“There is a marvelous peace in not publishing. It’s peaceful. Still. Publishing is a terrible invasion of my privacy. I like to write. I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure.” – J.D. Salinger (via Paul Cantor)
This idea of writing for your own pleasure, education, edification etc. that Salinger author of The Catcher in the Rye is a common one. Paul Cantor writing at Medium talks about “enjoying the simple pleasure of the fingers hitting the keys, the words going from the mind to the fingers to the page.”
Having written a book I have been asked by other bloggers who were interested in writing a book. The advice I have given is that you should only write a book because you have something to say not because you think it is going to end up in some sort of big pay day. Tren Griffin author of Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor has an great post up with a half dozen lessons about writing and getting a book published. As Griffin writes at 25iq:
Books should be written by missionaries not mercenaries…Given that financial returns for book authors reflects a power law as is the case on most creative endeavors, your motivation for writing a book should not be monetary.
Said another way:
The only book you should write is the book that is trapped inside of you, banging with both its fists on the inside of your rib cage, demanding to be let out. – Jason Zweig author of The Devil’s Financial Dictionary
Said one other way:
Assume your book is going to completely tank commercially. That’ll help you remember that you’re not writing this for the purpose of writing a best-seller (at least I assume you’re not), but because it’s something that you care passionately about and excites you intellectually and because you hope to be able to share your thoughts and observations and conclusions with a group of people you respect and want to discourse with. Everything else is gravy. At the end of the day, what’s important is producing something you believe in…not producing something that’ll catch people’s eyes at B&N. – Seth Mnookin author of The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy
The biggest change in the publishing industry over the past decade has been the rise of self-publishing. As with blogging, self-publishing allows writers (or all types) the ability to speak directly to an audience. (Most book authors feel like they are on their own marketing-wise anyway.) Two prominent finance bloggers Ben Carlson and Meb Faber have both successfully gone the self-publishing route and unsurprisingly have some valuable insights into the process.
Even the self-publishing route has gotten an upgrade of late. Zach Obront co-founder of Book in a Box recently wrote at Michael Kitces’ blog Nerd’s Eye View how financial advisors could use this process to self-publish their own book. One of the biggest benefits of writing a book is how it clarifies your own thinking and that clear vision will make you a better advisor. Obront writes:
Everyone who reads your book can get an understanding of your ideas, and begin to see you as an expert in the field. But, even better, the ones who really connect with what you write, and see real potential to work together, will reach out to you with these opportunities.
A book, like a blog, is simply a means to get your ideas out to a wider world. Sometimes those ideas require a book-length manuscript. Sometime a blog posts is sufficient. Other times 140 characters is all you need. The book is simply a bigger commitment in terms of time and money. Whichever direction you go you will feel better that you have put yourself out there and let the chips fall where they may.