Retire, Think, Write and Publish!

“Sheila,” an office supervisor for 32 years, spent most of her time overseeing the work and training of hundreds of employees.

Her superior management skills, combined with the frequent education she received through her company’s personnel training program, gained her high marks and a career for which to be proud.

She resigned from her job one year ago, taking early retirement to see the world and enjoy life.

But quickly, Sheila realized she was going to need more money for the next thirty or more years of her life of retirement and besides, she was becoming bored.

She began searching for something to do that would be interesting. Something that would make use of her existing skills while working on her own for the first time in her life.

“I wanted to add to my retirement income while making my new life the priority − I realized the importance − and the difference − between earning for a living and earning to make a life.”

A flyer posted on the bulletin board of her favorite coffee shop resolved the question of what to do. The local library was offering a one-day seminar on how to write and publish a book.

With some helpful and new information on today’s world of self-publishing, Sheila quickly realized that combining her work skills and love of learning, she had found the answer.

For many people moving into retirement, the idea sounds good. Write a book and get it published. People from a variety of back grounds − from teachers, lawyers, waitresses, store clerks to stay-at-home moms − have discovered the joy of taking others into their personal worlds of fiction and nonfiction. Today’s success stories typically hinge on understanding not only how to write, but how to get their books into the hands of the reader.

Here are some considerations for how today’s book-writing market has changed and how to move into the exciting, new world of authoring.

The traditional book publishing system is rapidly changing. For new book authors who are not famous, the old days of big advances and hefty royalty payments are simply gone. Those days rarely existed, anyway!

Anyone who enjoys roaming a book store will still see traditionally published books (Random House, Prentice Hall, etc.) in stores, particularly if they are authored by famous people − “stars.” But the Internet and Print On Demand or POD, e-book and audio books have brought tremendous changes to this industry − completely overhauling book writing, publishing and promotion.

Books have always had four stages: writing, manufacturing, distribution and marketing. But today’s independent publisher, must do their own marketing and must be directly involved with manufacturing and distribution, too.

Publishing is rapidly evolving − with the addition of the Kindle, iPhones, iPods and other means to distribute and read books. Successful independent authors can now make sure their books are accessible by formatting their books to these and other book reading systems. Some books are even published as WIKIs, web pages or collections of web pages that allow readers to make changes and add information, themselves, keeping the information constantly updated.

New authors like Sheila are finding the future of publishing is now, and it revolves around self publishers who have a few hundred dollars to spend and technical skills that lead them into digital printing, online marketing and distribution.

The person who still wants to see a traditional publishing imprint on their book, who may still want to be a part of the traditional publishing industry, can simultaneously publish on their own while finding an agent and/or publisher to take their work, as well.

So what does this boil down to?

At the Saturday seminar, Sheila learned that she can write and distribute a book far more quickly than in the old days of publishing. And that she can sell her book like crazy, and start making some extra money to add to her retirement. And she doesn’t have to be rich and famous any more to be a successful author. This is particularly true in the world of nonfiction.

Book writing is actually a small business and there are many important steps to take. But once the new writer follows a solid book plan (for writing, production, distribution and marketing), they have the opportunity for success by following these suggestions:

  • Write on topics for which you have passion and knowledge; books that will sell to your friends and colleagues.
  • Keep a small inventory of books on hand – forget printing and warehousing large numbers of book. The new writer can even consider writing e-books in multiple formats or recording their own audio books.
  • Don’t worry about selling your books in bookstores – they are a lousy place for selling most books (unless the author is famous).
  • Promote your books (preferably eBooks) on the Internet with Social Networking.
  • Promote offline through speaking and selling books (or CDs) at the back of the room.

New authors will find plenty help online. At the Saturday seminar, Sheila learned about some of today’s legitimate self-publishing gurus, including John Kremer and Dan Poynter, both pioneers in the field of self publishing.

Kremer, author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, tells his students that he has his own philosophy about publishing, a guidance system that has served him well:

“I am dedicated to selling my books − not just for the money, or the prestige, or whatever − but because I don’t believe in wasting my time. If I’m going to write or publish a book, then I’m going to do my best to make sure that anyone and everyone who might benefit from the book gets chance to read the book.”

Susan Orr-Klopfer, journalist and author, writes on civil rights in Mississippi. Her newest books, “Where Rebels Roost: Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited” and “The Emmett Till Book” are now in print and are carried in most online bookstores including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. “Where Rebels Roost” focuses on the Delta, Emmett Till, Fannie Lou Hamer, Aaron Henry, Amzie Moore and many other civil rights foot soldiers. Both books emphasize unsolved murders of Delta blacks from mid 1950s on. Orr-Klopfer is an award-winning journalist and former acquisitions and development editor for Prentice-Hall. Her computer book, “Abort, Retry, Fail!” was an alternate selection by the Book of-the-Month Club.

Author: Susan Klopfer
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