I WANT YOU to Become the Editor of a NY Times Bestseller and Travel the World for Free



I’d like to invite you to leave your personal mark on The 4-Hour Workweek. After 31 printings (!) and more than 25 languages, you can put your signature on a global phenomenon… and travel the world for free…

Your ideas, collected via this open wiki, will play a massive part in influencing the future of 4HWW and an “expanded and updated” edition in 2008 or early 2009. The password to make edits is [see below].

[Postscript: Please note that the wiki is no longer accepting changes, as the experiment has ended. Thanks to all of you for lots of fantastic suggestions and changes!]

The backlash I hoped for is gaining speed, even among the Fortune 500, and I want an improved and expanded 4HWW to help propel the critical mass needed for large-scale institutional, and even policy-level, change. The book alone won’t do it, obviously, but I believe it can play a small part as instigator.

To my knowledge, this is the first time a NY Times bestseller has ever been made open to public editing. In fact, I haven’t seen any traditionally-published book ever crowdsourced on a global scale.

Why am I doing this?

1. I’ve been blown away with the innovation I’ve seen among readers in lifestyle design, both derivative of 4HWW and 100% original. In all respects: “we” is smarter than “me”.

2. Book editing is ridiculously anachronistic.

When I was in Florianopolis, Brazil learning to surf last winter, my publisher informed me that the “second pass” manuscript was ready for me to review. Great! Just send a PDF, right? Not quite. I was mailed 400+ pages of printed matter with changes indicated by different colored pencils used by different people. I had to find another color, scribble in my edits, and mail it back.

“Please tell me you have another copy of this,” I said via the Vonage-wired beach house with a nervous laugh. The response: “I don’t think so, so please don’t lose it.” Talk about author heart attack. I felt like Clive Owen in Children of Men.

Here are a few incentives. The top contributor as subjectively determined by me (quality over quantity) will get:

1) A roundtrip ticket anywhere in the world (using Continental or a partner airline of OnePass)

2) Their name in the acknowledgments of the 4HWW

3) My help planning the mini-retirement, whether a romantic trip to Bali or touring the hidden temples and Bladerunner-like coolness of Japan. I’ve already sent readers to do both.

The due date for suggestions is March 23rd at 5pm PST but early birds have a big advantage, since you don’t get credit for making suggestions someone else has already made.

Don’t let other people alone shape the future of the 4HWW. Make sure you’ve left your mark…

[Postscript: Sorry for accidentally publishing a draft of this post first! “Save” is right next to “publish” in the WP admin :)]


Reader Poll:

Many of you have complained about how I sometimes put multiple topics in single posts. Here’s why I’ve done it: I don’t want to clutter people’s RSS or e-mail with separate posts just to make announcements, so I append them at the end of posts (a la “(Plus: Competition Winners)”). Lots of you dislike this or find it confusing for good reasons. Which do you prefer? If the below poll doesn’t work for some reason, please tell me in the comments:

Most Popular Posts:

How to Lose 20 lbs. of Fat in 30 Days… Without Doing Any Exercise
How to Learn (But Not Master) Any Language in 1 Hour
From Geek to Freak: How I Gained 34 lbs. of Muscle in 4 Weeks
Relax Like A Pro: 5 Steps to Hacking Your Sleep
How to Travel the World with 10 Pounds or Less (Plus: How to Negotiate Convertibles and Luxury Treehouses)
The Art of Letting Bad Things Happen (and Weapons of Mass Distraction)
How to Outsource the Inbox and Never Check Email Again

Posted on: February 19, 2008.

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Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

82 comments on “I WANT YOU to Become the Editor of a NY Times Bestseller and Travel the World for Free

  1. Don’t speparate out your posts Tim. Being completely honest that non prescriptive style is the primary reason I keep reading and looking forward to reading your material. It sets you apart and promises me something a little different from everyone else.




