"the book doesn't matter. the conversation matters."

[Update: EVIL PLANS launched February 17th: Available from: Amazon.Barnes & Noble.Borders.800-CEO-READ etc.]

[NB: I’ll be leaving this blog post on the top of the homepage for the next wee while,  just to make sure people see it . Please scroll down for the new content etc.]

“Everybody needs an EVIL PLAN. Everybody needs that crazy, out-there idea that allows them to ACTUALLY start doing something they love, doing something that matters. Everybody needs an EVIL PLAN that gets them the hell out of the Rat Race, away from lousy bosses, away from boring, dead-end jobs that they hate. Life is short.”

As the EVIL PLANS book-launch machine started to rev up, I was suffering from the same “Second Book Jitters” that every second-time author suffers from.

The “What If They Hate It” jitters. The “What If It Bombs” jitters. You get the idea…

But then yesterday I had this insight.

It doesn’t matter.

In other words, “The book doesn’t matter. The conversation  matters.”

So you didn’t like the book, no big deal, no worries. Like I said, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that “Everybody needs an Evil Plan”.

Everybody needs that Evil Plan that going to pry their lives out of the jaws of crap jobs, cubicle hell, mediocrity and general despair.

Everybody needs that Evil Plan that going to allow them to do something amazing, to be something amazing.

Everybody needs an Evil Plan that allows them to become whatever it is they were born to be.

Regardless of who you are or what you may think, that is a conversation that needs to happen, both on the personal and the macro scale.

And all the book can do is help start the conversation. Whether you hate the actual book or not, well, that’s frankly irrelevant.

What matters is that people get off their ass and do something about it. Or die trying.

And that’s the conversation I want to be having, book or no book.

“The book doesn’t matter. The conversation  matters.”

Bada. Bing.


  1. Intriguing, mostly by the use of the word “Evil.” What does “Evil” add to the plan? And don’t tell me I have to buy the book for that answer.

  2. What I love about the metaphor of “evil plans” is that it embodies the idea of breaking rules and slaying sacred cows. That’s what makes them evil, right?

    What I also love is that “evil” is only evil to others. In other words, good guys are the bad guys’ bad guys. So even a “good plan” is an “evil plan” to evil.

    I wish you all the best with this launch. The jitters mean you care deeply about the conversation. Count me in.

  3. Hugh, Your new book is not going to bomb! I believe it’s gonna be at least as great as your first one. I’m buying multiple copies. Thanks for what you do. I’m a pastor and love your work. Wish I could get by with saying things the way you do! Was the use of “abut” in this line of your post intentional? “What matters is that people get off their ass and do something abut it. Or die trying.” I like the word “abut.” It fits perfectly in the sentence!

  4. Just thought I’d join the conversation… so how’s it going, anyone fancy a drink, or if you’re going to the bar mine’s a…

    Seriously though – really looking forward to getting a copy, keep it up the good work fella.


  5. Everybody needs that Evil Plan that going to pry their lives out of the jaws of crap jobs, cubicle hell, mediocrity and general despair.

    I have no idea HOW, and I don’t think any book can tell me. Still, hard to disagree.

  6. […] came across this posting from the blog Gaping Void titled “the book does not matter. the conversation does.” A conversation gives both sides a chance to engage a “work” and present their side. It […]

  7. Hugh,

    Any chance of getting 1/2 dozen or so inscribed to give out in the colonies?

    Ever in Toronto, Ontario?

    Les Stewart
    Midhurst ON Canada

  8. I’m envisioning Kid-N-Play reennacting they House Party dance with bounce music in the background #randomoddtweet

  9. I’m evil planning my ass off.

    From releasing a book of my own earlier this year, to launching a collaborative creative workspace this spring, and then a service-based business that’ll only be open one day, for 4 hours.

    The evil plans sit and claw at you until they’re realized. My job is to make them happen.

    • “The evil plans sit and claw at you until they’re realized. My job is to make them happen.”

      Yep, that’s kinda how I feel, most days 😀

  10. Metaphorically, was the Death Star the result of “evil plans,” or was the stealing and using the plans to blow it up?

