How Seth Godin Leveraged His True Fans to Publish his Latest Book

IMG_5926The Icarus Deception is as interesting for how it came to be published as it is for the content of the book itself.

Seth Godin wanted to use Kickstarter to demonstrate the potential of a hybrid method between the slow and stagnant traditional publishing model and the immediacy but intangibility of digital publishing.

He made a deal with his publishers that if he could raise $40,000 from his tribe to fund 3 new books (The Icarus Deception, V is for Vulnerable and The Behemoth), they would also be willing to invest their resources into publishing and promoting the books to a wider audience.

The Kickstarter project for The Icarus Deception went on to raise a little more than the intended $40,000 - $287,342 to be exact. That amount was contributed by 4,242 backers, so each contributed way more than the cost of a single book ($67.73 each on average). I think it’s fair to say that most of those backers (including myself) could be described as ‘true fans’ of Godin’s work.

From the outset, Godin explained that Kickstarter is the way to leverage your tribe of fans/true fans – not to build that tribe. Godin already had the fans, thanks to the impressive body of work he has built using his blog, his previous books, and his other projects. Just like Amanda Palmer already had a tribe to leverage when she raised $1,192,793 to fund her latest album, art book and live tour.

For you and I, Kickstarter is unlikely to produce such massive results – but that’s not to say that with the right idea, a small and supportive tribe, the right rewards and price points for backers, and some good old fashioned hustling, we couldn’t achieve success. A couple of my WDS pals have done just that. Nathan Agin, who I interviewed recently, raised over $10,000 to create his new TV show about travel and healthy eating, and singer-songwriter Kim Jennings raised almost $4,000 for her new record.

My full review of The Icarus Deception is coming next. You can still enter the competition to win a copy (deadline has been extended until midnight on Monday 21st January).

For Godin’s Sake, Be More Ridiculous and Rampantly Spread Sethisms!

Artwork by Hugh MacLeod

Artwork by Hugh MacLeod

In his new, Kickstarter-funded book The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin says that:

“The hard part of bringing art to your tribe, your culture, or your market is understanding where the line between boring and ridiculous lies.” #sethisms

He elaborates on this argument in a recent blog post entitled ‘Ridiculousness is the new remarkable‘.

“We can view the term ridiculous as an insult from the keeper of normal, a put-down from the person who seeks to maintain the status quo and avoid even the contemplation of failure.

Or we embrace ridiculous as the sign that maybe, just maybe, we’re being generous, daring, creative and silly. You know, remarkable.” #sethisms

Indeed, the behemoth book that Kickstarter funders including myself, were sent, is so ludicrously large, I also couldn’t resist filming myself unboxing it. Despite the fact other people had already filmed themselves unboxing it, or taken photos of their baby asleep on top of it. It’s the same height as my TV for Godin’s sake!

The Prizes Inside!

In today’s wee video, you’ll also see the prizes I have for you this week – four copies of The Icarus Deception and one signed copy, of the picture book for grown-ups – V is for Vulnerable.

Now, here is your challenge:

To Rampantly Spread Sethisms.

Take a photo, draw a doodle or write a blog post or carefully crafted comment inspired by one of the Sethisms I post throughout the week or any concept which you find particularly inspiring from Seth’s blog.

You could even write your own Pseudo-Sethism, as long as it’s in the spirit of his writings and adds something to the conversation.

In the spirit of Seth’s writing, keep whatever you do short, sweet and snappy. Don’t think about it too much, just do whatever comes to mind. Ship!

Make sure you link back to this post and/or leave a link to your contribution in the comments, and share your Sethisms on social media to help spread the word.

The four winner’s posts/ideas/art/Sethisms will be featured here on Sunday 20th January with one lucky person winning both The Icarus Deception and the signed copy of V is for Vulnerable (hint: extra points will be given for ridiculousness).

Objects of Affection: Seth Godin’s Behemoth


As part of this week’s Seth Godin Spectacular, here’s the latest in this strange little series of videos celebrating the physical in a digital world, which I’m calling ‘Objects of Affection’.

