Leaning away from the list

Further to the last post on Michelin.

Over at The Domino Project, Seth Godin and his team are clearly having the same misgivings about the publishing industry – that when you work to a prize (in this case a place on The New York Times list) that prize can have a huge influence on swathes of what you do, and the influence isn’t necessarily positive. Here’s two excerpts from their piece on why they will not be courting popularity with The New York Times Bestseller List:

If you publish books (or write them) aimed at a mass audience, the Times list is never very far from your focus. It’s not just an indicator (the proverbial canary, indicating what’s going on in the mine) but it’s also an amplifier, a spark that can lead to ever more sales, conversations and credibility …

… But there’s a cost. The cost is that you have to write differently, promote differently and do business differently. Simple questions about rollout, promotion, pricing, packaging, titles and distribution sooner or later come down to, “will it hurt us on the list?”


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