    (I bet stormtroopers have more paperwork than rebels..)

  11. Are you willing to converse with a dog? My evil plan is for us to become such good friends that you let something like, “I was discussing the very thing with Rufus the Dog the other day…” slip at a cocktail party… right before your family has you committed :-) Hey, a dog’s gotta dream….

  12. That would be “Nalp Live” or a “Live Nalp” to dyslexic people like me. I have a pet Ssenisub nalp that follows me around. I don’t pay too much attention to him.

  13. Sort of … but actually that is a problem with many projects. Is the delivery of the book your final objective, or just the process of delivering something else?

    Too many of us deliver SOMETHING then fail to follow through and actually make something of the project. We’ve done ‘enough’. We quit. (myself included, not pointing any fingers)

    It is right to fear it doesn’t do well, because you’re starting something. Don’t stop caring, or it won’t happen.

    • “Is the delivery of the book your final objective, or just the process of delivering something else?”

      All points are starting points, are they not? 😉

  14. Yeah, my evil plan is to bring down a major university (more than one would be nice) by showing learning and knowledge construction is better done in the wild and open! With the internet all universities are over priced diploma mills. Ok, well maybe a few do some important research, those ones can stay…

  15. I’m looking forward to reading this. Much of what you said in Ignore Everybody has stuck with me. My only criticism is that your day job is to be an internet marketer/advertiser/copywriter type. So your direct-to-consumer approach makes sense for someone who knows how to work the angles. I’m not saying you’re saying anything that others aren’t also saying about how big conglomerates and distributors don’t hold the keys anymore. Ah heck I don’t know what I’m saying. But your cartoons inspire me. And I think you’re saying do the work, do the art first. Gots to read the evil plan book…

    • “My only criticism is that your day job is to be an internet marketer/advertiser/copywriter type.”

      And my only criticism is, that’s not actually true. And even if it were true, why does that matter?

      Just askin’…

  16. If I didn’t have my “evil plan” (which is my animated series “Tar of Zandoria”), I couldn’t keep doing my ‘day job’–I’d have to just throw myself off a bridge!

  17. Ignore everybody was good because it resonates with people doing creative work.

    It looks like this book will resonate with entrepreneurs and business owners of all kinds because we all have friends who have not tried to build their own thing. When you build your own thing you have guts, and you have fun… makes other people think you must be evil.

  18. Hey there Hugh! I certainly believe that no matter what you do it will be a success because you are aligned with it. You know deep down this will be another huge win. Believe it!

    Our “Evil Plans” are not evil at all. My band, The Soulphonics and I have been on a mission for the past 6 years to keep soul music alive and to bring people happiness through good music.

    We are planning a tour of Europe and the states..the only thing in our way is funding. We have an album and are writing and recording constantly. We have had some song licensed so we are hoping this route will help us fund our endeavors. Probably wouldn’t hurt to ask if you know of any investors in musical projects.

    Anyway.. back to the plan..The money will come, we will book our tour and our Evil Plan for Good will come to light.. you are a huge inspiration to the will of us all to keep going.

    We will keep you posted.

  19. The very essence of an “Evil Plan” means you have set a stake in the ground and you have started on a path to get your ass moving. My “Evil Plan” is to deepen conversations in small groups that meet “live” in a virtual room. Let’s start talking about stuff that matters.

  20. Ha! I really love the title of your book. I discovered you from a RT of someone I follow and I’ve been snooping around your site today. The word “evil” is so great when paired with something that will inevitably be so positive – the plan that can change your life, make you happier, switch your mindset, etc. A couple of my friends have been pushing me to make “The Evil Genius Guide to….” about how I’m making the move from corporate to self-employed, and everything that goes along with that. I’ll definitely be checking out this book, and happy to have found you on Twitter.

  21. Looking forward to the print/book in the mail!

    For myself, not opting for a rather large government bonus years ago in order to pursue my everlasting hunger to write music for people and finish school– this was an evil plan in itself.

