If a book is well-written and distributed to the masses, it becomes a tool for action. A book has the potential to change people’s minds. A book has the potential to make people happy or sad. A book has the potential to make people angry. There is nothing about a book that is passive. Once a book is in the marketplace, all bets are off as to what happens next. That’s powerful.

As part of my series about “How to write a book that sparks a movement” I had the great pleasure of interviewing Joy Loverde. 

Joy Loverde is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, mature-market consultant, entrepreneur, and advocate for family caregivers and people who are aging solo.

A seasoned media spokesperson, you may have seen Joy on the TODAY Show and Good Morning America and listened to her interviews on numerous National Public Radio stations, podcasts, and SiriusXM. She has written hundreds of blogs and articles which are posted on her website (www.elderindustry.com). During her career, she has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, TIME Magazine, New York Times, Money Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Reader’s Digest, and a host of others.USA TODAYran a four-part series on Joy’s family-caregiver programs.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us about your “backstory?”

With an extensive background in communication and public relations, I am extremely proud of having the courage to start my own full-service marketing company. As a single mother of a four-year-old with no money to speak of, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

In the mid 1980’s, I became keenly aware of complex problems associated with populations of people getting older and living longer, and the need to care for them. Following this trend I immediately recognized a gap in resources for adult children who were next in line to manage the care of aging parents. That’s when I decided to write and self-publish the first edition of my book, The Complete Eldercare Planner: Where to Start, Which Questions to Ask, and How to Find Help.

When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life?

I first read The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster when I was ten. I still have my original copy. Like Milo, the main character, I discovered that life is far from dull and exciting beyond my wildest dreams. I’ve grown up with this book. It continues to influence me to be curious and brave. The book also reinforces the notion that even though there are life lessons that I need to learn on my own, I must remain balanced and open to the ideas of others.

What was the moment or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world?

Every day, I relive the critical decision I made as a fourteen-year-old attending Trinity, an all-girl’s Catholic high school in River Forest, Illinois. When Sr. Dorothy was looking for a student to visit nursing-home residents on Thanksgiving morning, I hesitated; then raised my hand to volunteer. That decision changed my life forever.

Upon entering the nursing home, I observed seven residents sitting motionless in the dark. No one was talking. No one was smiling. Everyone was staring into nothingness. I was shocked at what I witnessed, and immediately started grappling for answers to questions no one seemed to be asking:

Who are these elders?

What series of events led them to a life of resignation?

How did they end up isolated and alone in their old age?

And why are they not with their families on Thanksgiving Day?

Since that visit to the nursing home, I have never looked back. I vowed to find answers to these and other vital questions. For the next 40 years I would advocate and troubleshoot the causes, concepts, and needs of the world’s aging population.

What impact did you hope to make when you wrote your books?

“When we plan, we have choices.” This is the promise of my books and what sparks the process of taking control of a seemingly random and unpredictable future for ourselves as well as our aging parents.

The Complete Eldercare Planner: Where to Start, Questions to Ask, How to Find Helphelps keep family members engaged and connected to each other.

Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old?Plan Now to Safeguard Your Health and Happiness in Old Ageis hailed by critics as “required reading for everyone over 40. This book teaches readers how to visualize and advocate for their future self.”

Did the actual results align with your expectations?

Yes, my books align with my expectations and sales remain steady. Much of the books’ successes has to do with the design and format. Reading habits, including how content is delivered, have changed. People rarely read a book in one sitting and from cover-to-cover. Knowing this, the popular design and format of The Complete Eldercare Plannerwas duplicated in Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old?

Chapters are delivered in concise, quick-read format. No fluff. No filler. Bulleted lists make complex information simple-to-read and comprehend. Readers may choose to skim content, reading as much or as little as they deem necessary. Readers refer to the book again and again depending on their current life situation.

“Don’t read this book. Use it.” instructs readers to personalize the content. Questions to ask, keywords, indexes, and resources are offered throughout each section. Readers come to rely on the numerous worksheets, checklists and step-by-step action plans dispersed throughout each book. These tools can also be downloaded and customized from my website.

