(This article originally appeared in the July 2021 issue of Military Officer, a magazine available to all MOAA Premium and Life members. Learn more about the magazine here; learn more about joining MOAA here.)
After a 37-year Navy career, Adm. James Stavridis settled into life after service with a pen in his hand.
“Writing, to me, has just been integral to my life,” said Stavridis, a Life Member of MOAA who retired in 2013 after serving as supreme allied commander of NATO. After recently releasing his 10th book and first fiction offering — 2034: A Novel of the Next World War (Penguin Press), cowritten with former Marine officer and Silver Star recipient Elliot Ackerman — he shared advice with MOAA for all aspiring military writers.
Get the Word Out
For first time authors, self-promotion is crucial. Whether you are self-publishing your first book or working with a publisher, casting your net wide will help your novel pick up traction both in and outside your circles.
“Use your network of friends and family,” Stavridis said. “Email everyone you know, not just once, but multiple times. Tell them about the book and ... give a synopsis linking directly to the website where they can purchase it.”
Once you begin to get feedback, ask your contacts to socialize it through online reviews that you can use in additional promotional materials. Using social media and creating a website specifically for advertising is also an important part of developing interest in your writing, Stavridis said, as is talking about your book to wider audiences.
“The more networking you can put into it, the more books you’ll sell,” Stavridis said.
Beat the Block
For those who are stuck behind the keyboard and are not quite sure where to start, Stavridis has some advice.
“Reach out to authors you admire and respect, and open an email conversation with them,” he said, adding that more established authors should “try to be helpful to those who are younger [and] aspiring to write.”
Still not sure how to start? Writing, Stavridis said, “comes from the love of reading, and I connect those two: I believe that the more you read, the better a writer you will be. … I have always self-identified as someone with a pen in his hand, and I think I will be until the day I die.”
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