Seth Godin's Advice For Writers & Authors

Advice for Authors(Writers) by Seth Godin


Don’t know who Seth Godin is? Well you should, especially if you want to understand the new world that’s emerging for the publishing/book industry.

Visionary, trendspotter, ideamaker even these labels don’t help to convey the immensity of influence and inspiration that he has had upon the world.

His latest book, Tribes, is a nationwide bestseller, appearing on the Amazon, New York Times, BusinessWeek and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. It’s about the most powerful form of marketing–leadership–and how anyone can now become a leader, creating movements that matter.

Seth Godin:

  • writes the most popular marketing blog in the world;
  • is the author of the bestselling marketing books of the last decade;
  • speaks to large groups on marketing, new media and what’s next;
  • and is the founder of, a fast-growing recommendation website.

You can read his wikipedia bio, reviews of his seminars and what Google thinks of him.

Godin is author of ten books that have been bestsellers around the world and changed the way people think about marketing, change and work. His books have been translated into more than 20 languages, and his ebooks are among the most popular ever published. He is responsible for many words in the marketer’s vocabulary, including permission marketing, ideaviruses, purple cows, the dip and sneezers. His irrepressible speaking style and no-holds-barred blog have helped him create a large following around the world.

This man knows his stuff!

I subscribe to lots of RSS feeds, probably like a lot of you, but Seth’s Blog is one I always make sure to read. He continually amazes me with his insights. And a place where he has some awesomely deep wisdom is his knowledge of the book publishing world.

Below you’ll find a collection of Seth Godin’s advice for authors. If I’ve missed something please let me know and do yourself the favor of check out his blog and buying his books. You’ll be happy that you did.

Seth Godin’s Advice For Authors

Advice for Authors

Always beware free advice. It is worth what it costs!

That said, 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….

Read the rest…

The purpose of a book cover

(and I think it works for lots of products)

Is the purpose of the cover to sell books, to accurately describe what’s in the book, or to tee up the reader so the book has maximum impact?

The third.

It’s the third because if the book has maximum impact, then word of mouth is created, and word of mouth is what sells your product, not the cover.

Tactically, the cover sells the back cover, the back cover sells the flap and by then you’ve sold the book. If those steps end up selling a book that the purchaser doesn’t like, game over. So you have to be consistent all the way through and end up creating a conversation after the purchase…

Read the rest here:

Random thoughts about the Kindle

The Kindle does a fine job of being a book reader, and a horrible job of actually improving the act of reading a book. This is a surprising design choice, I think, and a mistake. Here are three simple examples of how non-fiction books on the Kindle could be better, not just cheaper and thinner:

Read the rest here:

Advice for Authors

It happened again. There I was, meeting with someone who I thought had nothing to do with books or publishing, and it turns out his new book just came out.

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:

Read the rest here:

Seth Godin’s Book Tour Ideas

Read the rest here:

Do you judge a book by its cover?

I do.

It’s a horrible habit, I admit it. But do I have any other choice? With 95,000 books published every year (in the USA alone), how on earth are you supposed to spend the time to read books with bad covers?

Read the rest here:

Judging a book by its cover

Pity George Orwell. His classic never got a decent cover.

You can always tell the jacket designer is in trouble when the cover uses irrelevant type design to get the project over with.

Read the rest here:

You should write an ebook

I’m serious. Smart people with good ideas worth sharing can get a lot out of this exercise.

To help you out, I wrote a lens about the simple details of how to do it.

It’s technically easy and when it works, your idea will spread far and wide. Even better, the act of writing your idea in a cogent, organized way will make the idea better. You can write an ebook about your travel destination, your consulting philosophy or an amazing job you’d like to fill.

Read the rest here:

How To Make an eBook In Just A Few Steps

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Blogs, books and the irony of short

Blogs have eliminated the reason for most business books to exist. If you can say it in three blog posts and reach more people, then waiting a year and putting in all that effort seems sort of pointless. The chances that your effort will be rewarded with income in proportion to the time you put in are pretty low.

Read the rest here:

Marketing plan for a marketing book

Loyal readers will remember that I used permission marketing techniques to market my book Permission Marketing. If you wrote to (it still works):, you get the first four chapters of the book for free. I ended up with an astonishing 150,000 plus requests, and it made the book successful.

