My Podcasting Equipment


Recently I setup a podcast studio at home, and today I want to take you through the hardware I chose.

WHY PODCASTING?
First though, why podcasting? When I mentioned podcasting to my wife, her immediate reaction was “that’s so 2006.” But with the web so crowded with Tweets, pins, status updates, and blog posts, I have been obsessed with how video and audio help establish a really personal connection between people online.

As I researched podcasting, I heard again and again of the power of “being in someone’s head” for the length of a 30 or 40 minute podcast… that while they jogged or commuted into work, you had their undivided attention. In a crowded world, this is an uncrowded channel.

Why is TV still so powerful? Because people connect with eyes and voice. If you are vlogging or podcasting, you learn how personal people feel their connection is to you. People may feel they know you, just because they have followed your podcast or vlog for a long time. Blogging… similar, but without the eyes and the voice… the connection may not be so pronounced.

PODCASTING HARDWARE
With most modern computers, you can create a podcast with no additional specialized equipment. There is a microphone built right into your laptop or desktop, and there are plenty of free programs to get started.

But I am an audio nerd. I believe in the power of good audio, and used to be obsessed with my stereo. It was largely a vintage system, driven by vacuum tubes, and centered around a turntable because it delivers a richer experience than digital files or CDs. Here is the turntable before it was dismantled as I prepared for my son to be born. (delicate things don’t mix with toddlers):

Garrard 401

So when I got into podcasting and video, I wanted good audio quality. When people can’t hear you, when there is too much echo or distraction in the audio, it makes it impossible for someone to follow along and become engaged.

So I researched what the pros use. Like many who start in podcasting, I turned to Cliff Ravenscraft who runs a site called PodcastAnswerMan.com.
I looked at what professional podcaster Leo LaPorte uses.

Here is a quick list of my podcast equipment. Below that, I dig way into why I bought each piece of equipment, and things you should consider when you are selecting your own podcasting gear. Prices are approximate:

  • Heil PR40 microphone $300
  • Heil shockmount $100
  • Heil boom $100
  • BSW pop filter $60
  • DBX Compressor $85
  • Allen & Heath Mixer $235
  • XLR Cable $10
  • 1/4″ audio cables $10

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 6.15.57 PMClick here to receive my free PDF guide: Podcasting Equipment and Setup Guide

And here is what I bought and why:

THE MICROPHONE
This is the input – the critical first link in the chain. In the past I have used several other microphones for recording audio on my computer. This is my history with microphones for podcasting…

The Blue Snowball microphone is a popular and inexpensive microphone that produces great sound for it’s cost. But… my Blue Snowball had a bug that many of the earlier models had: it recorded audio at a low level. So when I recorded an interview with someone, my audio was always lower than theirs. Evidently, the company had released a firmware update to resolve the problem, but after numerous attempts to contact the company, they never responded.

Despite me being a little upset with Blue, I gave them a second chance, by buying their Yeti microphone next. About twice the money as the Snowball, it produced even better sound, and at the appropriate level. But, I quickly found a problem, the same problem that Andrew Warner of Mixergy.com found when he used it. This microphone has a large stand that rests on your desk. If you type or take notes as you record, the microphone picks up very loud tapping sounds. It became a big distraction for me, so that meant it was time to upgrade again.

The next step most people make is up to the Rode Podcaster microphone. It’s still a USB microphone, and pretty much professional quality. Again, you double the price from the one before it, the Yeti. But this mic asks to not rest on your desk, but to be suspended by a boom, which is really the best solution. So you have to add in that cost, a $100 boom and perhaps a $40 shockmount.

