What led you to write The Writer Within You?

Whenever I speak on writing, a surprising number of people reveal how much they would like to write. This is especially true of retired men and women, many of whom express the concern that they are no longer productive, contributing members of society. Some retirees are just plain bored; others have a message to deliver. Some have completed at least part of a manuscript; others haven’t begun to write. Almost all complain they have not been able to find the guidance they need to become proficient in writing after retirement.

Do you really believe that everyone has the ability to write within them?
Yes. And I emphasize that starting your writing adventure after retirement is definitely not too late. That doesn’t mean everyone can craft a masterpiece. But if you have something worthwhile to say, whether in fiction or nonfiction, have an adequate vocabulary and know some basic rules of grammar and spelling, you can produce saleable books and articles.

How did you select the six categories of writing covered by the book?
When I realized the interest in writing was so wide spread among seniors, I conducted my own informal, nonprofessional survey to determine what retirees most wanted to write. Topping the list is the memoir, followed by how-to nonfiction, novels, magazine articles relating to former careers or hobbies, travel stories and commercial (business) freelancing.

Do you think you have been able to cover everything I need to know in just one or two chapters devoted to a category?
Without question, no. Not everything. But if you follow the step-by-step guidance you find in The Writer Within You, I can guarantee you will have enough information to write successfully in any of these categories. After evaluating the needs expressed in my poll results, I considered it far more useful to write this overview of the industry rather than dwell more deeply on any single subject. In the Appendix I have included a great many excellent resources to which you can turn for more information, and I urge you to do so.

What publishing mode do you personally prefer?
It depends completely on the type of books or articles you write. If you are seeking a broad audience and want the prestige and distribution of traditional publishing, that’s the way to turn. If yours is a niche audience, you may want to use self-publishing and promote directly to that target, relying heavily on the Internet and e-mail. If you are looking for an easy process to print a very small number of books, POD (Publishing on Demand) makes the process very easy and relatively cost-effective.

Why did you select self-publishing for The Writer Within You?
For several reasons. I was reaching for a niche market: Retirees, Seniors and the Baby Boomers who are now joining them. I was unwilling to wait for 12 months or more for publication of my book since the Boomers began to reach age 60 last year. I knew a traditional publisher would not underwrite the heavy promotion I intended to do.
Therefore I chose a method that would produce a greater profit to help finance that level of promotion.

Does that imply that traditional publishers are unfair, giving us minimal royalties yet expecting us to bear the cost of promoting and marketing?
Not at all. Most traditional publishers are very fair. They undertake substantial financial risk, covering all expenses, while the author remains risk free. Many times a book they accept does not sell well, so they must be very cost-conscious to offset those losses.

Since I have to do the hard work of marketing and promoting, why should I even consider a traditional publisher?

Because good publishers do their jobs well. They not only take the financial risk upfront, they also carry all the burden and cost of pre-publishing requirements, printing, fulfillment and distribution. In addition, most turn out a quality product.

What’s the real scoop on POD publishers? I hear conflicting reports.
There are conflicting reports, but that’s to be expected in any field. You will find a number of competent POD houses that can produce book interiors and covers as attractive as any traditional publisher. They are an ideal avenue for beginning authors who require a limited number of books and are fearful of taking on the responsibilities of publishing themselves. Articles on this web site will help you weed out the charlatans.

How important is it to hire a professional publicist?
That really depends on your willingness to work. Promotion isn’t that hard to accomplish, and there is a great deal of free guidance on the subject. (Look in the Appendix of the book.) However, hiring a pro is essential if you choose not to do the work yourself since mounting a continuing marketing and publicity campaign is crucial to the success of any book. We’ll talk a great deal about the subject in The Writer Within You and on the blog.

How important is having my own web site to selling my books or articles?
It is key! The Internet provides some of the most effective means of promotion and sales. And they are essentially free. Your web site is your identification in the digital world and beyond. Used properly, it will coordinate all your other efforts, can be used to centralize sales for greater profit and will help build your reputation as a writer.

What is the secret to obtaining an interview on Oprah or any of the other top TV programs?
Working hard at your basic publicity and building recognition for yourself and your book. Many of the top interview programs far prefer to find their subjects on their own (they have scouts constantly looking for the talent they want), and generally respond negatively to pitches. You may want to retain the services of a broadcast publicist to help you appear on some of the many other shows that are not quite as demanding. There will be lots of information on this in the blog and in the book.

How important is a listing on Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.com?  
They are two of the largest booksellers in the United States and extremely important. Your distributor will probably place your book with both. If you have not contracted with a distributor, click on Amazon.com and check out their “Advantage” program, an automatic in-stock program. At Barnes & Noble you first complete a “Publisher Information Form” to become a “Vendor of Record” with their warehouse. You can find the form on the B&N web site by clicking on “Publisher & Author Guidelines,” listed on the bottom of the home page under “B&N Services.”


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