Seth Godin vs. Michael Hyatt – The Self Publishing War

March 17, 2011 — Leave a comment

My wife and I co-founded Luminosity Global Consulting Group in 2009 during the height of the “great recession” for a variety of reason, but primarily as a result that it was time to start our own venture. Over the course of the past 2-years we have learned much, worked way too many hours, and developed plans to grow a business that not only solves some serious problems for business executives and leaders, but makes the global workplace a reality for more executives and their companies. What does any of this have to do with Seth vs. Hyatt?

Sheri came up with a book concept in late 2009 to help build out the coaching practice. It became apparent very quickly that we had no knowledge of publishing a book and what that takes and means. So we began a journey of learning what it takes to publish a book. Enter Seth Godin and Michael Hyatt. Two outstanding thought leaders who have successful blogs, both published books, and openly share their perspectives via twitter, blogs, and speaking engagements.

Recently Seth has embarked on the Domino Project and self-published Poke The Box and has since taking on a war (my words) against the publishing industry. Because Seth has a very large tribe, he gets heard.

On the other side, Mike Hyatt is spending his time explaining publishing as a business and why authors need publishers – appearing defensive at times (again my words).

I ask myself who’s right? Seth vs. Mike. I look at the results of what they say vs. what they do.

Seth sez: Share as much information openly with everyone for free and your tribe will reward you by purchasing your goods/services. I think about the actions of the Domino Project and I see this philosophy coming through – I got the book Poke The Box for $.99 the day it was released because I’m a member of Seth’s loyal tribe.

Mike sez: There’s much more to becoming a successful writer than any new writer can achieve without the support of a publisher. Recently Thomas Nelson (aka Michael Hyatt) published John Maxwell’s book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. What is not well known is that John published draft versions of every chapter on his blog and solicited comments – some made it in the final product. If you look inside the book cover, you’ll see the pictures of many of the contributors from this experiment. So what happened? Mike and the Thomas Nelson team agreed to give John’s tribe the entire book away pre-publish for free for anyone who happened on John’s blog.

Who’s right? BOTH.

If you’re Seth Godin and have a tribe that’s been built of 30 years, have the resources, marketing experience, track record, blog readership, and a series of top selling books, then of course you can go the “self publishing” route and make money. For the rest of us mortals, if we start focusing today we still could not replicate Seth’s success in 30 years, we have to stick with the expertise, knowledge, experience and resources the traditional publishing world has.

Michael Hyatt and the Thomas Nelson team have done a great job at adapting to permission marketing as illustrated last year with John Maxwell’s book. Further they are open about what the publishing industry expects from new authors. Yes, the barriers to entry are high. If it were simple to do well, then everyone would be paid for their thoughts – think ALL bloggers in the world making $50K/year from their blogs… not going to happen.

Who’s going to win this war?

Seth may be a little too right. While he has proven it can be done, it’s virtually impossible for an unknown author to go this route and make it. I believe in this case, Seth is being far too idealistic and understanding the value a publishing house brings to the table of sharing ideas (he’s been in “it” too long). I side with Hyatt and the Thomas Nelson team. As new authors wanting to publish books, we need the power and backing of a publishing company.

Do you agree that this is a war? Has my lizard brain taken over?


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