As I did my research, another microphone received glowing reviews by both Cliff Ravenscraft and Leo LaPorte: the Heil PR40. About $100 more expensive than the Rode, at around $325, the Heil seems to offer “dreamy” voice recordings. But… because it was a professional mic, the accessories add to the price. You need a boom and shockmount as you do with the Rode, but the Heil is not a USB microphone. So you need an interface to get the audio from the mic to the computer, and an XLR cable. Here is the mic with it’s shockmount and boom arm:

Heil PR40

Being the audio nerd I am, I couldn’t resist seeing what this mic had to offer. So this is what I bought:

The boom and the shockmount create a system whereby any movements don’t disturb the microphone to a degree where it records a bump. It’s like a shock system on your car. That, if someone walks by next to your office, it doesn’t shake the mic and create a noise in the recording. Or more likely, when your leg taps the desk accidently, it doesn’t come up in the recording.

The pop filter helps your “s” sound come off a bit more naturally, and avoids that pop sound you sometimes hear when you say a “p” into the microphone.

THE MIXER
Because the Heil PR40 is a not a USB mic, it needs an interface between it and the computer, for two reasons:

  • Pre-amp: this mic does best with a pre-amplifier, which essentially processes and boosts the signal from the microphone. You can buy a pre-amp separately, an interface box, or buy a mixer with one built in.
  • We need to convert the signal to a digital signal that has an output with a USB cable so I can wire it into my computer. Likewise, you can use an interface box or mixer for this.

I chose to go with a mixer, because honestly, it just looks more impressive. Okay, okay, it provides greater flexibility for other audio needs too.

I did a TON of research on this, and found lots of folks mentioning Behringer and Mackie equipment. I researched in music forums as well as podcast forums, since musicians obsess over quality and really abuse their gear. Again and again, I found references to Behringer equipment as having lower musical quality and more likely to break. Mackie seemed to be the next step up. In my research, I found glowing reviews of a brand I never heard of: Allen & Heath. In the end, I found a great deal on Amazon on their ZED-10FX mixer. Here it is:

Allen & Heath ZED-10FX Mixer

It has a highly respected microphone preamp, great build quality, USB is built right in, lots of channels, and at the price I got it for, I could likely resell it for about what I paid for it. Also: it accepts XLR inputs! Sure, there are lots of things on this mixer that I don’t need, so I just ignore them. I need just one channel right now, not 10. I don’t need any of the special effects it offers.

THE COMPRESSOR/LIMITER/GATE
You know how you hear a radio announcer or DJ on air, and they have a bold and powerful voice that is silky smooth? And then, you go to some county fair and meet them in person, and they sound like Woody Allen? That’s partly because of a compressor/limiter/gate, a little box that does wonderous things to your voice. Consider how Howard Stern sounds on air vs how he sounds in a TV interview. It’s a different voice.

A compressor essentially limits different frequencies in different ways. For me, yes I want my voice to sound better, but since I work at home, I want the microphone to ignore subtle background noises. You know, things like my kid playing two rooms away. Or my kid terrorizing the cat. Or my kid… well, you get the idea.

In researching brands, I found myself overwhelmed with choices, and a bit sheepish to spend yet ANOTHER $200 or $300 to get a decent compressor. I found DBX brand compressors which have a GREAT reputation for sound quality, features, and build quality. And here is the trick I used:

  • Buy an older model.
  • Buy used.

I ended up with a DBX 166xl. This is VERY similar to their current production model, and because it is a bit older, easier to find used on Craigslist and eBay. I paid $85 for it. Here is the unit:

DBX 166xl

Now, here are the dials (but not my actual settings):

DBX 166xl

You can see the 2 dials for expander/gate, 5 dials for compression and 1 dial for the limiter. This gives you LOTS of control based on your room, your voice, and the sound you are going for. I found this great video on YouTube where someone takes you through each dial on this unit, I’ve watched this again and again (and again):

This is a two channel compressor, but since for podcasting I am just using it for voice, there is a great switch that couples the two channels into one. There’s also a nice “auto” button that sets Attack and Release for you automatically.

WHERE TO BUY YOUR PODCASTING HARDWARE
Of course, there is Amazon.com, but I know some folks who don’t like Amazon. Another great source for buying audio gear is BHphoto.com. Incredible selection, prices, and service. They have an amazing store in NYC as well, it’s worth the journey there just to see how they manage their inventory.

