Eric Metaxas to Christianity Today: Getting on Best-Seller Lists is Good Stewardship (UPDATED)

UPDATE (1/8/15) – Eric Metaxas commented last night on Twitter about the CT article. I have a post at this link where his Twitter comments are presented. He said buying a spot on the NYT’s list is wrong but then said it was complicated. I think he could go further but this may be it.
…………………………
(Original article begins here)
According to Christianity Today, author and evangelical leader Eric Metaxas said Mars Hill Church did nothing wrong by using ResultSource to get Mark Driscoll’s book Real Marriage on the New York Times best-seller list.
Metaxas told CT:

“Anyone thinking there is something pure about that list does not understand the system and how it works,” he said. “I would even argue that trying to get on that list is a combination of a realistic sense of the market and good stewardship. When you understand … the Times list is a bit of a game … you realize being on that list has less to do with the actual merit of a book than with other, far less important factors.”

Prior to that quote, Metaxas is cited as referring to the Mars Hill Church scheme and indicated that Metaxas found nothing wrong with what Mars Hill did. Since that particular segment of the article was not in quotes, I don’t know if Metaxas’ comments were meant to apply specifically to Mars Hill Church or if Metaxas knows that the church committed church funds to purchase copies of Mark Driscoll’s book Real Marriage at retail prices via fictitious buying accounts in selected zip codes to bypass the NYTs monitoring system. I contacted Metaxas via email and twitter earlier this morning and will add any response I get.
Most of the industry contacts cited in the CT article take a dim view of manipulating the system. The New York Times told me back in November that they try to prevent such gaming of the system. Justin Taylor at Crossway had strong words about the practice:

From our point of view at Crossway, the bestseller lists are designed to provide an accurate reflection of the market’s response to an author and his or her book. If an author, agent, or publisher intentionally tries to subvert or distort the intended purpose of the bestseller lists, we believe this would constitute an ethical violation, in terms of standard ethical norms, but even more so in terms of Christian ethics. This would be dishonoring to the Lord (to whom we are ultimately accountable), and it would also conflict with our calling to love our neighbors as ourselves (by not creating a distorted or deceptive picture of reality). Christian authors, agents, and publishers are called to a high standard of integrity as we seek to glorify God, not only in the content of what we publish, sell, and market, but also in the way in which we go about this calling.” — Justin Taylor, senior vice president and publisher for books, Crossway 

Current Mars Hill Church president Dave Bruskas told his congregation that the ResultSource scheme was wrong as did Mark Driscoll in hindsight.
Readers can review the ResultSource contract with Mars Hill Church here.
I will be surprised and disappointed if Metaxas maintains the position he took in the article.

Daily Beast: Evangelicals Scam the NYT Bestseller List

This morning, the Daily Beast published my article summarizing recent material I have obtained.
There is still more to develop on this story. For instance, it appears that the web of relationships involving Sealy Yates, Kevin Small, David Jeremiah and the Parrotts is longstanding. I hope to develop that part of the story more this coming week. As I pointed out in the post earlier this afternoon, Driscoll was a late comer to the party and an outsider to the club. Small is on the board of the Parrotts’ non-profit and Yates is on the board of Jeremiah’s Turning Point. Jeremiah credited Small’s publishing genius as far back as 2006.
It is hard to say if these folks will open up and reveal how all of this works.
Whether or not they do may depend on how much more media scrutiny develops. Christianity Today had a small blurb Friday linking to my blog posts. I think other stories are coming.
What I would like to see is a straightforward explanation from the agents, consultants, authors and publishers about the way they work the New York Times system. In the case of Driscoll’s contract, deception was involved. Has that occurred for the other authors? It appears that way but perhaps the agents, consultants, authors and publishers do not believe they are being deceptive. I would like to hear their side of it. Thus far, outside of a promise of a reply that didn’t come from Tyndale House, there have been no replies from those who have engaged in the best-seller campaigns.
When Mark Driscoll used this approach, his critics and the media were all over the story. Where are they now?
Yates and Yates have a significant cadre of authors they represent. Do all of them use ResultSource? I asked two of them but received no answer.
More broadly, I think the NYT Bestseller brand is tarnished by the actions of ResultSource. I asked the NYTs if they planned any kind of correction for those books proven to benefit from gaming the system, and the paper declined to comment.
On WORD-FM (Pittsburgh) last week, I was interviewed by Kathy Emmons. Her suggestion to the NYTs was to permanently ban any author caught cheating.
Clearly, this is a problem larger than evangelical authors but it appears that it would take evangelicals to change course given that some on the inside of this are within the camp.
 

