Question: I had a bumpy transition out of the Navy. I learned a lot of what not to do and want to share it all in a book. Is that a good idea, and how would I get started?

Answer: As the author of several books (three aimed toward the military transition), I applaud your enthusiasm for serving those who’ve served with your wisdom. Writing a book is a deeply personal and exciting way to share your wisdom, experience and expertise with others.

To ensure your book delivers on your goals, ask yourself these questions before you start:

1. Are You the Right Person to Write the Book?

Will a book by you serve the need and audience you seek to reach? If you have the experience, credibility and insights to write on this topic, then you’re likely the right person. If you lack knowledge or trust with the audience, it could be hard to promote your book and have it well-received.  

2. Why Are You Passionate About This Topic?

Do you care about the topic, because you struggled where others found their paths more easily? Did you learn from their experience and want to save others from having a tough transition by offering your advice? Be clear about your “why” for authoring a book and focus your narrative on this central theme.  

3. What Are You Adding to the Conversation that Isn’t Already Covered?

Today, many books — written by veterans, military spouses and civilians — address aspects of the military-to-civilian transition. Be clear about how your book is unique and stands apart from those already on the market. This will help you create a value proposition that speaks to the target audience you seek to reach.  

4. Who’s Your Audience?

Are you looking to speak to senior military officers exiting the military who have careers lined up? Do you hope to have junior enlisted service members read your book before they separate? Are you addressing men and women? Be very clear about your target audience and speak directly to them in tone and language in the book.  

5. Will You Write It Yourself or Hire a Ghostwriter?

Are you a good writer? How do you know? Test your copywriting skills by writing some pages and then having them reviewed by editors and people you trust. You can always hire a writer to take your words and make them readable in book format (and flow) if this isn’t your strength.

6. Are You Known?

Before you write your first book, polish your personal brand — online and in person. Your followers will support you, encourage you and help promote your new book to others when they believe in who you are and what you stand for.   

7. How Much Can You Put Toward Marketing the Book?

Whether you self-publish or pursue a traditional publisher, you’ll need to set aside funds for marketing, promotions and outreach. A traditional publisher may offer some support, but they will require you to do a lot to market the book and drive sales. You’ll want to budget for things such as graphics, social media outreach, possibly public relations and advance copies, to name a few.

A book can be a wonderful and lasting testament to your insights, experience and lessons. Your words can live on long after you, serving others with purpose, impact and meaning. Before you write the first words, create a plan for who the book will serve, how it will reach this audience and how you’ll produce it. This will save you a lot of time down the road.

The author of “Success After Service: How to Take Control of Your Job Search and Career After Military Duty” (2020) and “Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition” (2014), Lida Citroën is a keynote speaker and presenter, executive coach, popular TEDx speaker and instructor of multiple courses on LinkedIn Learning. She regularly presents workshops on personal branding, executive presence, leadership communication and reputation risk management.

A contributing writer for, Lida is a passionate supporter of the military, volunteering her time to help veterans transition to civilian careers and assist employers who seek to hire military talent. She regularly speaks at conferences, corporate meetings and events focused on military transition.

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