From a boomer who found happiness at the keyboard

Duke Diercks of Sandpoint, Idaho, has found happiness. And he found it in a place he never expected: writing. So he has written something for BoomerCafé which asks the question, do you want to be a writer for your next chapter?

I never thought I would be a writer. In fact, I had a very scientific method of picking classes in college: if the class had a paper as a requirement, I did not take take it! Simple. So, I am surprised as anyone that in my fifties I published a memoir. (I’m an author in the same way a podiatrist or a dentist is a doctor -– my silly little memoir is not exactly the Great American novel.)

Duke Diercks

Given my fear of rejection -– for example, I married the first woman who smiled at me -– I didn’t even consider traditional publishing but went the self-publishing route. I learned a lot, but three things stand out as important advice for any boomers considering self-publishing:

  1. Hire an editor. Do not kid yourself. As much as you think you can self-edit, you or your friends are no substitute for a qualified editor. The editor’s job is not to please you, but to tell you the hard truths and make your writing better. I recommend two levels of editing: a developmental edit to evaluate and critique your story and later, a copy edit to correct mistakes. (One reason editing is so important is that Amazon reviewers will give your work poor ratings if only because of poor editing.)
  2. Invest in a great cover! Nothing tells a buyer that you are an amateur like a poorly designed cover. Design doesn’t necessarily need to be hugely expensive, but you need to be picky. Also, here’s a pro-tip I learned from librarians and bookstore owners: make sure the spine is legible from a distance.
  3. Invest in your own ISBN (International Standard Book Number), and use both CreateSpace and another publisher/distributor like IngramSpark. (Since you own your ISBN and the book type, this will allow you to use both companies.) The reason for this is simple: most bookstores will NOT buy anything from Amazon, which owns CreateSpace. So, with your own ISBN, you will be able to sell books on Kindle, have copies of your book fulfilled by Amazon’s CreateSpace, and get the ability to have bookstores order your books from Ingram. (Amazon’s royalties are typically higher, so you definitely want to use them.)

At the end of the day here is a takeaway tip: you CAN Do This! I have found from boomer friends that the technical aspect — uploading files, formatting etc. — are especially scary. But before you jump at hiring someone to help you, try it yourself. It may seem daunting but there are a lot of good internet sites and people online you can go to for help.

So, do like I did: put in some headphones, play your favorite tunes (Springsteen, and late 70’s R&B for me), and write.

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