One discovery I made was BSWusa.com. They had the best prices I could find anywhere, and it’s where I ended up buying the microphone. Hint: if you call their telephone sales rep, they may give you even lower prices than you find on the website.

And for used gear, there is craigslist.org and eBay. Bands and musicians are always selling off used gear.

AUDIO SOFTWARE
Now, on the software side, I keep things simple, I record both audio and video using Screenflow. Um, that’s it. Well, I sometimes convert files to MP3s using iTunes. I suppose I have a lot to learn here… but that is for another blog post.

So after all this, you probably want to know, how does the setup SOUND? Well, here are a couple of examples:

Now as a comparison, you can listen to a video I did with Jane Friedman back in 2010. I was probably using the Blue Snowball mic back then, and it sounds as though she is using the mic that is built into her computer. As you can tell, there are degrees of quality.

 

So, that is everything I have learned about podcasting hardware so far this year. Ask questions below!
-Dan

Note: I shared an updated blog post on additional podcasting equipment I purchased here.

“A Genius Is The One Most Like Himself”

I have been obsessed with two words this year: impact and legacy. How you create something of meaning in this world and how it has positive and lasting effect on others. This is the tone in which I work with writers and publishers – not how many books they sell, but how much of an impact and legacy they build for themselves and others.

I see so many people running around trying the digital marketing flavor of the day. I saw these promises for an advertisement to a training program about Pinterest this week:

  • How to Get MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF EXPOSURE for your business quickly,
    easily and for free.

  • Learn 3 SURPRISING STRATEGIES for driving tons of traffic to your site
    each day.

  • Ways to improve your SEO by using Pinterest.
  • How to MAKE MONEY PINNING!’

If you close your eyes, you can almost see the person who wrote this lifting headlines from some headline writing book, or some advertisement from 1957. Those same psychological triggers used for generations now in ad copy. The program being advertised here actually looks very good if you have a need to become more active on Pinterest. And after all, as the rest of the ad states, the training program is a $500 value, but you can get it for just $97. Ah, modern marketing.

So how do you not follow the leader like mindless lemmings? How do you not follow trend after trend in social media, always finding a mere 1% of the value that the person you are following found with the same tactics 12 months ago?

This:

“A genius is the one most like himself.”
– Thelonious Monk

That if you want to have an impact and build your legacy, you have to create something unique in this world. And yes, you have to work your ass off doing it.

Thelonious Monk

It is easy to be envious of others who stumble into massive success. Those who wrote a book that is not really original or amazing, but manages to sell millions of copies quickly. Yes, it would be nice to win that lottery. But chances are, you won’t win it. I won’t win it. And I’m fine with that. Because you can create your own luck, your own impact, your own legacy.

I was watching a documentary on Woody Allen, and he described an early job working at a summer resort where a staff of entertainers created an original live revue show every single weekend. The moment you finished one show, you had to begin creating the next one. As Allen describes the experience:

“You couldn’t sit in a room waiting for your muse to come and tickle you. Monday morning came, there was a dress rehearsal Thursday, you had to get that thing written. It was grueling, but you learned to write. From there, I managed to go directly to the Sid Caesar Show.”

The documentary also showed the wide range of activities Allen took on as he figured out his voice, his audience, and worked his way through the business, including boxing a kangaroo on television.

Thelonious Monk

Many call Woody Allen a comedic genius, and like many documentaries of famous people, it shows that it took a lot of time and work for that genius to really find the path to connect his inner voice to the world. In the documentary, the owner of a nightclub describe Woody’s first stand-up gig as a failure, but when he came back 9 months later with the same jokes, he won the audience over. Woody had to find his voice, even though his material was the same. As Monk would say: he had to become more like himself.

