In Zero to One Peter Thiel asks a really valuable question for entrepreneurs to ask about their businesses:
Will this business still be around a decade from now?
The corollary question an author must ask is:
Will this book still be in print a decade from now?
Will this book still sell a decade from now?
My first book was meant to be pretty timeless. Religious educators will always want to get better and there will always be roughly 31 days in a month.
My next writing project, however, was timely not timeless.
Pope Francis released his first encyclical and I quickly went to working writing a digital-only study guide. Ave Maria Press was nice enough to experiment on it. It was the early days of digital publishing and I knew of other authors that wrote digital-only books. Everything about the project was timely and, unfortunately, the energy around that document has worn off. It barely gets mentioned compared to Pope Francis’s two other Church documents.
One of the skills that we need to develop as authors is the ability to think long-term.
Will the books we write still be useful ten years from now? If the answer is yes then keep working.
If you are trying to chase trends then stop right now. You may get sales in the short term but it is a much better use of your time to write things that will still be useful ten years from now.
Or, push yourself to stretch even further:
Will this book still sell 100 years from now?
Can you write a classic?
Why not try?