The most recent stage of my nonfiction writing life took me to the world of books. Actually, there was some overlap among all of these stages. Writing for business certainly involved magazine writing, and beginning to write books overlapped with business writing. None of these parts of my career had a tidy beginning and ending; they all meshed, having some aspects in common and some that were unique to their genre. At this point, I have written twenty-five nonfiction books of my own and helped even more authors to write their books.
Listing twenty-five books would be a bit unwieldy, so I will try to divide them up into manageable categories, not necessarily in the order in which I wrote them.
The last ten books have all centered around the writing life. This made sense to me because I was teaching and coaching authors about how to write nonfiction books, so the subject was always on my mind. The more I worked with writers, the more I learned, and the more I wanted to share anything that would help them write and publish their own books. When I was teaching I always asked my students to explain what their books were about in one sentence. That is harder than it sounds, but once you nail that sentence, you have also written your subtitle, which is going to tell the reader why she should read it. To illustrate that idea, I am going to list the titles of my books on writing.
- Before You Write Your Book, Ask yourself these eight important questions
- Write Your Book Now! A handbook for writers, authors, and self-publishers
- How to Write a Nonfiction Book: From planning to promotion in 6 simple steps (7th Edition)
- Going Solo: How to survive and thrive as a freelance writer
- Words to Live By: Reflections on the writing life from a 40-year veteran
- The Savvy Ghostwriter: Confessions of an invisible author (an e-book)
- How to Write an Online Course: From concept to completion one step at a time (an e-book)
- The Book of Five: Everything authors need to know about nonfiction books (an e-book)
- The Skillful Writer: What separates the pros from the amateurs (an e-book)
- The Prosperous Author: The business side of writing books (an e-book)
My earlier books also seem to have a theme: communicating with others and building positive relationships in the workplace. Most of them were published by Amacom Books, a division of the American Management Association. Communication was a hot topic at the time, and I became somewhat typecast after the first couple of books.
The Secretary’s Secret Weapon: Arm Yourself with 7 Essential Communication Skills had four incarnations: a print book, a self-study course, a Portuguese translation, and a completely rewritten version, Shoptalk: 6 ways to get your message across at work. Different divisions of Amacom expanded into other skill areas, such as dealing with difficult people, solving people problems, polishing your people skills and professional image, planning and running effective meetings, and leadership essentials. There were a few others on business-related topics, such as getting organized, writing a resume, and becoming self-empowered. The most recent member of this family, co-authored with Karen S. Hoffman, is Contacts Connections Collaboration: Building Your Business Through Relationships.
In a complete departure from subject matter, I wrote two books on young adults with developmental disabilities. I would like to have done more on that subject, but the budgets of organizations involved with developmental disabilities always seem to be stretched at the seams.
As much as I loved writing my own books, I gained much more satisfaction from helping aspiring authors tell their stories and seeing their names on the front covers of their own books. Their subject matter was so wide-ranging that it is difficult to organize them into categories, but here is an overview:
Two Holocaust memoirs; healthcare from the perspectives of doctors, patients, humorists, and the CEO of an award-winning hospital system; two powerful exposés; history books on vastly different topics; advice on planning a budget wedding and building a great wardrobe over the age of fifty; surviving the death of a loved one; starting a successful business in a foreign country; escaping communist Hungary and coming to America; what it takes to be a great leader; living with mental illness, guides to being a school counselor, planning your life, identifying the birds of North Andros Island; and taking time off from the ministry to raise three children.
I graduated from college a long time ago and took with me the most important gift those four years had to offer: the joy of learning. And now, all these decades later, I still have it. I still use it. I still appreciate it. And for the past fifty years, I have lived it every day.