Why Did ResultSource Need David Jeremiah's Ministry to Help Get Mark Driscoll on the New York Times Best Seller List?

In June 2011, Kevin Small wrote to then Mars Hill Church executive elder Jamie Munson to provide details about how ResultSource could get Mark Driscoll on the New York Times best-seller list. He gave him the details of what later was reduced to writing in the contract signed by Sutton Turner on behalf of Mars Hill Church. However, there was a detail or two not included in the contract which brings another evangelical figure — David Jeremiah — into the spotlight. Small told Munson:
ResultSourceJoiner
Although I mentioned this memo last week, I didn’t understand at the time the role Paul Joiner plays at David Jeremiah’s ministry, Turning Point. According to Turning Point’s most recent 990 form, Paul Joiner is the higher paid member listed on Jeremiah’s staff, with the title Director of Creative Services. Joiner is often lauded by Jeremiah in his books, including his most recent book, Agents of the Apocalypse, now sitting at the top of the New York Times best-seller list in the Religious, Spirituality and Faith category. In the Acknowledgments section of the new book, Jeremiah wrote:
pauljoinerAotA
 
 
Why did Kevin Small pitch David Jeremiah’s Director of Creative Services to help Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church scam the NYT best-seller list? To address that question, I asked Mr. Joiner via his Twitter account to contact me regarding Result Source. He did not reply. It is certainly possible that Joiner played no role in Driscoll’s campaign, but it is intriguing that Small felt he could drop Joiner’s name to pitch the best-seller campaign to Mars Hill’s executive elders.
Driscoll took much heat for using writing and research assistance, as well as using ResultSource to propel one book to the top of the NYT best-seller list. However, it now appears that Driscoll was a light weight compared to David Jeremiah’s nearly $40 million per year media empire. Over the years, Jeremiah has used various writers (e.g., Beau Sager, Rob Suggs) to help turn his sermons into books. He then has used Kevin Small and Paul Joiner to turn several of those books into best-sellers.
 
Jeremiah’s media empire is vast enough that he may not now require Kevin Small’s help. He could probably put out a book of pictures of his family pets and it would go to the top of the charts given the number of people on his mailing list who will commit to purchase his materials pre-launch. However, was the way paved by the same methods that caused Driscoll so much trouble? For now, no one at Turning Point is talking, and it is unclear if anyone in the Christian media will investigate.
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See my article today at the Daily Beast on this topic for an overview of the work from the past week.
 
 

More About Dream Dinners' NYT Bestseller The Hour That Matters Most

On Tuesday, I wrote about Les and Leslie Parrott’s book, The Hour That Matters Most, which made the New York Times Bestseller List at #1 on September 25, 2011. According to the Parrott’s agent Sealy Yates the achievement belonged to Kevin Small who got the book to #1 without a dagger.
YatestoMHCParrott
In this communication, Yates was talking to a Mars Hill Church staffer with encouragement about the same method Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church had agreed to use. Now we know that Mark and Grace Driscoll’s book Real Marriage achieved the Bestseller List status via ResultSource; we also know that Mark Driscoll called the strategy wrong.
There are two other authors of the THTMM, Tina Kuna and Stephanie Allen, co-founders of Dream Dinners, a company that make pre-assembled meals. Dream Dinners hosts a website to support the book, which makes me wonder if these authors also were involved in the contract with ResultSource. I wrote to ask and will report any replies I get. The website makes prominent mention of the NYT Bestseller status.
TheHourNYTBestSeller
This is the opening screen of a promo video hosted on the site.
The book spent a week on the Paperback Advice chart and then faded. However, one week is enough for Kevin Small’s “wonderful accomplishment” to provide the lift needed to portray this book as a serious book.
 
