NewSpring and Perry Noble are also Result Source clients 17

NewSpring contracted with Result Source to “market” Perry Noble’s first book, a New York Times best seller, a spokesperson for NewSpring church confirmed today. According to NewSpring’s public relations director, Susanne Swift, the church paid $30,000 for the service and purchased 11,000 copies of Unleash! “for use in our Resource Centers and for other uses.”

NewSpring Church purchased 11,000 copies of Unleash! through Result Source

NewSpring Church purchased 11,000 copies of Unleash! through Result Source

Result Source markets itself as a tool guaranteeing authors a listing on the New York Times best seller list. Noble’s book was indeed listed in the #2 position of the Advice, How-To, & Miscellaneous list on October 7, 2012, for sales in the week after it was released. It did not appear on the list again.

Swift, who was responding to questions I had sent to her yesterday, said that Noble’s literary agent had recommended Result Source and that the church treated it as a marketing expense.

“Authors and publishers have a wide range of opinions about how money should be allocated between book marketing and promotion vs book advertising—all with the goal of getting a book into as many hands as possible,” she said.

Swift noted that all of the profits from subsequent sales of those 11,000 books were kept by the church, and that Noble had “given 100% of all money made on Unleash!, including advances and future royalties to NewSpring.”

The 11,000 is exactly the same number of purchases required by Mark Driscoll’s Result Source contract, and those books were purchased at a discount of 14 percent off the full retail price. Assuming the same discount rate for Noble’s hardcover book, which initially sold at $16.49, purchasing the 11,000 copies cost the church $156,000, for a total campaign cost of $186,000.

Swift said that NewSpring decided not to use Result Source for Noble’s forthcoming book, Overwhelmed, and was relying on social media and word of mouth to market the books.

NewSpring has already purchased 5,000 copies of Overwhelmed at Noble’s author’s discount, with the profits from those sales going to the church, Swift said. “NewSpring has benefitted many tens of thousands of dollars as a result of this arrangement—money that Perry Noble would otherwise be entitled to earn,” she said.

Evaluation

First, I am grateful to Ms. Swift for her prompt and detailed answers to my questions about Perry Noble’s book sales. She surely knows that this news will embroil Noble in the same controversy that Mark Driscoll and Steven Furtick have found themselves in lately, yet she was forthright in her answers even though she had no obligation to respond to my query. I am impressed and thankful for her, Noble’s and NewSpring’s transparency on this issue.

Ms. Swift’s response to my inquiry was generous, which makes it more difficult for me to criticize Noble and NewSpring for what we learn from this news. Nevertheless, this does make them a party to the same kind of manipulations that we have been seeing and criticizing in Driscoll and Furtick. So, briefly, here are a few things to think about:

Inurement. NewSpring church used money that was donated to it as a charitable entity with tax exempt status to purchase a commercial product created by its senior pastor. In the instance of Unleash!, even though money went to the church, Noble still benefitted from the enhanced reputation that comes with NYT bestseller status. He becames a more attractive and valuable conference speaker, for which he will earn speaking fees for the rest of his public life. He has also used the bestseller status to market his second book, the proceeds of which are going to Noble personally, by proclaiming Noble as a New York Times bestselling author above the book’s title. Noble benefitted personally from the church’s spending on his behalf, constituting inurement, which is illegal and places the church’s tax exempt status at risk.

Perry Noble: Pastor and Bestselling Author.

Perry Noble: Pastor and Bestselling Author.

Ethics. Mark Driscoll and his church have been removing references to him being a NYT bestseller because we have all discovered that such a claim is deceptive. Noble’s conference bios, his Facebook profile, and the marketing site for his new book advertise him as a NYT bestselling author. Just as with Driscoll, this would not have been true without extraordinary manipulation of the market at the church’s expense. As Throckmorton is reporting, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability has declared such manipulation to be unethical and deceptive. NewSpring is not a member of ECFA.

