Two years, 220,000 words, and many twists and turns.
Not far from the London home I share with Lynne, there's a century-old passage under the Thames: the Rotherhithe Tunnel.
Despite popular misconceptions, it's not a Brunel project: credit goes to one Maurice Fitzmaurice. (He seems not to have sported the massive beard and stovepipe hat of other Victorian engineers; perhaps this is why his name's less well-known today. Image matters.)
It's narrow. It's crowded. (The tunnel, not Fitzmaurice's image.) And a minor fender-bender in it backs up traffic for entire postal districts. But it's fascinating, because of one key feature. Originally designed for horses, it has several shallow bends along its 1,481m length - and they're nothing to do with the quirks of geology that plague so many ambitious tunnelers. Those bends were simply to stop horses getting freaked out by...
...the light at the end of the tunnel.
And if you've ever embarked on a major book project, you'll know how those horses felt.
It's precisely two years since I had the idea for 100 Days, 100 Grand in its current form. (The train of thought had pulled out of the station a month prior, with a blog post challenge to myself.)
One month in - when I'd won two new clients from a simple programme of focussed searching and personalised mailing - I realised it wasn't a fun work project any more; it wanted to be a textbook. A hundred short chapters teaching everything any freelancer needs to make decent money from his or her professional expertise.
I didn't expect to be still at it two years later.
My timesheets show 2,453 hours logged to 100 Days, in addition to my day job. And that's not counting the research and testing that provided useful ideas and tools. (Including north of 100 books, from classic Michael Porter to Csikzcentmihalyi's Flow.)
I'd written ebooks before, but not anything needing professional illustration and typesetting; print needs a lot more work. (By "print" I mean something you can buy in a bookstore. 100 Days will be marketed to 39,000 of them.)
Capping it off, work projects as far apart as Saudi and Singapore ate into the calendar, as did month-long stints in the USA and Canada. (Where one dare involved Lynne and I taking a swim in the Pacific Ocean ... on a subzero New Year's Day. Thanks a bundle, Yoga 360.)
While adding insult to injury, my other half beat me into print
with her first book, and she's already working on a sequel.
But the pluses? Unlike Fitzmaurice's horses, I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Some 30 of the 100 days are complete and working; another 40 have the content, but need edits. My focus is now on rewriting the 28 days at the core of the book, where all the "moving parts" interact as the reader builds a marketing list and sales letter. (It's the shortest section from the reader's perspective, but the hardest from mine.) In addition, I'm still able to fund everything out of my own pocket; the 100 Days methods have kept my paid-work pipeline full. No crowdfunding needing!
But beyond all this: I found my purpose.
I've always been wary of the personal development industry. Do what you love, follow your passion, yada yada yada. But Part 2 of the book, a 7-day section where you define your offer to the market, made some pop psychology unavoidable: you have to dig deep inside yourself to discover what's in there worth paying for.
Testing the model, I found my own purpose in life: to empower the individual.
Yup, the premise of 100 Days, 100 Grand turned out to contain my personal meaning of existence. I had a plan for 12,000 sales over three years, but realised my true goal was to help 12,000 people (hopefully including one surnamed !) achieve the income they're capable of.
(Which is amusing, since I'm not altruistic by nature. As an Objectivist, I make BioShock's Andrew Ryan look like Mahatma Gandhi. Proof enlightened self-interest does not mean "selfishness".)
So there you have it. 12,000 sales in 3 years? Phwah. It's not about book sales any more.
I'm planning a Summer date for 100 Days, 100 Grand to emerge into the light. Best for what's left of April ,