 

Crossway Books Condemns Manipulation of Bestseller Lists

Monday and Tuesday, I wrote about three Christian authors (David Jeremiah, and Les & Leslie Parrott) who have used help from ResultSource CEO Kevin Small to attain their publishing success. Mars Hill Church’s contract with ResultSource to elevate Mark Driscoll’s book Real Marriage shook public trust in that church. Perry Noble, pastor of New Spring Church, has admitted to using ResultSource to elevate the position of one of his books. There are other authors of books published by Christian publishers who use the ResultSource schemes.
Until recently, ResultSource’s methods were wrapped in mystery. However, with the disclosure of the contract between Mars Hill Church and ResultSource, the public got a look at the service purchased by authors who want New York Times Bestseller status. Essentially the author pays ResultSource to purchase a large quantity of books which ResultSource will send to addresses supplied by the author. If the author doesn’t provide enough addresses in the right geographic areas, then ResultSource will supply them. ResultSource deliberately uses methods which overcome obstacles “to the reporting system” (i.e., deceives the bestseller list). See the excerpt from the contract below for the details.
I asked three Christian publishers — Tyndale House, Harper Collins Christian, and Crossway — for opinions about the use of ResultSource. Tyndale House’s Todd Starowitz told me he would reply when publisher Ron Beers returned from a trip. However, Tyndale did not respond further. HarperCollins Christian did not respond at all. Only Crossway, speaking generally about list manipulation and not individual authors, provided an answer:

From our point of view at Crossway, the bestseller lists are designed to provide an accurate reflection of the market’s response to an author and his or her book. If an author, agent, or publisher intentionally tries to subvert or distort the intended purpose of the bestseller lists, we believe this would constitute an ethical violation, in terms of standard ethical norms, but even more so in terms of Christian ethics. This would be dishonoring to the Lord (to whom we are ultimately accountable), and it would also conflict with our calling to love our neighbors as ourselves (by not creating a distorted or deceptive picture of reality). Christian authors, agents, and publishers are called to a high standard of integrity as we seek to glorify God, not only in the content of what we publish, sell, and market, but also in the way in which we go about this calling.” — Justin Taylor, senior vice president and publisher for books, Crossway 

I think Taylor cuts to the heart of the problem with manipulation of bestseller lists. The lists should provide a snapshot of the public response to a book. The public at large seems to see the lists as indicating broad public interest and even quality. However, as it stands, what the list provides is unclear. As the extent of manipulation by Christian and non-Christian authors unfolds, the list may be more of a shadowy glimpse into who has sufficient money to purchase their way into a fiction. Taylor calls the manipulation what it is: unethical. Taylor calls the Christian publishing world to a higher standard. The defense that everybody’s doing it is no defense at all.
Back in June, David Jeremiah’s non-answer to Marvin Olasky’s question about list manipulation provided an insight into another bogus rationale.

Marvin Olasky: TheNew York Times for its bestseller list counts sales from a bunch of secular stores; I understand there’s a company that will go in and buy several books in each of these bookstores. The companies that do that spread the release point of these books that are purchased by individuals so they can get attention. Is that legitimate?
David Jeremiah: The bottom line is you’re selling these books and they’re just not getting noticed. If you want the books to be noticed so that you can reach more people with them, you’ve got to figure out how to do that. I don’t know all of the ramifications of it, but I know that you can’t just write a book and say I’m not going to have anything to do with marketing. If you don’t care enough about it to try and figure out how to get it in the hands of other people, nobody else is going to either.