This time it’s Seth Godin’s ridiculously big Behemoth of a book, which is called This Might Work or This Might Not Work, depending which way you look at it. It certainly didn’t work when I tried to use it as reading material on the toilet, that’s for sure.

You can’t buy this book in the shops as it was only for Kickstarter funders, however a slightly smaller version is available, called Watcha Gonna Do With That Duck & Other Provocations (Amazon UK/Amazon US affiliate links)

And yes, I know someone has already filmed an unboxing of it. I posted it a while back. But it’s so bloody big, I couldn’t resist filming my own!

Here’s today’s Sethism, from his new book The Icarus Deception. and I’ll be announcing how to win yourself a copy tomorrow!

“Your art at first will be timid. It might not be based on a truly clear awareness of the world, because the lizard brain will cloud your sight in order to protect itself.

But day by day, project by project, you can train yourself to ship. Ship small art. Ship medium art. Then ship world-changing, scary, change-your-underwear art.” #Sethisms

Previous Objects of Affection:


The Istanbul Review

New Year “What Ifs” Part 3 – The World Domination Edition

The “What Ifs” I’m asking you to consider in this third and final part of the series were mostly inspired by my trip to Portland for the 2012 World Domination Summit (aka WDS2012), which was definitely up there as one of the most life-changing events of 2012 for me.

Whilst I went there expecting to maybe get a few tips about running a freelance business, I got something entirely unexpected instead; a whole new way of looking at the world.

What if.. “no-one else belongs here more than you”?

Portland Firefighters

That was one of my favourite quotes from Brene Brown’s talk at WDS2012 in Portland, Oregon.

It’s a good reminder that you are just as worthy as anyone on this planet, or in any particular, unfamiliar, out-of-your-comfort-zone place you should find yourself. It was such a welcoming, empowering message to hear when I was away in a strange city on my own for the first time in years.

Ultimately though, and mostly because of the people I met there, Portland felt like a home from home.

Not only was it gloriously sunny the entire time I was there, not only did I get to enjoy healthy food, karaoke, the 4th of July celebrations with new friends, a blues festival, and bonding with beautiful people in the Japanese and Chinese Gardens, but I also got to explore the city. I particularly loved Powell’s Bookstore which is so big you need a map (or smartphone app) to get around it, and which has a cafe that’s open until 11pm and sells liquorice tea (my favourite).

Here are some of the photos I took during my time there:

Portland/WDS pics on Flickr: Part One Part Two Part Three

And please also check out the stunning photos from my WDS friend ‘Olasis’ who is one of several very talented photographers I met there.

Another favourite of the WDS community is Gregory Berg’s Radio Enso. He’s interviewed quite a few of the speakers at WDS as well as many other interesting folk and it’s well worth a listen.

What if.. someone told you they believe in you?

Chris Guillebeau gave everyone at WDS2012 $100 to invest how we saw fit. It felt like an extremely generous and meaningful gift but one which came with a fair amount of responsibility. In my case, I couldn’t decide on one thing, so I ended up investing in quite a few different things, including myself!

It’s hard to explain what this gift meant.. a lot of people said that they felt that the real gift was that they got the message that someone believed in them.

Here are a couple of great projects started by other WDS attendees using their $100:

Natalie Sisson’s $100 Change e-course

Dave Ursillo’s The Literati writer’s group

What if.. you told someone you believed in them?

If it wasn’t for the support of my primary school teacher Mrs Bliss, I might never have believed in myself as a writer. I might never have come back to it after a long hiatus during college.

Not enough creative people get this kind of support, and frankly, we deserve better. I now see it as part of my mission in life to support creative people in their endeavours at the same time that I work towards becoming a creative professional myself.

I’ve done it in the past through writing for local magazines about music, film and books, and of course more recently through this blog. I also buy records from local musicians when I can, and support people online who are doing good things.

Kickstarter and other fundraising sites are a great way to support other people’s creative endeavours, and I helped to fund quite a few projects this year from people I admire. 2012 was also the year that Kickstarter finally allowed people from the UK to get involved.

