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Writing books helps Central Pa. businesspeople share their messages

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Why write a book, particularly as a businessperson?

A handful of authors from Central Pennsylvania say they did it because they had messages to share.

“The choice to write a book must come from a deep belief in your message and be directed towards helping others, not promoting yourself,” says Tracey Jones. “Unless you are committed to your written works and sharing them with as many people as possible, you won't be able to stay motivated in getting your message out there.”

Jones speaks both as an author of four books she says she wrote with her rescue dogs and as president of Tremendous Life Books. The Cumberland County-based company is a publisher and discount distributor of motivational, inspirational and business books and CDs and DVDs. It also hosts speakers and seminars.

“I highly recommend that every public speaker — and we are all speakers in some way, shape or form — be a published author,” Jones says. “A book is an extension of your message. It's something that meeting participants can take with them and read and re-read long after you've left the room. And with the unlimited amount of options for anyone to become published, it's a no-brainer.”

Brenda Lee Sieglitz, an account executive for Where & When, a Pennsylvania travel guide published by Engle Printing & Publishing, says she started writing at the request of her late husband. It took her about five years, and she self-published “Ebb from the Shoreline: Finding Cancer and Courage” in March after a successful Kickstarter crowdsourcing campaign.

“It was a powerful source of healing for me and gave me the courage to begin travel writing on a freelance basis in 2010,” Sieglitz says. The book recently won first place in the North American Book Award 2014 nonfiction category and “has helped me to launch a speaking tour throughout North America by sharing my experiences with love, loss, travel and nature.”

Allow ample time

If she could do it again, Sieglitz says, she would spend time sending her book out for reviews and changes as well as having multiple people edit it.

“Reserve more time than you think you'll need, especially around deadlines,” says Peter Greer, president and CEO of Lancaster County-based Hope International. He has written five books to date, with several more to be released in 2015. What works for him, Greer says, is writing on planes and trains as he travels.

“With 'Mission Drift,' I had the terrific help of partnering with my friends and colleagues Chris Horst and Anna Haggard,” he says. All told, they conducted more than 200 hours of interviews for the book, which Bethany House Publishers released in February.

“More than any other writing project I've participated in, this book has deeply resonated with leaders,” Greer says. “Boards of directors and leadership teams across the country have used the book to help determine if they are on the path to drift, and many have made significant changes to ensure they protect and enhance their mission.”

Greer says sales have exceeded the publisher's projections, yielded proceeds for Hope International and helped raise the nonprofit's profile, in addition to garnering “a substantial number of invitations to share the message of this book with partner organizations and supporters.”

Gathering material

Salvatore Fazzolari, formerly president, CEO and chairman of Cumberland County-based Harsco Corp. and now founder and CEO of Salvatore Fazzolari Advisors LLC, claims the longest timeline of the group. During his business career of nearly four decades, he says, he has maintained a notebook of key concepts, decisions and follow-up items. Using that as an outline for his book and working with editor Mark Morrow, it took him about two years to write “CEO Lifelines: Nine Commitments Every Leader Must Make.”

Fazzolari self-published the book through iUniverse in April and says he has received “some wonderful notes from many sources, including some from overseas.” He already has a high-level outline for a sequel.

Joe Trojcak, owner and president of Elizabethtown-based Progressive Enterprises Sound Studios, self-published “Focus on Your Light,” which he co-authored, in October. He spent about nine years writing the book, soliciting feedback from many of his college students and interns. In it, he uses his family and business history to share lessons on success.

Publishing options

“We have just finished the first month and are most pleased with our reviews,” Trojcak says. “It is going to take the better part of a year to ramp up the book to its potential since I am self-publishing, but we do have a plan and it is coming together.”

Although she runs a publishing company, Jones says self-publishing does have advantages, including complete control of the project and establishing an audience and a track record.

“Self-publishing is a great way to achieve a base of core readers,” she says. “Tremendous Life Books has published numerous books that started out as self-published projects.”

Plus, she says, getting published by a traditional publisher is always about the publisher's choice, not the author's.

“They need a reasonable guarantee that they'll get a return on their investment since they front all the resources,” she says. Self-publishing bypasses that hurdle to getting your book in print, but, she notes, it also means “you have to do all the work and shoulder all of the costs.” 

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