If you want your books to be noticed, you have to do something about it. It is stunning that David Jeremiah, a man who provides daily bible advice about a host of topics, can say unchallenged that he doesn’t “know all of the ramifications of it.” Dr. Jeremiah, fellow Cedarville University alum, let me ask you to read Justin Taylor’s statement about the ramifications. Let me hasten to add that I don’t know exactly how Jeremiah worked with ResultSource. However, given the direct question about manipulation of sales asked by Olasky, it is disappointing that Jeremiah did not answer it directly.
If he is really unsure of the implications of Olasky’s question, then Dr. Jeremiah should also read Jared Wilson’s article, “What’s Wrong with Buying Your Way onto the Bestseller List. Wilson provided five reasons the practice is wrong:

  • It’s dishonest
  • It’s egocentric and lazy
  • It may eventually harm your reputation and will bug you in the long run
  • It’s poor stewardship and bad strategy
  • It disadvantages those actually gifted.

See also the comments of the Director of Communications for the New York Times.
At the end of the day, it should not be hard for Christian leaders to understand why fooling the public with a purchased persona is wrong. When Mark Driscoll’s deal with ResultSource came to light, the church initially called it an opportunity, then unwise, then wrong. Eventually Driscoll removed the designation of NYTs best selling author from his bio. What should other authors do who have used this scheme? What should publishers do? At Crossway, there doesn’t seem to be any problem with understanding the ramifications.
 
Excerpt from the contract between Mars Hill Church and ResultSource. The entire contract is here.
RSIMHCone
 
For another inside look at ResultSource in the context of business publishing, see Jeffrey Trachtenberg’s article.

Hey Christian Author: What Would a Bestseller Do For Your Brand?

Les and Leslie Parrott are evangelical Seattle-based authors who specialize in marriage and relationship issues. They have written numerous books, some of which have made it to the New York Times Bestseller List. At least one of those books played a short, peripheral role in the drama that has been Mark Driscoll over the last couple of years. Let me explain.
The Parrotts, like David Jeremiah (who I wrote about yesterday), have worked with Kevin Small, the CEO of ResultSource, in their publishing business. One of things ResultSource does is to conduct Bestseller Campaigns. In such a campaign, they literally guarantee an author that a book with show up on the New York Times Bestseller List or the consulting fee is refunded (see Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill’s contract with ResultSource).
bestsellercampaign
When Mark Driscoll’s literary agent Sealy Yates wanted to set up meetings at Mars Hill to work out the logistics behind the 2011-2012 Real Marriage bestseller campaign, he encouraged the Mars Hill troops by telling them of another successful bestseller campaign just conducted in September 2011. The excerpt below is from a Mars Hill communication from agent Sealy Yates:
YatestoMHCParrott
In other words Mars Hill Church: see what you have to look forward to by working with “Kevin and his company.”
The Parrotts’ book did indeed make #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List during the week of September 25, 2011.
ParrottsNumberOne
 
As sometimes happens with a campaign that games the system, the next week the book fell off the chart. ResultSource uses their many accounts to buy up books during a concentrated period of time. After that, if the book doesn’t continue selling, it drops off the chart.
The Parrotts have referred to Kevin Small as a part of their team and chair of their non-profit organization in previous books. I wrote the Parrotts last week and asked for comment. I also asked publisher of The Hour That Matters Most, Tyndale House, for comment about their part in the scheme. Initially, Tyndale House spokesman Todd Starowitz said last week he would have a comment for me, but nothing has come this week. I have written Sealy Yates and Kevin Small as well with no reply.
I also wrote the New York Times Bestseller List for comment. I wondered if they discovered that religious authors often manipulated sales figures. Danielle Rhoades-Ha, Director of Communications for the New York Times, replied that authors of many types of books engage in such tactics, and explained that “attempts to manipulate our rankings with falsified sales or strategic orchestrated schemes often through legitimate bookstores are by no means limited to books that offer religious and spiritual guidance.”
According to Rhoades-Ha, companies like ResultSource are on the Times’ radar:

In response, we have developed a system to detect anomalies and patterns that are typical of attempts to gain a false ranking and warrant further inquiry. We know which publishers are the most likely to attempt such things. We know what tools they use and with whom — which organizations, special interest web sites, “consultants” and shady order fulfillment houses and retailers — they tend to collaborate.

