The Autobiography of my Writing
I thought that if I was a published novelist, people would like me. I hung out with a lot of wannabe writers and I was inspired. Thanks to Dunning-Krueger Bias I thought I was a genius when I actually wrote a story.
2. I started writing 3000 words a day
I wanted to write a novel. The first novel I wrote was a ripoff of Thomas Pynchon's "The Crying of Lot 49". It took me about a year to write. I was also writing short stories all the time.
I submitted my novel to every agent and every publisher. I submitted stories to every literary journal. They were all rejected.
3. I read every novel I could find.
I'd read a novel and then read all the criticism and reviews of the novel. With each novel or story I read I would try to write a story in the style of that writer. I was reading non-stop. Mostly literary fiction but some thrillers as well.
4. I wrote two more novels
One was a fictionalization of the Biblical story of David. Another was titled, The Porn Novelist, The Romance Novelist, the Prostitute, and their Lovers.
I wrote about 40 short stories during this time.
Nothing got published. My goal was always 3,000 words a day.
I feel sorry for my friends at the time. I made them read everything I wrote.
I printed up in a very small book ( could fit in the palm of a hand) a book of my short stories and sold them for a quarter in local bookstores. This was in 1993.
5. I worked at HBO
Once I moved to NYC it was hard to write. Everything I was a distraction.
But when I started my "web show" 3AM, I would write little stories about every interview I did. This was my first "published writing" and people were enjoying it.
6. Professional writing
2002 was the first time I started writing for money. I was writing about stocks and the markets and the economy but I would always weave in my personal story.
I had spent the prior ten years writing almost every day so I learned the skills.
I wrote differently from many other finance writers and I think that's what made my writing stand out. Still, I kept many things private and was not as open in my writing as I could've been,
I wrote my first book in 2003-4. "Trade Like a Hedge Fund". Then came "Trade LIke Warren Buffett". Then "Supercash", "The Forever Portfolio", "the Wall Street Journal Guide to Investing for the Apocalypse" (first chapter of that was called "Pandemic").
Then I switched styles completely.
8. Being more vulnerable (2010)
I moved away from NYC. I lost interesting in writing about finance. I started writing stories about times I had gone broke. Times I was depressed. Times I lost relationships or friends or had strange things happen to me.
Interweaving these stories with stories about entrepreneurship and coming back from loss. I think post-Financial Crisis, many people related to those.
I also decided I didn't want to be desperate for publishers to like me.
I explored self-publishing. My first self-published books were "How to be the Luckiest Person Alive", "I was Blind but now I see", "40 Alternatives to College". And two pseudonymous novels. (one about the Royal Family. Another a ripoff of 50 Shades of Grey).
9. Professional Self-publishing
A self-published book didn't need to look bad. With "Choose Yourself", I hired a professional bookd designer, two editors, a professional interior designer, a marketing company. I went all out. I did various promotions. I prepared it for months instead of just launching it. It ultimately sold over a million companies.
I followed that money with "The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth", "The Rich Employee", and "The Choose Yourself Stories". And "Reinvent Yourself. Both "Reinvent Yourself" and the"Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth" hit #1 in the entire Amazon store. Not a category of books. Or not for just books. But the entire Amazon store.
During this time I also wrote "The Power of No" for Hay House, which became my 2nd WSJ Bestseller. I was selling more copies than the NYT bestsellers but, for some reason, never made their list.
10. At this time I started writing for-pay newsletters.
And this company allowed me to distribute through email lists my next books, "The Side Hustle Bible", "the Big Book of Crypto", and "Think LIke a Billionaire", which is based on my interviews with billionaires and now needs a sequel.
For six years during this time I was doing Q&A sessions on Twitter every Thursday. I took the best of these and wrote "FAQ ME", which I self-published through Amazon, and "FAQ ME TOO", which I published as a gigantic quora answer.
I wrote a comic book, "The Altucher Confidential", and a children's book, "My Daddy Owns All of Outer Space."
12. Audible Original
I co-wrote a book with Charlamagne the God about BLM in 2021. Published just a month before "Skip the Line".
13. "Skip the LIne"
My latest. And my last book that could be considered self-help. I don't like considering my books self-help. I consider themselves narrative non-fiction that has self-help concepts as part of my stories. 25 books in all, not counting the book of short stories I published in 1994.
14. Forewords. I'm proud of the forewords I've written:
The Power Bible, The Basman-Williams Defense, Think LIke a Nobel Prize Winner, The Miracle Morning for Writers
15. What's next?
- more books based on my podcast. Like "Think Like a Billionaire"
- I have two (perhaps one) book based on my comeback in chess.
- One day...another novel
16. Skills I need to learn
I feel I have tried hard to eliminate any arrogance from my writing. I try to explore the truth as deep as I can. I need to get better at plotting. I feel I am good with language and building up a character but with plots I don't think I am good unless I am telling a literary non-fiction story. I'm good at taking many similar concepts and writing a book around them. But I haven't been as successful taking a narrative through an entire book.
17. Did People Like me because of my books?
Robyn, my wife, came to one of my talks because she read "Choose Yourself". I am sure she is greatly disappointed I'm not the same person who wrote that book but life moves on.