Remember the character of Prissy in the movie “Gone With the Wind?”
“I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies, Miz Scarlett!” she whined.
Well, neither did I, until 30 days ago. But I’m referring now to birthing a book business.
I just can’t seem to help myself. Once a workaholic, always one . . . even in retirement.
After 30 years in the newspaper publishing business, the idea last fall was to retire quietly, publish a memoir and ride off into the golden sunset. Well, the book is not yet published (waiting on proofreaders) and, much to my husband’s dismay, I’m in the middle of building a business around my lengthy passion for books and the written word.
Blame it on a book marketing seminar.
With fewer deadlines in retirement, I have found my way onto several email lists dealing with book publishing. The ones on book marketing always catch my eye, so I bit on D’vorah Lansky’s Book Marketing Challenge. For the past 30 days I’ve listened to tele-seminars and read countless practical blog posts, all of them offering nuts and bolts directions about building a business around your book.
My initial goal in compiling and preparing to publish a memoir on a lengthy newspaper editing and publishing career was to shut my family up. “When are you going to write a book around your newspaper column?” they demanded. True, I also wanted something concrete to show for my life besides a copy of the contract selling the business I nurtured for so long.
“Letters from Home: Adventures with Mad Mother, Lemonade Man and The Kid” should be birthed in e-book and print format sometime later this summer. I thought it would end with that and with sales to a few loyal newspaper readers and my family. I did not reckon with the avalanche of ideas that resulted from a month-long marketing series.
Now the practical marketing tactics given by so many professionals are melding into an indistinguishable conglomerate, but the pieces of advice that really stuck to these aging brain synapses were:
1. The encouraging idea that once you have taken the time to write and publish a book, you’re considered an expert in your topic area.
2. The admonition to find something you are passionate about and develop multiple income streams around your passion.
Naturally I am passionate about community newspapers and the important role they play in a healthy democracy. I realize now that after writing a master’s thesis on the topic and soon to publish a book based on my years as a newspaper publisher . . . hey! I qualify as an expert! Epiphany!
The notes app on my iPad opened and I began brainstorming about how I could turn this passion into a new business. I listed several ebooks that could be written, developed a list of possible online courses and tele-seminars that could be built around it. And I phoned a good friend in the business and volunteered to lead a workshop on a topic that would possibly allow folks still in the newspaper world to earn more income.
Baby, we’ve just birthed a book business! My husband, the one whose idea was to ride off into that golden sunset, is less than ecstatic. But he usually humors my workaholism, thank God.
In addition to thanking God, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank each and every presenter, and D’vorah Lansky, for a practical and inspiring online program. Stay tuned for future developments as the birthing process morphs into infancy and adolescence. We hope it becomes an adult quickly.