Penelope Trunk's Publishing Advice Is Wrong
Career Adviser Penelope Trunk has advice for would-be authors … don’t bother.
Her advice appears on the Personal Branding Blog, so it stands to reason that she’s not talking to regular fiction or non-fiction writers (at least I hope not), but rather those looking to improve their brand by writing a book.
Book writing is the distraction of the new millennium. Hugh Macleod (author of the new book Evil Plans) thinks people are obsessed with writing books because of their misguided idea that a writer’s life is nice. Money adviser (and author) Ramit Sethi points out that the world of book authors is a financial wasteland and you’re better off investing your meager salary than writing a book.
However, she is quoting material from 2005 and 2006. And in the sentence above that, she quotes from a statistic from 2002, which states that 81 percent of adults think they should write a book.
One of the posts she references is from Seth Godin’s 2005 post where he said,
4. Books cost money and require the user to read them for the idea to spread.
Obvious, sure, but real problems. Real problems because the cost of a book introduces friction to your idea. It makes the idea spread much much more slowly than an online meme because in order for it to spread, someone has to buy it. Add to that the growing (and sad) fact that people hate to read. Too often, people have told me, with pride, that they read three chapters of my book. Just three.
Is this the same Seth Godin who is now heading up Amazon’s imprint?
The point is, the publishing world has changed…
and IS changing. Writing can be profitable. Self-published authors are proving it every day as we’ve been featuring on our news feed. With print on demand and e-books, the entry to publishing has never been lower.
Penelope’s advice isn’t completely wrong. She gives great career advice, she has the number one career advice site, so she obviously knows what she’s talking about. You shouldn’t count on a book to do the job of branding for you. You need to prove yourself and perform. She is right on the money here. And if you don’t build your business, or brand, and nobody knows who you are, then a book probably is a useless pursuit.
But if you’re doing everything else right, then why not? The barriers to publication are gone. Writers have more power than ever to get their work seen.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment, meanwhile, I’ll be reading Penelope Trunk’s book, Brazen Careerist.