What Thelonious Monk learned from years of playing jazz with others was captured in what is called Monk’s Advice. It’s a brilliant document to fellow musicians he would be playing with on stage:

Monk's Advice

Justine Musk shared great advice recently as well that aligns to this:

“When you mimic someone’s style, you are in effect hiding behind them.”

She references a post by Abby Kerr who makes this plea: Stop Mimicking A-Listers & Other Brand Idols. And she shares good proactive advice on finding your voice and honing your brand.

Justine Musk

This week is Independence Day here in the States. It is sometimes easy to forget the price that others paid for such independence. That it took extreme sacrifice to decide to forge a new path. It took great risk and a vision that turned fear into action.

For what you are creating with your life… how are you forging that path? How are you working to create a truly unique impact, and building a legacy that will last beyond a job title?

Thanks.
-Dan

Craft And Connection Takes Time

Quick! Write 4 books and put them for sale on Amazon for 99 cents each.
Facebook it! Tweet it! Put a ‘share this’ button on your blog!

Now… sit back, and let the awards and money roll in. Well done, modern author.

I received a package in the mail this week, a new book from my friend Cynthia Morris. Here is the experience of unwrapping it:

Chasing Sylvia Beach

Chasing Sylvia Beach

Chasing Sylvia Beach

Chasing Sylvia Beach

Chasing Sylvia Beach

Cynthia created a limited edition release of the book, with the special packaging above. She wanted to not treat the book as just another commodity, but as something special. In the back is a limited edition print that folds out with her art and signature on it.

Doing this cost her time, money and effort. The mental energy to strategize what to create, to package it, and to physically do all of the mailings herself.

Here is a photo of her home, where she prepared the packages to send off (I grabbed this from her Facebook page):

Chasing Sylvia Beach

Does this scream “glamorous life of an author” to you? No, this is a REALISTIC view of the life of an author. Pouring care, time and attention to detail into their craft. And yes, in “craft,” I am including your ability to share your work with others in a meaningful way.

Sharing is a part of creation.

The craft of writing takes time.

Real connection with others, takes time.

This goes beyond the production of physical media, a book. This same caring can extend to how you use social media. Two successful authors mentioned to me this week how their fans are shocked if they actually @reply back to them on Twitter. It’s a simple thing. Yet, many authors will focus on everything but this real connection because they fear it won’t scale. Some would rather pin something on Pinterest than engage with a single reader on Twitter.

Do you want to differentiate yourself from most other writers out there? Once you are done writing for the day (writing does come first after all), focus on connecting with readers. Who are they? Where are they? What do they love? How can you engage with them in a meaningful, not promotional, manner?

I always use Neil Gaiman as an example of this. How here is someone who has achieved so much, is “famous,” works across a range of media. And yet, this is a typical moment in his Twitter feed:

Neil Gaiman's Twitter feed

You see @reply after @reply. Yes, some are to those he is close to, other authors, even his wife. But plenty are to fans, to “regular” folks he is engaging with in small ways. How does Neil have the time? He makes the time. It’s a choice. To care.

With all the social media buttons at our disposal, as much as we like to say “everything has changed,” in terms of marketing your book and managing your career as a writer, it really hasn’t. If you want to differentiate yourself, if you want to matter to your readers, find ways to connect with them in a meaningful and down-to-earth manner. It’s not the tool, it’s how you use it.

It’s a craft.

Thanks!
-Dan

Build Your Author Platform

How to Build Your Platform: The Michael Hyatt Interview

In this second episode of the We Grow Media podcast, I interview Michael Hyatt, discussing how you can build your platform, and work past the many challenges you may face as you do so.

Michael is the author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. You can find him at http://michaelhyatt.com and on Twitter at @MichaelHyatt.

Click PLAY below to listen to the podcast, or listen/subscribe in iTunes. You can also watch the video here:

After listening to the podcast, please let me know: WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU FACE IN BUILDING YOUR PLATFORM? Send me a note at dan@wegrowmedia.com

Thanks!
-Dan

Lessons from Seth Godin’s Kickstarter Project

Like many of you, I am a fan of Seth Godin. This past week he launched a Kickstarter project for his next book, and today, I want to dig into what we can – and can’t – learn from it.

