On Shipping and Seth Godin
Updated: Dec 15, 2020
I recently finished Seth Godin's book, Linchpin, which was the second Godin book I read (the first being the more recently released, The Icarus Deception).
The first thing worth noting is that these two books are strikingly similar, with the common thread/ thesis through both of them being Godin's assertion that the only way to truly be successful in today's world is by doing "art." Godin though, gives a broader definition of "art" saying that art is solving any problem in a unique way that creates a human connection. Thus the customer service representative or marketer or programmer can be a an artist just as much as a painter or writer (and sometimes more in that just because you're doing something artistic, doesn't mean it's art if you're just doing that artistic something in a way that's been done before). In my opinion, both of these books are worth reading, though they are a bit repetitive and, at times, feel more like Godin writing off the cuff than well-organized, well-planned books.
All that said, the one idea stressed in Linchpin specifically that really stuck with me was Godin's stressing the importance of "shipping." In short, Godin makes (the somewhat obvious, but important nonetheless) case that if you don't "ship" your art (i.e. send it out into the world), that it is all for naught. Art after all is about connection and if there is no shipping than there cannot be connection.
For me personally, this concept really hit home. As some of you may know, I worked on and off for three years to write a book and succeeded (!), but over the last year and change have been tinkering with the manuscript, slowly sending to agents, and waiting to be chosen. Finding an agent is always tough for new writers, but it certainly is more challenging given that my book is a 160k-word, somewhat experimentally structured, literary/ fantasy hybrid. Godin though encourages people to mostly ignore traditional gatekeepers and to instead "choose themselves." Sounds good to me. After all, we live in era where publishing a book is easier than ever. And while publishing is no guarantee of readership, I've got to figure that as someone who runs a marketing team for a living, I should be able to market my book, right?
Long story short, I've decided to "ship" my book. I may continue to send queries to a few agents, but finally coming to the conclusion that I was willing to "ship" my art--even if that meant self-publishing, gave me a great feeling of forward momentum.
Thanks, Seth Godin. Even if your books are all kind of the same.