How much will Seth Godin earn by self-publishing?

A few days ago,  Seth Godin, marketing guru and best selling author, decided to part ways with his publisher, Portfolio, to self-publish. So, why did Seth decide to self-publish? And more importantly, how much money does he stand to make?

So, why did Seth decide to self-publish?

Seth Godin had an agreement with Portfolio (an imprint of Pearson’s Penguin Group USA). The agreement entailed Portfolio bearing costs of printing and promoting the books, while Seth got advances and royalties on his titles. His flagship title ‘Linchpin’ sold 50,000 copies (according to Neilsen Bookscan).

Seth Godin_Self-publishing_Info1

Image credits:,

In spite of the successful partnership with Portfolio, Seth decided to move onto self-publishing. His plans include:

  • Releasing titles using various digital channels and print on demand
  • Leveraging the community (his blog), which is 438,000 member strong
  • Using a ‘good quality’ editor

Publishers offer authors quality editing, the ability to bear costs, and leveraging their distribution and marketing channels to promote the book. Seth had outgrown his publisher.

So, how much does Seth Godin stand to earn?

The figures here are purely illustrative and offer an insight into the potential of self-publishing. The calculations are based on a  few assumptions :

  • All calculations are made for the title ‘Linchpin’
  • Print and Kindle prices for the title are from as on 01 September 2010 (Print – $ 17.13, Kindle – $ 11.99)
  • Value of print and Kindle are calculated on 100% basis for number of units sold (For example, what is the value of 50,000 units sold in  print version or e-book version)
  • The size of Seth’s community is a constant at 438,000. % refers to units sold as a percentage of community members. This is an assumption of the scope that his community has to offer
  • The first calculation is based on actual sales of the title


(Of course, 40% of the community buying Seth’s titles might be a tad bit unrealistic. However, as his community grows, a 10% conversion rate will mean that many more units in the absolute value.)

Considering the title will be released mostly in digital form and with the option for POD, there will be fewer expenses to contend with. So, how much money will Seth Godin earn by self-publishing? A lot.

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  • B. Mac

    I’d be REALLY impressed if anybody could convert 10% of (free) blog readers to paying customers. I think 1-3% is more typical.

  • Rob van den Braak

    Self publishing is not only for the ‘happy few’ like Seth but also for the ‘poor’ success depends on one thing only, quality of the content. So having a ‘quality’ editor is many the best idea Seth had.

  • SourcingPractice

    One of his titles sold 50,000 copies. Considering SG’s take on communities (or ‘tribes’), it would be safe to assume that SG would have already had these 50,000 people join his community. These 50,000 represent close to 11% of his community.

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