Should You Write a Book? (Spoiler: Probably Not.)

A while back I scrolled past a post in a Facebook group I’m a member of. The poster was asking the group for advice about how to go about writing a book… the request written in exceptionally bad English, complete with spelling mistakes, random orphaned letters, and sentences that barely made sense.

Let’s get brutally real here: if you can’t string a sentence together, you have no place writing a book.

If you haven’t spent the majority of your life in love with the written word; if you haven’t spent hours writing and rewriting and obsessing over your work; if you haven’t paid your dues—don’t start with writing a book.

Start with reading a dictionary.

The world will not be a better place with another bad book in it. But the world might be a better place if you stop trying to skip to the glory, and start with the basics instead.

Think about it this way: a typical book is around 70,000 words long. Any of us can word-vomit 70,000 words. That’s easy.

What’s difficult is making sure every one of those words is necessary and in its place. I’ve done it (mine is closer to 90,000 words) and I can confirm how crazy-making it can be. What’s difficult is devising a tight structure. What’s difficult is keeping a beautiful sentence flow, even through various edits; understanding the nitty gritty of pacing; knowing when to keep an adjective and when to kill it; deciding whether to Oxford comma or not to Oxford comma.

Writing words on a page is not difficult: writing words worth reading is.

That is, of course, assuming you care about your work being good, that you care about putting quality writing out into the world.

Do you care? Or do you just want to slap your name onto the cover of a book and pay to make it an Amazon bestseller for 10 minutes so you can put a virtual sticker on the front and add “Bestselling Author” to your Twitter bio?

If you’re the latter, you’re doing yourself and the world a disservice. You’re adding more crap to an increasingly mammoth crap-pile. Danger! Danger! The crap-pile is going to suffocate us all!

And, contrary to the slew of bad advisors out there, a shitty book isn’t going to increase your authority in your niche (or in any way, whatsoever). It’s just going to make you look like you wrote a shitty book.

If you’re one of the minority who cares: I love you. And I’m sorry. Because it’s going to be so much harder for you than the ones who don’t. The bright side is that you’re more likely to release something worthwhile onto the world.

So, what are your options here?

1. Be honest with yourself. Are you a writer? Do you want to be a writer? Or do you just want a book?

2. If you’re a writer, you know what to do. Because you’ve spent most of your life doing it.

3. If you want to be a writer, but you’re inexperienced, it’s time to study. Buy all the writing books. Do an online course or five. Get feedback from professionals. And I’m serious about reading the dictionary—I’ve read it twice. It will teach you much, young Skywalker. In short: become a writer, by putting in the time and effort BEFORE you even think about a book.

4. If you just want a book, just hire a professional to write it for you. A decent ghostwritten book is better than writing a shitty one yourself.

5. Stop writing bad books.

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