Others have lavished praise on every aspect of what Seth has done with this project, notably Fred Wilson and Mike Masnick. They certainly see the bigger picture of what Seth is doing here, but I want to get more granular.

I became aware of the project at around 8am Monday morning, soon after it launched, when he had 229 backers and $19,838 in donations. About an hour later, he had $51,833 with 657 backers. Another hour or two later, he was at $91,166 with 1,251 backers. By 1:30pm, he had $118,326 with 1,671 backers. At the end of the first week, he has $221,901 in donations and 3,251 backers.

It’s interesting to see which of the packages he offered gained traction first. There were 10 options, so if you donated a certain amount of money, you would get different things in return. Often, it was a combination of different books, and different quantities of them. There was an 11th option, which was really just a joke, and he later removed. Each level had a limited number of packages available. This is what it looked like throughout the early part of Monday, the columns represent each price level (from a $4 donation up to the $10,000 donation), and how many backers he had at each of four time slots that I checked. The pink color represents when each price level sold out:

 

Time $4 $22 $49 $62 $76 $111 $200 $360 $665 $1,150 $10,000
8am 45 226 19 17 4 41 14 5 1 5 0
9am 113 186 80 48 8 150 35 14 7 5 0
11am 258 300 180 81 16 307 50 26 12 5 0
1:30pm 441 300 200 117 32 459 50 32 16 5 0

 

Below are some thoughts on what we can – and can’t – learn from Seth Godin’s Kickstarter project:

ENGAGE PEOPLE WITH SUPPORTING A CAUSE, NOT BUYING A PRODUCT
There is a tone throughout the Kickstarter description that asks us to prove something to someone. That there is an “other” that we must fight against. Seth says:

“Please help me show my publisher, the bookstores and anyone with a book worth writing that it’s possible to start a project with a show of support on Kickstarter.”

This is a theme throughout the piece, that this isn’t just about publishing a book, this is about taking a stand. I am a bit surprised by some of this, because it seems to imply that maybe there was a heated debate where a world-renowned author and marketing expert (SETH!) went back and forth with his publisher about whether you could engage people via Kickstarter. That he spoke to bookstore owners who actually considered not stocking his books. Was it ever up for debate that someone with a loyal following such as Seth Godin could get donations from their fans, or that bookstores would stock his bestselling books?

Regardless, the larger theme goes beyond “buy my next book.” There is almost an “us vs them” attitude here, and certainly a focus that this is about supporting a cause, an ideal, not just buying a book. We see this again after the (really compelling) description of his book:

“My first new printed book in over a year is combined with two extraordinary bonuses—and the chance to send a message about how books and bookstores can still be part of the conversation. (Be sure to check out the no-brainer option).”

So two things are happening here. Again, this isn’t about how powerful his book is (although it does sound powerful in its own right), but this is about “SENDING A MESSAGE!” This is portrayed not as selling his book, but supporting an idea. That books can “still be a part of the conversation.”

But then we switch back from supporting an ideal, to buying his book as a symbolic act. Half a breath away from his rallying cry that we are sending a message, he encourages you to buy the 8th option, meaning there are 7 less expensive options. It’s $111 and called the “NO BRAINER” option to somehow make it seem obvious that we should buy EIGHT copies of his book months before it comes out. Now, this option is a good deal with all you get, 11 books (including limited edition books) for $10 each. But it’s always interesting when you are first encouraged to buy 8 of something as the obvious choice. This is, I suppose, meant to drive home the idea that by buying more of Seth’s books, we are “SENDING A MESSAGE” to someone.

Later in the post, he repeats this: “Did I mention the No-Brainer option is your best bet?”

