July 4th, 2019 — a block party in the heart of Los Angeles, celebrating Independence Day. It’s probably a duplicate of the block party that took place in your neighborhood today, somewhere in America. However, in case you missed it, here it is again — with all the required 4th of July elements — for you to enjoy, just as though you’d been there!
Flags on Fences:
Balloons and Chips:
A Watermelon Eating Contest:
An Egg Tossing Contest:
Can You See 2 Wayward Eggs Below?
One of the Happy Raffle Winners
I Hope You Enjoyed Your Independence Day!
PS: FYI — Today, the 4th of July, is the 8th Anniversary of this blog.
(c) Sylvia Cary, LMFT, author of The Therapist Writer (Revised in 2018)
“You Are the Star” Mural in Hollywood (Wilcox Avenue) by Tom Suriya
The population of the world is currently 7.7 billion, give or take. Are they the audience for the book you are writing? (Answer: No) What about the 327 million people who live in the United States? Are they your audience? (Answer: No) What about the 2.32 billion active users on Facebook worldwide. Are they all going to buy your book? (Answer: No) If you’re a mental health professional, are your approximately 700,000 colleagues your audience? (Answer: No).
Then who the heck is the audience for your book?
Even after all these years of books, talks, podcasts, articles, and blog posts, like this one, telling authors to figure out in advance who their buyers are, it’s still hard for many of them to “get” that they are not writing for “everyone.” If you don’t know your audience you may end up marketing to the wrong crowd which is a sad waste of both your time and your book.
Some writers even scare themselves by imagining they’re writing for the wrong audience, such as a critical family member, a difficult client, a judgmental supervisor, or a competitive colleague who has already been successfully published.
Forget about these scary phantom audiences. Let’s see if we can figure out who your real audience is—because they’re out there. You just have to find them. Most books have at least one obvious audience. In addition, they may have secondary or tertiary (third level) audience.
Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Audiences
The primary buyer for a self-help book written by a therapist, for example, is probably a woman. She either wants help with a problem she’s got or she wants to give it to a man for a problem he’s got. The secondary audience might be other therapists who need to stay informed and may want to recommend the book to clients. A tertiary audience might be non-therapists who write or teach about mental health topics and need the book for research purposes. This group can get overlooked during the book marketing phase.
Even when you think you’ve nailed down your audience(s) correctly, there can be surprises. A book may not appeal to a group as anticipated, or vice-versa–it appeals to a group of buyers for no obvious reason. Go figure! Every book is unique, so when you start sleuthing around looking for your book’s audience, you could end up getting it wrong. “In publishing, we say a book needs to find its audience, and often that audience is different from the one envisioned by the author and publisher,” says Todd Sattersten, author of Every Book is a StartUp. You may think you’re writing a book for the elderly or the addicted, but the buyers turn out to be the folks who have to live with, or work with, or care for these demographics, so you’re really writing for them. That means even your cover will have to appeal to them. Once you see where you’ve gone wrong, STOP, recalculate, and shift your marketing strategy to target your real audience.
Googling for Audiences
To hunt down the primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences your book, begin by doing the obvious: Write down your book’s topic and then imagine the types of people who might want to read about that subject. Some writers even create a pretend profile of their ideal reader―age, sex, occupation, favorite recreations, major interests, goals, and dreams. Figure out what groups or organizations they might join and try to reach out to them that way. Searches within Pinterest and Googling for Instagram hashtags are great ways of reaching specific audiences.
There are probably more potential audiences out there than you realize, just waiting to hear about your book. Don’t give up. Keep looking for them. Your book deserves it.
(c) Sylvia Cary, LMFT. From “The Therapist Writer: Helping Mental Health Professionals Get Published,” (Timberlake Press) Amazon (updated for 2019)
AWARD-WINNING BOOK “THE THERAPIST WRITER” NOW UPDATED FOR 2018 by Sylvia Cary, LMFT
DID YOU KNOWthat getting a book published is the quickest way for a mental health professional to become known as an expert? It can lead to more attention, more referrals, more business, and hopefully more money!
WHAT’S IN “THE THERAPIST WRITER?”
