LT: What made you decide to write Creating a Guide So Your Loved Ones Can Go on Living?
Hershey: When I retired, my undivided attention was devoted to my work at home, and I became aware that there was a great deal of information that I had in my head that my loved ones ought to know. For instance, how to transfer funds from our investment account to our checking account; whom to call for house and appliance maintenance; and where important documents were located – especially tax bills and returns. When I began to commit all this to writing for my wife, I realized how much information there was that pertained only to us.
LT: What were some of the writing challenges along the way and how did you resolve them?
Hershey: The subject is not the most lively or sexy. It’s not Fifty Shades of Grey, so to maintain interest, I’ve added cartoons from The New Yorker magazine and CartoonStock, which I think add an unusual dimension to the book.
The subject is also something people want to avoid talking about, so there are statistics showing, for instance, that, one-third of widows/widowers meet the criteria for depression in the first month after the death of their spouse and half of these folks remain clinically depressed after one year – all to convince the reader that the subject must be faced.
In addition, the exact location of a document is vital, so my 40+ years of manufacturing experience is used to show people how to apply a locator system in their own homes. While there is literature available on what documents should be recorded and their locations noted, I couldn’t find one source that also included downsizing, issues concerning buying and real estate, and getting rid of stuff (including documents), so the book delves into all these topics – including a list of websites that recycles stuff. Do you know that tennis shoes can be recycled into a basketball court? Or that hearing aids can be given to poor kids?
Lastly, I couldn’t find a user-friendly source on how to write a guide, so the book in an early chapter provides some tips.
LT: You have an untypical marketing plan and have made the unusual decision to focus on bulk sales. Why did you choose to do this?
Hershey: I think that more books will be bought if they are recommended by a professional and given away, so the plan is to approach associations of estate attorneys, accountants, financial planners, wealth advisors, organizations that have legacy groups or corporations as a gift to persons about to retire. I have a list of approximately twenty different types of groups to approach.
LT: Can you share a bit about your publishing process and why you decided, ultimately to self publish?
Hershey: The path to a publisher is difficult: an agent query letter, acceptance by an agent and then the question of success of the publisher, if and when found. By self publishing, I have short-circuited this process and can have books in one to two weeks as well as control the price. Yes, e-books are the new way and Amazon is the source, but they would probably discount the price to a point which would undercut my being able to sell it to associations at a decent profit margin.
LT: What decisions did you have to make with self-publishing, such as printer, services, etc?
Hershey: If the book is worth writing, then it should have professional support of a coach, editor, designer and producer who deals with the POD company. I made that decision early on, and the investment was the right one. My book is so much better because of them. I decided that the book can be customized so that the first page can say, for example, “Given to ______ with appreciation from XYZ Financial Planners.” And it can be done at the same price. I also decided that I would handle all bulk sales in order to maintain control and the profit margin. That way I could promise quick delivery.
LT: Any tips about the self-publishing process?
Hershey: Find a professional who has experience with the self-publisher you want to use. As is true in most fields, there is a special language that’s used and tricky road blocks to be avoided.
LT: What are some of the responses you’ve been getting about the book?
Hershey: My responses are mostly from professionals – a couple of attorneys and accountants: that the book is timely as there are more and more articles in newspapers on the subject, that it is well-written (thanks to my editor), and that it is a most thorough, comprehensive and user-friendly book – written with a sense of compassion as well as humor. From a friend: “Finally, I will be able to learn how to use Word®.”
LT: What organizations are buying the book in bulk? What are the benefits to them?
Hershey: A legacy group was my first sale and two large corporations have requested additional copies. So has a national group of wealth advisors. Benefits? To give their clients needed guidelines so they (the professionals) don’t have to seek information in cellars and attics, which is not what they enjoy doing. It helps the professional do his/her job.
LT: If people want to buy the book individually, how can they get it?
Hershey: Single copies may be purchased only at Books on the Square, 471 Angell Street, Providence, RI 02906, 401-331-9097, who ships books within the USA. For orders of 25 books or larger, whether customized or not, contact me directly at [email protected].
Harris “Hershey” Rosen is a graduate of Harvard University and worked as a Financial Control Officer in the U.S. Army before going on to work as a mediator for the State of Rhode Island and The Community Mediation Center of Rhode Island. He has also taught team-teach management courses at the University of Rhode Island, using his personal experiences and passion for assisting and supporting others. He has written Creating a Guide So Your Loved Ones Can Go on Living! to provide information for supporting spouses and families in the event of a tragedy.
Rosen lives in Providence, Rhode Island with his wife Myrna. He can be reached at his website http://survivorinformation.com/