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:The comments are worth reading. Rachel Held Evans and Tony engage with various complaints and criticisms. Very interesting, though if you like Mark, you may cringe several times.
Seattle’s Mars Hill Church paid a California-based marketing company at least $210,000 in 2011 and 2012 to ensure that Real Marriage, a book written by Mark Driscoll, the church’s founding pastor, and his wife Grace, made the New York Times best-seller list. According to a document obtained by WORLD, ResultSource Inc. (RSI) contracted with Mars Hill “to conduct a bestseller campaign for your book, Real Marriage on the week of January 2, 2012. The bestseller campaign is intended to place Real Marriage on The New York Times bestseller list for the Advice How-To list.” The marketing company also promised to help place Real Marriage on the Wall Street Journal Business, USA Today Money, BN.com (Barnes & Noble), and Amazon.com best-seller lists. Mat Miller of ResultSource and John Sutton Turner of Mars Hill signed the letter of agreement, dated Oct. 13, 2011. Turner was then and remains today the church’s executive pastor and an executive elder.Matthew Paul Turner:
--NickDriscoll isn’t the only pastor to do this. For years, the rumors surrounding pastors buying their bestseller placement have gone around the Christian publishing world. The confidentiality agreements that happen around this practice are pretty insane. Most pastors don’t want to discuss. The way I heard about RSI was through a friend. He said to me, “So, Matthew, you wanna know how Pastor ****** got on the NYT best-sellers list?” “Sure,” I said. “He knows a guy in California who makes it happen. He just pays him a couple hundred grand and he gets you on the list.” “Does this man have name or a website?” “I don’t know. He wouldn’t give me any names. But said he’d hook me up if I was interested.” Well, a couple weeks ago, an anonymous source sent me the following, a generic contract that authors and pastors sign with RSI. I will maybe add some more responses as they appear. As of now, I'm not surprised by Mars Hill, and I'm not particularly bothered. As my friend (and best man) David mused, "corporations be corporations."