What Therapists Need to Know About Publishing Why Getting Published is Good for Business How to Start Building Your “Author Platform” Now The Best Publishing Option for Your Book Legal Issues for Therapist Writers Finding a Book in Your Specialty
• UPDATE INCLUDES 25 PAGES of book marketing ideas from A to Z
• “FINALLY, a step-by-step guide for therapists to make their book idea into a completed manuscript.” ― Foreword by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D., LMFT, Author of The Introvert Advantage
• “THE THERAPIST WRITER: Helping Mental Health Professionals Get Published” (Timberlake Press) is available on Amazon and Kindle. (amazon.com)
NOTE: Make sure that you order the book with the blue triangle in the upper right-hand corner! Continue reading →
My rescue cat, Pearl, reading The Declaration of Independence that was printed in the New York Times today. She is appreciating no longer being in a cage.
JULY 4th, 2017 – The country’s birthday and my blog’s birthday. I started it on July 4th, 2011, and even though I’ve neglected it terribly the last few years, I do always blog on July 4th. This morning when I picked up my New York Times from my doorstep, I discovered that they’d printed a copy of the Declaration of Independence. I read it twice. What a great piece of writing that is — brief, clear, well-structured, moving — the kind of writing that always takes the longest to write!
As a writer — as a human being — I am grateful for what this document means. Pearl, at this moment looking a tad anxious because fireworks are going off outside, I’m sure agrees.
(c) Sylvia Cary, LMFT, author of The Therapist Writer
Book Covers, eBook Formatting, Marketing & More for $5
Self-Publishing Has So Darn Many Parts
When an author steps into the world of self-publishing for the first time, carrying what they think is a finished product (their book manuscript) under their arm, they are in for a big shock. That finished book they may have spent years writing is only the first of many parts making up this thing called “getting published.”
Aside from the writing, there’s the editing, proofing, formatting, interior design, cover, ISBN number, printing, distribution, promotion, marketing, copyrighting, and any number of other apres publication tasks such as endless networking and social media. It is so time-consuming that some authors fear they will never get to actually write again. While a few learn to do these tasks themselves and become one-man-bands, others hate it and have to hire experts to do the tasks for them. Until a few years ago, that was about the only choice a self-publishing author had: DIY or pay a lot.
Then along came Fiverr.com
What is Fiverr.com?
Fiverr.com is an international talent website, started in Tel Aviv in 2010. It’s an actual building as well as a large collection of freelancers and small businesses in some 200 countries using many languages. (You can check the language you need). Instead of paying $1000 for a book cover or hundreds to have someone format your paperback into a Kindle Ebook, you can probably get the same services for $20 or $40. Plus, it’s a really fun website.
When you go there you’ll see hundreds of little TV-like screens, each one with an expert hawking his or her expertise: “I will design a stunning CreateSpace cover . . . I will convert your ebook from mobi to ePub. . . I will design a great logo . . . I will write your blog posts . . I will write engaging press releases . . .I will show you how to apply for an ISBN . . .I will illustrate your children’s book . . .I will make a video book trailer . . .I will market your ebook to 1.5 million people.” Other sellers offer PR, translation, animation, audio books, tech services and business card designs. . . and so much more.
Fiverr.com offers services or “gigs” starting at $5 (hence the name) but you can add little extras and frills and give a tip, but it’s still soooo affordable!
When I needed a cover for the Kindle version of one of my books (see Woman & Longterm Sobriety on right), I searched Fiverr for an hour or two looking for a Kindle cover artist I liked, then I emailed her a photo that I got for free on morguefile.com (the photos can be used for commercial purposes), plus I emailed some other information the seller asked for, and I left the rest up to her. (You get revisions if you want). Three days later she sent me a great-looking book-cover file that I uploaded to Kindle Direct Publishing. I’ve since used her for half a dozen other covers for author clients through my book doctor business. To date, I have ordered “gigs” from publishing talents in the UK, Pakistan and two in Texas.
As with everything, do your homework. Plan to spend a few hours the first time, searching for the service you want, look at the examples of the expert’s work, read their reviews (good and bad), and make your judgment call. You may hit a dud once in a while — but it’s worth the gamble. So gimme a fiverr!
