How Mark Driscoll Gamed the Publishing Game

Years ago, Rick Warren finagled his way onto the bestseller lists. Before Purpose-Driven Life came out, Warren had hundreds of churches lined up to buy thousands of copies, all of which he bought through Pastors.com and resold to said churches. It was so effective that Warren’s marketing rep and Zondervan left his job there and wrote a book about the process. Warren vehemently disavowed that he’d done anything unethical. Instead, the 35 million copies he’d sold was not marketing but “God’s supernatural and sovereign plan.”

Rick Warren

Nevertheless, as a result of PDL, bestseller lists changed their rules — some removed any book that showed large, bulk sales, while other lists put an asterisk by those titles. Also, they pulled books like PDL off of non-fiction and put them in their own category of “Self-Help and Advice,” since those are often the books with bulk sales.

Authors know that “non-royalty sales” don’t count toward bestseller lists. Those include, for instance, books that authors or their organizations buy at the author discount, usually 40 or 50% off the cover price.

Bestseller lists are important, even today. I once had a book contract that had a $10,000 incentive if my book made the NY Times or Publsihers Weekly list. (It didn’t.) Those lists are meant to gauge how many real, individual readers are buying books.

Now comes word that Mark Driscoll and his church hired a firm that used a thousand different credit cards and thousands of individual names — the names were supplied by the church — to drive Driscoll’s marriage book onto the bestseller lists. As a reward, the firm was paid $210,000 by Mars Hill Church:

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Two Bad Views on What Happens When You Die

Two super-popular Christian leaders have recently made public statements about what happens when you die. And they’re both terribly wrong.

First, our friend, Rick Warren, tweeted this:

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#RickWarrenTips Explained

Look, Rick Warren stopped following me on Twitter long ago. So I stopped following him right back. Nevertheless, some people I follow occasionally retweet his pithy, axiomatic Christian tweets. He seems to be a Twitter proverb generator.

So, here’s something he posted recently:

And now, he’s a meme.

Just scroll though his tweets to see him dispensing similar advice. It’s (unintentionally) hilarious.

But the meme is even funnier. See the new Twitter account @cantexplainhere here and click on Favorites for the keys tweets.

The Evangelical’s Burden

Recently, I supped with a young, hipster evangelical leader. Someone you would know. Someone who runs large conferences. We had a nice time, but toward the end of our time together, I asked her a question that I figured I knew the answer to:

“You won’t have me or Doug or Brian speak at your events, will you?”

The answer, after some hemming and hawing, was “No.”

Here’s why I asked: Her conference, like many other evangelical conferences, has two categories of speakers: evangelical speakers and non-Christian speakers.

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