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Inspiration: Over 60 & Publishing Your First Book

This guest post is a great inspirational story from author Larada Horner about her journey in self-publishing after turning 60. Whether you are considering self-publishing your first book, or you just want inspiration on this self-publishing journey, you have to read her story.

At 61, I self-published my first book, so it is never too late!  After twenty-seven years in education and fourteen years as a beautician. I retired–free to do or not do whatever I want!  I thought that my retirement would be a leisure life, but true to my nature–it has not been!  And I knew that I would finally self-publish my book!

A couple years before I retired, I started researching self-publication and liked Createspace.com because of their affiliation with Amazon.com.  At this time, I also had a friend edit the manuscript.

My first year of retirement was filled with the duties of executor of my Mom’s will. To offset that grueling task, I pulled out my poetry manuscript I had started twenty+ years ago, and religiously revised it in a quiet coffee shop after my Jazzercise workout two winters ago. This solitary time with my words was healing the major loss of my Mom–it gave me a glimpse of hope for the future!  And it kept me centered in my poems and stories.

I wrote most of my books 20+ years ago, and here I am with a published book finally. It is a dream-come true. I wanted to publish back then, but life got in the way. I was busy grading papers and then dancing took over my life and free time. Also, the self-publishing option in our digital age was unheard of back then.

The self-publishing experience has been rich. Being retired this last year helped me move through the final stages of editing and revising before publication. I had a colleague edit the manuscript and I paid Createspace.com for copyediting.  I also paid for a Market Essential package where they created the back cover summary of my book, my biography, a short elevator summary and a longer description.  Before this, I didn’t know that I shouldn’t write the back cover description.

After publication, the book took on a life of its own in its promotional demands. I had always wanted to publish a book, but I hadn’t bargained for the promotions piece; however, I had been prepared over the last 15 years because I had learned the ends and outs of promoting square dancing locally and nationally.

I had anticipated retirement for years and I knew that it would be an adventure, but I had no idea that it would so fulfilling with my third career–more so than any rewards from my two previous careers.

You might ask why.  I spent two careers — middle school teacher and beautician — focused on others. My customers and my students always came first. These two careers had equally different taxing demands.  Yes, my focus was out there for most of my professional life—keeping my customers satisfied and educating energetic middle school students. Now my focus has been on me, my words and thoughts and writing–what a delightful change.

Originally I had no plans after the book was published. It was published and that was that.  I bought 100 copies and sold them to family and friends. Then I started receiving positive feedback, and I did several book readings and signings at public libraries. I sold the original book order so I bought more books. A small thought crept into my mind; I maybe can be successful at writing and publishing.

I have scoured the Internet for all the freebies or inexpensive support to promote my book as a self-published author–there’s lots of resources out there. I have listened to numerous webinars about this profession. I bought two eBooks to help me – “77 Ways to Find New Readers” and “How to Market a Book.” Both have been helpful, but 77 Ways has specific suggestions and is a short read. I made a checklist so I can check off the suggestions I have done–that helps me!

I did make a major investment in my future and paid for a course in promoting my book nationally. It is the BestSeller Blueprint with Steve Harrison and Jack Canfield. It’s pricey, but I respect the success that Jack Canfield has had in the publishing world!

I have three more books to publish: a poetry collection about my grief process around Mom’s death, a fictional short story about a notorious horse thief which was a story I grew up with, and more stories and poems about growing up in southeastern Colorado in a small country town during the fifties and sixties.

The future is bright–I am writing. I am sharing my words with others, and I am growing. It is never too late to make that specific dream come true; I am proof of that!

Larada Horner-Miller is a poet and essayist who lives with her husband in Tijeras, New Mexico—a town nestled in the east mountains above Albuquerque. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English, with a minor in Spanish and a master of education degree in integrating technology into the classroom. For thirteen years, she was a beautician until transitioning into what would become a twenty-seven year career in education.


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