On a lovely street in Tel Aviv, a rock throw from the beach, is the Haganah Museum. This tribute to the early years of the Israel Defense Forces details the pioneers who came to the land, settled it and developed the fighting techniques that would culminate in the modern IDF.
One particular exhibit discusses the period of time (I believe in the ’30s) when it became necessary to go on the attack against terrorists. Rather than a “circle-the-wagons” approach, the Jews adopted a strategy of “leaving the fence” and took the fight to the infiltrators.
I couldn’t help but think of that after watching Michael Hyatt’s interview with author Seth Godin, a publishing pioneer and visionary. And I watched the interview on my phone after seeing Hyatt’s Tweet announcing the interview, which took place at the Chick-fil-A Leadercast.
Michaelhyatt.com is an engaging source for tips for authors; I find him to be the most innovative publisher out there today, at least among traditional publishers. Somehow, he straddles the gulf between paper book publishers and “Star Wars” publishers like Godin.
In any event, Godin had terrific advice for publishers and authors. In fact, his musings on publishing are positively titillating. His new book, “Poke the Box,” exhorts people to try new things and not be afraid of innovation.
After getting an MBA from Stanford, Godin was a brand manager before creating a book-packaging group. Getting in on the ground floor of Internet marketing, Godin began to realize the almost limitless potential for publishing.
During the Hyatt interview (which you can access on Hyatt’s website), Godin said so many staggering things in just a few minutes that I wonder if many publishing CEOs had to dial 911. For example, Godin advocates authors giving away their first book, such as through Amazon, in order to create marketing buzz.
This is certainly in line with the “leave the fence” mentality, in which an innovator no longer sits back and reacts to incoming events, but creates, as it were, his or her own reality.
Amazon is a naughty word to many publishers today. The online giant is offering individual authors enormous new power in marketing their works. This is something that was unavailable in the days when print books and their publishers were king.
Godin explains – when Hyatt asks what kind of “pushback” he gets from publishers – that many traditional publishers are of an age that makes reaching retirement the goal. Thus, many of them see no need to jump on the new publishing frontier. They are too old and too much in love with a model that is already in the past. Perhaps the distant past.
More and more, I see the power of marketing when it comes to books. Godin reasons that bold, unique products are “purple cows,” creatures so rare that one must sit up and take notice. In fact, his book, “Purple Cow,” sold over 150,000 copies.
Godin told Hyatt that too many of us are stuck between wanting to stay in 1952 and entering the writing/publishing future. He said that if only we would let go of 1952, then everything after that is downhill racing. I like very much his idea of giving a book away, at least for a time.
Of course, most writers would blanche at the very thought. Why should I give away the masterpiece I toiled to create? Well, for one thing, you are already stuck in 1952 thinking. Those were the days when publishers produced books that sold in independent bookstores.
Guess what? Independent bookstores are going to end up in the Smithsonian.
And Godin released his e-book, “Unleashing the Ideavirus,” and this opened the way for his career in public speaking.
I would also encourage you to check out Godin’s Domino Project, which states as its mission statement: “The Domino Project is a new way to think about publishing. Founded by Seth Godin and powered by Amazon, we’re trying to change the way books are built, sold and spread.”
Needless to say, we wouldn’t agree with every idea that Godin promotes, or Hyatt’s ideas for that matter. Yet I do salute both of them for being forward-thinking. I encourage you, aggressively, to embrace the new ideas and technologies, and see where your writing ideas take you. The monopoly of the old publishers has been broken.
So, to perhaps carry the imagery too far, I encourage all of you writers to become purple cows and leave the fence.