’ll update you four times in the next four weeks about how we’re doing.”
AHE: Is 4 weeks how long you think it’ll take you to write the book?
Seth: Not about the book, about the Kickstarter. The book has been in the writing stages for a while.
Seth: “The whole idea of measuring the revenue of Kickstarter makes no sense (how much does it cost to make a Pebble watch or record a CD?) No one really knows what your costs are, but it’s the costs that matter, not the revenue.”
AHE: So how did you come up with the $40,000 goal?
Seth: The goal is to get 10,000 copies out there. $4 each times 10,000. As of today, we’re at 9,831 copies, so my cash estimate was wrong, but we hit the goal anyway.
AHE: It’s interesting that the more expensive pledges sold out first. Any thoughts on that? Great rewards? Rich “tribe”?
Seth: I think scarcity often creates value!