5 Tips for Getting a Book Published in Your 50s, 60s, or Beyond

Publishing contract

Is writing a memoir, novel, or self-help book on your bucket list? Does the thought of writing your story fill you with excitement? Whether you’ve been writing for years or are just beginning to nurture that kernel of creativity, your dream of seeing your name on the cover of a published book can become a reality.

Over 50 and wondering how to get a book published? Check out these 5 tips! Click To Tweet

Today it is easier than ever to make your publishing dream a reality. Whether you self publish or pursue traditional publishing, you need to think about more than just writing your story if you hope to be a successful published author.

Here are five tips for what you can and should do—beginning today—to build a following of loyal readers in the future.

1. Read. A lot.

The more you read, the more you’ll learn about the mechanics of writing, about story structure, about the standard conventions and what makes a compelling read in your genre.

If your heart is set on penning your own story, read some of the amazing memoirs that are currently on the market. Love a good romance novel? This is one of the bestselling genres today, but readers expect certain things to happen and will not be pleased if you don’t follow the “rules.”

If you plan to share your expertise in a subject you know like the back of your hand, your book will need to offer something unique. Read a variety of genres, but become an authority in the type of book you plan to write.

2. Create a Strong Author Platform

Your platform is everything you do as a writer that makes you attractive to a publisher. If you wait until your book is finished to begin building your platform, you’ll be too late. Publishing is a business, and unless your only goal for writing a book is to put it in a drawer when it’s finished, you need to approach your writing as a business too. A publisher wants to see evidence that you have the ability to sell books; a strong author platform is the ammunition you’ll need.

Begin building your platform now, so you’ll have an audience in place when your book is published. Think of platform building as a marathon, and spend a little time every week on platform-building activities in addition to writing your book.

Two surefire ways to jumpstart your author platform are to start a blog and engage in social media.

Blogging is an inexpensive way to connect with potential readers, improve your writing skills, and even test book concepts. Regardless of whether you write fiction or nonfiction, blogging is a powerful way to connect you with potential fans while experimenting with writing styles.

Engage in social media to connect with other writers, readers, and ultimately publishers. Choose the media you’ll actually use and enjoy; you don’t have to master every social media option out there. Remember that the key word is social, so focus on engagement and sharing, not just on self-promotion.

3. Join a Writers’ Group

Writing can be a lonely business, and joining a writers’ group—either in-person or online—is one way to combat isolation. New writers can find inspiration and feedback from more seasoned writers. There’s also a great deal of incentive to write when you’re expected to present each week—sometimes that’s just the push you need to sit down and write when you might not be in the mood.

4. Attend a Writers’ Conference

Writers’ conferences are crucial to your writing and publishing education. Not only will you learn more about the craft of writing, but you may also have a chance to meet and interact with agents, editors, and other publishing professionals, learn about trends in the publishing world, and be inspired by the speakers and workshop leaders who share their knowledge.

You’ll come away with a greater understanding for how to market yourself and your book, and you’ll meet other writers who can potentially become critique partners.

5. Get the Best Professional Help

Writers are often too close to their own work to be objective about what they’ve written; even the most seasoned writers have editors to help them polish their writing. If you want to convey your message in the most powerful way possible, establish a relationship with a professional freelance editor.

Whether helping you organize your ideas (before or during writing), or fine-tuning details such as spelling, punctuation, syntax, and word choice, a good editor will not only help you polish your writing (while preserving your voice) but will also help you strengthen your writing.

A good professional editor will provide a sample edit to show you how he or she can help you, and to see if they’re the right person for you. You might even consider hiring an editor for your blog posts as a way to find one who “gets” you, and establish that professional relationship.

Seeing your name on a book is a thrilling experience! Set yourself up for success by learning all you can about writing and publishing, and I look forward to reading your book one day!

Do you have a book inside you waiting to be written? Which of these five tips do you personally plan to focus on? Which will you put to use right away? Please share your thoughts—and let me know if I can help you achieve your dream!

