Book Review: Book Marketing Made Simple

Book Review: Book Marketing Made Simple

By Karen Williams, 2017

ISBN: 978-09957390-2-4 (print)

ISBN: 978-0-9957390-3-1 (e-book)

So you are probably wondering what am I up to now? Well, I have met so many people with incredible stories about overcoming diversity and being resilient around their mental health issues that it makes a lot of sense to encourage them to write their story down and share it. Help me make a difference in the world, one person at a time. Once written it aught to be published and a lot of people wonder how do I do that? Don’t I need an agent and a publisher? Well, maybe BUT one of the options is to self publish and it is not as expensive or as difficult as you may think.

If you have ever wondered what to do with your manuscript once you think it is perfect, wonder no more. They say, whoever “they” are, that there’s a book in all of us. Reading Karen Williams’ “Book Marketing Made Simple” has made me seriously consider mine! It is aimed at the business owner with a view to using the book to grow the business. That said, there is a LOT of information on book marketing that applies directly to your autobiography, your fantasy or dramatic fiction and even a children’s book.

I started with the lovely feel of the book, mine is a softback. It is well bound with a great cover image that is not overly busy. Your light bulb moment is there on the cover where some of the subjects to be found inside are listed. It is written in an easy to read font which enhances a very practical layout. The book is packed full of information and covers an enormous variety of marketing tips and tricks to get your book in front of your chosen audience. When I say packed, I do mean packed, extensive. What it also really good though is that the layout enables you to find the bit you want very easily. The chapters are in a logical order with pre-launch, launch and post launch strategies.

It may seem logical but as Karen writes in her opening “The biggest mistake authors make is failing to promote their book at all stages of its creation.” To realise the significance of that point and how to do it you really do need to read the book, I couldn’t make the point better, or clearer than she has. So if you have the idea, I recommend you read the book, make your plans and only then start writing. I am convinced your success rate will be far greater and faster than without it.

Okay, so you already have a manuscript, you view yourself as an author (not a marketing person) and have just read my last paragraph and want to give up right now and bin it. PLEASE DON’T. The beauty of Karen’s book is that even if you have leapt in where angels fear to tread and have a manuscript in hand the situation can be redeemed. It does mean that you have an advantage instead of writing and marketing together you get to spend more time on dedicated marketing (which I should warn you might in turn lead to a bit of re-writing as you define your market of readers and what they want/need better – but hey, you do want to sell more copies, don’t you?).

The writing style is that of a work book. Read a bit, think a bit, do a bit and this is helped by the Things to Think About – the space Karen creates for you to make your notes directly into your copy of the book. If writing in a book is sacrilege to you then get a notebook and follow her prompts. These notes become your action plan – what to do, when and where will help to hold you accountable and follow the marketing process through. Another point that is made clearly – if you find something doesn’t work, there are other opportunities for you to explore that may work better or simply be more comfortable for you to do. So you do have options and choices – everything from traditional printed media (flyers, brochures and newspaper adverts) through to social media (and which ones to use and how/why/when), vlogs and webinars. In so doing “Book Marketing Made Simple” does that and enables you to create your own step by step guide.

Karen adds a dash of reality by spicing her book with case studies from her clients and personal experience. These really do add a sense of “can do” and “it is possible”, especially as the case studies follow several authors through the various stages of their book journey detailing their experiences along the way. These are real live authors doing what you want to do – making a success of their book and their business.

To ensure she gives the reader the best information possible for this time, Karen quotes from experts in their fields such as Ellen Watts for Crowdfunding, Samantha Pearce the book designer for information on Nielsen Books (and ISBN related stuff), Naomi Johnson for LinkedIn, DiElle Hannah for voice over tips (for recording your CD version and podcasts), Mark Edmunds on making videos and Steve Bimpson on search engine optimisation.

Karen brings her personal experience to bear. She knows book publishing from the inside, this is her 5th book and she has directly marketed them all. She is sharing her personal knowledge to enable you to create your book, grow your company and enjoy the ride. It will be a lot smoother following the path Karen lays out for us in Book Marketing Made Simple.

Now then, where is my paper and pen, time to start writing that plan and re-reading from Page 1! What about you? Your story is worth sharing too!

 

Copies of Book Marketing Made Simple can be found here.

 

Acute Stress Disorder & Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Acute Stress Disorder & Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Following recent events it is pertinent to discuss the subjects of Acute Stress Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  These two conditions fit under the banner of anxiety disorders.

What is ANXIETY?

*       A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome

*       A nervous disorder marked by excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behaviour or panic attacks.