(c) Sylvia Cary, LMFT – photos from morguefile.com
How to Get Published and Skip Book Marketing Getting a book published is a big job, but the biggest part of it isn’t the writing or even the publishing; it’s the book marketing. For many authors, book marketing is a … Continue reading →
It’s the 4th of July. While the nation is having a birthday, this blog is, also. It’s 5th. My first blog post went up on July 4th 2011 celebrating “writer independence” for self- or “indie-” published authors. I’m still celebrating that 5 years later! DIY publishing has gotten bigger and better!
Now, on to my blog post…
The Library of Alexandria
As someone in the business of books as well as psychotherapy — writing books and helping others write books which hopefully contain useful information for the world — I have always been intrigued by the story of the burning of the Library of Alexandria in ancient Egypt, an event that caused much information to be lost to us. I can’t help but wonder if some of that lost information might have put us ahead of where we are now. I guess that depends on what information was lost, and how we decided to use it.
Scrolls to Scrolls in Only 2500 Years
The Library of Alexandria was quite an undertaking. Its mission, starting back in about 300 B.C., was to gather up all the world’s knowledge in one place — mathematics, astronomy, physics, the sciences, the arts, and other subjects. The folks in charge of acquisitions were pretty serious about it, descending on any ships entering their port, snatching up all the books on board and rushing them to the library where scribes copied them onto papyrus, kept the originals for the library, and returned the copies to the ships. By such means, the library, according to some estimates, built up a collection of half a million scrolls cut up into self-contained topics (basically, the first books). They were indeed the Amazon Kindles of the ancient world.
The library was a magnificent place with rooms and rooms of scrolls stuck into beehive-like structures, lecture halls, gardens, meeting areas, and living quarters. Above the shelves of scrolls a sign read: The place of the cure of the soul. Many well-known scholars from other countries, such as Greece, came to live there to study, research, write, lecture, and translate and copy documents. Alexandria found itself the leading producers of papyrus and used up so much of it themselves that they had little left over to export, which forced others “book” producers in other countries to use different substances, such as leather and parchment — which proved more durable.
In 48 BC, during the Roman conquest of Egypt, the library was burned down by Julius Caesar. Apparently, it was an accident, and he later gave Cleopatra 200,000 scrolls (pilfered from someplace else) as a wedding present to try to make up for it..
In the 1980s, plans went ahead to build a new library in its place. An architectural design contest was held with more than 1400 entries. The competition was won by a Norwegian architectural office, Construction began in 1995 and, and on October 16, 2002 the new library was opened with shelf space for eight million books. Donations to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina have been donated from all over the world.
Have you ever attended a book signing by a celebrity author at a major bookstore (think Barnes & Noble), the kind where you are required to purchase the book in advance before you can get so much as a glimpse of the man or woman you have come to see? Then you have to wait in a line, sometimes a long line, and when you finally get up to the signing table, the author may be flanked by sharp-eyed assistants who look like Secret Service agents. Their purpose is to keep the masses at arms length, ward off time-consuming chatting, and keep the line moving right along. One of the author’s assistants may ask you for your name, write it down on a piece of paper, and slip it in front of the author who, without even having to look up at you, can scribble your name inside the book (before signing their own) to make it more “personal.” This done, the book is slapped shut and pushed towards you. You snatch it up, and you’re out of there! Book signing over! It’s all kind of sterile.
A Different Story
But that’s just one kind of book signing. About a month ago I went to a very different kind, a neighborhood book event at a small independent bookstore, Chevalier’s Books at 126 N. Larchmont Blvd. in the Hancock Park section of Los Angeles (chevaliersbooks.com), the kind of book shop that has been disappearing over the past decade because of big troubles in the publishing industry. But this bookstore still seems to be going strong, and the whole signing event was friendly, warm, and cozy — with some great cheese.
The author at this particular book signing is a colleague, Douglas Green, LMFT, a licensed psychotherapist and fellow mental health professional. Lots of his friends and colleagues were there in support of his publication adventure. It was a party atmosphere. Doug’s book, which I’d already read, loved, and had written a blurb for, is called The Teachings of SHIRELLE: Life Lessons From a Divine Knucklehead.It’s a book about a man (Doug) and his dog (Shirelle) and their awesome connection. It’s one of those books that makes readers end up saying, “I laughed; I cried” — and so did I.
