Signing THIS contract put Mark Driscoll, others on the NYT best-seller list


You’ve probably heard about this World Magazine story regarding Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill buying their placement on the New York 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, Result Source 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, (Barnes & Noble), and best-seller lists. SOURCE.

Driscoll 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.

In light of today’s news, I think this contract showcases an interesting tale about the agreement and the processes RSI goes through to make the “magic” happen.

Bestseller Contract


  1. kmcdade says

    At first I thought, so what, they paid somebody to do a bunch of marketing for them…and then I read the agreement and OMG!!! So they are paying this company to buy, or arrange for the buying of books?

  2. DanielJonceEvans says

    So, here’s my question: Beyond the shady nature of hitting the list; if a pastor is making a royalty from the sale of the books, and is using the church funds to purchase those books through a third party, couldn’t that be considered embezzlement?

  3. johnnygf says

    I think you need to push the fact that the company is not really doing marketing, but is arranging the sale of books up-front AND in such a way that the bulk purchase is not ignored by Neilsen BookScan (which compiles the bestseller lists and normally would ignore bulk purchases).

    I think many elders and sometimes church communities are sort of invested in their pastor’s writing career. They want to see their pastor do well, but they also want to share the fruits of their pastor’s labour. i.e. The pastor, especially in a megachurch, writes a book and naturally many in the congregation will want to read their pastor’s book and they think that doing a bulk buy will mean they get it cheaper. Sadly that bulk buy does nothing to get it onto the bestseller list and does nothing for the book’s profile beyond it’s niche audience in the pastor’s congregation. So some promotional company comes up with a perfectly legal (though shady) scheme and the elders/deacons think it’s a win-win! They pay a relatively small amount for ‘marketing’, the congregation gets the books they want at a discount and the church maybe even gets a cut of the royalties (some pastor-authors do formally sign over some of their royalties to their church in recognition for the fact the church doesn’t have their pastor full-time), which could be substantial for a book with the label “NYT Bestseller!”. The problem is the lack of transparency and the fact that as DanielJonceEvans pointed out: this could be embezzlement, not merely ‘buying’ a “Bestseller” label for a book.


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