Sometimes in the course of looking at book projects, you may end up considering a project that you think is lowering your standards. And what the heck? Maybe it is. Ask yourself how much money and opportunity this book is and if this is something that could actually damage your reputation. If it’s simply a matter of you don’t care much for the subject or the publisher’s style but the money’s good, then you should go with it. Here’s why.
As you’re whacking out books, one after another, bear in mind that what we’re doing isn’t really Great Art. Oh, very occasionally, you’ll get a nonfiction book that is going to last on the shelf for some years and if you’re very, very lucky, you’ll have one that lasts for your career. But what we’re writing won’t last for decades as a rule. Shucks, most of us are lucky if our writing lasts on the shelves a year. Do your job, enjoy your job, be professional about the stuff you’re turning out, but don’t ever kid yourself that this is usually a Work for the Ages. If you keep this in mind, you’ll probably be able to be more flexible. (There are pleasant exceptions to this observation, but they’re few and very far between.)
A couple hundred years ago, Dr. Johnson said “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” Some things just don’t change: we are doing this for the money. It should be fun whenever possible, but if it pays the bills, that’s the best part of all.