Waukon native shares her experience with publishing her own book "Millennial Maxims"

Self-published by Waukon native ... "Millennial Maxims" is a new book self-published by Waukon native Jeni Burckart. She is a 2007 graduate of Waukon High School and is currently a clinical pharmacist in La Crosse, WI. Submitted photo.

Jeni Burckart

Editor's Note: The following was submitted by Jeni Burckart, a 2007 graduate of Waukon High School who now works as a clinical pharmacist at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, WI. She self-published her first book "Millennial Maxims: Guiding Principles for Unlocking Your Goals and Living Life on Your Terms" in November of 2015 and shares her insight into that experience below.

Iowan, Hawkeye, Pharmacist... Author? I’ve started down a path not traveled by many.
My interest in writing all started in my hometown of Waukon. English was an interest of mine, along with math and science. My first creative writing was done at Waukon Senior High in Mr. Myers' College Composition class.
My love for reading has been with me for as long as I can remember. My mom, Ann Burckart, is a voracious reader and passed that on to me. I remember taking many trips to Robey Memorial Library with my siblings, Kim and Mike, as well as childhood friends, Erin and Kyle Torkelson, with my grandma, LaVonne Ewing. We would search the shelves for our four to five books to take home for reading on rainy days.
However, after two semesters of College Composition with Mr. Myers and graduation in 2007, I headed down the path to become a pharmacist at the University of Iowa. All my mental energy was dedicated to my pharmacy studies and I wrote only for assignments, tests, and scholarship and residency applications.
In June of 2015 that all changed when I decided to give writing a try. As a millennial professional tired of negative stereotypes about my generation and limited positive resources for personal development, I decided to write my own. "Millennial Maxims: Guiding Principles for Unlocking Your Goals and Living Life on Your Terms" is my self-published debut book.
My dad, Pat Burckart, has always told me I can do anything I put my mind to. So I thought to myself, "I’m going to give this a try. I’m going to write a book."
Once I decided I was going to go for it, I started Googling “how to write a book” to figure out if I could really do this. Turns out I could and it wasn’t going to be some mountain I had to climb.
Want to know the secret to writing your own book?
Yep, that’s it. All you need to do is just write. Write every single day. Whether you’re on vacation or not. If you work overnights, if you work the weekend, or if it’s a holiday, write at least 15 minutes every single day. Don’t worry if what you put on the page is garbage… sometimes that happens. Just keep going. Like with most things, the more you write the better you get.
With the wealth of knowledge on the Internet, you have the tools you need to do nearly anything at your fingertips. Living in a town of 4,000 or less no longer limits your options. There are so many opportunities and you can find out how to seize them by doing a little research online.
I’m not talking about some “get rich quick” scheme because writing takes work and dedication and certainly doesn’t pay my bills. If you want to be a writer you’ve got to write… a lot. Countless hours of writing make up a book.
So how do you go from idea to book? I suggest mind-mapping. That’s what I did to write "Millennial Maxims". You’re going to need a big piece of paper, tag board works well! Mind-mapping involves putting your book idea in the center and then writing supporting ideas around it; continuing to add “clouds” of words or thoughts around each idea.
This is your opportunity to get everything you know about a subject onto paper. It’s messy and is usually crudely organized with supporting ideas connected by lines. After your giant mind-map, find 10 or so main ideas and use them for your chapters. Then map out all the ideas for each of those subjects.
After you mind map, it’s time to write. Hold yourself accountable to at least 15 minutes a day. Depending on the day and your schedule, 15 minutes will often turn into an hour because you’ve got the juices flowing. Either way, by writing consistently you’re reinforcing the idea that you are a writer.
What about after you’ve written your book? You need to go through two to three rounds of self-editing. At least one of those rounds needs to involve reading your book out loud. When you read your material out loud, you’ll pick up on sentences that don’t flow correctly so you can reorganize them.
Now you need to find an editor. There are a few options for this, but don’t skip it. You can hire a professional (I’ll tell you how shortly) or you can have someone who has excellent syntax, grammar, and punctuation do it for you.
To hire a professional, go to upwork.com and post a job. A normal price to pay is about $0.006 per word. So, my 26,000-word book cost me about $180 to have edited, plus I paid a bonus so she earned about $250 for the job. The editor I hired was a college student working on her masters in English with a focus on editing and journalism, so I was able to hire her for the low-end of the price range. I do still find mistakes in my book, but readers will forgive a few goofs for well-written content.
After your book is edited, it’s time to find a cover. I went through fiverr.com, paid about $10 per job, and then had my Facebook friends vote on their favorite. In total, my cover design cost me about $45 for various jobs and edits.
So you’ve got a solid book and a cover… now what? How do you publish it? Surprisingly, this is the easy part.
I used the tools provided by Amazon to publish an E-book on the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) platform. I used their sister company, CreateSpace, to create print-on-demand paperback editions of my book.
Both of these publishing platforms simply require you to enter your tax information, author biography, blurb about your book and upload the book and cover picture. Then they provide the marketplace and handle all transactions and returns and provide you a pay-out. For their services they take a pretty substantial royalty, but it’s totally worth it.
We all have a book in us. At least one, if not many. Do something with yours, share it with the world. Our community is full of wisdom, kindness, values and stories I want to read about! Your computer is the tool you need to get it done.

If you’re an ambitious millennial and are looking for a positive resource to help you unlock your goals and live life on your terms, check out my book Millennial Maxims. Robey Memorial Library in Waukon has two copies for you to check out.
If you want to purchase your own copy, both the e-book and paperback are available on Amazon. For every book purchased, I donate $1 to Paws for Ability, a charity that provides canine miracles for children with disabilities and injured veterans, enriching their lives by providing a trained service dog for independent living, stability and companionship.
For even more helpful resources, go to my website, www.millennialmaxims.com, for blog posts and downloadable resources like the goal-setting worksheet, professional wardrobe checklist and reading list.