*       People may say “She suffered from anxiety attacks” or “He felt a surge of anxiety”

*       Rhyming slang – Joe Blakes

*       There are 5 groupings of anxiety disorders:

  • Panic disorder/attacks
  • Phobias – agoraphobia, social phobia, specific
  • GAD – generalised anxiety disorder
  • OCD – obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Acute stress disorder and PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder

Common Symptoms of ASD and PTSD

*       Both can develop after a distressing, traumatic or catastrophic event

*       Event may involve actual or threatened or serious abuse (sexual or physical or emotional)

*       It may involve witnessing such an event

*       Learning that such an event has happened to a family member or close friend may also be a trigger event

*       Re-experience the trauma – recurrent dreams, flashbacks and intrusive memories

*       Anxiety in situations that bring back memories of the trauma

*       Avoidance behaviour (of anything associated with the event)

*       Emotional numbing (for months or years)

*       Reduced interest in others and the outside world

*       Persistent increased arousal (watchfulness, irritability, jumpiness/easily startled, outbursts of rage, insomnia

In particular to ASD:

*       The anxiety symptoms/reaction begin to fade

*       The person resumes their normal activities within about a month

In particular to PTSD

*       Symptoms continue longer and impact daily life

*       Diagnosis possible 2 months after the event

*       1 in 10 men and 1 in 5 women develop PTSD after a traumatic event

 What to do to help yourself

*       If symptoms persist go to your GP

*       If it helps to talk, then talk about it (to anyone and everyone). If no one is listening you can also try writing it all down – what happened and how you feel about it. Some people find enormous relief in burning what they have written, when they feel ready to let it go.

*       In Hampshire, UK we have a free self-referral psychological therapy service called i-talk – http://www.italk.org.uk/ or phone 02380383892

*       If you can afford it get counselling privately

*       If your company has an EAP (employee assistance program) – contact them for help and support

*       Do something, anything to help yourself #changeonething How about checking out the websites in the links below?

What to do to help others including children

*       Let them talk if they want to. Do not force the affected person to talk, if they do not want to – that could re-traumatise them

*       Remember that what they are experiencing is very real to them (even if to you it sounds absurd or even ridiculous). Never brush off or belittle their experiences.

*       Encourage them to get help – offer to take them to their GP

*       Reassure them that they are okay and safe and that what they are experiencing is natural under the circumstances of the trauma

*       There are a lot more suggestions in this article from an American site but the information is really useful:

 

Trauma is devastating at the time, but there is life after trauma, after acute stress disorder and post traumatic stress disorder. Sometimes it takes a little bit of time and effort to work through or overcome the impact of trauma, but there is always hope and life does return to “normal” in time.

 

For more information on mental health awareness and training please do contact me.

What is DEPRESSION?

What is DEPRESSION?

We all have mental health and there is no health without mental health. As part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 I have presented a series of articles covering a variety of mental health subjects to increase our knowledge.  These have so far covered:

  1. What is Mental Health?”
  2. The Impact of Mental Ill-Health
  3. When is a mental health problem a problem
  4. Balancing the Risks around Mental Ill Health
  5. Stress
  6. Anxiety

The final article in the series, this one, looks at depression.  We may all have a down day, but what is depression and how do I gauge that this is a down day (or few days) and that is depression? Do remember the third article in the series about “When is a problem a problem? (Answer: When it’s a problem).

Thoughts and reading around depression have led me to a formula:

S + A + T = D

In this formula S is stress, A = anxiety, T = time and D = depression. If we live with stress we can develop anxiety and over a period of time these can turn into depression. As a rule of thumb depression is identified when we have suffered the symptoms for at least two weeks. The symptoms to look for include:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Numbness, a lack of feeling
  • Mood swings, anger to complacency
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Affects ability to study, concentrate and enjoy relationships/socialising
  • Global thinking, for example: everything is always against me or I am always wrong
  • Anxiety and guilt
  • Loss of libido
  • Self-criticism, pessimism
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Fatigue and sleep issues (insomnia, poor quality of sleep or sleeping too much)
  • Appetite issues (either undereating or overeating)

Depression affects up to 10% of people in England in their lifetime. It can re-occur, if you have been depressed once you can go back there (but as you are more aware of it should be able to get help sooner). Depression can co-occur with other health and mental health issues. As an example, it is probably not a surprise to realise that someone diagnosed with a long term chronic medical condition (let’s say fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome or cystic fibrosis) may also become depressed. Or a person diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder may go on to develop depression also.

Depression in the Workplace

 Depression in the work place may be challenging to recognise but the cost to the individual, the company and the economy is significant. 1 in 6 employees may have enough symptoms to be diagnosed with a mental health condition at any one time. Stress, anxiety and depression are the most commonly recognised mental health issues at work. The HR specialists tell me that a middle manager being signed off due to a mental health issue may cost the company in excess of £30 000.