  2. I see this getting messy unless you have a VA helping you to weed out some suggestions. Good luck.


    Hi Mike,

    Oh, it certainly could be a huge mess, but that’s part of the value of the experiment. Will it be? Will people sabotage? If they do, will others put them in check somehow? We’ll see if the system is self-correcting and self-refining. Should be very interesting :)



  3. Tim, I had the same reaction to my first book when they sent back a manuscript full of scribbles, including changes I didn’t want. The way to handle copyedits like that one is simple: have a stamp made that says “STET” and ink every page, top and bottom, with it. :)



  4. Tim, I just saw this via your Twitter feed, and I like this idea for more than a few reasons:

    * I got a lot of value from reading your book, and this is a great way for me to give something back – beyond the ridiculously low $12 I paid for the book.

    * This gives me a new reason to re-read your book. There’s sure to be new and deeper learning as I read through a different filter.

    * Great experiment in leveraging the energies and wisdom of your most passionate fans. In some ways, this is even better than what we talked about Anthony Robbins does so well.



  5. Tim, I love the ‘wisdom of crowds’ approach (amusingly enough, that book was published by Random House too) and am racking my brains for the winning contribution. But I must defend professional editing.

    I’m an editor myself. It’s our job to make sure authors’ books cover all the bases and make their points clearly and intelligently. We make you look good, rarely get any credit, work stupid hours and the salaries are laughable – we’re doing our jobs because we love books and want to make great ones. Please don’t bash us!

    Having said that, I agree that a hard copy covered with notes is anachronistic – I send my authors either PDFs with comments or Word files with tracked changes. So ask Crown/Random to change their ways. You have the power. At very least, request they photocopy the MS before mailing it!


    Hi Vanessa,

    Good point and I should clarify. This post is in no way an attack on editors. It’s an attack on an outmoded system of sourcing good material. “Crowdsourcing” is, to me, exactly that: sourcing. This is how you get the best ingredients in the world. Putting them all together into a winning recipe and meal requires other players trained in the craft. An excellent editor is invaluable.

    Thanks for the contribution!



  6. The RSS feed for this post mentions a Nintendo Wii and Guitar Hero. Yet, reading the above article, I see no mention of these items. Was the Nintendo Wii mentioned solely to drive traffic to your site?


    Hi Erik,

    Not at all! This was a screw up on my part. I was brainstorming ideas and looking at other contests people had run. It was a draft and instead of hitting “save,” I accidentally hit “publish.” Totally my goof.

    Any idea on how to re-push via RSS? Do I need to rename the post title to do so? I’m a Luddite — please help.

    Thank you,




    One reader commented:

    The RSS feed for this post mentions a Nintendo Wii and Guitar Hero. Yet, reading the above article, I see no mention of these items. Was the Nintendo Wii mentioned solely to drive traffic to your site?


    Hi Erik,

    Not at all! This was a screw up on my part. I was brainstorming ideas and looking at other contests people had run. The post was a 1st draft and instead of hitting “save,” I accidentally hit “publish.” Totally my goof.

    Any idea on how to re-push via RSS?

    Do I need to rename the post title to do so? I’m a Luddite — please help if you can.




  8. Dear Tim,

    I have an interesting question for you. And since the contact section in your website mentions posting it on your blog here goes.

    I really enjoyed the 4 hour work week. I found the section on contacting mentors and asking them questions fascinating.

    If you were a native speaker in both English and Chinese, had $2000, are currently in Shanghai, China and wished to stay (currently no job, no work visa). What would you do? And do you know other people I could pose this question to?



  9. Genius Idea,

    It is the current trend to ask for the crowd’s opinion. This is what made Threadless so successful, besides the obvious, first mover’s advantage. Dorito’s did this last year also. I applaud you on your success and innovative ideas. You must have studied with the Swedes and Norwegians. Tim, do you think you would have written your book if you had not graduated from Princeton?


    Jose Castro-Frenzel


    Hi Jose,

    Thanks for the kind words. I never planned on writing a book, so I don’t think Princeton had much to do with it, to be honest. If I hadn’t left the US for my experiments and walk-about? Then I doubt the book would have happened, but the schooling isn’t what sparked it.

    Thanks again,



  10. This is a truly awesome concept Tim, I love your approach to this. There is already a tonne of new information I am finding useful. I can hear you saying ‘its a win-win scenario’ to your publisher and them finally beginning to trust you!
    Continued thanks for the inspiration Sefu – living free and tranquilo.