Given the language used by Ms. Rhoades-Ha, I don’t think the Times approves of these schemes:

Pirate plots abound wherever books can be purchased in bulk through affiliated organizational or corporate funds, churches or political action committees. Other red flags include large anonymous online bulk sales and e-book sales (which do not require traditional inventory accountability) and events and conferences that “give out” books but actually record the book sales as part of the ticket price.

She said that the Times reserves the right to keep titles off the list if they don’t meet their standards and they use a dagger symbol “as a signal to readers that the book attains its ranking largely but not exclusively from bulk purchases.” She added that they attempt to spot those who try to manipulate their rankings.
Tomorrow I examine the ethics of manipulating books sales. I have comments from a Christian publisher and various views on the subject.

Did David Jeremiah Use ResultSource to Make the New York Times Bestseller List?

During the week of October 21, 2012, David Jeremiah’s book God Loves You debuted at #5 on the New York Times Hardcover and Advice Bestseller List. It remained on the list for four weeks falling off the list during the week of November 18. In the Acknowledgments section of the book, Jeremiah credited ResultSource CEO, Kevin Small, for being the genius behind the plan to get the book “before as many readers as possible.”
jeremiahsmall
As we now know, in the case of former Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll, working with Small to market his book meant buying his way on to the bestseller list. Mars Hill’s contract with ResultSource called for the purchase of thousands of books in ways that made it appear that the books were being purchased by individuals. Did David Jeremiah, his church, or his Turning Point ministry make a similar arrangement? I asked Turning Point three times about this beginning early last week but received no answer.
According to an internal Mars Hill Church memo on ResultSource I have obtained, ResultSource CEO Kevin Small outlined the details of the preparation for a New York Times Bestseller campaign to Mars Hill Church’s executive elders in June 2011. One part of the strategy was to set up a website to solicit donations in exchange for a book. The pitch in the case of Real Marriage was that the Mars Hill Church member could donate over $25 to get a free book with any profits going to the church. However, since the books had to be purchased at retail, not much actual profit went to the church. Mark Driscoll’s staff warned about how it would look if the ResultSource deal was ever discovered.
According to the same memo, Kevin Small told Mars Hill executive elders that he would contact Turning Point’s* Paul Joiner to “provide the insight into constructing a donor campaign that will result in a higher donation than book cost.” Mars Hill constructed such a donor campaign, even though, according to insiders, very few donations were made which meant that many books had to be purchased by Mars Hill at retail cost via ResultSource. Since Kevin Small called on Joiner to help Driscoll with a bestseller campaign, Joiner apparently has experience doing it. David Jeremiah credited Joiner with “incredible creativity” to drive the process, and Small, who Jeremiah has worked with since at least 2006, with the “genius behind the plan.”
An unanswered question is: What was the plan? We know what Driscoll did; did Jeremiah do the same thing? He hasn’t answered.
I have obtained information which indicates that other Christian authors have used ResultSource to crack the NYT list. I will post more on this topic throughout the week. I also have reaction from a Christian publisher and the New York Times.
*Turning Point is David Jeremiah’s broadcast ministry.
(An earlier version of this post was published by mistake. I regret the confusion)
 
 
 
 
 

Memo: Mars Hill Church Staff Worried That Real Marriage Campaign Would Benefit Mark Driscoll More Than Church

According to the charges filed by the 21 former Mars Hill Church elders, Mark Driscoll told current elders in May 2014 that he was unaware of the details of the ResultSource agreement which artificially landed his book Real Marriage on the New York Times bestseller list. The former elders alleged:

May 2014—Mark told elders that he was not aware of the ResultSource agreement but had chosen to admit knowledge of it for the sake of the team in his letter to the church, and that others had made the decision to work with ResultSource. He claimed that another elder and Mark’s publishers made the decision to work with ResultSource without his knowledge. He insinuated that he had learned about the ResultSource agreement only after the story broke on World magazine. In fact, Mark agreed to work with ResultSource on the Best Seller Campaign for Real Marriage as early as July 2011.