    A recent plan has been to “illustrate songs in 20 words or less”. It’s taken me over a year to arrive at doing it or calling it that. It’s like writing jingles that aren’t out to sell anything but themselves, the idea, the process, the music, etc. They’re short and digestible and varied. As you say Hugh, sites need more “porn” on their landing pages. Well, there’s nothing very titillating about a playlist, or MP3 player, or Soundcloud image of your song’s wave form– unless you write a review of your music’s inner-workings, there’s no telling what will be spewed out your speakers when you hit the play button– I do write out basic notation because of this, but the image seems to sell the song… acts as album-artwork for each tune. The words/music are the steak, and the image the sizzle.

    Still refining and brainstorming and bouncing the idea off others.

    Don’t think I ever would have started a blog if I hadn’t come across gapingvoid.com a few years ago, so thanks for the inspiration!


  22. My evil plan is to build an organization that helps make the ministry/non-profit sector of the technology world as innovative and ground-breaking as the other technology sectors.

    oh, and we do consulting too.

  23. I loved Ignore Everybody! If this book doesn’t live up to that I’ll probably lose my will to live. Kidding…I’m looking forward to getting in a few days. I’m sure it will be great.

  24. HiHugh,

    I had so much fun with the first book you wrote, that I reread it right after finishing it. And I guess it will inspire me more in the next years.

    I am hopping from one evil plan to the other, but right now I am writing on a blog (it is in Dutch, so I am sorry you won’t be able to read it). I have a good feeling about writing and even if it is not in any way succesfull, it still will bring me fun. It is turning into another passion.

    I am sure I will buy the book, no matter what critics there are. I am capable of do my own judgements. But I am sure it will be a pleasure to read an who knows it might inspire me as well.

    Thanks for being

  25. Hmm, I’m thinking I’ll redesign websites for celebrities or businesses without telling them I’m doing it or asking for input.

    Then I’ll show them what I’ve done and leave it at that.

  26. Hugh – thank you for following your own Evil Plan and writing this book. Looking forward to it! Somehow I saw the “s” on the end and have jumped in with both feet on two EP’s. As with all EP’s, there’s never a good time and this is true of me now (3 li’l kids, just moved, launched a startup). But…I’m moving ahead. I recently started blogging for real – after “thinking” about it for too long – that’s the UnMarket link here. And the next iteration or EP is essay blogging to begin a book I’ve been dying to write (more soon.) Add the entirely new product range for my co, http://thumbarcade.com, that just has to be done and I’m into Evil up to my ears.

    Thanks for the conversation-starter.
    Andy @arosic

  27. On March 2 it will be two years since my evil plan launched me out of stupid job hell. Been a wild old ride since then.

    • Sonia,

      Only two years? Wow, it seems longer than that… a testament to how much you’ve achieved in a VERY short space of time. Congrats!

  28. Hey Dude. Love’d your first book & will buy your second one. And I don’t care how its gonne go, because I like your style. If that is in it, it’s all I need.

  29. don’t recall what dots i connected to discover gapingvoid…just lucky i guess-then to learn you live in miami beach…kismet.
    for my 60th birthday i chose a trip to miami beach…never been and wanted to go somewhere ‘fun’…we had a ball. ate our way from the front porch to the forge, macaluso’s to mango’s…prime to monty’s and took in the sights as well…trip was almost spiritual…such a melting pot of cultures, everything so alive and we could walk ocean and collins and lincoln road and back again…i came home different. i am going to get off my ass and work on my dream…i’ve raised everyone in my house, now it’s my time.
    i’ll keep you posted. you have a very far reach.

    • Hey Jerie,

      Yeah, Miami Beach is kinda like how you described. Very quiet but also very alive… an odd but agreeable paradox.

      Glad you liked it :)

  30. My evil plan is to quit my job, sell everything, travel and blog about my experiences. Perhaps only my Mom will read it, but hey, who cares?

  31. I have been reading gapingvoid and spreading the word for about 4 years now.

    My evil plan for graduate school was to get out of the tenure-track hell. I ended up with a job as an IT coordinator in a big college – where I am in between academics and IT people, exactly where I wanted to be.

