A new book… we would love your help

A new book… we would love your help

In February, we’ll be publishing Catherine Hoke’s new book, A Second Chance.

Cat’s the founder of Defy Ventures, a groundbreaking non-profit that is changing the lives of men and women while they’re in prison (and after they get out.) As a direct result of Defy’s program, recidivism has gone from 75% to less than 6%. Not only does this transform the lives of the families involved, it improves the fabric of our society and it saves the taxpayers a fortune.

Domino is donating all of its efforts to Cat and to Defy, and we’re determined to share this book with as many people as we can.

It’s a book about second chances, forgiveness, responsibility, opportunity and love. And it applies to everyone I’ve ever met, not just those that are in prison.

YOU CAN HELP: If you’re interested in helping us, we’d love to keep you posted.

Just click here to sign up for our special list (and there’s a bonus video of Cat there as well). We’ll be posting updates on this Domino blog and on Seth’s blog from time to time, but this book-only list will get excerpts, strategy memos and more. We’re counting on this informal street team to make all the difference.

Thank you all!

All the books, any book and this book

All the books, any book and this book

At the beginning, bookstores only sold the books they actually printed. The bookstore and the publisher were one and the same.

Throughout our lifetime, of course, that hasn’t been true. A unique element of this industry more than any other I can think of is that every store sells every book. They might not have it in stock, but just about every bookstore is eager to sell any decent book.

Books actually benefit from being next to their competitors. A book sells better at a bookstore than it does at furniture store.

The flip side of this, though, is that publishers and bookstores do their best work when they can promote a particular book more than the others. Promoting a book, making it stand out, working hard to have it be this book instead of any book—well, when you’re the author and it’s your book, this is exactly what you seek. And that’s what the very best bookstores and the very best publishers do.

I have always respected and celebrated the comity and camaraderie of the book industry. I think the positive contribution of a book to our culture demands that we treat them as special objects, and that publishing and selling them is not just another form of commerce.

Today, my longtime publisher Portfolio (part of Random Penguin whatnot) is republishing four books that started here at Domino: Anything You Want, Poke the Box, We Are All Weird and Read This Before Our Next Meeting. You can see all four of them right here.

It’s my hope that readers will be able to find these books at fine bookstores everywhere. Including Amazon (Derek, Al, Seth & Seth) and B&N, too.

In a nutshell these are two of the problems facing bookselling going forward: How to build an online store that’s good at selling a particular book, not merely all books, and how to maintain ubiquity in an industry that’s being pushed toward silos.

Harper Lee and the two mythical promises

Harper Lee and the two mythical promises

Harper Lee is a legend and a genius. She’s also the exception that proves the rule, twice.

Rule 1: Your book will not be beautifully edited, it will not be lovingly hand sold, it will not be taught in schools across the country. Your book will not pay you millions of dollars of royalties, year after year, for fifty years, and most of all, your book will not succeed despite the fact that you don’t tour, don’t build a following, and don’t promote. And also, just to rub it in, your book will not become a movie that’s as powerful as your book was, a movie that is remembered by everyone who saw it.

I know that it worked for Harper Lee. But it’s not going to work for me and it’s not going to work for you. It’s a myth that you can write a book and the system will take care of you.

Rule 2: You cannot use hype and mystery and 17 articles in the New York Times to pre-sell millions of copies of the second book your publisher brings out, merely on the promise that it might be interesting, with all the writers who write about it never even reading it first.

I’m not jealous of Nelle Lee. She shaped a generation, gave up her much-deserved privacy and earned all of the accolades she received. On the other hand, I think it’s worth noting that just because there’s lightning now and then, you shouldn’t plan on using it to electrify your house.

We need you to write your best work, and to share it. But please understand that this is the first step in spreading your idea, not the last one.

Goal setting (and a discount)

Goal setting (and a discount)

Sometime on Tuesday, February 17, Amazon is clearing out the inventory of Zig Ziglar’s goal planner.

The 4-pack is here.

The discount, when it’s live for four hours, will be here. For about $3 a copy, less than $12 for the four pack. The current plan is for it to be an active discount from 7 pm to 11 pm NY time.

When these books are gone, we won’t be printing any more.

This is a book you write yourself. What Zig did was codify many of the steps, and Alex, Michael and I re-designed and rebuilt the idea into a more modern, accessible, sharable format.

It works.

I’ll go way out on a limb and say this: I have never met a person who used a goal planner properly and regretted it.

You might discover some truths that disappoint you or make you uncomfortable. You might decide that a dream is actually better than a realistic action plan. Mostly, you will discover just how much you can achieve when you get in sync about how you invest your focus and your time.

If you and your team aren’t delivering on your dreams and promises, the first question to ask yourself is, “have you written it down and followed the steps?”

Setting a focus, however you do it, is worth the trip.

PS thank for reading this far. If you visit yourturn.link to check out my new book, $10 off any order if you use the discount code ‘tony’.

The bestseller effect

The bestseller effect

There are two markets for books (and music).

The first market are grazers, collectors or omnivores. They make the market happen. They read a lot of books. They visit the library often. They have 2,000 LPs in their collection. They listen and read around the edges.

The second market consume in response to the market. The average American buys just over one book a year. When I was in college, the typical dorm room had just 40 LPs stacked up. (Even today, when students have 100,000 mp3s, most of them don’t listen widely).

This second market is almost always the market that turn a book into a bestseller. Bestsellers are the books that people who don’t buy books are buying.

Back to those college dorms: The typical women’s collection included Joni Mitchell, Dan Fogelberg, Billy Joel and Carol King. Not because these were demonstrably better records, but because they were bestsellers, the regular kind.

The same effect is responsible for all those copies of Harry Potter and The Davinci Code… they become bestsellers because people who don’t buy a lot of books are buying them.

So, consider the trap that the bestseller effect sets: the publisher and the author want a bestseller, so they spend a lot of time and money on mass media, on storefront promotion, on even writing a book that feels like it will appeal to the second group. But! That’s not what the second market wants. What they consume (read/listen to) is what their peers demand they consume. They are protective of what they buy and consume, because they don’t have many slots for new books or new music.

Which means that if you try to reach people who aren’t shopping for what you sell, who don’t think about what you sell, who aren’t even in the store for what you sell, you’ve got a tough road ahead.

The way around the trap, it seems (and I think this is true for many of the bestsellers that have broken through) is to obsess about delighting a critical mass of readers in the first group. To create a book and a marketing plan that captures the energy of this group and let them bring the work to the rest of the market.

Critical mass is a key part of this. In the era of weird, there isn’t one bestseller list, there are a hundred. There’s the bestseller list of political tracts (two, actually) and one of edgy rants from bloggers, and one for romance…

The sales for my new book just surprised me: Today’s sales were more than yesterday’s, which was a little more than the day before. That’s extraordinarily rare for a book ten days after launch, one with no retail distribution, particularly if there’s no big media or retail promotion going on. People are starting to read it because other people are reading it.

That’s a really simple sentence, but it explains Buzzfeed, Thomas Piketty, Psy, and a thousand other cultural hits.

Maybe yours.