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OK, so you tell me

I have some time here. One of the two freelance jobs I had is now gone. I’ve a few month’s savings with which I can fund myself to do summat else. Something I’d actually like to do. That is, savings that don’t have to be in the emergency pot, the pension pot, the pay the mortgage pot and so on. I don’t, that is, have to scramble to find whatever at whatever pay rate for a few months.

Hmm, good.

As mentioned a couple of days back I’ve 70k words of non-fiction which, with a bit of polishing, could be a book. Self-published (no, mainstream publishers won’t, past books haven’t sold enough to interest them).


“Lies, Damned Lies and Political Statistics”. Using examples from the past couple of years of political stories to show how people construct political stories. Any long term readers here will grasp the sort of stories.

Now, here’s the thing. You advise me.

I’ve another 70 to 100k that could be written. There’s a certain amount bottled up that I’d like to point out – which hasn’t been let out given that I’ve been writing those freelance pieces about “Whither Boohoo shares” for the past 10 months.

OK, but my current thinking is that there are really two subjects within that 140k to 170k words.

“Lies, Damned Lies and Political Statistics” and also “Worstall’s Fallacy – to decide what to do without considering what is already being done”

To be honest about this I can crank out this sort of stuff at 2k to 3k words a day. As we all know I’m not one of the world’s great stylists. Splitting it into two would still leave plenty of room to do the full two books and leave time before those spendable savings get too thin.

Neither book would sell much. 500 copies each would be an estimate. So, it’s not to be done for money. Well, a bit, but some income wouldn’t cover the opportunity cost.

So, you advise me. Should I split the two into their proper subjects and do it as two separate books? If I do that this gives me more space to really have a go at the Worstall’s F argument – especially about wealth distribution estimates which I think it important that someone, somewhere, does have a go at. Of course, the more economics there is the fewer sales there will be but as above, this isn’t really about money.

Humph. So, your views? One book or two? Pull out the Worstall’s F pieces from the Lies manuscript and add more exemplars and chapters (no, not padding) to each?

26 thoughts on “OK, so you tell me”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    How many words was Pollyanna? That felt a bit short. Half as many words again and 2 books so as not to confuse the casual buyer.

  2. Worstall’s Fallacy defo needs publicising!
    It’s the complement of the idea of opportunity costs in some sense and most modern people just dont get it.

  3. The frequency with which Worstall’s Fallacy occurs suggests it needs tackling – preferably with solid evidence that it’s being committed by folk from various shades of the political spectrum and is being committed regularly on important topics. Something that’s useful to point to when telling people this really *is* a problem … if it’s a wee bit short, that may work in its favour, as might make people more likely to read it!

  4. It sounds like you think it should be two separate books – I’d say trust your instincts. Plus, as said above, the W fallacy book is needed. I’d buy it

  5. Other common fallacies annoy me but. . .

    The Worstall Fallacy still a good one though. With a twist to allow for correctly measuring the private sector stepping up. People saying how the shrinking of governmental foreign aid is bad news without accounting for what the non-government sector does to assist foreign. Or asserting that food bank use has risen by 2 million in the last 14 years, without subtracting what was effectively a DWP food bank programme of handing out repayable moneys through 1 million crisis and budgeting loans.

  6. For more than 20 years I made a good living from research reports. On average 50,000 words but with lots of graphs. Narrative: here’s the graph, this is what it means,and this is what you should do. Not 500 sales but 50 at £1,000 a pop to b2b clients. The research doesn’t have to be primary, there is plenty around (ONS) you can interpret. Just a thought.

  7. Two, definitely. Happy to help with proofreading (I have done it professionally).

    Very best of luck with them.

  8. Seems like two distinct subjects, so my attention span votes for two books (what were they again?).

    Suggest you finish the one you feel is the most important first (even if you’re a long way through the other). Main reason – things might get shit enough that your savings dwindle faster than you’ve planned. Supplementary – you might not give the least important your best if you’re hankering to jump onto the other. Though I now realise this suggestion might fall foul of your fallacy . . .

