What You Need to Know Before You Write Your Book

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The Retired Person’s Guide to Making a Lifelong Dream Come True

By Tara Tomczyk

You worked your whole life all for this one goal: retirement. And now that you’ve reached the finish line, you couldn’t be more bored. 

But look at it this way: For the first time in your life, you have the time and the freedom to do anything—even make your dreams come true. And if you’re like at least 81% of Americans, according to writer Joseph Epstein, your dream is to write a book.

Whether what you envision is a picture book for your grandkids, the story of your life, or the Great American Novel, you’ve always known you’ve had a book inside you. Now is the time to set it free.

In this age of self-publishing and print on demand, it’s never been easier to get your book out into the world. But every year, between 600,000 and 1,000,000 new books are published. If you hope to get your book not only written but noticed, don’t make the mistake most writers do. 

Don’t go it alone.

Maybe all you need is a little help proofreading your masterpiece after you’re done writing. Or maybe you need a swift kick in the butt to get started in the first place. Either way, you need a professional—an editor or writing coach—in your corner. 

If your toilet breaks down, do you fix it yourself or do you call a plumber?

If your appendix ruptures, do you slice open your own belly to perform the appendectomy or do you head for the hospital?

Your book is something you’ve dreamed of for years. Shouldn’t you treat it at least as well as a leaky toilet or diseased organ?

But how do you choose the right professional to help you bring your book to life? It’s easy. 

Never hire an editor or writing coach who doesn’t have these three traits:

#1: Experience in Traditional Publishing

Most self-proclaimed d editors these days are just people who wrote a book, self-published it, and then decided they had enough experience to tell others how to achieve success. 

Few, if any, of these people have ever worked in a traditional publishing house—which is essential for someone who will be guiding you as you work to get your writing into print. 

If you hope to achieve real publishing success, you need someone who knows how real editors think and what real publishers (and real readers) want. 

Never hire a writing coach who has anything less than 10 to 20 years of experience working as an editor in traditional, not self-, publishing.

#2: Experience as a Published Author

You want your writing coach/editor to be someone who can see both sides of the publishing equation: the editorial side and the writer’s side. That’s why your writing coach should be a published writer in his/her own right.

Any well-trained editor can improve your work, but only someone who has also faced the daily struggle of the writing life can really help you overcome blocks, create a writing schedule, and produce the kind of work you can be proud of (and get published). 

Make sure your writing coach is the author of at least one full-length book (with a traditional publisher, not as a self-publisher). 

#3: A View of the Whole Person

Your writing coach/editor needs to see you as more than just a writer (and as more than just a paycheck!). 

No matter how much you write or how much you publish, you’ll never be just a writer. You’re also a friend, a significant other, a parent, a grandparent. You’re a cook, an eater, a reader, an early bird, a night owl.

A great writing coach will find out who you are as a whole person and make sure you’re doing the work you need to do, not just to be a better writer, but to be a better person.

Writing a book is a dream you’ve had your entire life, so now that you have the time and resources to make it come true, be sure to give it the attention it deserves. Find a professional who can help you get started, get writing, and yes, get published. Refuse to settle for less. 

Writing coach Tara Tomczyk has been a professional editor for 23 years. She is the editor in chief and cofounder of Blydyn Square Books, a small press located New Jersey. She can be reached at tara@coachtarat.com

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