In mid-May, my co-author Mary Donahue Ph.D. and I published our latest book. This was a very different experience from when Dearborn published our first book “On Your Own: A Widow’s Passage to Emotional and Financial Well-Being” in 1993. We didn’t know how spoiled we were! Dearborn hired a publicist to promote our book. They paid for the two of us to go on a nine city media tour with someone assigned to taking us around for newspaper, television and radio interviews in the major cities (Boston, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc.). We were even guests on Good Morning America. The publicity worked, as we sold over 25,000 copies, which even in today’s world is good. The book is now in its fifth edition and still selling on Amazon.com.
For our latest book, Mary and I came up with the idea when we were having lunch together and discussed why neither of us had retired at the age when most people planned to—age 65. The answer was both of us loved our jobs and we were fortunate that our professions as a psychologist and a financial planner allowed us to keep working—and so we did. However, in our discussion and subsequent research, we realized there was a void and a need for a book for women like us. Most books about retirement give general advice. They focus only on the financial aspects of retirement and ignore the emotional ones. We thought there was a need for a book that would help educated women manage their assets and make meaningful career decisions, which would lead to a more satisfying retirement.
We spent the next two years working on this book. To make sure that it would be more than just another “how to” book, we wove the stories of four women through it to help our readers relate more to the content. We included two married women (one with a career and one without), a divorcee and a single woman. It is divided into two parts: the first focuses on the period right before a woman retires and the second on the first few years after she retires.
When we finished writing the book, we prepared a proposal to submit to a publisher. However, after talking to several experts, we were advised to self-publish. We understood that while it is true if you self-publish, most local bookstores won’t stock you nor will the national media cover you, you have much more control over the content and the promotion. We chose to print on demand, which means you don’t have to have stacks of books in your garage. Also, those multi city media tours are a thing of the past unless you are Michelle Obama.
The process was not so easy since the people at self-publishing companies expect you to be very computer savvy, which neither of us are. However, with the help of Mary’s daughters Rachel and Laurie, and the staff at Armstrong, Fleming & Moore, Inc, we struggled through the process and finally were ready to release the book. The first setback came at the end of 2019, when the age for the required minimum distribution age for IRAs was raised to 72. This meant changing our withdrawal tables as well as the stories of our four women, but we managed to do that over the year-end holidays. The more devastating blow for multiple reasons was the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans for book signing parties and promotions went out the window!
Initially we delayed publication, but by May we decided that we shouldn’t postpone publication any longer. Indeed, perhaps there might be more of a need for our book. In some cases, many who hadn’t expected to retire, had no choice but to retire. In other cases, professionals such as teachers and medical professionals chose to retire to protect and care for family members. In addition, although we wrote our book specifically for women, we have received favorable feedback from men who have read it and found much of the advice helpful to them as well. It also helped them understand how their wives’ adjustment to retirement might be different than their own.
As for promotion, we were told that we needed to have a website and a blog. Of course, we didn’t have the faintest idea how to do that, but as with everything else, there are people who can help you. Once again, Rachel took over this project for us, helping us understand why we needed a website and how to keep it relevant by posting regular blog updates. While we haven’t been as faithful to this task as she would like, we are improving with time. Check it out at your-nextchapter.com.
To help promote the book, in mid-September we held two video appearances via Zoom. The first was a members-only event for Cosmos Club members where Liz Medaglia, a past president of the Cosmos Club, interviewed us. The second one on September 16th was open to the public under the auspices of the Georgetown Village, a flourishing aging in place organization. We were introduced by their executive director, Lynn Golub-Rofrano. To view a replay of our conversation, please click the link here. For these interviews we had to develop our Zoom appearances, what to wear, what background to have and a couple of dress rehearsals. A very different experience without an in-person audience!
So how are we doing so far? We have sold about 500 copies, which is far from our first book, but we’re told it’s pretty good in today’s environment. If you want to order a copy for yourself, a friend or family member just go to Amazon. It only costs $19.95 and could make someone’s road to retirement easier!
Presented by Alexandra Armstrong, CFP®, CRPC®