Saturday, December 19, 2009

New Media: Create ideas that will be spread

Seth Godin gives a talk on the publishing industry that adds a powerful new question to my process of deciding which project to work on next:

Will this idea spread?
Here's the link to Seth's talk:

And here's a summary of the points he's making:

1. Ideas that spread, win.
This implies that I need to ask myself, "Is this an idea that people will want to spread?"

2. Free ideas spread better than ideas you need to pay for.

3. An idea spreads when people benefit from telling others about it.
You'll do way better if other people blog, tweet or talk about what you've created. Ideas should be designed to encourage (or make) other people write about it. Seth's talk gives 10 real world examples of how he's marketed his books.

... wait, wait, wait, I said at this point. How do you make money if you're giving your ideas away? That's when Seth completely turned the idea of publishing on its head for me.

4. You're not selling a book; you're selling a souvenir (of the experience of having read the book).
The idea is that people will want an souvenir of an experience they've already had and enjoyed. Instead of thinking you're in the business of selling books, think of yourself as being in the business of creating souvenir editions of ideas that have already spread.

Seth goes on to discuss how this is unnecessary for people who've already established themselves as a brand (Stephen King, Dan Brown, Vincent Baker, Meg Cabot). I've seen this in action for myself - I am sorely tempted to buy a paperback copy of Cory Doctorow's 'Little Brother', which he distributed for free online.
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