In the interconnected world of digital, social, video, and mobile media, both books are also written to support the uncompromising value of the book as an e-friendly resource guide.

Testimonials from readers reinforce the power of the design and content in both of my books. “There is so much information that it will become My Bible, where I will visit and take comfort as one does an old friend. You will not be disappointed.”

What moment let you know that your books had started a movement?

When I wrote and self-published the first edition of The Complete Eldercare Planner, not too many people were awake family caregiving responsibilities back then; but my persistence in specifically introducing employee eldercare benefits to Corporate America gained enough attention to turn the first 1,000 printing into a second printing (8,000) in a matter of months. When the Wall Street Journalreported in 1994 that “the single biggest issue facing workers and families today is the process of caring for aging loved ones, far outdistancing child care as the number-one reason employees miss or quit work,” I knew I had sparked a significant world-wide movement. That is also when I knew it was time to seek the services of a literary agent who could sell The Complete Eldercare Plannerto a main-stream publisher.

And here we go again. Already on its second printing, my latest book,Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old? is causing quite a stir, especially with companies and healthcare systems that have long assumed that everybody has somebody to assist them if and when help is needed. Employers, manufacturers, community leaders, medical professionals, financial planners, attorneys, and city planners, among many others are slowly waking up to the fact that the time is now to revise how they think, how they market, and how they deliver products and services to the growing population of solo agers.

Consequently, I am on the receiving end of non-stop media interviews, keynote requests, and consulting projects. My “let’s eat together” campaign is also making waves. Once again, I have sparked a political and social movement — this time the intention is to impact the quality of life for people who are living alone.

What kinds of things did you hear right away from readers? What are the most frequent things you hear from readers about your book now? Are they the same? Different?

When it comes to the subject matter of my books — family caregiving and aging solo — people have mixed emotions and reactions.

People who want to avert a personal and professional crisis and are willing to make difficult decisions and initiate emotionally challenging conversations, tell me how grateful they are that I took the time to spell out all the life scenarios for them in black and white. Being in control is important to them. This is the most common reaction to both of my books.

Non-customers tell me they prefer to avoid thinking about any and all age-related unpleasant topics, especially the one of growing old. They do not want to face the fact that they are aging alongside their parents and loved ones. These are the same people who tell me they prefer not to plan and “will cross that bridge when they come to it.”

What is the most moving or fulfilling experience you’ve had as a result of writing your books?

I had absolutely no clue that public speaking in front of large audiences is a given after a book is published and well received. I can recall feeling nothing less than petrified when I was hired to give my first keynote.

The Complete Eldercare Planner caught the attention of a well-known prestigious hospital. The administrator invited me to give a keynote to their doctors, nurses, local public officials, hospice professionals, and family caregivers. Immediately, a flood of worrisome thoughts began to challenge my self-worth. What if I don’t do a good job? What if they think I’m stupid? What if my words don’t make sense? What if they don’t like me?

With every question, I dug myself deeper into a pit of self-sabotage. My fears became overwhelming. Whenever I envisioned myself on stage at the podium my heart started to race, and I felt dizzy. Public speaking is one of the top common fears. Was that reason enough for me to be afraid of the task at hand? I concluded the answer was no. My fear was holding me hostage as if it owned me. I decided then and there to change my self-talk: I have effective communication skills; I know how to be entertaining and deliver a joke; I know how to dress appropriately for any occasion; and I deserve this opportunity to speak to this astute audience as much as anyone else.

I began visualizing myself on the stage and delivering the keynote without the presence of fear. I learned by watching professional speakers in action. As they delivered their talks, I would say to myself — I can do what they do. Slowly, my self-imposed roadblocks fell by the wayside and I began to believe what

I was telling myself.

