I’m about to explode.
If your goal is to publish a book then listen up. This article is going to completely change your thinking about the idea.
And this comes from a writer with 500m+ views and a book deal from one of the largest book publishers in the world (including a large advance).
The attention age has changed everything
I run a writing academy which means I encounter a lot of people who want to write books.
What surprises me is even normal people who have never written all seem to have this secret fantasy of publishing a book.
Now let me drop a nuke.
Too many people want to start out by writing a book. They think it’s the holy grail. They want to spend the next year writing their precious book. And they’re freaking delusional.
Writing a book is shiny object syndrome in disguise.
The average writer is missing a few key realizations. The first one is we live in the attention age whether you like it or not.
Why would someone invest 10+ hours of their time reading your book if they haven’t been reading your shorter-form content?
Reading books is a time investment. Expecting strangers to start their relationship with you by giving up 10+ hours of their time to read your book is nonsensical.
Writing is a funnel. A reader finds your short-form writing. That might lead them to your longer-form essays and newsletters. And once you have enough readers, then you can ask them to read a 10+ hour book.
But thinking a book is going to change your life is ridiculous.
Truth: we’re dying of starvation from information overload
Before the internet information was a privilege.
College acted as the paywall between you and the information (and it’s not even good information). But since the evolution of the internet and now that AI/ChatGPT have come on the scene, we now have the opposite problem.
We’re drowning in information.
Our phone is a firehose of information that’s spraying in our beautiful faces and stopping us from breathing.
Books are information. Ask people around you whether they’d like more information. Ask them if they want more emails full of writing in their inbox. I guarantee they don’t.
Writing a book is contributing to this information overload problem and unless you think differently, you’ll drown with the rest of the information worshippers who haven’t figured this out.
In the last 4 weeks I’ve been sent more than 10 books. I’ve bought another 5 books on Amazon. The reality is I will never have time to read most of these books. I’ll likely read the books written by people like Naval Ravikant who I’ve read online for 5+ years.
Naval has earned my trust. He’s earned my attention.
But you dear writer, who’s barely ever written anything online and wants to start with a book, have not. And that’s the whole problem.
Unless you’re willing to think about books from a new perspective, you’ll write one of the 10,000+ books that show up on Amazon each day and doesn’t make any sales. AI is going to increase the number of books in existence by at least tenfold.
The game is now three easy steps:
- Capture people’s attention ethically
- Build a relationship with them by writing on social media
- Funnel the superfans into a newsletter and then a book.
This reality might make you angry.
“I’m not playing this salesy game.”
“I refuse to play a part in capturing people’s attention.”
“Social media is evil. Elon is what’s wrong with the world.”
The world doesn’t care. You either understand how to ethically stand out and build a readership slowly, or you don’t and nobody buys your book or ever reads your writing.
This is where it gets more delusional
Last week I spoke to an author who’s published three books.
- 55 Med!um followers
- 14 email subscribers
- 300 LinkedIn followers
He told me he’s quite accomplished as an author and knows the game well. He’s currently writing his next book and thinks a Toronto-based publishing house will pick it up.
He seems quite pleased with himself. I cut straight to the chase.
“How much money have your books made?”
“Is that enough to live off?”
“Not even close.”
So he’s wasted his time writing three books and thinks publishing a 4th book will fix his lack of audience problem. See the craziness?
If you can’t earn a living from writing books…
And no one is reading your books…
And the publisher isn’t making money from your books…
What the f*ck are you doing? You’re wasting your time. You aren’t helping anyone. You may as well write out the dictionary every day for a year. All of it is pointless.
Yet this is how 99% of people who want to write books think.
Book publishing is a business for christ’s sake
I get the feeling many wannabe authors don’t get this.
When I had my first call with the book publisher who found my writing online, I asked them what they wanted. We went back and forth with a few niceties and then it finally escaped their mouth…
“We want to publish writers who already have an audience.”
“So if I had no audience would we still be talking?”
“Even if I had a great idea for a book that’s never been written?”
“We still wouldn’t be talking.”
A book publisher is a business and publishing a book from a writer with no audience is a huge risk. It’s like playing the lottery. And businesses who play the lottery go bankrupt.
Another big thing people don’t get is book publishers won’t promote your book for you.
Yep. Book publishers do promote books, but they mostly funnel their marketing efforts and money into influential and famous people. That’s because someone who’s already well-known and publishes a book will sell copies on auto-pilot.
Throwing money at an already high-selling book is a cash machine that compounds, effortlessly.
But somehow first-time or amateur writers think they, too, will also get access to this marketing engine and ad dollars. Like I said, they’re delusional. You have to market and sell your own book.
So if you have no audience or email list then who’s buying your book? No one. Yet again, some people think that if you just put a book up on Amazon they’ll help readers find it. LOL.
Nope. There are so many books going up on Amazon every day, there’s zero chance someone will find your book through a random search.
A famous book story that makes people act dumb
One author said to me “But JK Rowling pitched her book to book publishers hundreds of times. Eventually they said yes. So, I’m gonna do the same.”
You’re insane if you think that way.
JK Rowling’s book publishing story happened in a different era. Those days are gone. The internet lit the “pick me, pick me, pick me” way of publishing on fire.
Get a grip.
If you want to write a book then think about it properly. Understand what asking strangers for 10+ hours of time means, and the attention age we live in. Books happen at the end of the reader funnel, not the start. The days of pitching a book publisher are dead.
Takeaway: build your social media audience and email list. Or forget about book publishing p*rn forever.
We don’t need more freaking 10+ hour books to read. We can’t even finish reading all of the emails in our inbox.