(This article originally appeared at SixtyandMe.com)


Candace Johnson 11 400dpiCandace Johnson
 is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Learn more here, and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

3 Blogging Tips to Help You Build Your Platform as a Self-Help Author

dreamstime_m_28913973I work with professionals who are writing self-help books. These are men and women who are at the height of their careers and are ready to share their knowledge—some as a way to further their careers, some to share insights gained through years of experience, some as a way to give back in their respective fields. I tell them all the same thing:

As an author, you are responsible for finding and building your readership. You must build your author platform.

I am an editor, not a social media or marketing specialist … but I spend several hours every day reading blogs and articles by specialists in those areas so I can keep my finger on the pulse of traditional and self-publishing trends and best practices. Not only is this daily self-education important for my editing work, but offering insight into these “foreign territories” has become increasingly important to the authors I work with. Many hire me specifically because I have experience in both the traditional and self-publishing worlds.

But simply writing a book—no matter how good it is—doesn’t guarantee readers will buy it, as many first-time self-publishing authors discover.

This idea comes as a shock to many professionals who are dipping their toes into publishing waters for the first time. But many authors who buy into the concept that platform–building for their writing career is every bit as important as it is for their profession often become overwhelmed quickly by all the options for doing that. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn … the list of social media sites seems unmanageable if you’ve never tackled any of them.

I know I don’t have time to manage 16 different social media accounts while writing, editing, and marketing my business, so I understand how overwhelming platform-building activities feel. When I discuss platform-building with the authors I work with, I suggest focusing on actually writing … and one of the best ways to do that is through blogging.

If Your First Thought Is I don’t know what to write about, Keep Reading

Blogging is not only a terrific way to share your thoughts with the world, but it’s also a great way to test ideas and polish your writing skills. You’re an expert in your field, and you know there’s a market for the type of book you’re writing, but if coming up with ideas for regular blog posts makes you break out in a cold sweat, consider these three tried-and-true ideas:

  • Engage your fans by asking for their help. Posing a question like, “Would you rather read a chapter in my new book about 50 uses for parsley or one about the best uses for 50 different herbs?” will often lead to more engagement in the form of comments and debates from your followers, and your fans will feel as though they were part of the process of writing your book. Engagement is the name of the game in book publishing.
  • Offer content that’s related to your book-in-progress. You are an expert in your field, so share a bit of that knowledge by basing blog posts on concepts from your book. This is also a great way to repurpose some of the deleted text after a revision. Or you can use a fleshed-out chapter to reverse engineer a blog post.
  • Tell a story. Blogs are a perfect venue for storytelling. Remember Maya Angelou’s quote that “People will forget what you said and what you did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.” You’re a writer—you’re a storyteller! Write a blog—or two or ten—about yourself and your writing, and let your fans and followers get to know the real you. What’s the story behind your book? What are some of the crazy things your friends and family have said when you’ve told them you’re writing it? What is your writing process? Where do you do most of your writing, and how do you carve out time to do it?

Whether you’ve already published a book or are thinking about writing one, whether you’ve chosen to follow a traditional publishing path or opt to self-publish, the sooner you begin building your author platform, the better. Blogging allows you to build a community of interested readers, and because your book is also for those readers, you’ll have a built-in audience once you publish. The time to start building your author platform is now.

What about you, scriveners? What do you like to read in blogs? What’s the most creative blog post you’ve read by a self-help author? Please join in the discussion!

 

Candace Johnson 11 400dpi

Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Learn more here, and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Four Years of Putting Myself Out There in Cyberspace: Happy Blogging Anniversary to Me!

If you’ve been blogging for a year or more, you’ve received this notification:

blogging anniversary

In my case, it’s been four years since I began sharing on WordPress. Like many bloggers, I had great intentions and planned to blog frequently … and those great intentions often went out the window when life got in the way. For some people, blogging slows down because they run out of things to write about. Anyone who has worked with me and has received one of my epistles will tell you that finding something to write about isn’t usually a problem for me. 😉 Continue reading “Four Years of Putting Myself Out There in Cyberspace: Happy Blogging Anniversary to Me!”

