With the self publishing revolution well underway, if there is one work which should be taken as a roadmap of how to go about doing it, it is perhaps Mindfire by Scott Berkun. Like both the previous books I reviewed a while ago, I knew about the existence of this one by following Scott’s blog. What makes my route to this author different from the others is that I came to his blog via one of his other books – coincidentally the first e-book I ever bought.
Scott Berkun is the author of Making Things Happen and it is a masterful study of how to do software project management well. I’ve read it twice now and occasionally dip back into it when a project I’m running is going off the rails. The reason I have been in any way succesful as a Project Manager is because I read that book. It should be compulsory reading for anyone charged with the task.
Obviously I was already a big fan of Berkun’s work, but over the past decade he has left the world of software project management behind and become a top class public speaker and an essayist. There is a distinction, even in our current day and age, between a blogger and an essayist – while many of the pieces in this book have appeared on his blog, the older craft of essay writing shines through in this work. These pieces are deceptively simple, they follow tight structures that you will hardly notice in the same way as you don’t notice the metal frame holding up the building you are in or the subtle contours in a sonnet, they are each suitably sized to get the whole of the concept in question into your brain in one helping and every one of them is a belter.
The very existence of “Ikigai” has come about because the author, Sebastian Marshall, got so pissed off at his treatment by a large publisher that he decided to flip the bird in spectacular fashion and grind out a book in one week.
As you’d expect from a project that was so tightly framed, there are some rough edges to the completed work, but these are not so jarring as the ones that spoiled my enjoyment of How to be the Luckiest Person Alive. This book may have been churned out in about a week, but in that week a designer and an editor were working hard on adding value to the collection of essays gleaned from the blog.
The main rough edge issues are repitition of some sections and also many of the essays were in response to emailed questions or previous discussions and they have not been properly re-framed to take that into account. It’s not hard to see where this is the case and backfill a little yourself, but does leave you feeling that one more week of editing could have made a big difference.
“How to be the Luckiest Person Alive” by James Altucher is the author’s first self published book that he is pushing at the Amazon minimum price of 99c as the object is to get read, not get rich. It is not his first book, he has published through the more traditional route before but I haven’t read any of them for comparison.
I have been an avid reader of his blog for some time now. He is prolific, occasionally produces profoundly insightful gems and has pushed the line so far out on how much honesty one can put into bloging it is amazing. There are a great many blogs by and for wannabe entrepreneurs out there, the ones that standout are not those that claim to purvey fullproof get-rich methods so much as those that discuss their failures as openly as they discuss their successes. James’ blog is stunning in his discussions about and deep honesty in portraying his failings, and yet he is a slightly socially reclusive geek who has made the occasional multi-million dollar success. The journeys from crashed out, penniless failures back to success and happiness, by following his Daily Practice , are entertaining rides indeed.