Tuesday, May 29, 2012

People don't buy books from strangers

"People don't buy books from strangers."  Seth Godin
Strangers everywhere
What exactly does Godin mean?  I read books by strangers all the time. Hemingway is a stranger to me. Hell, he's dead!

To understand what Godin was saying, I decided to figure out how I came to buy Seth Godin's books. (I have about all of them. A real true believer, me.)

1990--I get interested in film making (because a friend kept talking about film.)
1992--I go to film school. (A teacher tells me about local filmmaker Dorothy Fadiman.)
1994--I hear Fadiman speak, and leave my name on her mailing list.
2000--Fadiman sends out an email saying she is looking to hire an intern. After a lengthy interview she hires me as a filmmaking intern.
2002--Fadiman asks me to co-author a book on documentary filmmaking, Producing With Passion. She introduces me to the publisher.
2008--Producing With Passion is published. I get to know the publisher and he asks me to write Digital Video Secrets.
2008--Digital Video Secrets published. I learn--to my surprise--that I have to promote the book if it is going to sell. I ask a friend at my yoga studio if she knows anyone who can help me promote a book. She introduces me to a marketing expert.
2009--The marketing expert recommends Seth Godin's daily blog posts.
2009-- I read everything I can find online by Godin.
2010-- I start buying Godin's books.
2012-- I sign up for the May 16 event. I fly to New York. After the event, I am delighted to shake Godin's hand, thank him for the work he is doing and get my picture taken with him.

So... why did I buy Godin's books?

  1. A friend got me interested in film. (trusted friend)
  2. A teacher told me about Dorothy Fadiman. (trusted teacher)
  3. Dorothy Fadiman introduced me to my publisher. (trusted filmmaker)
  4. A friend told me about a marketing expert. (trusted friend)
  5. The marketing expert told me about Seth Godin. (trusted expert)
  6. I read Seth Godin's blog for three years, and bought his books. (learned to trust Godin by reading him)
  7. I went to New York to hear Godin speak. (trust confirmed)
I bought Godin's books because after reading his blog for three years he was not a stranger! 

The moral? If you want people to buy your book, 1) gain their trust, and 2) 'don't be a stranger.' 

A few ways to gain trust:
  • public speaking
  • workshops
  • blogging
  • being recommended by a friend, teacher, or a trusted reviewer. 
  • joining the tribe that will use and buy your book
  • forming your own tribe!
  • pro-bono work for causes you believe in.
First people have to get to know you. 
Then they have to come to trust you.  
Then they buy your books.

How powerful can this be in the Internet age? Godin showed exactly how powerful this process is when he published End Malaria. He wrote one blog post and within 30 days the book raised over $300,000 to buy mosquito nets for malarial Africa. One blog post!  Of course, it wasn't that one blog post that did the trick. It was the trust he'd earned in by doing three or four years of daily blog posts, hundreds of public speaking gigs, and thousands of hours of pro-bono work for non profits like the Acumen fund.

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