One project I was keen to support with my $100 was this one which Chris Guillebeau tweeted about which aims to create portable solar power:


What if.. you believed in yourself?

But I also invested $100 in myself and booked a session with confidence coach Steve Errey, who I met on one of my last days in Portland. After speaking to him for an hour I had the insight that I not only had a lot to compassion to offer other people, but that I also needed to treat myself with some. This has made a big difference already in my approach to how I treat myself on a daily basis and the way in which I’m going forward.

What if… you used your knowledge or skills to help others?

After I got back from Portland I volunteered at a couple of social media workshops organised by the North Edinburgh News, and also helped the organisers film a couple of videos to promote the sessions. This was really rewarding, especially when I was able to help people to publish their first blog post or understand how to make simple videos for the web. Was it entirely unselfish of me? No – because one of the side effects was that it also helped me boost my own confidence – plus it was really good fun. So much so, that I’ve now volunteered to help out at the Edinburgh Social Media Surgeries which return later this month.

What if.. you honoured your heart’s desires instead of chasing meaningless goals?


I attended a talk by Danielle La Porte at WDS2012 which was very inspiring. I was very impressed by her calm but confident poise and the intensity with which she shared her wisdom and experience.

Although her book The Firestarter Sessions had just come out, at the time she hinted that she had a new project in the works, which turned out to be the book and multimedia extravaganza that is The Desire Map. She suggests that we set goals without fully understanding why – in fact, what we are seeking is how those goals will make us feel, rather than the goal itself.

In a recent video, Danielle says “your feelings are like road signs – they always point back to your soul”.

Get the Desire Map here (this is an affiliate link which means you will be supporting the Clear-Minded Creative if you make a purchase).

What if.. it’s ok to be the quiet one?

One of the best books I read last year was Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts (yes, she also talked at WDS, in conversation with Jonathan Fields). Now that I’m a teetotaller (temporarily, at least), I’ve realised that drinking has long been a way for me to become more extroverted and dealing with big social occasions, although it could be said it often took me too far the other way!

Being sober, I’m coming to terms more and more with being an introvert – someone who needs alone time to recharge – instead of feeling bad, or conflicted about it. Of course the book explores the concept much more deeply, and is well worth reading for both introverts and extroverts. It ultimately made me feel much more accepting of my natural inclination to be “the quiet one” and to see that the world needs introverts (who tend to be more creative) and extroverts equally.

You can find out more about the book by watching Susan’s TED Talk below:

Phew. I think that’s enough “what ifs” for one week. I hope these have provoked a few new possibilities for you. Do you have any suggestions to add, life-changing experiences, or thought-provoking books to recommend? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Recently, on the Internet – AMAZING VIDEOS AND KICK-ASS WOMEN

inhale the good shit
I can’t remember the last time I did one of these round-up posts, but there’s been a lot of good stuff on the internet recently which I wouldn’t like you to miss out on.

See, the internet and I are pretty good pals (Some might say it’s my only friend). It tells me interesting things, and it doesn’t mind if I share them with other people. In fact if I don’t share them it goes in a bit of a cream puff.

So I share them on Twitter, and Facebook, and Tumblr, and Pinterest, and Google MotherfriggingPlus, but still the internet’s insatiable desire to be liked (or is that my own insatiable desire to accrue internet likes?) is not satisfied, and so I bring you a massive blog post full of the best things I’ve seen on the internet.

Plus I couldn’t think of anything else to write about.

Amazing & Hilarious Art Documentary on John Balderassi with voice over by Tom Waits

And it’s less than 6 minutes long, what’s not to like?

Game On with Gaiman

Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech has been posted on a lot of the blogs I read, and rightly so. His thoughts on creativity, writing and freelancing are incredibly inspiring. I’ve embedded it below, but if you can’t watch video at the moment you can read the full transcript here.

