Seth Godin on publishing and writing

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Nov 23, 2002
For those who don't know, Seth Godin is a New Marketing guru writes a lot about breaking down the barriers between companies and their customers.

In short he's a smart guy who's all for ideas, creativity, and experimentation.

In this podcast - which comes with a transcription - he makes some very interesting observations about publishing and writing in general:

Episode 28 – Blogging with Seth Godin

1. Criticisms of traditional publishing:

The giant cultural problem of western book publishers is, they think their customer is the bookstore.


The other thing that’s interesting is, most people in the book business don’t buy books. They love books. They get books for free, but they don’t buy books. They fall into this trap of hypothesizing and seeking to empathize with the people that do buy books, but it’s not them. That clouds their judgment. What they’re [publishers] actually doing is seeking a book that will make the bookseller happy, or that will be fun to talk about at a cocktail party. What I’ve discovered, the more I engage directly with my readers, is that the books they want, are very different than the books a publisher wants.

2. On negative reviews:

The other thing that authors need to understand is, no one else in the world is you. Everyone sees the world through a completely different lens from everyone else. Everyone is carrying around their own narrative, their own pain, their own joy. If you see a lousy review on Amazon, they’re almost certainly not giving you a lousy review. What they’re doing is narrating a mismatch between their narrative, and what you gave them. That mismatch isn’t your fault. It’s just true.


About ten years ago, I read a review that was particularly hurtful. I realized, no author, not one, has ever said, “My writing has gotten better, because I read all my one-star reviews on Amazon.” I stopped, and I haven’t read a review of my work, positive or negative, since then. Can’t have it both ways. You can’t cherry-pick and say, “Yeah, I just want to read the ones that are going to make me feel good.” What you need to say is, “This is my chance to make something, and when I’m done, my reward is, I get to make something else.” Not, “My reward is, I get to hear how good it was.”

3. The importance of trust:

First, let me answer the Harvard Business Review question, which is this: Awareness is precious. Trust is precious. An author who has awareness and trust, has no trouble making a living as a writer. Someone like Brene Brown, beautiful writer, she got very lucky that her TED Talk went viral, because her TED Talk going viral is what enabled her to get awareness and trust, which enabled her to have a bestseller for the last two years. The book, by itself, is beautiful, but it wouldn’t be a bestseller, if she didn’t have awareness and trust.

The podcast also mentions a couple of blog posts on writing by Seth, which can be found here:
Seth's Blog: Advice for authors
Seth's Blog: Advice for authors

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