As I have talked with people who are approaching retirement, one common item that I find on many (if not most) bucket lists is the desire to write a book – to become an author. Perhaps it is a desire to move from a relatively anonymous existence to reach out to the world and yell out “I am here.”
As Henry David Thoreau once noted, “the mass of men live lives of quiet desperation.” One would assume that this applies to women as well. What better way to shout out to the world that “I am here” then to publish a book that others are entertained by or that provides great insights. Do you dream of being a top selling author?
In the past, this has been very difficult. Many obstacles were in the way. For example, you might need to retain a book agent who may or may not be able to help. You needed to convince a publisher that your book was worthy of publication and would turn a profit for them. Stories abound of authors who eventually published top-selling books that were rejected by scores of publishers before they were successful. Or, you could self-publish and pay for production of hundreds of copies of your masterpiece that sit in boxes in your garage. Most people have no idea how to market a book and make potential readers aware or get them on the shelves of the few existing bookstores that are still around. Happily, the internet has changed all of that.
Wanting to Write a Book is Different From Actually Writing it
Now, before I go into a discussion of how to become the author that you have always wanted to be, let me make a couple of points. Wanting to write a book and actually writing one can be two very different things. I have published two. The first focused on retirement financial planning and is based on literally three years of research as I was trying to break the code for my own retirement. The second focused on retail pricing strategy. It is the culmination of 30+ years of work for several large corporations.
Writing these “gems” took a lot of time and effort. First, you must have something to say that has interest to others. Also, in that light you need to express it in an interesting and engaging style. It has to be something that is of value and is worth paying to read and something that will hold the attention of a reader. Then you have to decide the content and organize it in a way that makes sense. Finally, you have to do the actual writing. It has to be coherent and easy to read. This requires you to sit down every day and work on a draft. After that the editing can be a time-consuming and tedious task. You have to be tenacious because in the editing, you will need to read and reread the content to make sure it makes sense, is grammatically correct, and is interesting. This phase can be somewhat of an ordeal.
However, in the end, if you stay with it, it can be very fulfilling. As one colleague noted, there is wanting something and then actually doing what you need to get it. Many people want to write a book, but never dedicate the time and effort required to make it happen. If you put in the effort, you can make it happen. So, what do YOU have to say that the world should hear?
Internet E-Book Publication
The big gorilla in internet publication, believe it or not, is Amazon.com. A couple of years ago they launched their Kindle e-reader. If you are not familiar with Kindle, you can go onto the Amazon site, find a book that is available in an electronic format and download it to your Kindle (or Kindle app on your I-phone or I-pad). In the past, you could order a hardcopy book and it would show up in the mail a week or two later. With Kindle, if you have an internet connection, you can download any e-book you want instantly, and it will automatically be charged to you credit card. However, here is the relevance to you. Where do you think the content for these e-books come from? If you said, “authors like you” you are correct. And, there are literally thousands of authors who have written Kindle e-books on a multitude of topics.
As an author, you write your book. After that, you make sure that the formatting is correct and then upload the book to Amazon. From there, it is a matter of making people aware of your book and they go onto Amazon to purchase. Amazon offers its authors a sweet deal. If you price your book in the range from $2.99 to $9.99, Amazon will give you a 70% royalty on each book sold. If you price your book outside of that range, they offer you a 35% royalty rate.
Now here is the catch. What I have found is that the difficult thing about publishing a book is not the actual writing. It is the marketing. Amazon will offer some help in this regard. However, most of it is up to you. If you are interested in exploring this possibility, let me offer you some resources. The first is an Amazon Kindle site that will give you information about publishing a book with them:
The other resource that I have found useful is a series of books written by Amy McDaniel. The two must read books (downloadable as Kindle e-books) are:
Kindle Formatting Formula
Kindle Success Formula
Several useful books are available on how to market your Kindle e-book. Go to the bookstore on your Kindle and search under some terms such as “Kindle Publication” or something like that. You can also google similar terms and get some free advice. However, start with the Kindle Success Formula. It is cheap and well worth the money. There is no charge to upload an e-book to Amazon. They make money when you make money. This is the best business model from an author’s perspective.
What if you just want to dip your toe into the water before you dive head-first into a book. Several on-line sites can help you here as well. These are sites that publish articles that you write. These articles generally range in length from 600 words to over 1500 words. If you have a blog, business, or website, these are good places to advertise for free. The one that I have used most successfully is e-zine. With e-zine, you write an article and upload it to their site. They review your article and if everything looks OK (mostly from a formatting perspective), they make it available on their site. At the bottom of your article you can construct a “Resource Box.” The Resource Box contains information about you, your blog, your business, your website or whatever you want to make readers aware of. The link to e-zine is:
E-zine can be a little picky in how they want articles formatted and sometimes this can seem a little arbitrary. However, I have found that I get more readers on this site than other e-magazine sites I have used. You can go to the e-zine site and search for articles in your area of expertise or interest. This will give you an initial sense of what is being published and how people are constructing their articles. I have used e-zine to generate traffic to my blogs and it seems to have worked reasonably well.
You can google “e-magazines” and get a list of sites that publish articles. By the way, there is no charge to post an article – e-zine actually makes money from your articles. In exchange, you reach an interested readership and get free advertising.
So, if being an author is on your bucket list, try it. In the internet age, it is much easier than you ever thought and you can’t imagine the excitement of seeing your work posted on-line.