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THE ICARUS DECEPTION: WHY MAKE ART? New from Seth Godin's video poster

We are all artists now. Here's why it's important, and here's why it's hard. Read more

New York, NY Nonfiction
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This project was successfully funded on July 17, 2012.

We are all artists now. Here's why it's important, and here's why it's hard.

New York, NY Nonfiction
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About this project

Please help me show my publisher, the bookstores and anyone with a book worth writing that it's possible to start a project with a show of support on Kickstarter.

The Icarus Deception is an experiment in publishing, an opportunity for real growth, an invitation to challenge your friends and something you can touch.

This is a book about the mythology of success (and failure) and how our economy rewards people who are willing to stand up and stand out. For too long, we've been seduced into believing we should do less. It's time to redefine what we're capable of.

We are all artists now, and the connection economy we're living in relentlessly rewards those who do work that matters. Okay, you knew that. So why aren't you?

My first new printed book in over a year is combined with two extraordinary bonuses—and the chance to send a message about how books and bookstores can still be part of the conversation. (Be sure to check out the no-brainer option).

Can you produce what you're capable of?

The Icarus Deception is my most personal book, a direct statement about the fundamental changes in the connection economy and the opportunity for individuals to face their fear and make art, to make a difference and to do work that matters.

It's the capstone to Linchpin, Tribes and Poke the Box, but works great for someone who hasn't read any of my books.

Sink or swim--I'll need your help

If this Kickstarter campaign reaches the minimum, then the publisher has agreed to launch a major retail campaign to introduce the book to readers in bookstores. They'll also publish V is for Vulnerable (an illustrated ABC book) as well as a smaller, significantly-abridged version of the bonus 'big' book. The Kickstarter will be officially on, and if you're a backer, you will get the rewards you chose. First and cheaper.

If it doesn't reach the minimum, none of the backers will be charged and the book doesn't get published.


Beyond The Icarus Deception, there are many bonuses, some unique to this Kickstarter and never to be offered again. Mostly because you guys like bonuses and I like making them. In this case, the two big bonuses worth seeking out are V is for Vulnerable, the ABC book based on Icarus and illustrated by Hugh MacLeod, as well as the heavy, huge, long and delightful best-of collection of the last six years of my online writing, now in print for the first time ever, and never to be sold in a bookstore. There will only be 5,000 copies of this huge collection in print. I'm pretty sure you're going to love it. Only my loyal, intelligent and good-looking Kickstarter backers can get the limited edition book.

V is for Vulnerable combines the insights of the last section of Icarus with inspired color illustrations from the brilliant Hugh MacLeod. It's an ABC kid's book for adults.

THE BIG LIMITED EDITION DIGITAL BOOK ON PAPER (real title to come) is more than a quarter of a million words of my best online writing from the last six years, collected in an old-school, easy-to-use hardcover format. This edition will never be sold in stores, so this is your one and only chance to stock up. Expect an abridged, smaller edition to appear in stores one day.

Faster and cheaper

Sometime after your copy is delivered in January, the Icarus book will show up (at a higher price) in bookstores and online. You can help me make the minimum by buying copies now, at a discount, to distribute to friends. 

I love making and sharing books because of the power they give us to spread ideas and change minds. Maybe this will help authors like me continue to make books by hand, and maybe this Kickstarter will outline a way other authors can rally a tribe, connect them, engage the early adopters and then reward them with an artifact they helped bring to life.

Did I mention the No-Brainer option is your best bet?

But what is the book about?

It's about the connection economy and the value created when we give up doing what we're told (and avoiding what we fear) and start making art instead. The art of important work, of making a ruckus and of inventing the future.

This isn't a book about craft or paint or decoration. It's for anyone who cares a lot about why they went to work today and how they could do it better. I think we can learn a lot from the people who have changed their outlook and changed their lives in their quest to make art.

Why Kickstarter?

It's easier than ever to spread a book, especially one that's just digital. You can give it away for free and reach millions. The challenge is that it's not on paper, it's not easy to hand to someone else, and most of all, you lose the bookstore.

This project on Kickstarter is my way to organize the tribe, to send a signal to risk-averse publishers and booksellers (who have limited shelf space and limited paper). We can let them know loud and clear that this is a book that's going to get talked about. Kickstarter coordinates and it amplifies.

Why limited?

You'll notice that unlike most Kickstarters, there isn't unlimited upside here, as all the rewards listed so far have a limited quantity. I know that this may disappoint people if we run out, but the point of this project isn't to maximize the income from the tribe, it's to sell things at a fair price while organizing the tribe and persuading the book publishing world to step up and do a serious job of retail work in January.

That probably leaves money on the table, but attention and connection are the goal, not maximizing profit.

Who is the artist?

The painter in front of a blank canvas. The architect changing the rules of construction. The playwright who makes us cry. The doctor who cares enough to call. The detective who cracks a cold case. The diva with a new interpretation of a classic. The customer service rep who, despite the distance and the rush, makes an honest connection. The entrepreneur who dares to start without permission or authority. The middle manager who transforms the key meeting with a single comment. 


The future of books belongs to readers who care.

Thank you for making it happen, and for spreading the word.

Credits: Cover photo by Sue Demetriou. Kickstarter insight from Clay Hebert, Ishita Gupta, Teri Tobias, Bernadette Jiwa and Abe Cajudo. The ABC book is illustrated by Hugh MacLeod. (In case you're curious, the book I'm holding up in the video turns out to be the Estonian edition of Linchpin. I'm hoping it's a good translation).


