when early retirement makes your dreams possible // i'm writing a book! ournextlife.comgoals

When Early Retirement Makes Your Dreams Possible // I’m Writing a Book!

Sometimes when I’m writing a post with personal news, I tell a little story and build up to the news itself, but today there’s no point burying the lead: I’m writing a book!

Now for the little story. ;-)

In my very earliest memories, before I even actually knew how to read for myself, I’ve always dreamed of writing books. From the stories my parents would read me about Santa Claus and optimistic little train engines and teddy bears in search of missing pockets, to the scores of books I’d later read myself, books to me have always felt like true magic, magic that could transport you to some imaginary land, or into someone’s lived experience or into an inspired mind space you hadn’t been in before.

(And I’m not just putting this in magical terms because Mark and I saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway last week. That was a different kind of magic. And sooooo worth the trip. And as a bonus, we got to meet so many awesome FIers in NYC, and I got to give a talk at Google!)


OurNextLife.com New York meetup

NYC Meetup!


So much has changed on my life list – the things I aspire to do before the end of my life – but writing and publishing a book has been one of the few constants. And it’s a dream that’s now coming true.

Keep reading, and I’ll tell you all about it!

when early retirement makes your dreams possible // i'm writing a book! ournextlife.com

When I started writing this blog, it was really to compile a chronicle of our journey to early retirement that we could one day look back on to remember what that journey had been like. I didn’t imagine very many people would ever read it, and certainly never pictured that I’d still be at this about 350 posts later. But things happily went in a different direction, you’re reading this now and I’ve explored topics in the last three and a half years that I couldn’t possibly have guessed I’d one day dig into. And just as writing this blog made the journey to early retirement more interesting and fulfilling, by writing continually about subjects like health care, sequence risk and all the many layers of life planning and mental states that accompany both traditional and early retirement, it turns out I’ve developed quite a depth of knowledge about all of this stuff. Add to that the now dozens of early retirees I’ve met and learned so much from, and I’ve now got a lot of info to share with people interested in crafting a different sort of life vision. So when the opportunity arose to write a book about all of this, it was easy to make the decision to go after that opportunity.

Here’s lots more about the whole project in FAQ form.

What is the book called, what’s it about and when’s it coming out?

The book is called Work Optional: The Non-Pennypinching Guide to Early Retirement, and it’s all about the many ways you can make work a smaller, more intentional part of your life, depending on your priorities and circumstances. I share aspects of our story than I’ve never written about here, but also share the stories of a large number of early retirees or and others living a work-optional life who show that it’s possible in different situations than ours, like with kids and on a lower income than we earned. It’s coming out in March 2019!

Will it only be available in written form?

No! It will also be out in audiobook format, read by me. (Another dream come true, to be honest!)

Would writing this book have been possible if you were still working?

Not one bit! Of course I wouldn’t have built up this knowledge of early retirement without blogging about it in so much depth for so long, but I just would not be able to pull off this task while also working. Writing a book is a huge amount of work, and though I’m thrilled and honored to get to do it, I could never have found time to do this while also working my old career. I know in my case, I had to retire early to be able to achieve this dream of mine.

Are you getting paid to write this book?

Indeed I am! That’s not why I’m doing it, of course, but when someone says they want to make your dreams come true and pay you for it, you do not turn them down. Not to mention that everyone should always be getting paid for their time and expertise, and I’m not going to advocate for things like wage equality and then not get paid myself for undertaking a huge project!

Doesn’t that make you not retired? (Had to throw a bone to the retirement police!)

Getting to fulfill a lifelong dream that wouldn’t have been possible while working is pretty much peak early retirement as far as I’m concerned. I don’t set an alarm clock, I work for myself on my own time and if I need to skip writing that day because it’s a powder day, I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission. Plus soon the book will be done, and then I’ll have a lot more free time!

Is this the side hustle you referenced cryptically a few months ago?

It is! I wasn’t ready to talk about it then, and it does feel weird to even call it a side hustle in the first place, but I believe in transparency and felt strongly that I needed to share that I do have money coming in this year from the project.

Is this why you’re currently so behind on responding to blog comments and emails?

Oh my gosh, yes! It’s crushing my soul a little bit to be so behind on responding to all the awesome people who’ve left comments in the past several weeks, but I’ve had to prioritize getting the book done. (Responding to comments takes many times longer than writing the posts themselves, so it was either stop responding for a bit or stop posting, and I chose the former.) Just know that I’ll get back to everyone soon and then resume my normal pattern of responding more quickly!

And is this why you’ve been a little spotty on posting schedule in recent months?

It is! There’ve been a few weeks when I’ve needed to stay head down in the book and could only post here once, but I’ll be back to a consistent twice weekly schedule after the manuscript is completed. But I’ll likely be posting only once a week in May, while I’m in the home stretch of writing.

How did this whole thing go down?

