If you spend any time reading the recommendations about “how to be a bestselling author in 978 easy steps” one that they come back to time and again is how important it is to get new material in front of readers as quickly as possible. That sounds well and good until you really start to think about the sheer amount of time and effort that goes into something as seemingly simple as publishing a “short” 150 page book. The reality is that I don’t see any way to do it in less than 18 months that doesn’t involve either giving up my day job or not sleeping. While one of those options would be temporarily awesome, it would inevitably lead to poverty and starvation. The other would probably lead to some kind of REM-deprived psychosis. Neither is an option I find particularly attractive for the time being.
There is another option I’ve been kicking around for the last few weeks. I’ve got a blog just sitting here with seven years worth of more or less untapped material. Most people read a post once, maybe twice if it’s really epic, and it’s never seen again. With a little editorial effort, a few thousand words of fresh content, and some flashy layout, I could conceivably have two new books set to press in short order. It’s extraordinarily tempting, if for no other reason than it buys me time to work on something completely fresh while I’m editing these together.
It’s an idea still very much in its infancy, but I’m starting to outline two lines of effort:
1) What Annoys Jeff this Week: 2012 was a Bitch. This would be an anthology of 52 weeks of what is generally the most viewed posts I publish each week. Some I’d freshen up and expand a bit from what appears on the blog, but mostly they could be plucked root and stem and used shamelessly for retail purposes. It has the decided perk of also being a self-licking ice-cream cone – as long as Thursdays each weak feature WAJTW, every year I’ll have popping fresh new material for the next edition.
2) Epic: The Best of jeffreytharp.com. Over the last seven years I’ve posted more than a few epic rants covering everything from work to neighbors to random people at Home Depot. I haven’t dove into the research yet, but I’m betting that there’s more than enough here to turn into a respectable ebook maybe something in the neighborhood on 25-30,000 words. It’s definitely going to require some polish – if you haven’t been reading the Sunday archive updates, take my word for it; some of the early work is pretty rough hewn. Still, I think there’s plenty of meat on the bone.
So will either of these ideas come to pass? Honestly, I don’t know yet, but it does seem like a waste to sit on what’s got to be upwards of half a million words of content and not do anything with it. It would be like running my own personal recycling program… and that’s a good thing, right?