Seth Godin has a certain degree of irreverence mixed with much wisdom and practicality. I typically give more weight to what he says than to many in the blogosphere, especially the Mother Bloggers. What's a Mother Blogger? I will explain at the end of this post.
If you are writing a book or thinking of doing so, here are two Godin posts on making your book a success. If your book is already a reality, for you much of his advice is too late.
Each Godin post is a list. Below I will include a few items from each list and you can click through to read the list in its entirety if you find the few items helpful.
From Advice for authors . . .
I get a fair number of notes from well respected, intelligent people who are embarking on their first non-fiction book project. They tend to ask very similar questions, so I thought I'd go ahead and put down my five big ideas in one place to make it easier for everyone.
I guarantee you that you won't agree with all of them, but, as they say, your mileage my vary.
1. Please understand that 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.
2. The timeframe for the launch of books has gone from silly to unrealistic.
When the world moved more slowly, waiting more than a year for a book to come out was not great, but tolerable. Today, even though all other media has accelerated rapidly, books still take a year or more. You need to consider what the shelf life of your idea is.
3. There is no such thing as effective book promotion by a book publisher.
From Advice for authors (yes, he is consistent in the way he has titled these two posts) . . .
With more than 75,000 books published every year (not counting ebooks or blogs), the odds are actually pretty good that you've either written a book, are writing a book or want to write one.
Hence this short list:
- Lower your expectations. The happiest authors are the ones that don't expect much.
- 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.
- Pay for an
eidtoreditor. Not just to fix the typos, but to actually make your ramblings into something that people will choose to read. I found someone I like working with at the EFA. One of the things traditional publishers used to do is provide really insightful, even brilliant editors (people like Fred Hills and Megan Casey), but alas, that doesn't happen very often. And hiring your own editor means you'll value the process more.
- 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.
Above I said I would define Mother Bloggers. So just what are Mother Bloggers? Let me begin by explaining that the value of the advice in the blogosphere reminds me of the Three Bears. Some is too hot (or snarky or strident or angry), some is just right, and some is too cool (or inane or obvious or vanilla). The latter group is what I now identify as the Mother Bloggers after reading an article on globeandmail.com. "Why is everyone acting like my mother?" (subscription required) begins . . .
As I write this, the coffee shop I'm sitting in wants me to "respect the planet we share." Across the street, the window in Lululemon advises me to Listen, Love, Dance, Sing, Floss and Travel. Even the pizza place in my neighbourhood feels I should Breathe Deeply, Live Life and, naturally, Eat More Pizza.
The bloggers who give advice like that are what I consider Mother Bloggers. Godin definitely is not a Mother Blogger and that's one of the reasons I enjoy him so much. I hope you find his book authoring advice of benefit.