Independent manipulation. Although NewSpring is not using Result Source for his second book, they appear to be following the same script to achieve the same ends without having to pay the $30,000 fee. Of the 11,000 books that Result Source required Driscoll to purchase, 5,000 were to be purchased by the church in bulk. It seems more than just coincidence that NewSpring has already purchased 5,000 copies of Overwhelmed, just weeks before its release. Perhaps they also know they can generate 6,000 individual sales on their own to reach the critical mass necessary for a NYT listing for his second book.

Elevation Church has also stated that it did not use a service like Result Source for Chatterbox, even though the result — a fleeting NYT appearance (it appeared at #19 out of 20 for one week only) — was the same as Driscoll’s and Noble’s books.

Wastefulness. NewSpring purchased those 11,000 for its Resource Centers and “other uses.” If resource center is another name for a book store, it is not well promoted. A Google search for “newspring resource center” turned up no results. The Unleash! marketing site and the Overwhelmed site only offer purchasing options through commercial outlets like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The church’s annual report for 2012 also does not indicate either expenses or income related to the purchase and sale of the book.

With 11,000 books waiting to be profited from, shouldn’t we see an online opportunity to purchase books directly from the church? If you’re a NewSpring member, wouldn’t you prefer to buy from the church so that your profit went to God, not to Jeff Bezos of Amazon? I have no record of Noble telling his NewSpring members to wait to purchase his books only from the church. (If he has done this, please point us to it in the comments.)

What are the “other uses”? It seems almost certain that NewSpring, Elevation, Mars Hill and who knows how many other churches have storerooms full of unread books by their pastor authors. For NewSpring to have actually sold these books, every single family at the church would have had to purchase at least one directly from the church. That is unlikely, especially when they are still being encouraged to buy from other retailers.

The statement from NewSpring

For context and completeness, here is the unedited text of NewSpring’s statement regarding Result Source and its book marketing:

NewSpring did purchase copies of Unleash!, approximately 11,000 for use in our Resource Centers and for other uses – though some of these would not count toward any best seller list calculations since they were purchased in bulk. As with any book of his, the church keeps any profit from books sold at the church. Perry enables the church to make more money than it otherwise would because the church can purchase using Perry’s author discount. In addition to this, Perry decided to give 100% of all money made on Unleash!, including advances and future royalties to NewSpring.

We (NewSpring) have also purchased about 5,000 copies of Overwhelmed, also using Perry’s author discount, with NewSpring retaining all profits from these sales. NewSpring has benefitted many tens of thousands of dollars as a result of this arrangement—money that Perry Noble would otherwise be entitled to earn.

We did, at the recommendation of Perry’s literary agent, hire Result Source to help market Unleash. We viewed the $30,000 we paid this company as part of the marketing budget for the book, though we chose not to use this service (from Result Source or any other outside company) for the upcoming book, Overwhelmed. Authors and publishers have a wide range of opinions about how money should be allocated between book marketing and promotion vs book advertising—all with the goal of getting a book into as many hands as possible. We are probably relying more on word-of-mouth and social media now than anything else to market books.

17 thoughts on “NewSpring and Perry Noble are also Result Source clients

  1. Russell Mar 14, 2014 8:02 pm

    Great authors will always purchase 5,000 – 11,000 copies of their own books to give away to family and friends. The owners should ask for their free copies now! They have already paid for them … Elevation , NS and Mars Hill .. Go !!

  2. Elevation Watch Mar 14, 2014 8:46 pm

    Attend any service hen a “Pulpit Masters” has a book on the market and you will get a soft sell pitch, usually by one of the “Campus Pastors” at the end of the service. This is blatant example of a private inurement for these Pastors who use the pulpit, which is part of a building owned or leased by the non profit organization they lead, in an attempt to receive excessive/additional compensation or benefit from their employment or association. Any type of promotion or other arrangement to promote a product or service on behalf of anyone by the Church breaches the supposed mission of the organization.

  3. Professor Mar 14, 2014 11:06 pm

    I have suspected that Mars Hills’ reference to getting the idea from “outside counsel” was a clever way not to admit that another rock star pastor – perhaps Noble? – suggested the plan to Driscoll. This revelation gives me more confidence that I may have been correct.