With Unleashing the Ideavirus, I decided to follow the advice in the book and give the book away for free. (it’s still free at We ended up, by my estimate, spreading 2 million copies around the world that way. As that happened, the hardcover edition went to #5 on Amazon US, reaching #4 in Japan.

So, with My new book, Purple Cow the challenge was to create a plan that represented the ideas in the book itself. In a nutshell:

Read the rest here:

The Dip Tour

I’m trying something new this May.

Usually, when authors tour, they trudge from bookstore to bookstore. It’s grinding and a little demeaning (here’s a tip: if you see an author in a bookstore, don’t go near him unless you’re prepared to buy the book (or at least hide it somewhere in the store.)) The whole interaction isn’t very pleasant for the reader either.

Read the rest here:

A chance to be on the cover of my book

It’s about you, after all.

If you’d like to be on the cover–at least in a teeny tiny little section of it– (no promises, none at all–the cutting room floor is bigger than the cover), send a photo of yourself (headshots are best) to me. If you’re lucky, you’ll join a thousand other handsome folks immortalized in print.  It could even get you on the Dick Cavett show. Here’s your chance to be slightly famous.

Read the rest here:


A flurry of unsolicited questions came in on Friday, including two “please review my blog” letters, and a “please review my book” package. (For the record, I’m totally useless at reviewing your blog, sorry.)

One person was very honest and asked, “Is my blog boring?”

If you need to ask, you probably know the answer.

The mistake most blogs and books make: they are about the writer, not the reader.

Read the rest here:

What does this remind you of?

Every time you visit a new website, enter a new airport, visit a new store, examine a new book… the question you ask first off is, “what’s this like?”

At a strange airport, if it’s ‘like’ your airport, you know just what to do. It’s easy. If it’s totally different, you have to stop, regroup, and start to understand what’s involved.

If a book has cheap color separations, the wrong sort of gloss on the cover and the wrong hue to the paper, it just feels cheap and self-published and unlikely to be the real deal. It doesn’t matter a bit what’s inside, who wrote it, anything. You’ve already decided because this book reminds you of untrustworthy books you’ve encountered before.

Read the rest here:

How to title stuff

(Books, blog posts, breakfast cereals, whatever).

I was talking to someone yesterday about naming books, and I realized that there are three useful schools of thought here.

Read the rest here:

Audio books

There are only three kinds of people in the world:

  • Those that like audio books
  • Those that don’t
  • (and by far the largest) those that have never tried one

The reason for the market failure is historic. Audio books traditionally generate very little revenue to the author. She gets a royalty on a royalty on a small sales base. Not worth the time to promote. Add to that the huge hassle of keeping a large number of titles in stock at a retailer and throw in the high price required by producing many CDs or cassette tapes per title, and you see the problem.

Read the rest here:

How much for digital?

The movie studios are starting to get excited about renting movies digitally (via Apple and others). The pricing seems to be modeled on Blockbuster (+). Figure $3 a rental, another buck or so for HD. That seems ‘fair’, because it’s in the same range as we’re used to.

But wait…

Read the rest here:

What is viral marketing?

Viral marketing is an idea that spreads–and an idea that while it is spreading actually helps market your business or cause.

Two kinds of viral marketing: The original classic sort in which the marketing is the product and which a self-amplifying cycle occurs. Hotmail, for example, or YouTube. The more people use them, the more people see them. The more people see them, the more people use them. The product or service must be something that improves once more people use it.

A second kind has evolved over the last few years…

Read the rest here:

Selling ideas to a big company

I have been selling ideas for a long time, and decided to become a book packager (which I did before doing what I do now) solely because it’s an industry that makes it possible to sell ideas.

One project took more than five years (selling Stanley Kaplan on creating a line of test prep books, finding a publisher and then creating them and launching the series) and one book took a day to invent, a day to sell and three days to write. I learned a lot of lessons the hard way–I got 900 rejection letters my first year and sold exactly one project.

Two things have to happen before a big company buys your idea…

Read the rest here:

Who is Philip Roth?

There are more than 100,000 published authors in the US. Most of them have publishing houses (and at least a tenuous connection to a publicist). What a great marketing problem. The long tail of authors meets the long tail of public interest. How do they intersect?

