What’s the story behind your latest book? During the year that my husband and I spent planning our first lengthy French sojourn, I envisioned writing a book about the forces that cause baby boomers to leave the workplace sooner than expected – something that had happened to both of us. While living in France, I was going to focus on that project. But, as so often occurs with foreign travel (and life), nothing went according to plan. And when that happened, I began to write about it. At least a few times a week, I turned my notes into e-mails to friends and family whom I thought they would interest. Soon I became so occupied with this correspondence that I put aside the other book idea and started Four Seasons in a Day: Travel, Transitions and Letting Go of the Place We Call Home. By the time we returned to New York, I had produced some 60 e-mails, totaling about 70,000 words, and organized them into a draft table of contents. It took another year of writing, editing and rewriting to finish Four Seasons in a Day. But, unlike other memoirists and travel writers, I didn’t have to rely purely on recollections. I believe in the adage, “The worst pencil is better than the best memory.”
What motivated you to become an indie author? With my previous book, Estate Planning Smarts: A Practical, User-Friendly, Action-Oriented Guide, I turned down offers from two big publishers because I wasn’t happy with the money they offered. McGraw-Hill’s offer was missing a zero—and I told them so. One from Bloomberg Press was more than three times as much, but still pathetically low. On Halloween of 2008, an auspicious day, I made the decision to become an indie author. It turned out to be one of the best career choices I have ever made: Estate Planning Smarts, now in the 4th edition, was favorably reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, has become a trusted guide for consumers and disproved publisher’s predictions that a book about estate planning won’t sell well. Four Seasons in a Day, my latest book, is the second one published by my company, DJWorking Unlimited Inc. In both cases I have been able to choose my editor and book designer, and have total control over the production process. With Four Seasons in a Day, soon to be released as an audiobook, I was able to choose the narrator — Tavia Gilbert — who I thought was best suited to perform the book.
What’s your latest writing project? After a three-year hiatus, I have re-launched my blog in a new home: on this website. It will cover travel and the sharing economy, and other topics that have been continuing themes in my writing, including: personal finance, estate planning and work as a tool for self-actualization. You can subscribe here.
How do I get an article published on the Forbes website, or become a Forbes contributor? It has been several years since I was employed at the company, so my information is no longer current. I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the site; follow several Forbes staffers whose work you admire; and then contact them directly.
Do you take “press trips?” Many travel writers accept complimentary transportation, lodging and meals, to help familiarize themselves with a destination. I respect their reasons for doing so, but routinely decline such offers.