A bit over a year ago, I was approached by an editor at a midsized press, who asked me if I’d thought about writing a book and if I’d put together a book proposal. (Aspiring authors: if someone asks you to write a book without you writing a full book proposal, be skeptical.) I was still very much in the throes of work demands and constant travel, and wanted to grab the opportunity, but also felt overwhelmed at the thought of trying to get a proposal done while everything else was still on my plate. I reached out to some author friends for advice, and they all suggested not to rush the project. (I also got my literary agent that way.) But in the end, I spent nearly all of last year writing and polishing my book proposal, my agent shared it with publishers in late January and by early February I had a deal.

Tanja Hester at Hachette Book Group

Me realizing this is actually real and not just wishful thinking.

How did you choose your publisher?

I’m publishing with Hachette Books, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, one of the “big five” publishers in the U.S. I love the list of books they publish, which helped make the decision, and appreciate the approach they take to developing and marketing their titles, something that isn’t true at all publishers anymore. I also just felt a connection to the people there, which was absolutely affirmed during my visit to their office last week.

When will pre-orders be available?

In the next few months. Stay tuned – I will share every last detail here. Including how you can ask your library to pre-order it.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how excited are you about the whole thing?

Definitely an 11.

Your turn!

Have more questions about the book or how it came about? Ask them in the comments and I’ll share more!

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61 replies »

  1. Thank you for your “attempted” bone-throwing to the retirement police, but I’m afraid we’ll need more bone.

    So let me get this straight, you’re writing a book about early retirement, and in the process of doing so, you are getting paid? As the lead retirement police officer and the current FIRE case-officer I’m combing through various definitions of “hypocrite” in online dictionaries to see which one fits you best. Clearly you haven’t mastered this retirement thing yet. I speak for all retirement police when I say – “Nope, please try again!”


    More seriously, congrats! Looking forward to it and after all those blog posts of free content you deserve it!

  2. Congratulations! I am so excited for you! My question is: would you have wanted to write a book if no one asked you? Or did the publisher ask and you were ready to go? I’ve always been curious about how the proposal and deal process goes for other bloggers. Can’t wait to read the final product!!

  3. I cannot wait to read this! Congratulations, Tanja, such an exciting development and well deserved!

    Also- I just yelled to my husband in the other room “Hey! Tanja’s writing a book”

    Him: “What? Kanye’s writing a book? Can he write and why do we care?”

    Me: * face palm * “Noooo, Tanja! Tanja from ONL!”

    Him: “Ahh, that makes so much more sense. Awesome! Can’t wait to read it”

    I think we need more coffee before we communicate in the morning ;)

  4. Congratulations, glad a dream is realized, I can’t wait to read it. Definitely one of the few books I will buy if my library doesn’t have Lol

  5. Congratulations, I’m especially excited for the audiobook! And, I can’t believe you got the book proposal done during your last months at work. What a great gift to your future early retired self!

  6. Congratulations! Very exciting news! Looking forward to reading it.

  7. I too love the title. Since my husband and I have always been more interested in the FI part than the RE part of FIRE journey, I appreciate the “optional” and the “intentional” aspect of work that your title and focus steer readers towards. Congrats!

  8. Congrats! Thanks for sharing! I can’t wait to read – I feel like you guys have a unique perspective on early retirement and love that you will be including stories from other people as well!

  9. Yes!!!!! Congratulations, that is amazing.
    Peak early retirement indeed, to be fulfilling a life long ambition (one which I share and in my case will also have to wait until early retirement or at least part time work).
    Can’t wait to read it ;-)

  10. So great to meet you, Tanja! And I’m so excited for your book–I’ll know you’ll somehow deliver even more value in it than anyone would ever expect.

  11. Congrats congrats congrats!!! Very deserving and cannot wait to read!

  12. Congratulations Tanja! To be honest this is a dream of mine as well. But I still have a bit to go before getting there.
    BTW I love the fact that you’re recording the audiobook yourself. I go through an average of an audiobook/week, to say they’ve enriched my life would be an understatement.

  13. Ha, I was just recently wondering if you were going to write a book soon as I would really like to read it 🤗 So fantastic news, can’t wait for next year! And congratulations on having this dream come true 😊

  14. Yay yay yay yay yay CONGRATS! This is so exciting, and definitely an 11 for me as well! Since you’ve had this dream for so long, were there other books/topics you thought you’d write about one day before you started this blog? Or was it always a nebulous “write a book” goal with no specific topic in mind?

  15. Congratulations. Lifelong dream coming true! That doesn’t happen everyday! So great to celebrate it.

  16. That’s awesome Tanja! I’m super excited for you and Mark… I’m looking forward to listening when the book comes out. You are an inspiration to many of us still on this journey. Keep blazing the trail!


  17. oh dear, the retirement police will strike… just kidding. congrats tanja. can’t wait for it to come out!

  18. Yep, I totally saw this one coming a mile away! You’ve the heart and soul of a writer Tanja. A book does not surprise me at all!

    Congratulations by the way! It’s going to be awesome I’m sure! Can’t wait to see the result.

  19. THIS IS THE BEST NEWS! And you spoke at Google?!? Get it! I’m so happy that more of your dreams are coming through and I will be buying one for you to sign and the audio book, because your podcast voice is excellent!