A bit further down, he hits this same “US VS THEM” point again, positioning him and us as the underdog:

“Sink or swim–I’ll need your help. If this Kickstarter campaign reaches the minimum, then the publisher has agreed to launch a major retail campaign to introduce the book to readers in bookstores.”

Seth is right, Kickstarter only works if we actually get involved and donate. But seriously: is there any chance that Seth Godin wouldn’t raise $40,000 for this project within 30 days? He charges $800+ for a one day workshop to see him speak. His books are wildly popular. He is cited time and time again as a brilliant thinker in terms of marketing.

I could be reading this wrong, but it again seems to paint his publisher as folks who either don’t believe in his work or don’t believe in physical books. That ONLY if Seth raises $40,000 will they promote his book in bookstores? REALLY? Exactly which person sat across the table as Seth told him about his new book, and then said to him: “Gee Seth, I don’t know, can you PROVE to us that we should promote your book in bookstores?” Who? Who said that to bestselling author Seth Godin?

And since this is the crux of the campaign, I would love some clarity on what “a major retail campaign” entails. What will happen if he didn’t meet the $40,000 threshold? Would there just be a “minor” retail campaign? What would the difference be? To me, this seems to be a very important point.

There was also this line:

“Only my loyal, intelligent and good-looking Kickstarter backers can get the limited edition book.”

I only bring this up because if Home Depot said this in a Kickstarter campaign, they would be called out and held up as those who “don’t get it.” That blindly gushing about your audience in this manner can be seen as a marketing tactic to generate sales, not something a true tribe leader would do, but something a politician would do. I just didn’t want to overlook that because if a corporation did it, NO ONE would overlook it.

Seth goes on:

“Maybe this will help authors like me continue to make books by hand, and maybe this Kickstarter will outline a way other authors can rally a tribe, connect them, engage the early adopters and then reward them with an artifact they helped bring to life.”

Really? Without Kickstarter, authors like Seth Godin won’t be able to publish physical books? And what does “by hand” mean? This is not a letterpress book is it? Is there really any danger of Seth’s books not coming out in print form? Maybe Seth has lots of data here, lots of examples, but I just wish he would have shared it within the context of this campaign, to educate us about the issue. Otherwise, I am left guessing, and I am reminded again of a political candidate making a claim without backing it up. That we are asked to rally together to protect something, and the only way to do so is elect this person, or in this case, buy this person’s book.

The overall point he makes is dead-on accurate: Kickstarter helps creators, writers and artists. I LOVE THAT. And of course, I love how Seth is making such a big deal about supporting Kickstarter. He explains it this way:

“This project on Kickstarter is my way to organize the tribe, to send a signal to risk-averse publishers and booksellers (who have limited shelf space and limited paper). We can let them know loud and clear that this is a book that’s going to get talked about. Kickstarter coordinates and it amplifies.”

But again, it seems odd to lump Seth Godin into the crowd of people fighting for bookstores to consider carrying him. Is there really a chance that a bookstore wouldn’t make space for his physical books? If you go to his homepage, he describes himself immediately and exclusively as: “Seth Godin: best selling author.” When you click on each book on the homepage, he tells you how well they have sold, with phrases such as:

  • “Book of the year”
  • “An instant best seller”
  • “The classic named “best book” by FORTUNE”
  • “The worldwide bestseller”

And those are for just for some of his physical books. To me, I would guess that any physical retailer would stock Seth’s books because he is a known bestseller who is incredibly relevant to the conversation in many topics nowadays. But his campaign seems to be a rallying cry to “show them” that both he and physical books are not irrelevant. Was this in question?

What Seth illustrates so clearly is that people want to turn their belief into action. They want to support those who inspire them in deeper ways and they often want recognition for doing so. Every aspect of this campaign illustrates the power of Kickstarter, the power of his supporters, and Seth’s brilliant marketing mind.

