Author Q&A #1

Thank you all for your interest in the book and for sending in your questions! Here is the first batch of Q&As.

There’s a mention of TFSAs, RRSPs, and RESPs. Does the book cover RDSPs?

No, unfortunately it does not. The implementation of RDSPs in Canada right now is a shameful sight, and it is nearly impossible to be a do-it-yourself investor in an RDSP. TD Waterhouse is the only option that even comes close, and it does not work in the same way as non-registered/RRSP/TFSA/RESP accounts.

Information for the Canadian situation seems to be a big selling feature. Does the book also cover how to invest for Americans?

No. Though the US is a much larger market than Canada, there’s also a lot more already available for them. I’ve found that Canadians are much harder-pressed for guide books — both by a lack of books as well as the relative complexity of the investing products available. You won’t find a single mention of a 401(k) or IRA in The Value of Simple, to completely eliminate any confusion between the two systems. Everything in the book is for Canadians.

How long did it take you to write?

That depends greatly on what you consider “writing”. I actually sat down and pounded away at the keyboard in every minute of my spare time from about mid-February through to mid-May, then did some major revisions in August and September (I had to shelve the project in June and July as my day job became too hectic), and micro-editing, formatting, and polishing through October. However, I had been thinking of updating the first e-book for years, accumulating notes and testing out different ways of explaining things on people in person and online. I started organizing those notes and outlining in the fall of 2013, with the original intent of starting the big push over my winter holiday — plans that the 7-day blackout in Toronto forced me to postpone. So depending on how you count it, the answer could be anywhere from years to eight months. In terms of hours I can say it was at least 1000, which isn’t counting all of the explanation testing, the working with clients, or activities related to publishing rather than writing. And bear in mind that part of it was written already in the form of my 2011 e-book that was absorbed into The Value of Simple.

I’d like to get the book, and don’t care much which format or store I use. Is there one that helps you more?

John Scalzi put up an excellent answer to this issue: buy whatever format and from whichever storefront works best for you. “Honestly, you’re the customer.” That is the perfect answer and you can stop reading here. Of course, I can’t help but be complete, and my situation is slightly different than Scalzi’s. I did set up my own e-store and while I do get to keep slightly more of the price there, retailers do offer value for their cut. Retailers have the ability to put the book in front of people, and if you buy from them it helps with my sales rank to make the book easier for the next person to find. If you review it on Amazon and you bought it from them, the review is given more weight than if they can’t verify where your purchase came from. A big reason for making my own store was so that I could offer a multi-format package for you e-book readers out there: you never know what device you may be reading books on five or ten years from now, so with ePub, AZW3, and PDF to choose from you can be sure something will work. If major retailers offered that kind of package I likely wouldn’t bother with my own storefront. The end result is the same: buy whatever works best for you. The fact that you buy it at all is huge to me, and I want to make it as convenient as possible for you to do that.

Will the book be available in my library?

I’m a big believer in the power of libraries, and I’ve set aside over a dozen copies to donate to libraries across the country. Beyond those few copies, libraries can purchase the book through their usual Ingram distribution channels or e-books through Overdrive and other library cloud systems (facilitated by Smashwords). Unfortunately I have no way of knowing which library systems have decided to include the book in their catalogues unless I’ve donated it to them directly.

Will you write an American/International version?

At this point I have no plans to. There are already some good books out there for Americans, and much of the how-to-invest part can be answered in a single statement for Americans: go to Vanguard. The Value of Simple is more than that, and the material on processes, mindset, and keeping things simple would still be valid and valuable for non-Canadians, but that’s already there in this form. American buyers may not get as much value as Canadian ones — and it may take as much work to ignore the RRSP and TFSA discussions as it does for Canadian readers to ignore 401(k) talk in most other books — but it may still be worth checking out in the current form.

If you have any questions you’d like to ask, please email me at and I’ll try to answer them at the book launch or in the next round of Q&As, which I plan to run in mid-December if enough questions come in.


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