I really liked what Guy Kawasaki said recently about good reasons and not-so-good reasons to self-publish a book. He pointed to the trend for people to write non-fiction books as a means to an end—typically to get more speaking engagements, more consulting clients, etc…rather than because you have something to say.
I’m on a lot of mailing lists (note to self: cut down!) and lately there has been a glut of people offering courses in “how to write a best-seller in a weekend” and similar topics.
They don’t dedicate much attention to whether or not you’re going to add anything valuable to the discussion.
If you’ve been wondering what their secret method is, I can save you a lot of money:
- Pick a topic.
- Look at the tables of content of similar books to get your chapter headings.
- Reword what you’ve read, add a dash of Wikipedia, mix at high speed.
- Bang out your rehash.
- Get somebody at Fiverr.com to make you a cover for five dollars.
- Create the e-book and list it on Amazon.
- Get as many people as possible to all order it on the same day. You may have to bribe them with something they get when they send you the Amazon receipt as proof they bought it on the right day.
- If enough people have done number 7, achieve number one ranking in your niche or sub-niche for several hours
- Tell everybody you’re the author of a “number one best-seller”
The more people that do that, the more cluttered things get and the harder it is to find the books that do actually have something new to say or at the very least a fresher approach to what’s been said before.
(If you do want to write a book, you'll find friendly guidance from my book, "Your Writing Coach," published by Nicholas Brealey and available from Amazon or your other favorite books seller.)
A phrase I often use in my writing workshops is, “Write what only you can write.” This trend is based on “Write what anybody could write if they have a free weekend.” I hope more people will adopt the former.
By the way, this kind of thing isn’t so typical in fiction, but recently I encountered a clever internet marketer who is coming up with plots for horror books and outsourcing the writing. He’s even using Fiverr, paying people five dollars to write a chapter. I’m not optimistic that this is a great way to get a well-written book, and I can’t imagine that it brings any creative satisfaction. I could be wrong…but I doubt it.