Leading up to, and on the night of, the big event at Chevalier’s Books, there was an appealing little chalk-drawn sign outside the front door, inviting people to the “party” — and when you stepped inside you were greeted by a stack of “Shirelle” books but with no pressure to buy before you were allowed to see the author! Doug was right there by the cheese, nervous and happy to see his friends. Finally, it was time for people to find seats and quiet down so Doug could begin.
The book: “The Teachings of Shirelle: Life Lessons from a Divine Knucklehead.” (Available on Amazon.com)
The audience had filled the room. Standing room only in the back. And people kept arriving. At one point Doug looked up at the big crowd and said, as though in awe at the sight, “Oh, this is what you all look like!”
And we, in the audience, got a hear Doug read some wonderful excerpts from “SHIRELLE” and think, “Oh, this is what Doug looks like doing his book signing.” Everyone was on the same page!
Some people pulled their chairs up close. Doug had everyone’s attention with his warmth, humor, and delight in his subject matter (“we laughed”); and we felt sadness when, at the end 0f the book, after many wonderful years, Shirelle died (“we cried”).
When it was over, people jumped up, rushed to the counter to buy the book, grab some more cheese and crackers, gab with friends, and form themselves into a very chatty line to have Doug the Author sign his book.
Above, Doug is signing, talking, and laughing with relief — he’d gotten through it! A book signing is really a lot of work, but once you’ve been to one like Doug’s, you’ll want one of your very own.
All you have to do is write a fantastic book!
Support your local authors and independent bookstores!
It’s VALENTINE’S DAY. Roses are nice. Chocolates are yummy. But what really makes my heart sing is the sight of an Adirondack chair. Wood only, never plastic. They come in all colors, although white is my favorite — memories of Cape Cod summers as a kid and rolling green lawns with white Adirondack chairs plopped down in the middle of them. While I don’t happen to own a rolling green lawn at the moment, if I did, it would most certainly feature a couple of Adirondack chairs facing out towards the world.
Two Rustic Adirondak Chairs in Vermont with Special Meaning
About a year before my sister Evie died of ovarian cancer, while she was in remission, we took a road trip to Vermont and stayed in a charming Bed and Breakfast run by friends of hers. Oftentimes during the day, we would sit out on the back porch in these two rustic Adirondack chairs (see below) and talk. And we would look out at the serenity of this view. That experience, that view, those talks, and those Adirondack chairs are precious to me still.
A Chair “Stars” on a Book Cover
When I returned to California and wrote my book called “The Therapist Writer,” I wanted to use the Vermont photo (above) where my sister and I had sat and had our last lengthy sister-to-sister talk together. Unfortunately, my book cover designer said my photo didn’t have enough “pixels” to look sharp on a book cover, so she went searching for a replacement. I now had very specific requirements: “I want a photo of a single Adirondack chair, under a tree, facing away towards a lovely scene. I want a writer to be able to picture themselves sitting in the Adirondack chair, contemplating nature and coming up with a great idea for a book.” This is what my graphic designer came up with after she had to buy a photo first and crop it way down in order to focus on the chair and tree:
The Therapist Writer by Sylvia Cary, LMFT
You Can’t Please Everybody
I loved my created-to-order book cover, but a therapist colleague of my said, “Oh, no, that’s all wrong. That’s bad ‘feng shui.’ You can’t have just one chair facing away. You have to have two chairs facing forward towards the readers, in communication with each other and with the reader!” I said no, this chair is for solo contemplation to allow the creative mind to pop out a book idea without distraction. I’m sure the writers among you will understand. Besides, I also find Adirondack chairs to be beautiful from the back.
Since my book turned out to be divided into four sections, I included a drawing in between each section — of guess what? an Adirondack chair:
Another Loss and a Pair of Lavender Adirondack Chairs
In January 2014, on the first anniversary of the death of my husband of 28 years, Lance Wolstrup, I felt the need to get out of LA and find a quiet place to go for the weekend. I discovered the charming Lavender Inn in Ojai. From my window, I looked down into the garden and saw a pair of Adirondack chairs in a soft lavender color.