What did Driscoll know and when did he know it? The letter to the church mentioned by the elders was sent by Driscoll via The City (Mars Hill’s closed web community) in March 2014. In it, Driscoll said:

First, a marketing company called ResultSource was used in conjunction with the book Real Marriage, which was released in January 2012. My understanding of the ResultSource marketing strategy was to maximize book sales, so that we could reach more people with the message and help grow our church. In retrospect, I no longer see it that way. Instead, I now see it as manipulating a book sales reporting system, which is wrong. I am sorry that I used this strategy, and will never use it again. I have also asked my publisher to not use the “#1 New York Times bestseller” status in future publications, and am working to remove this from past publications as well.

The wording of the statement makes it difficult to know when he became aware that the ResultSource scam was manipulative. Did he become aware of it after the story broke in World? Or sometime before that? Or did he know it all along? According to the former elders, Driscoll implied he didn’t know until after World broke the story. Since Driscoll is not talking to the media now, it is not possible to get his side of that story. However, there is evidence that Driscoll was warned about the nature of the ResultSource strategy before Sutton Turner signed the contract.
Regarding the July 2011 date mentioned by the former elders, I have seen an email which appears to support that date although I am not at liberty to print it. However, I have recently obtained an internal memo which indicates that Mars Hill staff were concerned about the Result Source agreement well before Sutton Turner signed the deal. The memo below provides additional evidence which supports the claim that Mark Driscoll was aware of the ramifications of the ResultSource strategy before the church leaders agreed to the terms of the contract. RMGiving1pager According to sources aware of the situation, the Mars Hill communications staff raised questions with the executive elders (Mark Driscoll, Sutton Turner and Dave Bruskas) about the wisdom of the ResultSource agreement prior to October 2011.  The above memo was written in September 2011, prior to the ResultSource contract dated October 13 and signed by Sutton Turner, apparently on October 17. In May 2014, I posted October 18, 2011 invoices from ResultSource which were addressed  to Mark Driscoll.
Driscoll told the church in March that he thought the ResultSource strategy would “reach more people with the message and help grow our church.” However, the memo above raised important questions regarding potential harm and loss which could result. The memo writer raised two important issues to the executive elders. Would the church lose money on the arrangement and is it acceptable for the church to pay retail price for Real Marriage when Driscoll could get them at a substantial discount and allow the church to sell them at a higher price.
The large giving campaign referred to in the memo above was launched on November 22, 2011 with a announcement to the church that Driscolls’ Real Marriage book could be secured via a $25 or more donation:
Give25getRMbook
The pitch to the members is described at the bottom of the page (since removed by Mars Hill Church; this is an archived copy of the page) Give25getRMbookB The links (in tan letters) lead to RealMarriageBook.com. This website was referred to in the Result Contract with Mars Hill: ResultSourceWebsiteRMB   That website is archived (November 19, 2011) and looked like this: ResultSourceRMBlanding
With this foundation, one can understand the concerns expressed in the memo more clearly. Real Marriage was being offered for a minimum price of $25. Since the books had to be purchased from retail outlets at the retail price ($20 or more)  in order for the books to show up in the New York Times sales count, the profit to Mars Hill Church was meager compared to what it would have been if Driscoll had exercised his option to purchase bulk quantities at a vast discount ($7).  Presumably, he made his usual royalty from the books purchased at retail. What is unknown is whether or not Driscoll donated any additional money from his royalties for the books sold in relationship to the entire campaign.
In light of this information, let’s review the worries expressed in the memo: RMMemoIsAcceptI have been told that the giving campaign did not achieve “sales” expectations. Successful or not, the campaign was set up pursuant to the ResultSource contract and managed by them. The campaign was set up to achieve Driscoll’s rise to the top of the NYT bestseller list and may have resulted in significant financial gain. The website said that purchasers were helping the ministry efforts of Mars Hill Church. Unknown to them, they were also helping Mark Driscoll get to #1 on the NYT bestseller list with all of the resulting benefits.
Finally, the memo implies that Driscoll was warned about the problems with running the ResultSource campaign through the church. The church Board of Advisors and Accountability spent money unwisely in order to benefit Mark Driscoll both via elevating his personal status and by purchasing books at retail price when those same books could easily have been secured at a substantial discount. While Driscoll said he was sorry he used the strategy, he has not directly addressed the financial consequences of the deal to the church. If the BOAA desires to repair lost trust now, I believe they need to issue a full accounting of money spent on the entire campaign, along with the resulting royalties, profits and losses.