  9. Why not get more detailed feedback before doing anything else? Those commenting above all seem positive so perhaps one or two would be happy to help with suggestions on editing or, like Snag, with proofing so let them have the draft to review.

  10. @ jgh (cover blown)

    I would have thought anything with the words “Sutra” and “Explicit” in the title could fly off the shelves with inappropriate presentation. You should have a stern word with that Harston publisher feller.

    If it helps I can sketch a bit, or 3D models for something more up to date.

  11. If you’re trying to be persuasive, you need to be clear.

    Mashing two things together for publishing logistics reasons would sacrifice clarity.

  12. I know nothing about book publishing so ignore what I say. I think a book should have a single point. The point might be huge and all encompassing or it might be very specific. You have two different points so I would go with two books.

    On the publishing of the book do everything to market it. eBooks as well as the physical printed book. Possibly even snippets of the book that could be given to magazines and newspapers and other publishers to market it. But I’m probably teaching you to suck eggs.

  13. Two books, and make one of them “Topical” – something like “How Labour can win for the next decade – the truth behind the statistics”, tweaking the stories to be “fables for troubled times” that suit the current news cycle. That way you get a better bash at flogging a few copies.

  14. The W Fallacy possibly wants renaming: a volume entitled The W Fallacy author: TW does look somewhat self-serving to the casual observer — it would certainly put me off if I was that fabled chap waiting for a bus in Clapham. As a (longer) cousin of The No Breakfast Fallacy a more neutral title might work better?

    Lies, Damned Lies, &c is a very good title. Give it some Quentin-Blake-meets-Yes-Minister-opening-credits illustrations on the cover, some Christmas-related lie, damned lie or pol stat tidbit in the back-cover blurb and release it for the Christmas buying season next year.

  15. As we all know I’m not one of the world’s great stylists.

    Even if you were, I’d say get yourself an editor because they can make almost any book tighter and more readable. Publishers are losing them (and it shows) so there are a lot of freelancers available. Every author I follow on social media swears by a good editor, and my friend who’s a publisher still hires them because he firmly believes they are necessary, both for quality and sales figures.

  16. Martin Near The M25

    I’d say two books and I’ll definitely buy the W fallacy one if not both of them.

    I agree with the suggestions on editing and being careful about titles. There are millions of books out there and it’s not easy to get noticed.

  17. Two Tim.

    If you write short (say 70K) analyses these are more likely to find their way into the “short rad” category rather than the heavy academic style tomes.

    Also, it seems to me that the two topics you mention are distinct. Misuse of statistics is a complete topic of itself. And Worstall’s Fallacy is about misusing economics, if I’m not mistaken.

  18. Who is your audience? Write for your audience, which needs to be rather more than just us. Think hard about style too. That recent bit you did about blood products was rather opaque to me – the message got lost somewhere. I guess with a traditional publisher an editor would sort that out, but with self-publishing you don’t have that.

    Oh, and 2 books, which fits with what I just said.

  19. Two books, and I’ll buy them both.

    You could also consider telling the same factual information in a fiction setting (see e.g. Colin Bruce explaining Relativity in Baker Street: ‘Einstein Paradox’ and ‘Conned Again Watson’)
    Or indeed Doug Casey’s “High Ground series, No.4 “The Terrorist” eagerly awaited.

    Tim Tanstaafl takes on Economics and the Difficult Science of the Bleedin’ Obvious.
    Tim Tanstaafl and the Zombie Journaloids.
    Tim Tanstaafl combats the Troughfeeders.
    Tim Tanstaafl meets Chesterton’s Fence.
    Plenty of opportunity to play on words….the Fence would be offering some posts & wooden panels of dubious provenance.

  20. You say you’re not doing it for money, so you should do whatever you like.

    But if you are thinking of money, how good do you think you could make the first book? If it’s good enough to make people buy the second then write two books – I expect that the amount you earn from two separate books is more than you would from one which is just the two glued together.

  21. You know the expression “graphic novel” which means what we used to call a “comic”?

    Well, why not find an illustrator and produce a version aimed at the modern undergraduate? Or his lecturers.

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