Oh, how Lance would have loved to have his morning coffee sitting in one of those chairs and read his computer magazines. So I took my morning coffee and pastry, and a notebook and mechanical pencil (favorite writing tool) and sat in one of the lavender chairs and tried a daring new writing experiment — turning an historical screenplay written years ago into a novel and, more daring still, using the first person which forces you into feelings. Had Lance been there I’d have asked his opinion, as I always did. This time I was on my own. And I’m still working on that novel!
Over the last few years I’ve given a lot of workshops on the subject of writing and publishing, especially self-publishing, and I’ve also led writing groups. A while back I marketing a small writing group using a photo of colorful Adirondack chairs that made my heart swell, it was so beautiful. I got it from morguefile.com (write that down; free photos to use for book covers and marketing).
The photo caused one woman to email me to say that the picture alone was enough for her to sign up for the writing group. Another Adirondack chair lover for sure!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
* The History of the Adirondack Chair —The first Adirondack Chair was invented in 1903 by Thomas Lee in Westport, New York, a small town on Lake Champlain at the foot of the Adirondack Mountains. He wanted to be able to enjoy the view and not have to keep standing up. Using his family members as “test sitters,” he settled on a chair constructed from eleven pieces of wood cut from one single plank. It was a low-slung, spacious design with a high back and extra-wide armrests for that all-important summer beverage. The chair was originally called the “Westport Plank Chair.” Modern Adirondack chair manufacturers have at times created chairs that closely resemble these early creations, with modifications designed to increase comfort and durability. — from Wikipedia and other Internet sources
Sylvia Cary, LMFT, received an IRWIN AWARD from the Book Publicists of Southern California (BPSC) for “Best Niche Campaign” for her book, The Therapist Writer: Helping Mental Health Professionals Get Published (Timberlake Press). The award is named for the group’s founder, Irwin Zucker, and was introduced in 1995 as a way to formally and publicly recognize BPSC members who conduct the best book promotion campaigns. Each honoree shared with the audience the steps they took that led to the success of their book promotion campaign. (See video clip of Sylvia’s acceptance remarks below.) The event took place October 15th, 2015, at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City, California,http://www.sylviacary.com.
Nailing Your Niche*
Definition of niche: A French word meaning “a situation or activity suited to a person’s interests, ability, or nature.”
“Nail your niche and own it.” — Dan Poynter
In the old days of publishing, before digital, before the Internet, before Amazon, before Google, and before Kindle, big publishers didn’t want to touch books on small topics because most didn’t sell . Publishing them just didn’t pay off. Authors of books in niche areas were more likely to find homes with academic or university presses or with little publishers with no money for publicity or marketing. The readers of these books often had to find out about them through obscure newsletters, specialty bookstores, or by word-of-mouth from other folks interested in the same subjects.
I went that route myself “back in the day” when I was researching my book called Jolted Sober: Getting to the Moment of Clarity in the Recovery of Addiction. I became a long-distance member of the Alister Hardy Research Centre in the U.K. (Oxford) in order to receive their snail-mailed newsletter which contained information of interest to me for my book. They were studying spontaneous healings and religious experiences. My book contained numerous stories about sudden “Aha!” moments of clarityin the addiction recovery. What they were researching was right up my alley. Today, niche publications like this one are easy to find. In fact, I Googled the Centre to see if it still exists — and it does, but with a new name. Now it’s the Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre.
What all this means for you is that, as an author, you no longer have to be afraid that your topic or specialty is too narrowly focused (i.e. “too nichy”) to write about. There are people out there looking for what you have to say. And while it’s unlikely that you’ll get a contract with a mainstream publisher where “No Niches Need Apply,” you may be accepted by a small press or you can self-publish on Amazon’s CreateSpace for free. You’ll find some buyers. Or they’ll find you. And they’ll be thrilled.
