Promoting (and finishing) a book

Welcome! It is has become pretty common now for authors to report on the progress of their book research online. Especially authors with some sort of techie/new media credentials: Think Chris Anderson or John Battelle. I don’t have those kind of credentials—I’m just a writer for a 76-year-old magazine—but I think it’s a reasonable enough idea, especially on nonfiction topics about which lots of people know things that the author is sure not to. (More importantly, Matt McAlister told me it was a good idea.)

That said, I’m pretty glad I didn’t launch this endeavor when I first started work on my book, The Myth of the Rational Investor, more than three years ago. My slowness would have been just too embarrassing.

But now I’ve written a 96,149 word draft, so far read in its entirety by just one very dedicated man, although my editor at HarperCollins promises to finish soon. I’m about to embark upon a frenzy of cutting and rewriting, and I’m still struggling in a lot of places to figure out just what my point is. My hope is that if I try out some arguments here, friends and random passersby might be able to help me whip them into shape.

What’s the book about? It’s the story of the rise and fall of the efficient market hypothesis, an idea that burbled up out of MIT and the University of Chicago in the 1960s and went on to transform money management, corporate governance, and law. The EMH (I don’t think I can help but use the acronym from time to time) wasn’t entirely wrong, but a lot of the conclusions derived from it were. And the investing and academic worlds seem to be settling into an uneasy consensus that what we’ve got is a pretty-efficient-but-manic-depressive market. If I had a Ph.D., I might write an equation-laced paper about the Pretty Efficient But Manic Depressive Market Hypothesis, present it at the American Finance Association annual meeting next January, and become known to one and all as the father of the PEBMDMH. But I don’t, so I have to make do with this book.

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