    The current evil plan is for my unit to become the hub of Drupal training at the university level. I have pushed for Drupal adoption at the university, and for Drupal training, and for content management courses (I am teaching the course right now). It is a great plan because it feels great to give people huge creative potential with their web projects without having to teach them how to program and write code (processors are not the only thing that allow the expression of human potential).

    Last plan is to draw little cartoons about chickens who are social media and technology savvy. It is a perfect outlet for criticisms – I don’t have to hate anyone, I can just make fun of them in a cartoon and move on.

    And in all these plan Hugh and his work has been a great positive influence. Thank you Hugh! I look forward to reading your new book.

  32. […] shared_object.attachChicklet("email", document.getElementById("ck_email")); Evil Plans is Hugh MacLeod’s crazy-hot new book of thoughts and drawings on the topic of bringing cool things…like your […]

  33. Hugh – Just finished the book and am positively bursting with re-awakened ideas! While I may be one of the “people in thier thirties and fourties” you mention, I’ve been very fortunate to have avoided most of the STUFF that could drag me down. That, coupled with a wonderfully supportive family, and I’m good to go. Watch this space! Thanks again. Rock-n-roll.

  34. Hugh,
    Got the book at Borders and hadn’t heard of you before I picked it up. I love it. The title spoke to me and has got my wheels turning faster about starting an Evil Plan. I just need a spark and some over extension. If you need an assistant over the summer months I need to fulfil an internship before i graduate from college and somehow the normal cubicle job just doesn’t sound like me.

  35. Great addition to 4HWW and Crush It with, I’m sure, great cartoons. I can’t wait to put my hands on it. Good luck with promotion, Hugh!

  36. Have to admit, I have not read “Ignore Everybody”, or “Evil Plans”…so I just bought them both.

    I love the manifesto on the book page Hugh… Hughtrain Manifesto… nice.

  37. I just picked up the book the other day I went to the library. Gotta say, like “ignore everybody” this book makes me smile and want to be you, but I need my own evil plan I know. I really appreciate i Hugh, you’re the man!

  38. I love this! Thank you! So sad we have to feel ‘evil’ about doing what we love – the schools and stereotypes have a lot to answer for -damn them all and go for broke!

  39. Dear Hugh,

    I’m a long time reader, first time poster and want to share my piece of the conversation. Your chapter on Filling in the Narrative Gaps and the notion that your own story is a survival tool for others rings in my head. The engineer would call your story a “proof of concept” and it reminds me of Buckminster Fuller’s lifelong Guinea Pig B experiment.
    Your art, books, business, blog are all proofs of concept. I thank you for your passion and for sparking the conversation.


  40. […] Like I said earlier, the book doesn’t matter; the conversation matters. How people conceive and execute their own […]

  41. I am an avid follower of your work, blogs, etc. Read your stuff on Change This..but only just got the chance to buy your books!! Finally!

    Keep up the great work Hugh!

  42. I just don’t know how I got to your book this morning, I was feeling a little down after a few days of feeling that I could eat the world out raw. From time to time, we all need some more motivation.
    Anyway, from the comfort of my bed, I bought your book on Amazon to read directly on the iPad (isn’t it that convenient?). I just finished reading it, couldn’t put the damn thing down after turning the first page.
    Really excellent message, presented in a very clear way! Now I’m on my way of spending the afternoon thinking about my own evil plan :))))

  43. Just spent my weekend reading, including your book. Inspiring, exhilirating and close to home, coming from a fellow ad guy. My plan is in place, it’s EVIL and it’s shortly going to happen.

    Thanks Hugh!

  44. How can I get a signed copy of your book!? Would love one. I’m on this new kick in my life where I’m tuning in to how to make my life more amazing, worth every minute, and it’s by no coincidence I feel that my best friend sent me your way to your site. Let me know! Thanks!

  45. I love you!!! This is the least I can say about your work. When I am trapped in the rate race, I come back here and read some of the magnificent words, which give me the courage to carry on with my Evil Plans.
    Thanks for being around, Hugh.
    You mean a lot to this small time writer.