Tofu Takes Off
Here’s one of my favorite stories about writing a book for a niche market: For many years I’ve been running a free drop-in writers group at a bookstore in Woodland Hills, California. It is sponsored by the Independent Writers of Southern California (iwosc.org). One of our regular members, Lisa, told us how years earlier she’d accidentally stumbled upon an idea for a niche book while waiting in the check-out line at a local market. In her shopping cart she had a couple of packages of tofu. “How do you cook that stuff?” the woman behind her in line asked her. “Tofu is so tasteless.” Because Lisa really knows her tofu, she answered, “”It picks up the flavor of what you cook it in.” The woman was intrigued: “I didn’t know that.” Lisa shared a few recipes with her; the woman was delighted.
This little conversation triggered an “Aha!” moment in Lisa’s brain. She went home and put together a cookbook on tofu, which included family cooking stories and, on each page, she placed a thought-provoking quote. She had copies made and sold them to friends, family and neighbors. She got requests for more. She had additional copies printed, this time bound with a plastic spiral. She took some of these to a local health food store. They bought a few, sold them, and ordered more. Then they ordered even more. By the end of the year the health food store had sold a total of 250 of Lisa’s tofu cookbook.
The following year, Lisa branched out to other health food stores and even a few pharmacies and it was the same story. They bought books, sold out, and ordered more. Next, Lisa bought her own spiral machine and printed copies at home for less money, and started doing a little local advertising. This resulted in a total of 5,000 cookbook sales, a decent number– even if it had been a traditionally published book. But it was a lot of work! Had self-publishing on Amazon’s CreateSpace been available at the time Lisa started this project, who knows how many sales she’d have made as the result of people typing “cooking tofu” into their search engines!
While it may still be possible to put everything that’s known about cooking tofu inside a single book, the body of knowledge in other fields is too vast for that. If you are, say, a mental health professional and want to write a book on your specialty, you are probably going to have to “niche it down” so it’s not too broad and so it doesn’t repeat what’s already been done. In other words, you can’t just write “about alcoholism.” However, a book on alcoholism and the elderly is another story. By “niching it down,” you’ll be appealing to a few specific audiences, such as physicians, mental health professionals working with this population, and family members. Try to think of another audience or two.
Here are just some of the subjects therapists have picked as specialties. Any one of them could be developed into a book: Abuse, addiction, adoption, aging, anger management, ADHD, animal assisted therapy, anxiety, art therapy, Aspergers, autism, biofeedback, bipolar disorder, children/adolescents/teens, Christian counseling, cognitive behavioral, couples, creativity, depression, divorce and custody, eating disorders, employee assistance (EAP), gay / lesbian/transgender issues, HIV/AIDS, Jungian analysis, Gestalt, grief recovery, learning disabilities, life coaching, meditation, mental illness, men’s issues, metaphysics, military culture, neuroscience, online counseling, parenting, phobias, play therapy, postpartum, private practice marketing, psychoanalysis, relationships, religious counseling, retirement counseling, rockstar therapy (yes, really!), short-term therapy, sex therapy, singles, sleep disorders, special needs – and hundreds more!
Start thinking about how you might give your special topic that special twist to make it different and unique. That’s how you get literary agents interested in representing you, publishers interesting in publishing you, and readers interested in buying you, whether it’s a traditionally or self-published book. Readers don’t care. They just want the information. The trick is to jump on a niche when it is still fairly new so, as the late publishing guru Dan Poynter said, you “own” it.
Finding a Home for The Therapist Writer
When I first came up with the idea for The Therapist Writer, I wrote a standard book proposal and started sending it out to literary agents. I kept getting back the same response: “It’s too nichy.” The agents didn’t think there were enough mental health professionals who wanted to write who’d be interested in buying a book on the subject. In fact, well-known literary agent Michael Larsen from San Francisco even phoned me to tell me this, and added that if I’d expand the focus from therapists to include other professions, he might consider it. That was tempting, but it wasn’t the book I wanted to write or felt capable of writing. I know my “tribe,” my fellow mental health professionals, very well, but I don’t know about other professional “tribes,” so I didn’t think I’d sound like I knew what I was talking about. I said no.
The Therapist Writer by Sylvia Cary, LMFT
That’s when I realized I didn’t have a clue how big my market was. How many mental health professionals are there are in this country, anyhow, and how many of them want to write a book? I consulted the Occupational Outlook Handbook and came up with 750,000 mental health professionals, so I figured that if I could sell The Therapist Writer to just 1% of these therapists, that would end up being 7,500 books. I also realized that while this figure might make me happy, it wouldn’t make me rich, and it wouldn’t impress a mainstream publisher.
