Some Questions About My Upcoming Book

As I announced on Twitter a few days ago, I recently turned in the manuscript for my upcoming second book.

I’m extremely proud of this book, as I conceived of the entire idea myself, spent literally hundreds of hours researching materials and interviewing dozens of people, and spent the last three months tying together the manuscript.

Since I’m so excited to talk about it (and I know a lot of you are interested in what’s coming based on the emails and Twitter comments and instant messages I’ve received), I thought I’d offer up a little “question and answer” session about the book to whet your appetites.

Q&A About My Upcoming Second Book

What is the book called?

The book is tentatively titled “Making Change.” We hope to settle on the final title of the book within the next week or two. In fact, earlier today I submitted a revised title, subtitle, and very basic cover mock-up to my publisher, based on a brilliant suggestion from Sarah (my wife) a few days ago.

What is “Making Change” about?

The world is changing at a rapid pace. Twenty years ago, the web was nonexistent – today, virtually all of us use it as a key information gathering tool. Fifteen years ago, cell phones were a novelty at best – now, they keep us connected with each other in ways inconceivable a generation ago. Ten years ago, Asian economies were in ruins – today, products made in China and jobs outsourced to Bangalore are the norm. Five years ago, Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist – today, hundreds of millions of people use these services to maintain social connections.

My own story is a perfect example of this rapid change. Four years ago, I was buried in consumer debt, working in a straightforward career in a monolithic organization, missing out on the work I was most passionate about. Today, we’re free of consumer debt and working in a freelancing career doing exactly what I love the most.

These rapid changes make our lives more unpredictable than ever. They’re changing some of the most fundamental ways the world works – things move faster with far less predictability. Many of the old rules – the old ways of doing things – simply no longer work.

“Making Change” is about navigating these changes – and all of the countless other ones coming our way in the near future. What can we do to protect our hard-earned money – and earn even more? How can we maximize our career opportunities? And whatever happened to the promises of economic and personal freedom that the future was supposed to hold? My own story of making change plays a central role in the story, as does many of the stories shared to me by readers of The Simple Dollar over the years.

Intrigued? I hope so.

When is “Making Change” coming out?

We’re hoping for an April 2010 release date, though nothing is set in stone. The enormous amount of research I did for this book (and an unexpected illness in September) caused me to slip a little in submitting the final manuscript, so this may cause the final release date to slip a little more.

What made you decide to write a book like this?

I originally started out writing a memoir – it was very humorous and self-deprecating in places. As I kept writing, I kept noticing a theme in what I was writing – everything was going along, then something fairly unexpected happened, leaving me gobsmacked.

Why were all of these radical changes always happening in my life?

The most fascinating part was that many of the things that happened to me were things that happened to many others over the last ten years or so. We fell into terrible debt. We had a child when we didn’t expect it at all. We found our career path twist in an wholly unexpected (and undesired) direction. We found large organizations being increasingly disloyal to us as individuals. We found communication tools that put us in touch with countless other people who shared the same seemingly obscure interests that we have. We lost the power of isolation, carrying cell phones that follow us wherever and whenever we are.

At first, I thought this might be a source of a few interesting posts on The Simple Dollar, but the more I began to study these disruptive changes – and how they’re becoming more frequent, not less – I realized that many of the rules of personal finance and career management didn’t really apply any more. They assumed a long period of stability – and those long periods of stability don’t exist any more.

I followed that rabbit hole and out came “Making Change.”

What happened to the memoir book?

Right now, it’s sitting in hibernation. While I did include some pieces of it in “Making Change,” the memoir has such a different tone to it that it’s really hard to compare the two.

In theory, if I ever got desperate for articles for The Simple Dollar, it would work well for that. The “memoir book” as it sits right now is a collection of about twenty essays, chronologically ordered, and about 3,000 words apiece. Each one relates – in a somewhat humorous and self-deprecating way – some personal finance principle that I discovered the hard way.

I’m honestly unsure what I’m going to do with it, but I know one thing – I need a “book break” for a while. It’s going to rest for a while. In a few months, I’ll dig it out, read it again, and decide what I want to do with it. I might ship it around to other publishers, self-publish it (using Lulu.com or something like that), or simply turn it into a long series of posts. I just don’t quite know.

What’s the most surprising thing about the book?

There are two things that I think will really stand out. One, I think I make a very good case for the large amount of unpredictability in our lives – far more than most people think there is. This area drew a lot of my research for the book, actually.

One of my biggest conclusions for solving that challenge is pretty surprising, too. Yes, I talk about all of the usual techniques – emergency funds and so on – but perhaps the best way to protect yourself against such uncertainty comes from a word that our grandparents would find more familiar than we do (but we have surprising ways to access it ourselves). That one word? Community.

When can I read some of it?

In a few months, I intend to start posting excerpts here on The Simple Dollar so you can make up your own mind about the book and discuss a few of the bits in detail with other readers.

People who have signed up in the past to be “Friends of The Simple Dollar” will get a few extra treats as the book release day approaches.

When can I preorder it?

It’s not listed on Amazon.com yet. As soon as it’s listed, I’ll let you know.

I do ask that if you discover a way to preorder it before I announce it here on The Simple Dollar, that you wait until I announce it. The reason is simple – a large “spike” of preorders all at once helps me out greatly in the promotion of the book and makes it that much more likely that it will be a widely-read success.