The Perils of Publishing A Book
Every once in a while, someone on WSO will mention wanting to publish a book. Well, unfortunately, I am one of those that is close to doing it with a few months away from release.
So, why do I say "unfortunately"? Because this process was WAY tougher than my original expectations. Hence, I wanted to share my experience from a finance point of view with anyone else trying to climb this Everest.
1. Time - When I first started the book, I knew that it would take up a decent chunk of time, but hey writing is fun, right? The commitment was far more time than expected. For the CFA, candidates often mention 300 hours of study per exam totaling almost a 1,000 for the charter. I'm putting the finishing touches on 90,000 words and 312 pages which took maybe 500 or 600 hours of work over several years. However, there is a big difference between this and the CFA. With one, you're almost guaranteed to get it with enough time. With the other, your efforts may result in a book that only a few hundred people read.
2. Don't Underestimate Fiction - Before starting this, I had published a lot in non-fiction. I've been in the WSJ and other major newspapers, but fiction is a whole 'nother beast. You really have to learn a lot about character development, pacing a novel, writing realistic conversation, avoid repetition in a 300-page novel versus a 5-page essay. Just because you might be a good non-fiction writer does not translate into being a good fiction writer.
3. Lots to Learn - It's not as simple as write a book and send it off. There are so many other things that you have to learn along the way. For example, writing an extremely tight query letter to agents, creating a super condensed synopsis, formatting, cover design and marketing (for self publish). Writing the first draft of your book is fun. This stuff is just plain work.
4. Difficulty of Getting Published - We all know that it's tough to get published, but to equate it to our world, your chances are about the same as a non-target landing an IB role. Not impossible but definitely very tough. Really feels like the old days of sending out a million resumes and getting only occasional interviews.
5. Agents Are Not a Fan of our Genre - One difficult part has been even finding agents/publishers which have an interest in our genre. Sure, we love Liar's Poker and have re-read it multiple times, but that's not your average agent. Further, do realize that probably 80 to 90% of agents are women...and very left wing at that. I don't mean this in any mean way, but a book about a male-dominated banking culture is not at the top of their wish list for the next novel. If you are publishing in this genre, it better be an expose of greed and corruption in the industry. If you're going to make a big splash, you better be connected with some scandal and/or big. Look at most of the popular titles in the finance genre....they fit that description pretty well. Unfortunately, that's the angle the publishers are looking for.
Anyways, don't want to discourage anyone but wanted to relay the road ahead for anyone pursuing the same path. Looking forward to sharing the first chapter with you guys soon.