The Domino Project
Twelve books, twelve bestsellers... learning about what's possible (in publishing and at work)
At the end of 2010, Seth Godin (that's me) set out to poke the box and engage in a year's worth of publishing experiments. The plan was to build a publishing imprint, powered by Amazon and filled with thoughtful books by inspired authors.
This page will review what we published, how it worked and what we learned. My announcement is here: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/11/th...
In November, 2011, we published our last hardcover book, a little volume containing a poem by the brilliant Sarah Kay. I thought a wrap up of how we got here and what we learned would be useful to anyone interested in the book business.
Go ahead, pick yourself.
Poke the Box
What we tried:
--a 5 pack
--a 52 pack
--a limited edition with a hand printed cover (letterpress)
--inexpensive Kindle pricing
--inexpensive hardcover pricing
We also tried a promotion to reward readers for pre-ordering.
And we created a companion ebook and workbook as well.
All the multipacks sold well. In fact, we sold out of the 52 pack for a while.
The letterpress cover was the nicest collectible we did, but it didn't sell out (yet). I think that's because it cost too much. The collectible for Emerson did very nicely.
The Kindle pricing was effective, but a big win was the $2.99 short time promo we did in September.
Do The Work
We did the very same things we tried in Poke the Box, but this time for an even better book. Steve's book is extraordinary.
For this title, we also tested the idea of a sponsored edition on the Kindle. This was huge. More than 100,000 copies distributed, great publicity for our sponsor General Electric and an instant "bestseller" if you count free as a sale.
The impact of a sponsored edition was fabulous.
On Self Reliance
Yes, he's dead, and yes, he's a pleasure to work with.
A student recommended the essay to me, and I was blown away by its currency and utility, even today.
We made a limited edition that sold out in less than a day. Using elephant poop paper, the folks at Holstee made some very cool greeting cards.
In addition, we did a sponsored edition with Ibex that reached nearly a hundred thousand people.
Anything You Want
Derek made this book sing. Another bestseller (our third in the row), it had no sponsor, no free edition, no special edition and it still went to #1 among all books on Amazon.
Derek focused his tribe on the book and people from around the world bought in. In addition, he offered hundreds of free songs to anyone who bought a copy.
Read This Before Our Next Meeting
Brand new author Al Pittampalli blew people away with this focused rant about the greatest productivity suck of our work lives.
Sponsored by GoToMeeting from Citrix and a #1 bestseller, Al's book has already reached more than 100,000 executives, and possibly your boss. One technique that worked very well was a worldwide webcast with the author.
Al has had great success in working with organizations to bring them dozens or hundreds of copies of his book along with training... the book comes along for the ride but ends up cementing the lessons.
Sales and productivity legend Zig Ziglar graciously permitted us to update, streamline and jazz up his classic goals planner. (Now half price through the end of January).
This was tricky as there was no digital edition, and we decided to pack the book in a four pack for one price... not even offering a single copy edition. I'm glad we did. The book went to #1 among all books on Amazon and sold out the print run completely on the first day.
I'm intransigent in my belief that sometimes, paper matters, and that writing something down on a piece of paper (particularly one that's bound in a book) is a transformative act.
Zarrella's Hierarchy of Contagiousness
Certainly the cutest of all of our covers, this book was sponsored by HubSpot and MailChimp. As a result of Dan's network and sponsor support, we were able to break the Guinness world's record for the largest ever webcast (really, I don't make this stuff up). The book went to #1 among all ebooks, and spread Dan's ideas around the world.
We Are All Weird
(see the lp edition here: http://eaonpritchard.blogspot.com/2011/09/we-are-a... )
This one hit the bestseller list the first day (I think it went to #9 overall) but it ultimately disappointed me. The problem, I think, was our lack of aggressive outbound promotion. We alerted my blog readers and readers of the Domino blog, but I didn't hit the road, didn't do a lot of virtual promotion, didn't push.
Part of the experiment to see how much the audience will lean in and take action on their own.
Still selling and based on audience feedback, I'm glad I wrote it. It's funny how our standards change: this book sold more copies in its first two weeks (particularly digital) than any other book I've written but two.
(PS the real cover is inside the cover you see on the hardcover.)
B--If I should have a daughter
Available in a special illustrated edition, this is our only book of poetry, and the shortest volume we brought to market.
Sarah is just 23, the sort of person you'd like to know, work for, hire or have as a daughter. Her TED talk is one of the most popular of the year and it's not hard to tell why.
Her poem made me cry.
The Domino team
A six month paid internship, it turned into quite a learning experience. Clockwise from top left: Amber Rae, Amy Richards, Willie Jackson, Lauryn Ballesteros, Ishita Gupta, Alex Miles Younger and Michael Parrish Dudell. Also, Luna the dog. Photos by Alex, except for him, which was his camera, not sure who took the picture. Missing: me.
Sarah Kay at TED
Derek Sivers on how to start a movement
Seth Godin on Tribes
Steve Pressfield interview
Al Pittampalli interview
Dan Zarrella on web marketing
Go ahead, vote
If you've read any of the Domino books, feel free to vote for your favorites... (I've defaulted to the Kindle editions here)
A few bonuses
- Cory Doctorow on Poke the Box
Part of Boingboing's Christmas list for 2011
- Tales of the Revolution: True Stories of People who are Poking the Box and Making a Difference eBook
A free (or possibly low cost) add on to Poke the Box
- The Domino Project blog
The secret weapon, the key to our strategy. We had more than 50,000 subscribers by email, rss and twitter. This core group of true fans enabled our books to get the start they deserved and then (we hope) to spread. A publisher that can't figure thi
- Seth Godin Is Weird | Six Pixels of Separation - Marketing and Communications Blog - By Mitch Joel a
A great conversation with the very smart, talented and supportive Mitch Joel. Don't even get me started about his haircut.
- What It Takes: What's Your Story?
Shawn Coyne with a very nice post about me and about the legacy of the project.
- Post about the last hardcover
Long, strange trip.