Have You Ever Met a Rock Star?

meeting Julie Christine JohnsonIf you’ve ever met someone you’ve long admired, you have an idea about how thrilled I was last week to meet author Julie Christine Johnson, author of In Another Life.

All week I felt like a teenager anticipating a first date as I waited for Julie’s presentation at Annie Bloom’s Books, an indie bookstore in Portland, Oregon. Although Julie and I met online in April of 2014, and although she had trusted me (a total stranger at the time) with the words of what would become her debut novel, I didn’t know what to expect. Would she be as charming and gracious in person as she is online? Continue reading “Have You Ever Met a Rock Star?”

Beta Readers Can Save You from Embarrassment—Guest Post by Chandi Wyant

beta readersAs a professional freelance editor, I encourage every writer I work with to use beta readers. Most fiction writers know this is an important step, but did you know it is equally important when you write nonfiction? You’ll do yourself a huge favor by gathering your posse early in the process to learn what works and what doesn’t in your manuscript.

Author Chandi Wyant, who is working on a travel memoir about her solo forty-day pilgrimage in Italy, offers another important reason to seek that valuable input.

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A beta reader is a not a professional editor, but rather, a volunteer who reads your manuscript to provide feedback before you publish it, or before you submit it to agents or publishers.

I recommend seeking beta readers who are familiar with your genre and who are not close friends or family members.

 

Why a Memoirist Needs Beta Readers

Utilizing beta readers is an excellent idea for all genres. I’m going to focus here on why they’re essential for memoir.

Many authors in this genre write about traumatic things in their lives, and this is very challenging to do without sounding whiny.

This is where a beta reader can step in and save you from embarrassment. All authors are too close to their manuscripts and need an outsider’s perspective—and a memoirist is particularly entwined with her manuscript because it’s a piece of her life.

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I have seen twice, with my own manuscript and with a friend’s, that beta readers saved us from the embarrassment of putting our book out into the world when it wasn’t ready.

My friend (who writes nonfiction like I do) was sure her book was ready for publication, but a beta reader told her, Continue reading “Beta Readers Can Save You from Embarrassment—Guest Post by Chandi Wyant”

Breaking All the Rules in Writing

Are you breaking rules in writing? I am delighted to introduce you to debut author Cheryl Fassett. Our editing work together ended months ago, but since then Cheryl has been hard at work preparing her middle-grade fantasy novel, Far Away and Ever After, for publication. Now that this enchanting book is available for everyone to enjoy (and I was enchanted by it), Cheryl agreed to share some thoughts about her journey and The Rules that surround being an writer.

Here’s Cheryl:

We are given rules in every area of our lives. From the time we are toddlers, we are guided by the don’ts, the dos, the nevers. Sometimes these rules are in our best interest: don’t touch a hot stove, never run with a sharp knife, always chew your food. But sometimes rules are constricting and limiting.

Many rules in writing are as arbitrary as being told not to wear white after Labor Day. One person’s helpful suggestion is the next young writer’s block.

I feel strongly that certain writing rules were just made to be broken. Continue reading “Breaking All the Rules in Writing”

Hiring an English Major to Edit Your Book Is Cheating Yourself

I belong to a listserve of freelance editors, and I find the topics of conversation interesting and often thought-provoking. One recent ID-100146866topic that elicited many comments was about pricing the work we do.

The initial post was by an established and well-respected editor who wrote, “I recently was asked about my rates by someone at a local company who was looking for writing and editing help. She balked at my quote . . . Her response: < … we can find English majors for $10 to $15 [per hour] and many of them are quite good. >”

I get it; no one wants to spend more than necessary for anything—goods or services. I mean, if I can buy a knock-off designer widget that looks just like the brand-name widget, isn’t that a better value than buying the real thing just for the brand name? If I can get my next-door neighbor’s artistic son to design my book cover, isn’t that a better value than hiring an expensive professional cover artist?