I gave up on the idea of traditional publishing and self-published through Lightning Source (after first becoming a publisher — their rule at the time), and once the paper version was up on Amazon, I published it as a Kindle E-book.
Doc, What’s Your Line?
The conversation with agent Larsen made me really clear on the fact that I didn’t want to give up my niche audience (mental health professionals who want to write) and write for all writers. There were already plenty of books on writing and publishing for the general public. I also felt it was a plus that I was a licensed psychotherapist because I had chapters in the book on special issues that therapist-writers face, such as the important issue of patient confidentiality: How can a therapist write about a client’s case without getting sued? I talk in the book about “the art of disguise” in writing about others, which means a lot more than just changing names.
I now understood that by “niching down” my book I was probably limiting my readership and profits, but that’s just one of the many decisions an author must make. I also knew that when I started marketing my book, I’d have a chance to point out the benefits in the book for all writers, not just therapist writers. One big marketing shift I had to make was to treat therapist-writers as therapists, not writers. Most therapists don’t want to be writers, which is why they haven’t bought books on writing, and why they know less about the writing business than the average bear. They just want to keep on being therapists who have written a book. My book, I point out in my marketing, understands this and works with it so the therapists can reach their publishing goals in spite of their discomfort. The therapists who do want to be writers (and there are some!) already act like writers, and have read books and know about publishing trends. They are ripe and ready to press on.
The majority of the time, in marketing to therapists, I stress therapy careers, not writing careers. I list the perks for therapists in being “the author of ” a book. It means instant credibility; being seen as an “expert in the field.” They might even become the “go-to” shrink for colleagues to refer to for specific psychological issues, like one therapist I know whose self-published book on his personal bipolar struggle has made him the therapist that other therapists think of as a referral resource. When I’d speak at therapy-related events and meetings, I’d take the same approach. I’d talk to the audience as “therapists,” not “writers,” and stress the career perks of getting published.
Becoming Niche Savvy
It’s important to know why your niche audience wants your book. For my niche audience, my book is business, not pleasure. Some therapists want to publish in order to have a carton of books in the trunk of their car to sell when they give talks or give workshops, or to have on hand for clients, clients’ families, and colleagues. Nothing more. They hate marketing.
I learned how to market The Therapist Writer (and I’m still learning)and how deal with a niche audience on the job, mostly by correcting mistakes — such as starting out with no idea of the size, or whereabouts, of my audience! Next time out, I’ll know.
I didn’t get rich or famous marketing my book, but I learned a bunch and I got this award for my efforts. Cool experience. And the award is pretty, isn’t it?
The IRWIN Award for “Best Niche Campaign”
Below, FYI, is a video clip of my award acceptance remarks:
*Copyright 2015 Sylvia Cary, LMFT. Portions of this blog post are taken from the chapter on “Nailing Your Niche” in The Therapist Writer.
Compared to the way it used to be, self-publishing today is easy. Just imagine writing a whole book on this little gizmo! Photo credit: Morguefile.com
The story goes that Mark Twain bought one of the first typewriters ever made and hated it so much he traded it in for a buggy whip.
For those of you who think self-publishing is just too complicated to even consider — and are about to give up on it — hold it right there! Self-publishing gets easier every year and it has also become “cool,” so if you’ve got a book in you, or you have a tale or even a collection of tales to tell, or there’s a subject you know a little something about and you want to share it with others, then consider doing a book or e-book via the two biggest and best, Amazon’s CreateSpace and/or LightningSource’s Ingram Spark. Besides. “Getting published is good for business — no matter what business you’re in.”
