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.
4 thoughts on “Ben Behind His Voices: One Year Into a Book’s Life”
I joined NAMI a few months age because of my 23 year old son’s craziness; Bipolar and Schizoaffective disorder. He has been living homeless in California (we are from Miami) for a year after walking out of a very expensive rehab facility in Arizona.He will be returning home next week by CA court order due to his several arrests for strange behavior. He is a raw vegan and refuses to take meds. I use my small business in Miami to make donations to NAMI. I talk to so many people who will listen. I came across your book, ordered it on Amazon and I’m in the middle of reading it now. I am astonished by the similarities of our stories. Your book is so well written and I especially like the chapter guideposts! It works as a tremendous tool in educating my family. Thanks so much Randye. Keep up the great work as mental illness seems to be at epidemic proportions.
hi Jennifer – wow. thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I hope the rest of the book is similarly useful to you!
hearing just a bit of your story, I can already see the similarities. I’m so glad you have found NAMI, and hope you’ll share the book with others if you think it may help spread useful info and hope.
Mostly, I hope your son finds his way to recovery someday. Hang in, and know your family is not alone. At last that’s of some comfort 🙂
Just wanted to tell you how much your book is resonating with me (I am about two-thirds through it.) I am fortunate not to have a child who suffers from a mental illness, but I went through it with my husband, the father of my daughter. I especially recognize the horrible realities of not being able to get help when you know things are heading south, because your loved one isn’t “sick enough” yet–and then they are too sick, and can’t see that they need treatment, meds, and help.
My daughter lost her father, and I my husband, because of our current system of “patient’s rights.” I am glad that you have made such progress in helping your son. I was sadly struck by your comment about how a person who had shown a tendency toward violence before, was much more likely to become dangerous when psychotic–that was what happened with my husband. I hung in there, when he was threatening me–but when he started targeting our three-year-old, that was the end.
Thanks for what you wrote, and I hope that Ben will continue to do better, and that we will see some truly effective treatments emerge for the horrors that are mental illness, which take our loved ones away from us and transform us into people we don’t, and don’t want to, know.
All the best,
Hi Kerry, and thanks for sharing your story too.
Yes, part of what families must do is know when to draw the line. Not always easy – especially with a spouse, parent, or sibling. Each relationship carries its own set of challenges. I, tpo, hope for the best for you and your family. You said this all so beautifully…the effects of MI on the family.
Always in hope – and strength,