Mark Driscoll and Result Source: What About the Other Best Seller Lists?

By now, most people know that Mars Hill Church entered into a contract with ResultSource Inc. to place Mark and Grace Driscoll’s book Real Marriage on to the New York Times Best Seller List. World Magazine broke that story and then I posted the contract between MHC and RSI. Overlooked in the fallout from that story is that Real Marriage also made it on other best seller lists. According to the contract, this was by design.

Note that RSI pledged to attempt to Real Marriage on best seller lists published by the Wall Street Journal and the USA Today.

Although RSI was only obligated to make a top 15 placement on the NYT list, the other publications were mentioned as targets with expectation for success.
Initially the position of Mars Hill Church through spokesman Justin Dean was that the RSI-MHC partnership was an “opportunity” and an “investment.” Two days later, the MHC Board of Advisors and Accountability said the arrangement was “common” but “unwise.” Then, days later, Mark Driscoll said he initially saw the scheme as a way to market books but had come to see it as “manipulating a book sales reporting system” and thus “wrong.” He also said he was going to ask his publisher not to use the “#1 best seller status” on future publications. Quickly, the designation came off of his Mars Hill bio.
But what about the other best seller lists? Did he make those as well?
Consistent with the aspirations expressed in the contract, Real Marriage did make other best seller lists in early January and then as with the NYT list, the book fell off those lists after the campaign was complete. The book went to #3 on Publisher’s Weekly list, #8 on Wall Street Journal’s Nonfiction Combined list (week ending Jan. 8), and #38 on USA Today’s Top 150 Books (entered the list Jan. 12 for one week).  In contrast to his stance on the NYTs list, Driscoll continues to refer to those lists on his website:

At one point, this list also carried the #1 NYT best seller designation, so someone edited the page and decided to leave these placements alone.* Although the NYT best selling designation is more prestigious, another look at the contract demonstrates that the RSI scheme manipulates the efforts of several respected publications to estimate customer interest in books.
 
*Although these links are probably dead on arrival, there are multiple places on pastormark.tv where the NYT designation is still in place.
UPDATE: All links to pastormark.tv are now dead. I have copies of the pages but the current links go to a page that says, “We couldn’t find that.”
 

Where Did ResultSource Go?

ResultSource  is the company Mars Hill Church hired to manipulate the various best seller lists on behalf of Mark Driscoll. Tonight if you go to Resultsource.com you won’t find success stories beckoning clients to sign up for ResultSource’s services. Instead, you see this:

Once upon a time, one could read about bestseller campaigns:

Bestseller Campaigns

ResultSource works with thought leaders to maximize their full potential. You know that having a New York Times bestseller isn’t your final destination. But it’s an important achievement – and a door to even greater opportunity that only the “key of credibility” can open.

Thanks to ResultSource that “key to credibility” has been tarnished.
It is interesting to note that CEO Kevin Small’s Linked In (Google cache) and Twitter accounts are no longer available. Also, the ResultSource phone number now goes to an answering machine with no mention of the company name or business. Perhaps ResultSource is just revamping the website and the absence means nothing. However, in light of the unfavorable scrutiny RSI has been getting, it is reasonable to wonder if the company is about to reinvent itself.