I’ve been giving workshops on the HOW TO of self-publishing for years, complete with a Power Point demonstration so you can SEE what self-publishing looks like. My next workshop (in Sherman Oaks, California) is coming up soon on Saturday October 17th, 2015 (see below for details). One of the people who took f my workshop a number of years ago and put what she learned to use is my guest blogger for this post — so let me introduce Catherine Auman, LMFT, author and publisher:
Becoming a Published Author with Sylvia Cary’s Help
Catherine Auman, LMFT, author of Shortcuts to Mindfulness: 100 Ways to Personal and Spiritual Growth
Little did I know when I attended Sylvia Cary’s self-publishing workshop that it would turn out to be a seminal day for my career and life. Sylvia’s calm demeanor and her enthusiasm made it all sound so easily doable, and while I wouldn’t say it’s been easy, I am now the author of a book that has sold over 500 copies, and a publisher with a small press helping other authors make their dreams come true.
My book, Shortcuts to Mindfulness: 100 Ways to Personal and Spiritual Growth, was rejected by two publishers, both of whom said that no one would be interested in a book of short essays. Of course, Chicken Soup for the Soul, one of the most successful books in history, is a collection of short essays, but I took no for an answer. To even try to get an agent for a non-fiction book requires writing a 40-page book proposal, and since writing is not easy for me in the first place, I decided I’d rather spend the time and effort working on my next project.
I had also recently attended a panel discussion on changes in the book publishing industry, in which I heard a speaker say that one’s chances of getting published as an unknown author by one of the Big Six (now Big Five) companies was equal odds to that of winning the lottery. The panelists also said that self-publishing has lost its poor reputation and is now the way to go, much like what has happened for musicians with the recording industry.
I set up my publishing company as Sylvia directed. This took a fair bit of commitment, as you have to decide on a name, get a DBA, open a separate checking account, and have a website made. After that, I had to find a book designer to do the layouts for print and e-book, design the front and back covers, and post to CreateSpace where it would be published-on-demand.
The mission statement that I wrote for my press is: “At Green Tara Press, we are dedicated to publishing works that promote compassion, healing and love, and awaken and inspire readers to enlightened action.”
We are now looking for authors whose work fits in with our mission to promote compassion and love in the world, so it could be any genre with this intention: self help, poetry, fiction, essays, biography, memoir, and nonfiction which helps people become more effective.
I learned all this publishing stuff the hard way, so it is my delight to take the guesswork out of it for authors who just want to see their books published. We don’t make any money from our authors; it’s a labor of love. Our authors only pay for the costs of the book designer who does the cover design and the layouts for print and e-book. Quality book designers who are easy to work with can be a challenge to find, and the one I chose for Green Tara Press had been a delight.
Catherine Auman, LMFT is a licensed therapist with advanced training in both traditional and spiritual psychology with thirty years of successful professional experience helping thousands of clients. She has headed nationally-based psychiatric hospital programs as well as worked through alternative methodologies based on ancient traditions and wisdom teachings. Visit her online at www.catherineauman.com
If Catherine’s blog inspires you to give it a go, then start by attending my next workshop on Saturday October 17th, 10 am – noon. Here are the details:
HOW TO SELF-PUBLISH WITH AMAZON’S CREATESPACE & LIGHTNINGSOURCE’S INGRAM SPARK
CreateSpace (www.createspace.com) is Amazon’s publishing wing. Once you upload your formatted book and cover, your book goes worldwide. IngramSpark is LightningSource’s (www.lightningsource.com) site for smaller publishers.
DATE Sat. Oct. 17th, 2015 TIME: 10 AM – Noon PLACE: OfficeSlice Coworking, 15165 Ventura Blvd., #245, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 PARKING: Free FOOD: Snacks COST: $60.00 REGISTER: www.eventbrite.com (You may have to cut and paste this link): (https://www.eventbrite.com/myevent?eid=17964495289)
What the self-publishing process looks like ON-SCREEN
The 7 Perks of Getting Published
All about formatting, fonts, trim size, imprints, covers, ISBNs, copyrights, E-books, and more
The differences between Amazon’s CreateSpace and LightningSource’s IngramSpark – pros, cons, costs, and why do BOTH!
How to market your newly published book: Top 15 ways to start.
You’ll leave feeling inspired and confident that you now have the skills to self-publish your book and get it up on Amazon.com, B&N.com, and other online booksellers for sale. You might even make some money! Bring your questions.
Sylvia Cary, LMFT, is the author of The Therapist Writer and four other books. On October 15th she is to get the Irwin Award from the Book Publicists of Southern California for the category of “Best Niche Campaign.”