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Best-Selling Author Asks: Why Are You Seeking To Publish Your Book?

Author: Dr. Gary S. Goodman

Seemingly every day writers send me notes asking me how they can go about the business of getting their books published.

Responding to each one, individually, is taking more of my time, and at last I have decided to augment and organize my counsel in a more detailed format. I’m presenting a fraction of this material in this article.

Usually, I can steer writers this way or that, and make at least a small contribution to speeding their trajectory. But of late, I’ve found myself asking more questions than answering them. And the most stunning and provocative is this one:

“Why are you seeking to publish your book?”

This makes people gasp. To some, it’s akin to asking, “Why breathe?” They are so much sold on the desirability or even perceived necessity of becoming published that asking WHY seems absurd.

But I assure you it isn’t.

When I was selling advertising for our college newspaper I stopped at a hamburger place that seemed like a McDonald’s wannabe. Typical franchise look, with neon and bright fluorescent lighting, it was managed by a gentleman who oversaw all of its operations.

He seemed oddly out of place. I learned that by training he was an attorney. He had practiced criminal law in New York.

I told him that practicing law was one of my dreams, and trial work seemed like a wonderful challenge.

“There’s only one downside to practicing criminal law,” he said drolly. “It’s your clients.”

“What’s wrong with them?” I asked.

“They’re CRIMINALS!” he quipped.

Why, he asked with obvious concern, did I want to become an attorney?

Prestige, power, and the portents of money beckoned. I also wanted to help people, particularly if there were heroics attached.

By the time I could afford to foot the bill for law school, I was already in the thrall of another profession, teaching and training, which I found quite appealing and rewarding. While attending to my consultancy, I graduated from law school, passed the bar exam, and became a licensed attorney, only to find that my WHY was no longer as strong or as relevant as it had been.

Already, I earned attorney-money. I was autonomous as an independent consultant, and as a Ph.D. and professor I had substantial professional prestige. For me, the nuts and bolts of everyday lawyering had become unnecessary.

In essence, wanting to become a lawyer had absolutely nothing to do with LOVE OF THE LAW. It had much to do with pursuing SECONDARY GAINS, some of which I mentioned, above. Plus, there was something of a family tradition that I wanted to channel.

Today, I practice a little, and I screen and refer out certain cases beyond my areas of expertise and interest. But the law isn’t my primary career, which hasn’t really changed that much for the past few decades.

I hope you can see where I’m going with this.

WHY do you want to publish a book? Is it for the thing, itself, because of the love of writing? Is it to enjoy the process of compiling words in such a copious and organized manner that they appear to have bookishness?

Or is it for financial gain or egoistic satisfactions? Have you just always wanted to write a book? Is there someone you know and admire or are secretly competitive with to whom you want to prove your merit?

You need to answer clearly and honestly because the world doesn’t need yet one more unfulfilled author.

YOU have to need it, and need it, deeply, passionately, and unrelentingly, because getting published is not easy.

Or, in the alternative, you need to possess a remarkable detachment from the entire process, somewhat like what we would hear from a Zen monk.

“Gary-san, your book has sold hundreds of thousands of copies and is a big best-seller!”

“And, so?”

“Gary-san, your book has sold a few thousand copies, it is an utter dud, a huge disappointment. It will never earn back the advance the publisher paid you nor will it pay you back for the time and effort you invested!”

“And, so?”

If you can roll with either scenario with utter equanimity, well then, your WHY is either so strong or so irrelevant as to be completely acceptable and workable.

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About the Author

Dr. Gary S. Goodman is a top-ranked sales speaker, negotiation speaker, and customer service speaker at Google, and a distinguished, sought-after telemarketing speaker, motivational speaker, and attorney. President of, he is a frequent TV and radio commentator and the best-selling author of 12 books and more than 1,700 articles that appear in 25,000 publications. President of, Gary conducts seminars and speaks at convention programs around the world. His new audio program is Nightingale-Conant’s “Crystal Clear Communication: How to Explain Anything Clearly in Speech & Writing,” which you can try for only one dollar at: Professional speaking, seminar, and consulting invitations can be addressed

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