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Seth Godin on Kickstarter and the Value of an Author Platform

I received an unexpected email from Seth Godin today – he read a post I had written analyzing his Kickstarter campaign for his latest book, The Icarus Deception, and wanted to chat about his experience over the past eight months.

Below is a video of our chat, and here are some of the more interesting quotes from Seth:

  • “I don’t need the cash from Kickstarter to put a book into the world, but with ebooks, no one does.”
  • “Bookstores have never really supported my work.”
  • “If you go to Barnes & Noble today you will see big stacks of my books ONLY because of Kickstarter. That sent a message to Barnes & Noble.”
  • “The hard part of publishing is selling the first 10,000 copies. It’s really hard.”
  • “If 5,000 people sign on during the first day, then the publisher will make note.”
  • “I am calling BS on the author who thinks there is a conspiracy keeping them out of the publishing world.”
  • “What you need to do is the hard work day by day is building a group of people who trust you, and want to support you when it’s time.”
  • “I lost money on my Kickstarter, the shipping costs alone were $100,000.”
  • “You don’t make money from your core tribe, you serve them. If you serve them well, you will make money from other people.”
  • “It is about writing for your readers, as opposed to finding readers for your writing. Totally upside down for most people in the book business.”
  • “Start today to build the platform that you will be able to use three years from now.”

Here is the full video:

  • TheCreativePenn

    Fantastic interview Dan, and I was part of Seth’s Kickstarter.

    I have the behemoth book and all the good stuff in the magical big box. As a fan I was surprised and delighted (which was his aim) and it makes me want to do physical books as well as ebooks now. I know I’ve drunk the KoolAid on his message, but I want people to understand his ‘bias towards action’, by actually building something, even if it might not work. That’s art.

    I also agree on not using Kickstarter unless you are already established. I have a decent size platform now, but there’s no way I would do a KS campaign yet. It’s got to be for people who are already connecting with the people who want something precious.

    • Thanks Joanna! The words you use really help describe the difference here: “I was PART of Seth’s Kickstarter.” The nature of that platform and Seth’s connection with his audience is that you aren’t buying something from him as a consumer, you are participating in a shared experience. That is such as subtle shift that many people miss, but as you indicate: SO POWERFUL!

      Very interesting to hear that you wouldn’t use Kickstarter yet. I wonder what the threshold is, and when anyone would know they have reached it?


      • Nina Amir

        Great interview, Dan. I loved hearing Seth talk about building platform in advance and what it takes to get into a bookstore. Indie authors dream of getting their books in a store and, yet, bestselling author Seth Godin had to prove there was a reason for his book to get promoted in a store–to have more than one copy on the shelf. Really interesting. Plus, platform is so much more than numbers. Aspiring authors need to stop looking at how many people are following them and simply look at how engaged those followers are. It’s more about reach and visibility than numbers. Influence is not in the numbers at all. I hope publishers will start considering this when looking at proposals as well.

  • Jungle Girl

    So epic. So right. Thank you for the interview, thank you for the Seth Godin’s of the world….illuminating.

  • Paul Martin

    Thank you for publishing this. Seth Godin is an amazing writer, and it is not often I find an opportunity to see an interviewer I respect talk with someone else I admire so highly. The business side of writing continues to change, and I struggle to catch up. Seth Godin is such a good writer that he has a remarkable ability to explain his own approaches with amazing clarity. His background allows him to discuss the business aspects of his writing much more clearly than most other writers. Thank you.

  • Bob


    Excellent podcast, thanks for sharing. As someone who just started blogging as a start to building a platform over time, it was encouraging to hear acknowledged that a successful platform can take years. Will definately help personally with the perserverance aspect.

  • Love it Dan. Took me back to my time in NY. Great conversation.

  • Love this interview. Dan, you know you are walking the walk of building a platform when you get this prize! Congrats on going a great job. Mr. Godin is quite visionary! Thanks for sharing.

  • Katie Knight

    That was a great, thanks for sharing Dan. gained a few great insights.

  • Lara Schiffbauer

    “You don’t make money from your core tribe, you serve them. If you serve them well, you will make money from other people.”

    I love this. It’s not about the hard sell, it’s about respecting each other – tribe, reader, and writer.

  • I am using the grassroots approach with meaningful connections and “word of mouth” and I really believe this is what Seth said works: “You need to do something for 10 people and that 10 …” basically makes it grow.

  • Great stuff, thanks so much for this, Dan, and congratulations. I’ll be showing this to people. A lot of excellent insight packed into a short interview. All best, Robin

  • Penelope Silvers

    Great message from Seth Godin so packed full of valuable nuggets that I will need to go back and watch again! Love this quote “What you need to do is the hard work day by day is building a group of people who trust you, and want to support you when it’s time.” This is what it’s all about–relationships, whether you’re on or off the internet.

  • Tricia Kelly

    I enjoy that – thanks, another view on kickstar, etc — would love to know the other sites he’s now using? He mentioned them comparing but no names.

  • Really good stuff Dan & Seth, thanks for sharing. Love the Seth’s point about platform building being a marathon. “10 years to overnight success.”

  • Roger Shank

    Stumbled upon the initial blog post from the summer and then the follow up video. I too was a part of the initial kickstarter program. I was able to upgrade my level to a “no brainer” at the last minute. If you are kicking yourself for not getting a copy of the “mammoth behemoth”…. there may be one last chance… 800 CEO Read is a “Supersneezer Deluxe package” follow the link here http://800ceoread.com/book/show/Godinbehemoth-Seth_Godin_Supersneezer_Deluxe_package_?timestamp=1360004721 . They say they are close to selling out so dont wait. I enjoyed it so much I purchased a second set….

    • Thanks, but I decided in August that I don’t need a book of that size to dust.

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