Some of your best talent is heading toward retirement. There is a wealth of wisdom and experience getting ready to close their office doors, and that is a resource that no smart association executive wants to let walk away.
How do you engage these retiring leaders? How do you keep them – and their valuable knowledge – in your association now that they are eyeing the end of their full-time careers?
Volunteering seems an obvious choice, but mention the words “meeting” or “committee,” and their eyes are likely to glaze over. If you want to maintain the vital input these executives can provide to your association, you need another solution.
So write one. Or, more precisely, have them write one for you.
The Solution: Use That Talent in a New Way
A compilation publication can present the enticing opportunity you need to offer while creating a unique resource your association can use for years to come.
A compilation publication project utilizes today’s independent publishing technology to gather essays from the best minds in your association and create a published collection or anthology. If your organization already has a publication arm, you may be one step ahead. Even if that’s not the case, print-on-demand technology now places reasonably priced, small-scale publishing within the reach of every organization and every professional. So why not wield this new literary frontier to your advantage?
An Attractive Benefit
Many top executives aren’t retiring to the golf course, but to encore careers as consultants, entrepreneurs and thought leaders. Publication aids those goals in ways few other pursuits can, and your association can offer these leaders a powerful first step. Whether or not they are ready to write that book they’ve been thinking about for the last five years – and today many are – the process of writing a 1,000- or 2,000-word essay for inclusion in your compilation gives leading executives a valuable experience. After all, the ability to claim the title “published author” can carry a hefty influence.
A Variety of Uses
A volume of 10,000-25,000 words compiles 10-20 individual author essays, depending upon format. This can be the perfect size for a first compilation project. Such a book is large enough to feel substantial but small enough to be affordable. Once created, it can serve a variety of uses:
- purchase proceeds can support a foundation or scholarship fund
- it can be included in new member packets
- convention or other event bags can include copies
- participant book signing events can honor your industry leaders in a unique way
- websites, periodicals, and newsletters can offer the book
*If your association is a not-for-profit organization, however, make sure you comply with state and federal regarding income-producing ventures.
Keep in Mind
Once you have decided to move ahead on a compilation project, the process doesn’t have to be daunting. There are some key issues to consider:
- In-house or outsourced?
This can become a time-consuming venture. If your association handles its newsletters and publications in-house, you may already have editorial and production staff to tap for assistance. If not, consider hiring a book coach, freelance editor, or other publishing professional to tackle the project alongside you. Fees for such professionals can vary greatly, so know your options – and how you plan to use the finished product – before signing a contract.
- Topical or generalized?
You may choose to have all your contributors address a specific topic such as professionalism, industry trends, or technology. You may opt for a more generalized focus such as “What I Wish I’d Known in my First Five Years as an Attorney,” “My Greatest Impact as a Teacher,” or “Crucial Turning Points in 20th Century Urban Planning.” Or you may choose a broad-strokes theme such as “Wisdom from the Professionals” that lets your senior talent go in any direction
- Choosing your contributors
This can be a crucial step in the success of your project. Putting out a generalized call for submissions might sound tempting, but you will want to have some strong criteria in place for deciding among submissions. Well-chosen invitations or a smartly designed application process can save you a lot of headaches down the road. Writing is a specific skill set – distinct from leadership or even public speaking. Some executives are great with deadlines while others have always depended on staff to meet timetables. Not everyone is open to being edited, even by a publishing professional. If some of your contributors have recently retired, it may take some wrangling to ensure deadlines
- Consider hiring a coach
Hiring a writing coach to work with your chosen contributors can be a worthwhile investment. Some of your best talent with the most to say may need coaching to get the words written. If your members have dreams of publication, the opportunity to work with a coach on this project may be a valuable perk to them, helping them to launch that encore career that includes writing a book. An outside coach has the added benefit of saving you from having to be the task-master at a time when you want to do all you can to strengthen an executive’s ties to your organization.
- Commemorative or annual?
Is your association celebrating a benchmark anniversary? A compilation publication creates the perfect way to honor past leaders as well as present influencers. You can choose to build a library of annual compilations as well. One well-received compilation can easily pave the way for future editions, expanding both your reach and your resources. You don’t need to know if you will publish a volume every year; you can start with one and see if it meets your needs.
Ways to Get Started
Whatever your membership size or professional field, a compilation project can tap into the dreams and skills of those seasoned professionals who will all-too-soon be exiting their corner offices. Don’t let those years of experience walk away. Instead, offer them this new opportunity to share their talents and pursue their encore-career dreams. You will keep a vital resource engaged while creating a unique product that benefits your organization.
For worksheets on how to get started and helpful criteria for choosing contributors, visit our associationleadershipmagazine.com for downloadable resources:
- Steps to a Setting Up a Successful Compilation Publication
- Gather Great Contributors for Your Compilation Publication
Author Allie Pleiter is the bestselling author of over 40 non-fiction and fiction titles with over 1.4 million copies sold worldwide. As the creator of The Chunky Method of writing productivity, Allie helps creative people be more productive and productive people be more creative. In addition to facilitating compilation projects, she speaks nationally helping both writers and a wide variety of professionals utilize stories, books, and content to further their careers and businesses. Learn more at alliepleiter.com.
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