  11. Tim-

    First, a quick WordPress tip: (because I’ve made the same mistake before!). When I sit down to write a draft, the first thing I do is post-date the entry just in case I accidentally publish it.

    Second, perhaps you can speak a bit more about how far you want your readers to go. Thus far I’ve just been adding a few links to resources. On the other extreme I could imagine providing nicely designed charts and graphics, or writing entire paragraphs of suggested material and sharing case studies- but that seems like it might be going way beyond what you intend.

    Your thoughts?


    Hi Jed,

    Good point. I encourage people to contribute as much as they feel comfortable contributing without getting compensated for it, whether that’s diagrams, graphs, rewording of paragraphs, entirely new paragraphs, case studies, new chapter suggestions, or just a typo/URL correction. In the case of a really good diagram or something like that, I would try and get the publisher to give attribution or “based on” for credit, but I wouldn’t be able to promise it.

    That certainly wouldn’t prevent me from giving credit to them if I shared it on the site, however. Great question!



  12. Hi,

    i recently bought your book when i was in Florida for vacation. I am from Germany so your normally don’t stumble much about foreign books here. Ok, i musst admit i am already following your blog for quite some time, so i was already prepared to give it a chance when i see it.

    I am in the middle of reading through the book and i already got some good inspirations from it. Ok, some stuff is quite us centric. For example we normally don’t have that kind of cubicles in our companies but overall it is still valuable.

    One inspiration i already got from your book was the hint with couchsurfing idea.
    I tried it out and it did worked very well for two occasion in Florida. That made my vacation quite a different experiences. Thanks for that. (Although i was travelling with my bicycle through Florida which in itself is in experience in the US.)

    Hope i can contribute some ideas for your upcoming updated book.



  13. Hey Tim, I resisted your book for some time thinking that you were a bit hyperactive, and hard to duplicate. I finally gave in, bought the book and audio book. I have been blown away by the metaphysical depth to this work.

    Your decision to crowd source the edit reinforces this idea. I could go on however this is probably not the place for a long dissection of your life philosophy. Suffice to say it is really inspirational stuff.

    However if you were presented with this challenge (editing the 4HWW wiki for a round the world ticket) I suspect you would find an angle that gave you an oblique advantage and dominate the task. I have noticed that you are quite a competitive chap!

    Reflecting on your principles though, I don’t know that it is a good use of time. Perhaps the time could be spent testing a muse or planning a mini retirement.

    To finish I just wanted to say your book has given a new lease of life and I have been implementing many of the principles and I intent to join the NR very soon. Dean


  14. Hello,

    I couldn’t do a whole edit….but can I put some content ideas forward, here’s hoping I haven’t missed the boat.

    * Ref websites for outside the US, I’m having real difficulty finding UK equivalents.

    * Greater detailing on how to find drop shippers and whole salers – more of the nitty gritty details.

    There may be a couple more, but I’ll need to re-read the book.

    I have recommended this book to EVERYONE and was just so chuffed to find someone writing about the way I think and for me not to feel like a alien just because I don’t follow the working crowd!
    I’m a documentary film maker so I’m toying with the idea of documenting my efforts to take your pages into the big wild world. – Expect an interview request in the next 6 months.



  15. Re: combined or separate RSS feeds —

    You shouldn’t have to choose between one or the other. There should be a way to make conditional statements in the code that runs the blog. An “if this, then that” sort of thing. You could have 3 feeds – 1 combined, 1 with just articles, 1 with updates and notifications – and you should be able to do this without duplicating content on the web version of the blog.

    Additionally – you could promote your Flickr account with a feed. Probably most avid Flickr users know how to set up their own custom feeds – but many may appreciate the ease of clicking a pre-formatted link that automagically opens in their feed reader.

    Finally – I definitely think you should start maintaining links in a service like ma.gnolia. You could set up your own profile and account, but more importantly – set up a group for “Lifestyle Design” or “4HWW” that the members of your community could join. It’s like Flickr in that items get tagged – but it’s specifically for bookmarks (not images). This would be a far more efficient means of sharing all the links in the Wiki – and certainly easier to maintain than through the print version of your book. Plus, people can subscribe for automatic updates.

    P.S. New Twitter icon looking good. ; )