Another Review Site?

Independent author, entrepreneur, and marketing guru, Seth Godin, recently launched a new website. The purpose of this website is to help people discover stuff they didn’t even know they were looking for. Not just books, but anything sold on Amazon.

This site, called HugDug, is a place for people to share reviews about things they love. Once someone writes an impassioned review on the site, HugDug allows that person to easily post it to all his or her social media networks.

Watch this video to see what Seth Godin says about his new review site, HugDug.

With HugDug, Seth’s idea is to elevate the art of the review. Seth is also the founder of Squidoo. While this platform has been fairly successful, I wonder if HugDug will catch on. After all, why not just write the review on Amazon? Why not just share your review with your friends via social media?

On the other hand, maybe one more place to put one’s opinion on the Internet is attractive. HugDug could be one more place your books are listed. If they are, it could bring some additional exposure for your books. Maybe another review site is a good thing.

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The Art of Marketing

Seth Godin has been called “America’s Greatest Marketer.” In addition to being a best-selling author, his blog is perhaps the most popular in the world written by a single individual.

Every author and publisher can learn something from this marketing genius. Watch this short video on the “Art of Marketing” by Seth Godin. Listen for his interesting definition of marketing.

In case you missed it, Seth says, “Marketing is the art of making something that people want to talk about; producing something that people want to engage in.”

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A Lesson in Marketing

I first wrote about using Kickstarter to fund a publishing project back in September 2010 (see Creative Funding for Publishing a Book). In a nutshell, Kickstarter is a fundraising website where authors and publishers can try to raise funds to publish a book (or fund another type of project).

Just how successful are authors and publishers at raising money using Kickstarter?

The answer depends on who you talk to.

Kickstarter reports that they have over 7,000 projects posted on their website that failed to generate a single pledge. On the other end of the spectrum, more than $215 million dollars have been pledged on the site to successfully funded projects. Seven projects have even raised more than $1 million dollars.

As for authors and publishers using Kickstarter to fund a publishing project, less than 32% of these projects actually get funded. That means that close to one-third of all publishing projects do get the money they need to proceed.

Seth Godin is one of the successful ones. Seth is a very popular marketing guru who has written a number of books. Recently, he posted a publishing project for a new book titled The Icarus Deception on Kickstarter. The book he wants to publish is about “the mythology of success (and failure) and how our economy rewards people who are willing to stand up and stand out.”

Seth Godin’s goal was to raise $40,000. In less than three hours after he posted his project on Kickstarter, he raised that amount of money, and by six hours after he posted his project, he had raised over $90,000 ($50,000 more than his goal). With 22 days to still go in his campaign, he had raised over $232,000 to publish his book.

So, what does Seth Godin have over the 7,000 projects that didn’t get funded?

I can define it in one word: Marketing.

Whether you post a project on Kickstarter or you just fund your own publishing project, both require marketing to sell. Seth Godin is a master marketer. He knows how to develop a fan base and create a tribe (people who are not just fans, but natural promoters who spread your message).

Marketing is essential not just for selling books, but for selling ideas also.

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A Marketing Paradox

A paradox is a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd, but in reality expresses a possible truth. Paradoxes often go against what we believe or have been taught.

In his book Unleashing the Ideavirus, author and marketing guru Seth Godin outlines some interesting paradoxes. Two of these paradoxes are:

  1. The more you give away, the more it’s worth.
  2. The sooner you ask for money, the less you get.

I think that Seth’s first paradox — the more you give away, the more it’s worth — is hard for most people to wrap their heads around.

Most publishers and authors say, “If I give my books away, then I won’t make any money.”

Good marketers know that giving something away hooks people.

Ocean Spray knows this. Last spring, the company was giving out free samples of their latest juice, Blueberry, at a street fair I attended. I had no intention of buying Blueberry juice. I do not like blueberries and since I do the shopping for my family, I would normally have just passed this new flavor by.

However, Ocean Spray gave free samples to my children, who loved the juice, and begged me to buy some. I have since bought more Ocean Spray Blueberry juice than I ever imagined I would; all because Ocean Spray gave some away for free.

Jesus understood this paradox of giving. In Luke 6:38, he says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

So, while it seems counter intuitive to give away your books, I encourage you to try it.

I’m not saying give every book you have away, but give some away. Give them to people who are influencers: pastors, bloggers, and other leaders. Give them to people who are interested but can’t afford your books. Give them as gifts and to say “thank you.” Give them to non-Christians as a witness and a testimony.

Then stand back and watch what God will do. You may be blessed with book sales. You may be blessed with winning souls for Christ.

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Do You Have a Tribe?

You do. You probably have a few.

I recently listened to Seth Godin’s book, Tribes. The book is about  – well – tribes.

Seth’s premise is that we all belong to tribes. These are groups of people who come together around a common experience or goal.

Seth believes that the most effective marketing happens within a tribe. For authors and publishers this idea has some significant implications.

Authors can create tribes from their fans (book readers). Think about the popular vampire series, Twilight. The fans of this series are not scattered, unconnected people across the world. They are a tribe. They connect on websites and in-person gatherings to share their common love of vampires and the story. Together these tribal fans promote and collect more tribe members. These members collectively increase the sales of the Twilight books while leaving the author free to care for her family or write more books rather than spend all her time promoting her books.

While every author may not collect as large a tribe of fans as Stephanie Meyer (the author of the Twilight series), every author can turn their fans into a tribe.

The most effective tribes involve a movement.  A movement means the fans collectively believe in and promote something.

Let me share how this can be played out for a Christian author. Consider Paulette George. Paulette has a daughter who suffered from a seizure disorder. In her quest to find a cure for her daughter’s seizures, Paulette stumbled upon a special diet. The doctor who developed the diet received his inspiration from a scripture passage. Paulette’s daughter became seizure-free when she followed the diet.

Paulette has written a book, Good Morning Beautiful, about her experience. She has the perfect opportunity to create a tribe from the people who read her book. The tribe’s movement would be to spread the word about this special diet that can help the millions of children who suffer from seizure disorders around the world. As they spread the word, more people will learn about Paulette’s book and want to read her story.

How can Paulette create a tribe? Through the use of social media.

A tribe needs a leader. The leader would be Paulette. The tribe needs a way to talk to the leader and to talk to one another so that they are, in turn, empowered to talk to their friends about this miraculous diet.

Paulette has the power of the Internet at her fingertips. With this medium, she can organize her book readers into a tribe. They can follow her on social networking sites and she can even create a social networking site for her movement (using a platform like Ning). On this site, the people in Paulette’s tribe can congregate and encourage each other.

If you are an author with a powerful message, consider how you can turn your fans into a tribe and empower them to spread your message to the world.

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