Hundreds of keynotes later, my irrational fears about public speaking have all

but disappeared; but that is not to say that I do not get nervous before each presentation. The difference now is my pre-speech jitters are healthy signals that I want to do an excellent job.

Have you experienced anything negative? Do you feel there are drawbacks to writing a book that starts such colossal conversation and change?

The subject matter of both of my books are hard-hitting and steeped in raw emotions. It’s no surprise to me that I have experienced some negative feedback from people who challenge my approach to family caregiving and aging solo. Also, there are individuals who choose to run away from the realities of aging and refuse to make the effort to plan. These people have told me my books are “a waste of time.”

As an author, if you believe in your message, and you are brave enough to express your thoughts in writing, then you have no choice than to come to grips with negative experiences expressed by readers who disagree with your point of view. Instead of being personally offended by any negative feedback, I see it as validation that I am on the right track.

Can you articulate why you think books in particular have the power to create movements, revolutions, and true change?

If a book is well-written and distributed to the masses, it becomes a tool for action. A book has the potential to change people’s minds. A book has the potential to make people happy or sad. A book has the potential to make people angry. There is nothing about a book that is passive. Once a book is in the marketplace, all bets are off as to what happens next. That’s powerful.

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a bestselling writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?

What has most contributed to my success as a best-selling author is my habit of non-stop marketing. No matter how busy I am with existing work assignments, I carve out time for intentional networking in pursuit of new opportunities for mature-market product endorsements, keynotes, and consulting projects.

Posting on social media (especially Twitter and LinkedIn), joining subject-related associations, participating in political rallies, attending lectures and conferences, and saying yes to all invitations that get me out of the house and connected with others in personis key to selling more books. Authors often lead solitary lives, and spending quality time with other people on a regular basis is critically important.

What challenge or failure did you learn the most from in your writing career?

I am most challenged when it comes to knowing when to edit my work. It’s easy for authors, including me, to go overboard and test the patience of readers. To combat this, I remind myself to be respectful of the reader’s time. Every sentence I write I ask myself, is this important information for me to be writing about right now?

Many aspiring authors would love to make an impact similar to what you have done. What are the 5 things writers needs to know if they want to spark a movement with a book?

With millions of people aging solo, my book sparked a movement called, “Let’s eat together.” Loneliness and isolation are serious health hazards, and sharing meals is an easy way to combat this world-wide crisis.

Here are five things writers can do to spark a movement with their book:

1. Give your movement a simple name — two to five words max. Make sure that the name you give your movement is immediately understood by others the moment you say it.

2. Write about your movement every chance you get. Make special mention of it in your book and keep people updated with social media posts.

3. Whenever you give a speech, talk about your movement. This helps people connect the dots between your book and your movement.

4. Create a website for your movement.

5. Get money behind your cause so you can spread the word world-wide. Secure a sponsor or two that you know will benefit from your cause and will want to throw money your way.

The world, of course, needs progress in many areas. What movement do you hope someone (or you!) starts next?

If you ask me where I see the global aging population heading in the next decade, I will tell you that I envision a bold response to the trend of people who are “aging solo” who have no support from family or adult children.

Solutions to isolation and loneliness will be initiated by people like you and me — young and old, rich and poor — who will find innovative ways to live and work side-by-side as we age. My “Let’s eat together” movement is going to keep me busy for years to come. A complement to this movement will be, “Let’s be friends.”

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Website elderindustry.com

Pinterest pinterest.com/joyloverde

Twitter twitter.com/joyloverde

LinkedIn linkedin.com/in/joyloverde

Thank you so much for these insights. It was a true pleasure to do this with you.


  • Sara Connell

    Bestselling Author & Writing Coach

    Sara Connell is an author and writing coach with a private practice in Chicago. She has appeared in Oprah, Good Morning America, NPR, The View and Katie Couric. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Tri-Quarterly, Good Housekeeping, Parenting, IO Literary Journal, and Psychobabble. Her first book Bringing In Finn was nominated for ELLE magazine Book of the Year. www.saraconnell.com