SET AN ARTIFICIALLY LOW GOAL
Seth set the goal comically low for the Kickstarter campaign at $40,000. Given the size of his audience, was it really possible that he wouldn’t exceed his goal quickly? So why do this? Because it writes the headline for every article reporting on his project: “Seth Godin blows away Kickstarter goal by 500%!”

He talked about this as well: that the real momentum happens once you reach your goal.

This is meant to show immediate success, that we are sending “a message,” that his publisher was skeptical, but we would “show them.”

With Amanda Palmer’s fortune with Kickstarter, we are in the gold rush for already successful people to become Kickstarter media darlings. My gut is you will see this again and again throughout 2012. It’s great marketing.

VALUE MATTERS, NOT PRICE
The VALUE of each package mattered, not the price. Some of the 10 packages Seth offered had unique value in them, not just the commodity of a book that in a year’s time, anyone who wants one can have. Two packages sold out quickly: higher priced options where either Seth interviewed you or you received a limited edition art print.

When I first saw this around 7:30 or 8am on Monday, the only package that was sold out was the one I was most interested in… for $1,150:

“Your story, told. I’ll interview you and write at least a paragraph about something brave or powerful or remarkable you’ve done or built–and include it in all editions of The Icarus Deception. I can offer this without fear of being stuck or compromising the work because everyone has something artistic in their history (and their future). Also includes everything in the No-Brainer level. Also includes access to the preview digital edition.”

This is – by far – the best deal on the page. A chance to speak with Seth, have him craft your story, and actually include it in the final version of the physical book. That is easily worth $1,150, and I would have jumped on that opportunity. Why? Well, consider what it means to ensure that EVERYONE who reads his book reads about your story, told in the way only Seth Godin can tell it. What it means to get a positive testimonial by Seth Godin. Definitely worth $1,150 without even a moments thought.

He offered some limited edition books as well, but many of the other price levels were for multiple copies of the same book or packages with copies of books he has already published. Those took longer to sell out, or are still available.

THE HIGHEST PRICE LEVEL: DON’T WASTE THE OPPORTUNITY TO DO SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY
Seth added a $10,000 package as a sort of joke. I see now that he removed this option at some point during the week, but this is what it originally said:

“The really silly high-level product that everyone always scrolls down to see, so they can chuckle at the insane thing the author is offering and the crazy person who bought it. This package includes signed copies of Catcher in the Rye and Shakespeare’s folio. Both signed by me. And whatever book of mine you like. And a milk carton. With Purple Cow in it.”

It should have been a personal appearance by Seth, a consulting session, a custom video, something meaningful. Something where he would donate the $10,000 to charity in exchange for someone taking the chance.

PEOPLE WANT TO BE INSIDERS
People like being the first to see something – the chance to be an early adopter, and therefore, an influencer and connector. The first to Tweet it. I did, it was my first Tweet Monday morning. It was clear this would be something special, which is why I also took screenshots of it right away.

People want to be insiders. They want to say: “I saw this early, and I backed Seth Godin.” It’s akin to saying “I saw the Pixies play live in 1986 before you even heard of them.” There is social cred in fandom. Kickstarter is brilliant at offering this to fans. It makes you feel special.

OFFER BULK SALES AND DISCOUNTS
As I mentioned, many of the packages offered multiple copies of the book, and for each higher level you bought, the lower the cost of each individual book would be. He says:

“Sometime after your copy is delivered in January, the Icarus book will show up (at a higher price) in bookstores and online. You can help me make the minimum by buying copies now, at a discount, to distribute to friends.”

Months before the book comes out, he is going for bulk sales, which is smart on several levels. And of course: it supports his overall goal to ensure that physical books are shared among friends and colleagues.

Overall, I hope I have conveyed that I am a fan of Seth’s work, and impressed at his ability to change people’s lives for the better. But I think the details described above matter for other authors considering using Kickstarter. Seth has clearly proven that Kickstarter is a powerful means to bring people together for a common purpose, and infuse it with financial backing. This IS important. Is it a powerful message to publishers? You tell me.

Thanks.
-Dan