Updated July 9, 2014
Ask TCV: How do I write a book to help others learn from my caregiving experiences? How do I get it published? (These questions consolidate caregivers’ routine inquiries sent to The Caregiver’s Voice. TCV Ed.)
TCV: Your commitment as a caregiver will help you succeed as a published author. Besides, you never know which of your words and stories will capture the heart of an overwhelmed caregiver and give her/him strength to go on.
FOUR STEPS to being a PUBLISHED AUTHOR
- Research what’s been written.
- Write a compelling overview in 100 words.
- Build a platform (the audience who will buy your work).
- Find a publisher or self-publish.
While I want to provide enough detail to be useful, I don’t want to overwhelm. For these reasons, the four steps will be covered across three articles published this month.
For insight on how to turn your ideas into a book and to reach a buying market, JOIN ME on a walk back in time with my fifth (first caregiving) book.
I wrote “Where’s my shoes?” My Father’s Walk through Alzheimer’s during the late nineties after fellow support group members kept asking me to write about my experiences. I had already written four books and learned a major lesson that helped me to set aside my ego. I had a better chance of succeeding if people backed their encouraging words with money!
TAP into a GOLDMINE by FILLING a NEED
Over the months, I talked with nearly a hundred people. Most paid a year in advance for their own copy of the book because there were no others. I learned later, there were about a handful; we just didn’t know about them.
Despite my experience–a published author, owning and operating a publishing house, and writing about a topic in a much-needed niche area, I could not interest a larger publisher in “my father’s walk through Alzheimer’s.”
Family caregivers were not yet talking openly about Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and the challenges of caregiving.
INVEST in SUCCESS
Time is money and vice versa. Decide what you’re able to spend. I was willing to learn and do things for myself (requiring time) but I had to hire experts to ensure success in the areas that I couldn’t do myself (spending money).
With advance money from buyers, plus more of my own, I was committed to the cause and released “Where’s my shoes?” as a hardcover book via my small publishing company, North Star Books.
To be successful, I invested well over $50,000 more in time, learning, and mostly money over the next several years. (Fortunately, my investment would be far less, today!)
Nearly $25,000 went into outsourcing the editing, design, production, and shipping of several thousand hardcover copies.
Thousands of dollars went to attending trade shows and promotions.
Hundreds went to joining organizations in my areas of interest.
Meanwhile, I was paid to share my story across America. The more I spoke, the more this became my mission–after all, this was “my father’s walk through Alzheimer’s.” I donated speaking fees, services, and book sales proceeds for a decade.
“Where’s my shoes?” is the grammatically incorrect question my father with Alzheimer’s asked when he couldn’t find his shoes while living in our California home.
My father was still alive when the first edition of “Where’s my shoes?” was published. I wrote and told stories in real-time–filling a unique and compelling need.
Your words can touch the world.
Speaking and attending trade shows, I networked heavily before the convenience of LinkedIn, FaceBook, and Twitter.
While taking time to learn about selling translation rights, I spent $100s shipping books overseas (before e-books) to gain foreign publisher interest. With the help of a coach and a foreign rights agent, I sold “Where’s my shoes?” to Spain, Korea, and Germany and to an audio publisher for an unabridged library-edition recording of the book.
Surprisingly, I had a hard time calling myself “author” (even after five books!). While being introduced as an “international author,” I didn’t comprehend that those words were describing me!
GETTING YOUR WORK NOTICED
The challenge is greater today to gain attention amidst thousands of books by caregivers about their journeys.
In the second of this three-part series you’ll learn the first two of the four steps to becoming a published author—
- Research what’s been written.
- Write a compelling summary in 100 words.