The Simple Dollar Book: Where Do I Go Now?

As many of you know, I’ve been writing a book over the last several months in my spare time, and it’s basically completed. I wanted to give you an update on the project and let you know where things are going with it.

What’s the status of the book?

The first draft is finished and it’s in an “incubation period” – it doesn’t have a final title yet. The incubation period is a technique I’ve used for a long time on important writings that I’ve done. Basically, when you finish something, you put it away for a month or two and not even look at it at all. Then you get it out, print it, and read it offline with a pen in hand. That elapsed time takes away the intimacy of the writing, allowing you to read it with a somewhat fresh perspective. I hope to do this at the end of February, which would bring me to a second draft. When the second draft is done – depending on how I feel about it – I’ll either incubate it again or give it to a few close friends to read, and then I’ll be ready to do something with it.

What’s the book about?

Unlike most personal finance books, it’s got a large amount of autobiographical material to it. In fact, the original framework of the book was an expansion of my very popular Road to Financial Armageddon series, which was basically a financial autobiography.

The biggest focus is on the time when I was making the big mental switch from spending too much to being a fairly frugal person. How did I make that mental switch? What things did I focus on? How did I begin the debt recovery process? What thoughts really shocked me into change? I tried to address these questions in great detail, focusing both on how I answered the questions and also the techniques people can use to make that transition.

I think it turned out really well. It’s the book I wish I had during my financial meltdown.

When can I read it?

That’s the question I’m puzzling over right now. My original plan, when I first started writing it, was just to see if I could actually do it. Writing a book is a significant undertaking, particularly one that anyone will actually want to read. I didn’t really think about a publishing plan when I started with it.

Now that it is (in large part) finished, I’ve got to make some tough decisions. Here are the three routes I’m looking at.

The first and most obvious option is to publish the traditional way, by getting a literary agent and having that person “sell” the book to a big publishing house. I’ve had casual conversations with a few agents, but I’ve not cemented any sort of formal agreements with anyone. This route probably offers the best route in terms of wide distribution for the book and has the most potential to attract mainstream media attention to what I’m doing, but it is probably the least directly lucrative option and likely would take the longest time to actually get the book into people’s hands.

The second option is to self-publish and try to promote it myself. This means that I would take on the burden of getting the book published and distributed, but all promotional efforts have to be handled alone. This offers the best opportunity for a return on my time investment, but it’s worse than the first option in terms of distributing the book to a wide audience.

The last option is to publish it as an ebook or as a series of posts. This is the option that requires the least effort from me at this point and gets it out there the fastest, but it also is the worst option for wide distribution. Part of the advantage of doing a print book is it enables my writing to exist in another medium that can get distributed in ways that this site really can’t.

Honestly, I’m unsure which path to take right now. This is an area where my expertise is rather limited. My goal is to maximize my audience, and I’m willing to earn less per copy sold to ensure that, but that doesn’t firmly point me towards one route or another.

What do you guys think? I’m open and listening, as always.

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