I Tried to Write a Book and Failed

Do you love to write and edit? Would you consider working with me for 3 months and possibly more? You’d help me finish the TMBA book. We’d compensate you with some $$$ and infamy. It won’t be easy, though. The details are in this post.

Update: The deadline has passed on this search. Thanks for everyone’s interest! 

The whole “I’m writing a book” thing has been a huge learning experience. Hundreds of thousands of words, lot’s of helpful advice, tons of hours, and nothing to show for it, except perhaps feeling the force of some entrepreneurial correlate to the Peter Principle. I can’t say I’m that bummed about it. It’s led me to learn and a ton, and I’ll keep plugging on one way or another. I love writing. And this post is a prime example of why every single morning I wake up to a blank sheet of paper before I do anything else.

Much of what I call writing is, for me, just structured thinking. Attempting to solve problems by type type typing away. Sometimes it works! If you’ve followed for a while you’ve seen it— parties, meet-ups, gigs, jobs, internships, offers, forum posts, and talking points for podcasts. I still struggle with essays, policies, and of course, book(s). So while I struggle with those things, let me take a brief interlude to focus on something a little easier. Hatching a plan. 

*  *  *

Recently, I’ve had to face some sad facts about my writing habit:

  • In 2013, I only published 7 articles at TMBA.
  • In 2013, I wrote over 350,000 words that never got published (more on that in a future post).
  • I have a still born book, over 70,000 words, sitting on my hard drive. It was started in 2012.

Regarding the book…

Over the past two years, count them, two years, I’ve given the manuscript to a handful of capable people. I’ve received some wonderful feedback on the content and direction of the work. But the primary thrust always boils down to, “it’s not done yet.” I knew it too. I was wasting those people’s time, and I suspect that many of them knew it but were too kind to say so. “Go work dude!”

It turns out I’m great at opening up my laptop and blabbing on. But I’ve got a long way to go when it comes to re-writing and re-working those words into thoughts that are worthy of the time of others. And by “worthy” I mean that you can read them straight through without getting confused.

I’ve tried deadlines, writing retreats, collaborative writing, dabbled in prescription drugs and healthy diets (oy!), but the reality of why I haven’t put out a book yet is simple– I didn’t make it a priority, and I didn’t give it enough time.

How long does it take to write a book?

Neil Strauss was recently on Tim Ferriss’ podcast talking about his writing process (great stuff). On it Tim Ferriss said something interesting– that his estimation for how long it takes to write a book is 1 year of full time work. No side projects. No business. Just book. After having spent more than a year working on a book on the side (and to the detriment of other projects like this blog), this seems accurate.

For me, it’s not really the writing that’s difficult. It’s the re-writing. I have 9 chapters (plus another 9 on the cutting room floor). 70,000 words in the next file over on my desktop. But it’s a draft. And the problem with a draft is that you’ve just begun. It needs to be painstakingly ironed out, cleaned up, researched– caulked up for continuity. Everything needs to get simplified.

So how much longer does your book need?

I’ll estimate— and keep in mind how bad I’ve shown myself to be at estimations– that somebody, preferably me, about 8 weeks of full time work to finish the book.

So let’s say 12 weeks.

And then there’s the issue of priority.

If I’m being serious about our other projects— the active investments I’m working on with bossman (ones I consider critical to my financial future), the DC, our events, this blog, our podcast, I just can’t find those 2 months in 2014. It’s simply not a priority anymore, especially given my track record.

And you want to know the real shiz? I love working with bossman and if I demand to disappear while he manages two businesses and a few new opportunities while I gouge myself with Diet Coke and writerly cafes— essentially go AWAL for two months with uncertain prospects— is simply not something I’m willing to do right now (and something, frankly, I haven’t been willing to do from the beginning, which is another reason there is no book).

A win / win?

It occurred to me today that polishing off this manuscipt is certainly work that I would love to do if my circumstances were different, and perhaps there is somebody out there who feels the same. That’s reason enough to give it a try.

So. I need somebody’s help. What is that somebody going to do? Here’s the idea:

The gig:

  • Note: it’s relatively easy to apply for this gig since I know you can’t make a full on pitch without having seen the project spec. Know for now that the book is based generally about popular TMBA concepts like “The 1000 Day Rule” and “Rip, Pivot, Jam” and is meant to be a summation of the concepts and stories we’ve picked up over the years.
  • Turn our 75,00 word disjoined manuscript into a 45,000 to 70,000 tight, useful, entertaining book.
  • You will have three months to complete the task.
  • Daily target is to edit, polish, or completely re-writing 750 words for publish.
  • This is a terribly difficult task, I know that. It’s a full time gig. For those of you watching at home, you might notice that that’s only 45,000 words. I’m assuming that 2-3 of my chapters are ready for publish as is. You might also determine from this math why great blogs are so rare.
  • You’ll send daily status reports along with a Scrivener file for review.
  • We’d like to add a few case studies to the book, as well as some comments from bossman, this will mean arranging and transcribing a few interviews, and soliciting and small handful of useful quotes and adapting the content into the text.

The terms:

  • You can live anywhere you like, provided you can get a lot of work done.
  • The earlier you can start, the better. (We are ready to go July 16th), but can wait (it’s been 2 years!).
  • I think it’s worth mentioning that my business has a demonstrated track record of investing in content. There most certainly will be other projects like this in the future, and we will likely see an ROI from this investment. That’s to say if we get along and work well together the opportunities in my company, and most certainly in our immediate network are there.

About you:

  • You love to have conversations that criticize and analyze your work at a granular level. Do you think I should have used granular there? Can you have a grown up and genuinely interested conversation about why or why not?
  • You are willing to concede to me in arguments when I say the magic words (final decision!), and put your head down and in full faith make it happen. This isn’t a great gig for somebody who has difficulty doing things that doesn’t match their immediate passion or vision for the project.
  • Although well meaning, I’m not really interested in the “sales potential,” “launch strategies,” or “positioning and branding” and all that jazz. My primary goal is to complete a book worth reading– worthy of the attention of TMBA readers. We have enough marketing around here, what we are looking for is great product.
  • You have some kind of demonstrated writing and editing track record.

How to apply:

  • It only needs to take 15 minutes to fill out the form below. (I’d love to hear your pitch about how you’d like to work with us).
  • We’ll discuss the opportunity with the top 3 candidates to see if there is fit. At that point you’ll get a chance to see our manuscript and project spec so you’ll know exactly what you are getting yourself into and how you can help.
  • Let us know what you’d like to be compensated for 3 months of work. In USD only please. I won’t pay with my word, endorsement, etc. We are flexible based on your level of experience. Some napkin math that might be a some use: I’d love to sell the book for $7.00. My guess is that in the first 3-6 months of the book being live we’d be able to move 2,000 units. This is a pure spitball. There’s no way to know, of course. Of course there are other potential benefits our brand would see from getting this work out into the world.
  • Deadline: July 8th, 2014,  11:59PM EST.
  • We’ll get back to candidates by July 13th, 2014.

Click here to review the application form.

Thank you so much for your interest. If you know anyone who’d be interested, I’d appreciate it if you’d forward this post along to them.

For all of you out there struggling to finish a book, I feel ya! And for those of you who’ve managed to ship one, RESPECT!