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What is the target market for your 'best-seller'?

In some sectors relatively few sales can put the book in the top ten for that sector.

I can't see this book at the sales level of the Da Vinci Code, for example, and I don't see Hollywood fighting over the movie rights. ;)

Hawking's 'A Brief History of Time' is #3,081 in Books BUT-

#1 in Books > Science > Astronomy > Cosmology

#1 in Books > Science > Physics > Cosmology

#1 in Books > Science > Astronomy > Universe

So - Define the category you are writing for.

Then try some test marketing to samples of that target readership who haven't already read your writing here and elsewhere.

The big reason for this is that you might get a very different reaction from sample marketing than the reaction you get from the few hundred enthusiasts who read you here. The results you get will guide you in constructing the book to suit your intended market. There is a difference between writing just what you want to write and producing a product that people want to buy.


Don't worry. That libertarian quote was a joke, just to see if anyone was paying attention.

If you want to solve the problem of poverty, get a libertarian to buy all the poor people.

'Motivated stopping'? What springs to my mind is psi tests. If you regard psi tests as a possibly infinite series, then when you cut off testing and start analysing can produce any result you want.

'Lucky streaks' can occur at any any time in a string of random numbers.

That's why in psi testing you must calculate the exact number of tests required to show an effect of the size you expect and do precisely that number of tests, no more and no less. And you are not allowed to throw away the tests that resulted in average or negative results either.

Eliezer, I agree completely.

That is exactly the point of my original remark. Knowing that you should cut your losses due to a previous mistaken decision is not the difficult part. Deciding to actually do it and face the consequences is probably one of the hardest things people have to face in their life. It affects people personally because they have to admit that they have spent possibly many years on the wrong path. In some cases it will also have serious consequences on their friends and family.

Some people find it so hard to do that they will commit suicide in preference.

John wrote: All you have to do is to periodically pretend that you were magically teleported into your current situation. Anything else is the sunk cost fallacy.

Yup! I agree. That's all you have to do.

Try explaining that to your wife, when you decide that you didn't really want to have a mortgage, two kids to bring up, a job with no prospects, etc. and that the sunk cost fallacy means that you are going off to California with the blonde cheerleader down the road.

You'll probably find it real easy. ;)

I think the phrasing that 'Jesuit novices are told to doubt everything' is a loose interpretation of the very demanding initial two year training period that novices have to undergo. The Jesuits want only the best people and try hard to weed out the weaker applicants, so that only the most dedicated survive the initial training period.

The Catholic Encyclopaedia describes the Jesuit training here: Note: Their article may be biased. :)

Quote: the novice is trained diligently in the meditative study of the truths of religion, in the habit of self-knowledge, in the constant scrutiny of his motives and of the actions inspired by them, in the correction of every form of self-deceit, illusion, plausible pretext, and in the education of his will, particularly in making choice of what seems best after careful deliberation and without self-seeking. Deeds, not words, are insisted upon as proof of genuine service, and a mechanical, emotional, or fanciful piety is not tolerated.

If the applicant survives for two years, then his real training begins.


It really is the hardest thing in life for people to decide when to cut their losses.

When you have time and effort invested, it is so difficult to finally decide that 'enough is enough' and stop following that path.

Take simple queing at the bank or checkout or waiting for a bus. After you know you should quit, you feel that joining a new queue means 'losing' all the time already invested in the slower queue.

From financial investments to marriage it is all the same problem. Do I carry on or write it off and try something else? It is easy to say, but really, really difficult to do.