    • James Duncan Mar 14, 2014 11:48 pm

      Prof, Driscoll has been at this longer than Noble, so Noble would be a student of Driscoll, not vice versa. The advice came from their book agent, whom I assume is the same person.

      Lane, he did get a tangible benefit: speaking fees and increased sales on book #2. Result Source is very up front about why customers would use them to create these outcomes. Nevertheless, the purchase of the 5,000 Overwhelmed books puts tithed money directly into Noble’s pocket and gives him the same future benefits that would come if it makes the NYT list, too.

  4. Lane Mar 14, 2014 11:10 pm

    Assuming that all proceeds of any book sales go back to the church, then does it matter that a percentage of that is spent on a marketing plan that includes a service like Result Source? My understanding of inurement is that it only applies to tangible benefits, and the authors are essentially giving over marketing rights (and subsequent profits) to the churches. The misleading aspect of the Result Source arrangement is a different argument, but it doesn’t seem that any laws are broken through this practice.

  5. Chris Mar 15, 2014 8:03 pm

    Regarding increased speaking fees…Noble gives every dime of speaking fees back to newspring ..Swift may verify this for you but I know it to be true . He has and continues to be one of newspring’s biggest givers .

    • James Duncan Mar 16, 2014 1:05 am

      Chris, I would be very surprised if that were the case. Even if it were, we ought not pay much attention to what they tell us they’re giving to the church when they’re silent on how much they’re taking from the church. A pastor could make $100,000 in speaking fees, give it all to the church, then the compensation committee could give the pastor a $99,000 bonus in recognition of all the money he has bought into the church. Unless they tell us about total compensation packages, ignore whatever they say about what the pastor is contributing.

      In the Overwhelmed book, Noble talks about being overworked, and advocates taking lots of time off. If Noble thinks he is overworked, why is the church sending him out in the middle of the week to speak at so many conferences? They’d be exploiting their depressed and overworked pastor with no benefit to him or his family. How cruel is that?

  6. Junius Mar 15, 2014 8:32 pm

    Hmmm, given the enormous salary he is likely earning, I would hope he’s NewSpring’s biggest giver.

  7. Russell Mar 15, 2014 8:34 pm

    Yeah, paying full social security on a 1099 hurts ..running it through the non profit works much better .. 🙂

  8. Adam Mar 16, 2014 1:09 am

    Newspring does indeed sell nobles books in their little ‘resource center’. I remember paying $10 for it. It was a special price for the first few weeks. He also did signings….the line went on forever. Probably the only time most of those people would get a chance to ‘meet’ their pastor.

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  10. TheRev78 Mar 19, 2014 1:07 am

    If Mr. Noble gives all of these proceeds and fees back to the church, then why are the members of the church not privy to the amount of the budget that is designated towards his salary and bonuses?

    It also begs the question of whether or not those who handle the publicity at NewSpring were wise enough to “learn” from the example of Elevation and Mars Hill. Rather than hiding from this, better to get out in front of it and simply admit what happened.

  11. Junius Mar 19, 2014 9:24 am

    TheRev78,

    It’s rather simple–disclosure of Noble’s salary, housing allowance, and fringe benefits would outrage the average NewSpring attender. Dr. Duncan has surmised that Noble is earning well in excess of $500,000 a year from NewSpring alone. Noble has said he won’t disclose his salary because he won’t be held hostage by church members who use it to hold things over his head and say, “Well, I pay your salary!” Quite curious, isn’t it? Members sit through multiple money sermons per year, give their tithe/funds to the church, but are not entitled any knowledge about how it is specifically used.

    The truth is likely that Noble is earning an enormous amount of money that would stir up quite a bit of controversy and cause many people to quit giving or leave NewSpring. After all, how can the average family earning $40-60k give ten percent of their income when the pastor is likely one of the richest people in the state?

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  13. Mark Groen Mar 21, 2014 12:57 pm

    Of course you give all your speaking fees to the church. How else can you have them funneled back to you, tax free, as a housing allowance?

  14. Paula Mar 24, 2014 8:12 pm

    So is there any evidence Furtick used them? What about someone like James Macdonald? They all seem to be using each others’ play books on everything else…

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