And if I can get an English major to edit my book for a few hundred dollars, isn’t that a better value than hiring a professional editor? Continue reading “Hiring an English Major to Edit Your Book Is Cheating Yourself”

Readers for Writers: Beta Readers, the Superheroes of Your Writing Team

boy-superhero-flying-around-books-black-whiteIf adding “Published Author” after your name is one of your goals for 2014, you’re probably itching to polish the NaNoWriMo manuscript or a WIP that is marinating on your hard drive  and send it out into the world.

But don’t just run a final spellcheck and pronounce your work ready for publication.

If you are serious about publishing, your first readers should be beta readers.

And just what is a beta reader?

Think of beta readers as superhero partner/readers for your WIP. Correctly employed, your superheroes can save you time and money. How? I’m glad you asked! Continue reading “Readers for Writers: Beta Readers, the Superheroes of Your Writing Team”

Competitive Titles: Step 5 of How to Write a Compelling Nonfiction Book Proposal in 10 Easy Steps

How to Write a Nonfiction Book ProposalAnyone who’s written a nonfiction book proposal will probably tell you that proposal writing is more difficult than writing the actual manuscript. After all, you’re an expert on the subject you’re writing about, and sharing that knowledge is fun, but putting on your marketing hat to write the proposal often presents some unique challenges for writers, and facing your competition is one of those.

After all, you’re an expert on the subject you’re writing about, and sharing that knowledge is fun, but putting on your marketing hat to write the proposal often presents some unique challenges for writers. Facing your competition is one of those.

Your book proposal needs to convince the literary agents you query, and ultimately acquisition editors (who decide whether or not to bring your proposal forward for consideration through several vetting steps), why this book will stand out in a sea of other books about your subject, and why you are the perfect author to write this book.

This section of the proposal shouldn’t overwhelm you. This is actually another place for you to let your book shine and show your expertise about your subject—you just need to remember a few things.

Things to Do:

  1. Research the competition and understand how your book fits in the market. Your book will be shelved next to other books in the genre; your book will come up in an online search as one of many in the genre. Here is where you discuss the differences between your book and the others. If you’re writing about a subject that has plenty of competition to choose from, list 5−10 books, but if your subject is very niche, think outside the box a little and come up with at least two or three comp titles. Even if your book is truly unique, find and list books that are similar to yours; for example, if you are shopping a book about baking gluten-free treats for goldfish, you probably won’t have a lot of competition, but compare and contrast your book to others about homemade pet food, raising healthy fish, and food allergies in pets. Continue reading “Competitive Titles: Step 5 of How to Write a Compelling Nonfiction Book Proposal in 10 Easy Steps”

Your Marketing and Publicity Plan: Step 4 of How to Write a Compelling Nonfiction Book Proposal in 10 Easy Steps

nonfiction book proposal marketing publicity planIf you’re writing a nonfiction book proposal (and you’re following this series), you already understand the importance of your author bio and how to identify your target audience. Now it’s time to articulate your plans for selling your book by including marketing information that will grab the attention of an agent or editor.

Remember, you’re selling two things in your book proposal: your manuscript and yourself as the author-expert. A strong proposal weaves those separate pieces together in creative and compelling ways, and the Marketing/Publicity section of your proposal is where you bring together the best of those with some creative ideas of your own for making your book a success. And whether you ultimately publish traditionally or decide to self-publish, you just can’t expect publishers or booksellers to bring the readers to you.

As author K. S. Brooks writes,

Book sellers do not want to take up space on their shelves if you’re not going to push your book. They want to know what you have planned to getword out about your book. . . . If they don’t think you’re going to make an effort to sell the books they put on their shelves—well, you can kiss that opportunity goodbye.”

So how do you wow agents and editors with your marketing and publicity section? Continue reading “Your Marketing and Publicity Plan: Step 4 of How to Write a Compelling Nonfiction Book Proposal in 10 Easy Steps”