This is a challenge to authors. Since I know a lot of them (and since many I don’t know read this blog) I thought I’d do it here…

Read the rest here:

How often should you publish?

How many movies should you star in next year?

How many records should you release? How many songs should you write?

How many times a week should you post to your blog?

And when should my next book come out? Or your next newsletter or that next cartoon? What about Nike–they launch more than one product every day. Is that too many?

Read the rest here:

The Secret of Writing to be Read

Are you Foucault or Gladwell? Steven Johnson has done some interesting (but not surprising) research on the complexity of the work of a few writers…

Read the rest here:

Books As Snacks

The only book on my coffee table…

Is this beauty from our hero, Tom Peters: tompeters! management consulting leadership training development project management.

The fact is, few people sit down and read non-fiction the way they used to. Tom is on the cutting edge in figuring out how to turn books into snacks.

Read the rest here:

How to create a great website

Here are principles I think you can’t avoid:

1. Fire the committee. No great website in history has been conceived of by more than three people. Not one. This is a deal breaker.


Read the rest here:

Things to ask before you redo your website

I don’t do any consulting, but that doesn’t stop people from asking me questions. The most common question people ask me when they want a new website is, “If you were in charge of this, who are the 2 or 3 people you’d want to be sure to talk to – to help think through the issues, help us figure out who should do the work, etc.?”

Read the rest here:

Three things you need if you want more customers

If you want to grow, you need new customers. And if you want new customers, you need three things:
1. A group of possible customers you can identify and reach.
Read the rest here:

Reinventing the Kindle (part II)

Okay, so Amazon’s Kindle is cool and it’s gaining in traction and people who have one buy a lot of books. 10% of Amazon’s book sales are now on the Kindle. [For books where both versions are available].

Read the rest here:

I’m totally over my stats problem…

But I worry that if you’re an author, you might not be. You might be spending hours a day checking your sales ranking on Amazon. If that’s you…

Read the rest here:

Better than Free

Kevin Kelly has a fantastic (no surprise) riff about free. Highly recommended.

His point: when there are infinite copies of something, charging for one is almost impossible.

Here are his eight ways of making something worth charging for…

Read the rest here:

Music lessons

Things you can learn from the music business (as it falls apart)…

Read the rest here:


A few readers have pinged me, asking how I can post to other blogs that write stuff similar to mine. “Aren’t you promoting the competition?”

Two part answer. First, I don’t think most authors have competition…

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The platform vs. the eyeballs

This might be the most subtle yet important shift that marketers face as they deal with the reality of new media. Marketers aren’t renters, now they own.

For generations, marketers were trained to buy (actually rent) eyeballs…

Read the rest here:

Getting stuck in your head

That’s what great marketing and great ideas do. They get stuck. This song from Ini Kamoze just won’t leave my brain (and if you listen once, you’ve only got yourself to blame.) The video is lame, but the song is absolutely perfect if the goal is to spread the hook.
Authors and bloggers try to do the same thing…

Read the rest here:

10 Questions With Seth Godin

Read the rest here:

There’s a lot of information here to digest. Take your time, hell take the day off if you have to. Go make yourself a cup of tea and sit back and enjoy the wisdom.

Sweet reading and even sweeter writing to ya.



About Ian Paul Marshall

Ian is the author of several books including Your Great Awakening. He loves to help people unleash the power within them and has a popular Personal Development blog that you can also check out.
This entry was posted in Book Marketing, Book Publishing, Writing Tips and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Seth Godin's Advice For Writers & Authors

  1. Maggie says:

    I have just recently come across your site and blog, so a newbie to all this. As a published author of 3 books, 2 self published, I am identifying with a lot of what you have to say and things I didn’t know, plus the painful stuff of writing and publishing that I have learnt along the way. Thank you for your ideas book, which I have just downloaded and look forward to delving into.

    I read about the blogging, and keep hearing about it, but have no idea how or where to start a blog. Everyone says its easy, but where and how can I start. Some tips for me and I am sure for many others that are not so enlightened, would be deeply appreciated.

    love and light Maggie

  2. BookWhirl says:

    Great list of advice! I’ll share this to our authors. I’m sure they’ll love it.

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