Dec 13, 2012

Writing Retirement Books Is a Business

My international bestseller How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free (over 175,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages) has been in the top 1,000 books sold on Amazon for the last week or so, which means that it is selling really well, particularly it being Christmas season.

A lot of people think that it is really easy to accomplish what I have done with this book, which could end up being my $1 million book in profits (more about this some other time). 

Note: as of August 15, 2016 How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free has now sold over 300,000 copies and has earned me over $1 million in pretax profits.

Here are some great quotations to put the business or writing retirement books (and it is a business) in proper perspective:

“What people really want . . . is to be broke. At least, that’s one likely interpretation of a new YouGov poll that shows more people [in Britain] would rather be a writer than anything else. Now, it’s possible they’ve all got their eyes on the J. K. Rowling squillions, but the financial reality is rather more depressing. Most book manuscripts end up unwanted and unread on publishers’ and agents’ slush piles, and the majority of those that do make it into print sell fewer than 1,000 copies … It’s not even as if writing is that glamorous. You sit alone for hours on end honing your deathless prose, go days without really talking to anyone and, if you’re lucky, within a year or so you will have a manuscript that almost no one will want to read. Your friends and family will come to dread requests for constructive feedback . . .”
— John Crace writing in The Guardian

“No amount of money or marketing can overcome a book that doesn’t deliver. So your first challenge is to write a book that your networks assure you is as good as you want it to be. The content of your books will determine how you sell them to publishers and promote them to book buyers. Content precedes commerce.”
— Rick Frishman

“People think that just because they’ve written something, there’s a market for it. It’s not true.”
— Cathy Langer, Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver

“Are you publishing this book to make a living? Good luck with that. Less than 3% of newly published authors make enough in royalties and advances to be happy to live on.”
— Seth Godin

And I am going add a quotation by Joe Konrath. For the record, I am not a big fan of Konrath, mainly because of his constant criticism of traditional publishers (My opinion is that Konrath hasn’t applied critical thinking skills in his analysis of traditional publishers.) Nevertheless, I do admire and acknowledge the success that Konrath has achieved. What’s more, I particularly agree with Konrath’s statement:

“Write a damn good book. This should be your main priority. It’s also one of the hardest things to do, and the hardest things to judge for yourself if you’ve done it. The problem is, most writers believe their books are good. Even at our most insecure, we believe complete strangers will enjoy our scribblings enough to pay for the privilege.”
— Joe Konrath

Note: I don't want to discourage anyone from writing books. In fact, I encourage all my friends to do so. The point is: If you want to make real money at this game and have a true bestseller (one that has sold 100,000 copies or more) you have to be a 1 percenter. A 1 percenter is a person who is willing to be more creative and more industrious than 99 percent of the population is willing to be.

Check out the blog post Creativity Trumps Following the Rules

Also, check out the number 2 listing of "Top 55 Retirement Planning Websites awards."