I can’t implore you to watch this enough. It’s possibly my favourite ever commencement speech. Not that I’ve compiled a list of commencement speeches or anything (I never really heard of them before the internet told me), but that one by Steve Jobs was also pretty good…

Live and KickStartering

Meanwhile, Gaiman’s lovely wife Amanda Palmer has just raised ONE MILLION dollars on Kickstarter to fund her new album. Hypebot reported (with gratuitous tits included gratis).

As they point out, Palmer is already an established artist with a huge fanbase and a bunch of celebrity pals. But still, just think of the possibilities for your own creative project. Hell, even tech companies are using Kickstarter to raise backing for their products before they even manufacture a single item, e.g. the Pebble watch which connects with smartphones raised $10m. That’s a lot of money right there. Unfortunately there is an issue with using it in the UK which is a bit annoying.


GOOD report that ‘Nature-Deficit Disorder’ Is Making Us Fat, Sick, and Depressed. Thankfully, ‘Nature-Deficit Disorder’ is a completely made up term, as they admit in the article. So I’ll not bother going outside then.

Ze Frank’s A Show is rather brilliant. he says “Chase that Happy”:

 Blogging, Freelancing & Entrepreneuring 

We all have an idea of our ideal workspace. A clean, mahogony desk, a 27# iMac, a huge stack of hundred dollar bills, and a bottle of whisky, plus a rifle. That’s mine. But in reality, I sit at the kitchen table surrounded by random bits of junk.

Here are some gorgeous photos of actual real, kind of messy workspaces, via Boing Boing.

The truth is, working from home has its ups and downs. I tweeted about the good side.

But our flat is tiny, and if both myself and Mel both had to work home it would soon veer into Shining territory (although it would more likely be Mel hunting me down with an axe).

This article describes the horrors of  a “dual remote worker marriage”.

Ideasmench made a good list of 50 people every entrepreneur should follow on Twitter.

Entrepreneur Emi Gal asks, do you have the drive to succeed?

Women who are kicking ass and taking names online

Nikita kicks ass and takes names

Think Traffic is a blog which tells you how to get traffic for your blog. A good way to get traffic for your blog is to mention lots of bloggers. Another good way is to feature lots of hot sexy women. This post does both. Seriously though, these women are kicking ass and taking names online. Are me and other men doomed because we’re just too lazy and don’t look good in a tight dress?

Natalie Sisson is one of those women who are kicking ass and taking names online. She describes herself as ‘the suitcase entrepreneur’. Not because she sells suitcases, but because she travels like, a lot. Anyway, after 2 years she’s learnt some shit. Here’s the lowdown, in 24 Incredible Lessons Learnt From Being in Business. This is seriously worth a read if you’re interested in starting an online business.

Hey Shenee isn’t in Think Traffic’s list but she too, is kicking ass and taking names online. She even took my name, but it didn’t really suit her so she gave it back.

Recently she argued that as creative professionals we should only be doing the work we truly enjoy, not the kind of horrible jobs that make us do a little puke in our mouths. As a freelancer, this is very difficult to stick to, but it’s definitely a good ‘rule of thumb’ for finding work that inspires you rather than makes you want to hide under the bed!


Literary agent Shawn Coyne shares the “origin stories” of two new books over at Stephen Pressfield’s blog.

Justine Musk reckons we can find our best creative work by “learning our shadow”.

The highly prolific writer of advice for writers Jeff Goins is running a short, free course on writing over the next few weeks. You may or may not want to sign up. Only do so if you can commit to actually following his advice each day.

Meanwhile, have you had a bad experience with Mel Gibson? If so, why not write a book about it? That’s what Joe Eszterhas, creator of Basic Instinct did, penning a Kindle Singles book called ‘Heaven and Mel’.


Detour TV is here! A 30 minute monthly web TV show all about new Scottish music by those clever Detour Scotland chappies, which is really well made. Good job chaps! The Pop Cop also has a bit about the making of it.

Right, I’ve run out of steam, ice cream and bad 80’s music so that’s all for now. But if you’ve seen something good on the internet, feel free to share a link in the comments. No spam mind!