Hard to believe that the book launch party for Ben Behind His Voices was over a year ago now. The “new book smell” is gone. How are we doing?
Perhaps writing a book is like being pregnant: you’re changing your life, making plans, working hard – yet have no real idea of what is coming into your life. Publication is like giving birth, perhaps – ah, here it is!, maybe the hard part is over.
If that is true, then launching your book out in to the world is like raising a child. You have to work at it, every day – and, even so, there’s much that is not truly in your control. You do your best, you try things from every angle, and then you hope that child will grow well, and touch the lives it/he/she is meant to touch. Keeping book interest high is a garden authors must tend every day – and, like a garden, the seasons are ever-changing.
So – here we are, one year in – and the biggest discovery for me, I think, is that people are still discovering the book. Unlike a flavor-of-the-month flashy new novel, the memoir seems to be more of a turtle than a hare – and that’s just fine with me.
Sure, no Oprah appearance yet. Was booked onto Dr. Drew, but bumped by Hurricane Isaac updates. Ah, show biz…. Still working toward that “magical National appearance”, perhaps – but there has quite a lot of press on the local, state, and Public Broadcast level. And, the book is young, and so far very well-received, both by reviewers and by readers who reach out to me. So I don’t think the chance is gone. At least, I hope not.
My publisher, who has had to move on to the new releases, seems to have noticed that book sales are growing instead of fading, as I got a note from my editor: “It’s great the book is still garnering interest. Usually things really trail off after the first year.”
Not if I can help it! Not when I’m still receiving letters from readers like this one:
Your book has been so very helpful to me. I am not done reading it yet, but so far this book mirrors my son’s symptoms that I have been explaining away.
Thank you for sharing your experiences with me. Without ever knowing you, I feel very connected to you and your son. Thank you for helping me along my journey.
So, when my editor adds, “Great job! I wish all my authors were as into it and on top of it as you. I wish they would get the message that this stuff can help drive sales and recognition.” – what does she mean?
Sure, book readings at Barnes and Noble are done – that’s so last year. But there’s a lot that still works. Mostly it’s about finding new reasons to share the story – and there are so many things to fight for, to increase awareness of, in the world of mental health. So the work now is in topics, in the platform:
- Increase respect
- Shift perspective from stigma to stability
- encourage therapeutic alliance for recovery
- see potential and strength
- care for the caregiver
- educate families so they can be allies,
- advocate for services from housing to supported employment and education,
- hear the many voices of people living with mental illness – and their families….
…and on. Hence the speaking topics I offer, and the gratitude for the places I’ve been invited to deliver them.
The book may be a year old, but the topic is timeless. Where to open the conversations? Everywhere. This week it was a keynote called “From Stigma to Stability – Changing Minds about Mental Illness” at a local Rotary Club. This weekend it’s a presentation at the US Psych Congress in San Diego,. then a keynote at NAMI NYS conference. Also getting involved in advocacy with the ICCD (Clubhouses for mentally ill members) to talk about how helping someone with mental illness helps the family too…Hospitals, Universities, Medical Schools, Nursing Programs…and then there is twitter, facebook, my blogs here and at HealthyPlace.com…
Remember – one in four families deals with mental illness in a loved one. That’s a lot of folks who need to hear they are not alone.
Year two, here we go! and thanks for your support so far. I hope you’ll continue to share, tell others about this memoir and the work it is inspiring. There’s so much still to be done.
And if you happen to know Oprah, well…..that’d be awesome too.