  • I can't, sorry. Kickstarter won't let the organizer edit existing levels, and I can't invent new levels given my planned inventory of Icarus copies.

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  • It is! It will take longer, no doubt, especially since Customs delays are out of our control, but every reward (except the 1 + 1) is available to be shipped to wherever you live.

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  • There is, but it's not part of the Kickstarter. I can't easily control the delivery to a proprietary ebook reader, so decided instead to offer the 4 day preview to anyone with web access. At that point, the ebook (for every platform, I hope) will be easy to order from those vendors. Thanks!

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  • Yes!

    Watch for an upcoming announcement about how we're going to do that.

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  • If it were me, I'd buy the $76 8 pack and then have a friend or another account holder buy the $62 behemoth. That way you get maximum value PLUS you get the collectible that isn't going to be in stores. Kickstarter doesn't let one account take two rewards, regardless of what you contribute, alas.

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  • All Kickstarter projects work the same: I'm allowed to ask you for your info when the thirty days are over. So stand by!

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  • EVERY level except one includes international shipping. If you're overseas, the last-minute $74 level is just for domestic shipping, I'm sorry.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $4 or more

    1,315 backers Limited (8685 left of 10000)

    The digital preview edition of The Icarus Deception, available to you first, before any other versions are delivered to anyone, anywhere. We'll send you a link to the entire book on a specially formatted website, available to read online only for four days, and then it's gone.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $22 or more

    300 backers All gone!

    One copy of the hardcover edition of Icarus, delivery anywhere in the world included.

    I can't possibly sell this to you cheaper than an online bookseller, but it's here as an option for those who prefer to get just one copy mailed to them. I'm hoping that you will buy the four pack instead because it's such a good deal. Also includes access to the preview digital edition.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $29 or more

    10 backers Limited (140 left of 150)

    THE LP (on vinyl) of the first 40 minutes of the audio version of ICARUS. A full audio will be available for sale when we publish in January, but here's a collectible LP for the hipsters.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $49 or more

    200 backers All gone!

    FOUR COPIES of the hardcover edition of Icarus, delivery anywhere in the world included in the price. This is a MUCH better deal than the single copy and you can share with friends and colleagues. Also includes access to the preview digital edition.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $62 or more

    604 backers Limited (1896 left of 2500)

    ONE COPY of the mammoth limited edition 275,000 word best-of-the-net hardcover collection that won't be sold in stores. The only place to get it is right here and right now. If you want more than one, that's fine, just get a friend to buy one too. All purchasers of this collection (at any level) will be invited to have their name added to a page inside. Also includes access to the preview digital edition of Icarus, because you're awesome.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $74 or more

    499 backers Limited (1 left of 500)

    ONE and ONE: Some readers are unhappy getting the $62 behemoth edition all by itself, because it doesn't include the hardcover copy of ICARUS. And some people aren't crazy about the $76 8 pack because it doesn't include the behemoth or because they don't think they can share 8 books well. So, with a little juggling, we're offering this, which is the behemoth, delivered in January, and a copy of ICARUS, delivered in late January or possibly early February. Hope this helps. US delivery only on this reward, please.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $76 or more

    233 backers Limited (17 left of 250)

    EIGHT COPIES of the hardcover edition of Icarus, plus a copy of V is for Vulnerable (illustrated by Hugh MacLeod), delivered anywhere on the planet.

    V is for Vulnerable highlights the last section of Icarus and includes new full color illustrations from Hugh. Also includes access to the preview digital edition.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $111 or more

    800 backers All gone!

    THE NO-BRAINER OPTION, your best buy... EIGHT copies of the hardcover edition of Icarus, PLUS two copies (signed by me) of V is for Vulnerable, PLUS the limited-edition, mammoth digital collection in print, a book heavy enough to kill a small mammal.

    The retail value of the books in this package is more than $225. Plus it's delivered, early and for free.

    PS you get the digital preview edition as well.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $200 or more

    50 backers All gone!

    BONUS REWARD! A hand-printed (by me) and hand-signed (by me) letterpress poster, suitable for framing, with a juicy epigram from the book on it. AND The No-Brainer option... 8 copies of the hardcover of Icarus, PLUS two signed copies of V is for Vulnerable, PLUS the mammoth digital collection in print, a book heavy enough to kill a small mammal. And of course, the digital preview.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $360 or more

    142 backers Limited (2 left of 144)

    SPONSOR level. A 250 word blurb, written by you, subject to Seth's approval, to be appended to the end of the ebook edition. Also includes everything in the No-Brainer level. Also includes access to the preview digital edition.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $655 or more

    20 backers All gone!


    $900 worth of limited edition, signed, bonus, multiple and generally surprising stuff from the attic and the archives, including plenty to share with friends. And of course, EVERYTHING that's in the No-Brainer level.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $1,150 or more

    5 backers All gone!

    Your story, told. I'll interview you and write at least a paragraph about something brave or powerful or remarkable you've done or built--and include it in all editions of The Icarus Deception. I can offer this without fear of being stuck or compromising the work because everyone has something artistic in their history (and their future). Also includes everything in the No-Brainer level. Also includes access to the preview digital edition.

    Estimated delivery:


Funding period

- (29 days)