In Manhattan, when people find out I've written a book, the first question they always ask is: "Who's your publisher?"
Which is weird because, aside from maybe McSweeney's in its earlier days, and surely some supermarket harlequin novel publishing house, no one buys books because of who published them. You'll never hear this conversation:
"What books do you like to read?"
"Books published by Random House."
You see, people in Manhattan are still stuck on the "prestige" of publishing. As if every book the Big Six publishers release is great and anything not released by them is either occasionally decent but always poorly selling (if it's from an indie publisher) or abject garbage (if it's self-published). This thinking simply is not accurate any more. It's certainly not prevalent in the rest of America which is great for us authors. When I was on How to Fail's 30 Bars in 30 Days book tour, I learned this first hand.
In the "rest" of America, when people find out you have a book, the first question they ask is:
"What's it about?"
Which should be the first question. Because isn't that all that truly matters?
What is the book about?
How well is it written?
And, I suppose, what's it gonna cost me?
After people found out what "How to Fail" was about, some people showed no interest, but, luckily, many more people did. But the most interesting thing would happen, and this happened too many times to count, after the purchase when the purchaser would offhandedly remark, "You know, I think it's really great you self-published your own book and figured out a way to sell it."
I'd have to tell them, actually, NO, I didn't self-publish it. It's just published by an indie you've never heard of and I prefer to sell it in bars rather than bookstores (where you can buy it too if you truly want to).
The thing is, NO ONE cared. Whether I was published by Random House or an indie they've never heard of or even simply by me, people didn't care. Whether my book was on the front table of Borders or on a corner table at the Felie pub or Bukowski's Tavern. They only cared that the book sounded interesting and had ideas they wanted to read.
Major publishers seem to have lost track of this, focused only on sell sell selling books, any books, to the uninformed masses. Admittedly, they're still winning at that game because they have the money and contacts to control the most important thing of the moment, good table placement at Barnes & Noble and an ability to manipulate bestseller lists, but these things won't matter much longer.
Enter Seth Godin's The Domino Project.
Working directly with Amazon, Godin's goal is to reinvent what it means to be a publisher while finding better ways to spread ideas. He's going to do this by ignoring what the annoying and increasingly obsolete middle men (bookstores most notably) want, by finding ways to sell directly to the kinds of readers that want to read certain things. Whether a zillion people want to hear about a certain book, or only a few thousand, The Domino Project plans to find them and deliver them the materials the way they want them delivered (paperback, audiobook, ebook, who gives a damn? Bookstore, online, at the bar, likewise).
I have no shame in unabashedly admitting that Seth Godin is my idol and his words of wisdom have been mentoring me for the last decade. Within the past few months I've gotten to know Seth a little, who has even paid me one of the greatest compliments of my life when he told me he admired my marketing of "How to Fail."
Now, I'm pleased to announce I'll be doing some "street team" work for The Domino Project. These are ideas I believe in and ideas that I've discovered actually work through my own struggles and successes with "How to Fail." Of course, Seth is much smarter than me so I'm happy to be a follower. I've been evangelizing Seth's ideas for years and would have been evangelizing The Domino Project too, even if I wasn't working with them.
The ironic thing is that one day soon when people ask me what books I read, I could actually see my reply being:
"All the books published by The Domino Project."
The Domino Project's first book is by Seth Godin and will be released next month:
A few of my other favorite Godin books: