Aaron: That's tough to answer exactly. I could say I decided to become a writer when my professional baseball prospects dwindled — at age 14.
I could say that once I saw Pulp Fiction in theaters (at age 15) I was so floored that I too wanted to be a writer.
Or, I could just say I got started with my first paid gig: ghostwriting the college application essay for a future reality show airhead.
Jeff: Do you have a “day job” or is this your full-time gig?
Aaron: I don't have a “day job” which makes people think:
a) How to Fail has made me a fortune. (It hasn't. Yet.)
b) That I just goof around all day drinking beer and never actually work.
I don't have a traditional day job, sure — I actually write this from bed where I've been working since 6 am — but I work harder during the day than I ever worked when I had a real day job.
When you don't have an office to go to, you start to feel like you're “on the clock” every second of the day you're awake. That's a good thing productivity-wise, but can be a bad thing for your mental health. It can also be scary if the money isn't coming in.
But, I still love it. And, yes, sometimes I do drink beer in the middle of the day!
Jeff: You've gone the self-publishing and traditional publishing route. What are the pros and cons for each? Which would you recommend for a new writer?
Aaron: I've found that we're getting closer and closer to the pros and cons for each being exactly the same, with perhaps more pros on the self-publishing side now.
It used to be with traditional publishing you got a large advance, a carefully edited and well-made book, tons of marketing/advertising dollars backing you, and amazing placement in bookstores all over planet earth.
Now? Advances are pathetic, editing has become a quick once-over, no one is paying for marketing/advertising unless you're a real big-shot, and bookstores may not even exist soon enough.
Most of the jobs that traditional publishing long made authors think only they had control over are so easy to hire out yourself now: it's easy to find “professional” editing, easy to get your own graphic designer, easy to use a top-notch printing press, easy to market yourself for free online.
Plus, you get the advantage of having the final say on everything: how the cover looks, what size the book is going to be, where you want to speak and sign copies, etc. Not too mention, you get a ton better royalty percentage when you self-publish.
I see the rest of my career hopping back and forth between traditional and self-publishing releases.
Then again, I kind of only feel that I'll go back to a traditional publisher if they can get my book in airport bookstores or are seriously committed to ponying up to market the hell out of it. I think I'd recommend a new writer do likewise.
Aaron: How to Fail is the world's first self-hurt guide, the opposite of a self-help guide. It's really a satirical novel/guide on success in America.
I originally wrote it just hoping people would get some laughs out of it. Especially those kinds of people that typically don't read books. But, what I've found is that people are actually deriving great inspiration from it.
I even had a man who started his own church e-mail to tell me that the book had made him cry and had inspired him to stand up against people in the community that didn't believe in his vision!
Wow. (He also told me he doesn't approve of all my cursing and lurid sex scenes, but I digress…)
Jeff: As a member of the Domino Project's street team, can you share a little bit about that project — how you got involved in it and why?
Aaron: I was originally set to perhaps work for Seth Godin on the actual Domino Project. Unfortunately, I was still on my 30 Bars in 30 Days book tour promoting How to Fail. I actually had to turn down a job opportunity from Seth Godin! I still can't believe it myself.
Whatever the case, I still believed strongly in Seth and the Domino Project's vision, so I would have been an unofficial evangelist on my own.
But, being on the street team allows me to more formally promote the projects, meet a lot of cool people, and, of course, get advanced copies of the books!
Jeff: What advice do you have for an aspiring author?
Aaron: The advice I have is to start getting projects done. So many aspiring authors spend too much time aspiring! You can come up with some many excuses for not having a book in the marketplace right now: you can't get an agent, can't get meetings with publishers, keep getting rejection letters, etc.
But, really, you have no excuse nowadays. Write the best book you can, see if any traditional publishers want it and offer deals you like, and if they don't, self-publish. I guarantee that second book will be a ton easier to do anything and everything with.
Jeff: What's your current or next writing project?
A new paperback edition of my short story collection The Cheat Sheet just came out.
I'm also working with my manager/producer Craig T. Wood on adapting How to Fail for the big screen, plus I'm currently putting the finishing touches on my next comic novel. It's called A Guide for the Single Man.
* * *
To enter to win a free copy of How to Fail, you need to do the following:
- Leave a comment on this blog, answering the question below.
- Tweet a link to this post. Here's an example:
Win a free copy of the novel How to Fail by @aarongoldfarb here: https://bit.ly/pg7X45
That's it! If you don't hear from Aaron or me, you can trust that you didn't win.
If you don't win, you can always get a free copy by buying The Cheat Sheet. Aaron has graciously agreed to give away a copy of How to Fail to anyone who buys his new book. Get it here, and then send Aaron the proof.
What's your best advice for how to fail? Share it here in the comments.