Monthly Archives: July 2011

Espresso Book Machine


The EBM Machine & Me -- Photo Credit: Grant at the Flintridge, California Bookstore & Coffeeshop

I did the coolest thing the other day – I took myself on a little solo “class trip” to the Flintridge/La Canada (California) Bookstore and Coffeehouse (1010 Foothill Blvd.)  to see their newly renovated book store (after it got hit by a truck!) and to visit their Espresso Book Machine (see photo). The Espresso Book Machine (EBM) is a machine that prints, binds and trims bookstore quality books (including front and back color covers) at a low cost.  It prints directly from digital files in minutes (depending on the number of pages in the book) and you end up with a “proof” copy that looks and feels just like a book you’d buy off the shelf.  There are only two of these Espresso Book Machines in Southern California, and the one at this lovely bookstore and coffee shop is the latest version of it.

Here’s the beauty of the EBM for self-published writers — for as little as $99 (there are various priced packages), you can have your book set up (made print-ready from your files) and then you get your proof copy which is a terrific way for an author to see how their book looks and reads, and a good way to find typos! If you want to order additional proof copies, you can do so.  It costs between $7 and $17 for books from 100 to 500 pages.  Authors can also send  “proof” copies to people in order to get peer reviews, or get “blurbs” and testimonials, or get actual book reviews which they can excerpt and use in the book or on the back cover.  You can upload corrections (for an additional set-up fee) and then publish final copies.  Because of the cost per book using the EBM, you may decide not to publish your book in bulk this way, but to get proof copies or order just a few books to have on hand, it’s great.   (I’ll be talking about other publishing options in this blog). I find it exciting that there are so many choices now for writers that didn’t exist even five years ago — and the EBM is one of them. To find out more about this particular EBM, email  Or you can Google “Espresso Book Machine” for articles and information about other uses of the EBM.  It’s fun stuff!


How is a Car Demolition Like a Manuscript Rewrite?

Kissing Toyota Goodbye

Earlier this month after my twenty-one year old car failed the smog check, and I realized it would cost more to fix it than it’s worth, I  decided to “retire” it through a State of California program that basically pays you to get your piece of junk off the road.  With some feelings of nostalgia for all my car and I have been through together over the past twenty-one years, I cleaned out the trunk and glove compartment and drove it to a demolition yard in Tujunga (outside L.A.) where I got in a line of other senior cars awaiting their fate. It felt like a slaughterhouse. When it was my car’s turn, I drove it up on a ramp where I kissed my car goodbye and walked away as an employee of the yard made chalk scribbles on the car door and drove it into the beyond — at least beyond where I could see. There,  I imagined, everything salvageable would be removed to be reused, recycled and resold — tires, hubcaps, floor mats, seats, battery, and various innards whose value I can’t begin to appreciate.  After all, my poor car wasn’t bad all over. It still had life in some of its parts.

Is That My Poor Old Car on Top? Well, Time to Let it Go!

At the same time that this was happening, I was also in the middle of re-writing a screenplay to present at a screenwriting group I’ve belonged to for about seven years.  (After all, therapist writers don’t have to just write books. All kinds of writing projects can be enriched by what therapists can bring to them). I was struck by how similar a complete manuscript rewrite is to a car demolition.  After I printed out my old script, I went through it and decided which chunks of it no longer worked and needed to be put on the chopping block. Then, hard as it is to eliminate days and weeks of previous work,  I physically removed these sections, clipped the individual sections together, and put them in a pile (like the pile of squished cars in the picture!) After that, I went through all the scenes, lines of dialogue, and character descriptions that I’d salvaged and began to reconstruct a new script, even saving some of the bits for future scripts. The trick in both cases, of course, is to be willing to let go of what no longer works, salvage what you can, and move on. Hopefully my new car (when I get it) and my new script (when I finish it) will work better.

Need Teaches Naked Woman to Spin

Need Teaches Naked Woman to Spin”    — a Danish proverb

There was a time when a freshly licensed psychotherapist could put up a shingle, send out some tasteful, raised-type announcements telling family, friends and colleagues that they were now in private practice, buy an appointment book and wait for business to come to them, just like Lucy in the Peanuts comic strip putting up a sign on a booth: Psychiatric Help 5 Cents.

Those days are gone. Today, most therapists can no longer survive on private practice alone. While in some areas of the country there’s a shortage of mental health professionals, in other places the competition for patients is fierce, especially where I live (Los Angeles). Here, there are neighborhoods teeming with therapists, whole buildings full of them. Throw a tissue box and you’ll hit one.  Obviously, no therapist can live on a caseload of only five or ten patients.

As things have gotten tighter over the years, therapists have had to get creative and start spinning like crazy when it comes to pepping up their practices. Many learned long ago to specialize in niche markets, becoming the go-to experts on bi-polar disorder, acting-out teens, or postpartum depression. Others have jobs in mental health facilities, or are teaching, doing workshops and seminars, or are working part-time, sometimes at jobs unrelated to their profession, just to bring in money. The nice woman who serves you your blended coffee caramel frappuccino at Starbucks might just be an off-duty shrink.

Many mental health professionals who had jumped on the managed care bandwagon back in the ‘90s started jumping off again when the ride got too bumpy (for example, paltry payments from the managed care providers that often arrived years after the therapy sessions had taken place). Off on their own again, therapists built personal websites, got themselves professionally branded like soap products, and started (some reluctantly) to blog, tweet, twitter and rock ‘n roll along with Facebook and dozens of other social networking sites just to stay afloat. Pretty exhausting.

So with all this in mind, is there something better a therapist could be doing that might be more effective, more efficient and more profitable? Yes, there is — publish a book.  Getting a book published (which includes self-publishing) is the quickest way for a mental health professional to become known as an expert, which soon translates into more attention, more referrals, more business and more money. While the idea of writing a book might seem daunting, it’s doable. I did it. Other therapists have done. You can do it.

Stay tuned to this blog because we’re going to talk about this a lot.

Celebrating Writer Independence!

It’s Independence Day! July 4th. A Big Day here in the U.S.  What a perfect  time to launch my blog (The Therapist Writer), aimed at scribes who also happen to be mental health professionals. The purpose of this blog is to celebrate (and benefit from) the many changes that have taken place in the book business over the past decade, making it easier than ever  for writers of all stripes (including therapist writers) to get published.

Some of the factors that have combined to bring about this perfect storm favoring writers include:  The economic downturn of the traditional (New York) publishing industry; the explosion of the Internet; the digital revolution;  the diminishing powers of the gatekeepers (agents, publishers, publicists, reviewers); the ease and affordability of indie authorship; the lessening of the stigma about being self-publishing; the success of eBooks and the expanding opportunities for online book distribution and marketing.

All these things have freed writers to achieve their mission of getting their work out into the world.  There’s also a wealth of material (including other blogs!) to  guide, teach and encourage writers through this process. Because I’m a psychotherapist as well as a published author (see my profile), my focus in this blog  will be helping my fellow mental health professionals get published. But even if you’re not a therapist, I can promise you that the information, advice, hints, tips, stories, resources and others goodies you’ll find here will facilitate your creative independence so you can continue to practice (and hopefully profit from) your craft.  So, writers — start your computers! I hope you enjoy this blog. Happy Independence Day!