So You Want to Write a Book? One Jewelry Retailer’s Path to Becoming an Author

Tenacious would be an apt adjective to describe the business style of jewelry retailer Susan Eisen. The industry veteran, who owns Susan Eisen Fine Jewelry and Watches in El Paso, Texas, has worn the hat of appraiser, retailer, gemologist, designer, bench jeweler, talk radio host, and inheritance consultant in her 32 years in the business. But it’s her most recent foray into authoring books that captured our interest. Her newest tome, The Myth of the Million Dollar Dishrag, explores the pitfalls of inheritance. We caught up with Eisen to discuss how she got started in publishing, and what it’s done for her business.

JCK: How did you end up publishing your first book, “Crazy About Jewlery?”

I read an article in a non-jewelry magazine about how to differentiate yourself in your community. And it said to publish a book, to be a writer. It’s a lot of personal work as opposed to paying for advertising. I love to write and have a lot of stories to tell – as do most people in the jewelry business. I reached out to this eWomen Publishing Network that helps you get started. I went to one of their conventions and it was very helpful. I decided from there to self-publish as opposed to going to a publisher.

JCK: Why self-publish as opposed to going through a publisher?

I was taught that when you sell to a publisher, they own the rights to the book. You can’t use excerpts; you can’t do anything. I was trying to prove myself to my customers, not some publisher. Plus, I wanted to hire my own artists. It was about a lot of things that I didn’t have to research – how to buy, how to sell, how to teach your significant other to buy for you, and how to change the world with your jewelry through donating it and giving it to charity.

JCK: What does your new book, The Myth of the Million Dollar Dishrag, cover?

It’s a motivator to try to get people to make the decisions when they’re alive and healthy, so they don’t wait until they’re given a death sentence. And it talks about how planning can be fun — something you share with your whole family. There are horror stories on what happens if you don’t plan, and there’s advice on how to set goals and make a date to go through your house and find out what’s valuable.

JCK: As a self-published author, how do you get the word out on your books?

With social media, I can do more with this book than I could with my first book in 2007. You blog, put excerpts on Facebook, email.

JCK: What has been your motivation for writing books?

I do it more for the advertising and PR than the money. The books have opened up the door to consulting. I like to speak and I was invited to speak at the New Mexico Estate Planning Conference. When I was there, I met new people who have these problems who I would have never met before. Now they’re coming in to ask me for advice, get repairs. I can’t tell you my income has gone up 10 percent, but I can tell you that as a result of the books, we’ve seen a lot of new people.

JCK: What advice would you give to jewelry retailers thinking about penning a book?

Think about it for a while and pick something that you feel very knowledgable about. Also, understand the time and financial commitment it will take, and research what is involved before you get started with it. Know that it takes a lot of people to create a book if you’re going to do it yourself. The graphic designer, printer, layout person, the editor. It takes about five people, and sometimes you don’t find the right people the first time around. And really analyze what you’re doing it for. Only the New York Times bestselling authors get rich writing books. But there’s a lot of value that comes with a book – a lot of other things aside from dollars and cents.