THE BRAZEN CAREERIST-Five reasons: Why you shouldn't write a book
People ask me all the time how they can get a book deal. But every time I ask someone why they want to write a book, they have a terrible answer.
So instead of worrying about how maybe you need to get a book deal, consider these reasons why a book deal is no good:
1. People who have a lot of ideas need a blog, not a book.
A blog is more immediate, so you'll get better feedback. And getting feedback as you go is much more intellectually rigorous than printing a final compendium of your ideas and getting feedback from the public only when it's too late to change anything.
Many people think they have a ton of ideas, and they are brimming with book possibilities when, in fact, most of us have very few new ideas. If you have so many ideas, prove it to the world and start blogging.
2. A book is an outdated way to gain authority.
It's true that lots of people think that authors are the people with authority. But anyone can have good ideas, and only some good ideas fit into book format. On top of that, the people who are on the cutting edge of any topic are not waiting the two years it takes to deliver new ideas in a book. Instead, they're reading articles and blogs and discussions online with all the immediacy of the Internet.
3. Books lead to speaking careers, which often lead nowhere.
One thing a book really does provide– as long as it's published by a top-tier publisher– is enough traditional authority to get you speaking gigs. But before you get giddy about those huge speaking fees that take you to Hawaii and Belgium, remember that the life of a public speaker may not be what you expect. You don't really connect with people and work with them, but instead flit from city to city; and while it's great to get a gig in Newport Beach, California, usually it'll be Birmingham, Alabama. And the constant travel will keep you so tired that you'll become numb to those chic accommodations.
But really, the biggest problem with the life of a public speaker is that if all you do is speak, then it's a Mobius puzzle that ends with you having nothing to say. So most speakers have to eventually figure out what to do after the speaking is over. Why not just forget the book and figure out your post-speaking career before you even start?
4. Per hour, you'll make more money flipping burgers.
The odds that your book will be a best seller are absolutely terrible. Writing fiction is an impossible life unless you hit the jackpot. There's a great article in the New Yorker about a relatively famous, established novelist who cannot support himself on book advances. Nonfiction books are a better bet for personal survival, but most nonfiction books are paperback originals which means they are $50,000 advances, and most of you could earn more than that spending a year in an office.
5. When you're feeling lost, a book won't save you.
People feeling lost use books like law school. They think if they have some piece of paper– a degree, a contract– then people will respect them, and then they'll respect themselves. But self-respect comes from having some sort of vision for one's life and heading in that direction. And there is no one and no book that can give you that vision.
So stop with the idea that you need a book. Most people who think they need a book deal probably need to answer the question: What will I be doing two years after that book? Do you really need the book to get where you want to go? Probably not.