Seth Godin sets a great example

Seth Godin is a bestselling author, entrepreneur and agent of change. You can read more about him here, but that’s not why I say he sets a great example.

Seth practices what he preaches. He promises people what he intends to give them and then produces what he promises. He is not afraid to create remarkable content and then share it freely. He even organized a team of interns to create a non-profit platform, ChangeThis.com, for giving other people’s ideas a wider audience.

I am one of the fortunate beneficiaries of his largesse, because his team took my book and made it available in e-book form so thousands of people could download it.

One month ago, I could Google "Danger Quicksand" and would find a reference to an obscure paper written several years ago about pools of muddy water. Now, I Google the same phrase and I see page after page of links to my websites and favorable reviews of my still-unpublished book.

Because of Seth’s imagination and generosity, thousands of people have a more realistic view of what their employment situation is and what they can do about it. Sure, I may appear to be the primary beneficiary, because I am getting publicity on a grander scale than I ever expected, but my book was written to help hardworking people deal with the circumstances of their employment. Because of Seth’s help, thousands now have free access to information that can change their lives.

I originally made my book available as a free download, because I read about Seth and one or two other authors doing so. They all reported that the free downloads did not appear to hurt sales.

There has been some concern amongst my family and friends that continuing free downloads did not make sense while I was soliciting pre-orders for the book. Since I was getting pre-orders, but not in the flood that I expected, I began to wonder if my decision to continue free downloads still made good business sense.

I wrote to my contacts at ChangeThis.com suggesting that we change the downloading arrangement so as not to hinder sales. To my surprise, I received an email from Seth Godin himself. He was willing to go along with any decision I made, but he made the following comment which encouraged me to stay the course as I had originally envisioned it.

He wrote:

I gave away my Unleashing the Ideavirus book and had precisely the opposite reaction. The entire book (much longer than yours) is still free online and has been downloaded and passed along about 2,000,000 times. But I sold plenty. The more it spread, the more it sold.

I was touched that Seth took the time to reach out and encourage a first-time author. I could do worse than to follow his counsel and to emulate his example of helping others to succeed.

As a result, the free downloads will continue and are available in three different versions.

For more insight into Seth’s unique marketing viewpoint, read his post, Shortcuts. His weblog is required reading if you plan to market anything successfully on the internet.

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