Depression in the workplace may present as a combination of all or some of the following:

  • Decreased productivity
  • Morale problems
  • Lack of co-operation
  • Safety problems (risk taking behaviour including driving at speed and not using PPE)
  • Time keeping issues
  • Absenteeism – call in sick when not
  • Presenteeism – going to work when ill, or being there but not actually doing work
  • Frequent complaints of being tired all the time
  • Alcohol and/or other drug use

It goes without being said, but I’ll say it anyway, that if the symptoms described affect you perhaps it is time to write them down and go for a chat with your GP.

Anxiety

Anxiety

We all have mental health and there is no health without mental health. As part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 I am presenting a series of articles covering a variety of issues on mental health subjects to increase our knowledge.  These have so far covered:

  1. What is Mental Health?”
  2. The Impact of Mental Ill-Health
  3. When is a mental health problem a problem
  4. Balancing the Risks around Mental Ill Health
  5. Stress

Continuing with the illnesses coming under the banner of “mental ill health”, let’s now take a look at anxiety.

There have been times when understanding anxiety has been challenging. The thought that something we are “merely” anxious about can be to the extreme and become a disorder – as in an Anxiety Disorder and have a debilitating impact on a life may seem extreme. But, when we look at the types of anxiety disorder, it suddenly makes a lot of sense.

Anxiety Disorders include:

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – different types include locking and checking of windows and doors, hand wringing, hand washing (to the point of rawness), counting windows or lines or light fittings, never stepping on a crack in the pavement, hoarding, etc
  • Phobias – I have a list of 100 different phobias from arachnophobia (a fear of spiders) to zoophobia (a fear of animals)
  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder – anxiety about anything and everything
  • Panic Disorder – also called panic attacks
  • Acute Stress Disorder – the result of a traumatic event, usually fades or dissipates over a few weeks
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – the trauma from an event is still being experienced more than two months after an event and often includes flash-backs
  • Social Anxiety Disorder – also called social phobia, affects our ability to meet and talk to people, eat and drink in public, etc
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder – all or part of our visual appearance to the affected person is very stressful, others may not notice but the affected person dwells on it. For example people may say we have a “normal” nose but we view it as utterly hideous and stress over it.

What is most notable is that the severity of the symptoms is greater and they last longer (than “normal”). I think it is worth noting that the response to the trigger issue is debilitating and impacts life. As an example a person with OCD may takes an hour and a half to leave the house to go to work in the morning because they are repeatedly checking their home security such as door locks, window locks, water taps, gas taps, electricity switches, etc, are all securely turned off, and doing it many times over before feeling secure enough to actually leave the house and go to work. This is debilitating and may affect their work, home and social lives to the point of not wanting to make the enormous effort required to leave the house in the morning (which in itself may have another impact).

Whilst on the subject of OCD, I have heard people say (business managers in particular) that they are a little bit OCD by insisting they want something done in a particular way or to their standard. This is not OCD, it is not debilitating and ruining their day (at home, at work or socially). These are people with high standards and blaming apparent OCD for having high personal standards. Their high standards are what got them to the place they are in their job and they expect the same high standards from others. People impacted by OCD are so involved with their own issues that they are not able to look much beyond that. Don’t confuse OCD with having high standards or use OCD as an excuse for your own insecurities.

What are typical symptoms of Anxiety Disorders?

  • Restlessness – physical restlessness, the “fidgets,”
  • Worried – expressing worry about
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Dizziness and/or fainting
  • Palpitations*
  • A feeling of doom, unease or apprehension when not in imminent danger
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension

*It must be stated that if a person has palpitations, has no idea what is happening and no previous history of heart disease that an ambulance should be called. I am sure anyone working in emergency services would rather check on someone having a panic attack for example than be called in late to attend a person having a heart attack because it was thought to be “only a panic attack.” If in doubt ask the person if they have had this before and what happened or what helped them then. If in doubt – call the emergency services.

Remember – the symptoms of an anxiety disorder last longer than normal, affect many areas of life and can be quite disabling. There is an overlap of stress into the anxiety disorders.

The next article in this series will look at depression, both in general and in the workplace.

Stress

Stress

We all have mental health and there is no health without mental health. As part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 I am presenting a series of articles covering a variety of issues on mental health subjects to increase our knowledge.  These have so far covered:

  1. “What is Mental Health?”
  2. “The Impact of Mental Ill-Health”
  3. “When is a mental health problem a problem”
  4. “Balancing the Risks around Mental Ill Health.”

Now turning to some of the illnesses that come under the banner of “mental ill health”, let’s start by looking at something we are all familiar with – Stress.

What is stress? It is a word bandied around readily enough. We have probably all said recently that we are stressed accompanied with a heavy sigh. But how would I know if my stress is the sort of stress that needs attention?

Let’s look at the symptoms of stress. We may have all or some of them, in various combinations and degrees of challenge.

*        Overwhelmed

*        Worried/Distressed

*        Run down/burnout

*        The body’s response to danger or stress-provoking events (flight, fright, frolic, fantasy)

*        Irritability/Anger (a short fuse)

*        Fatigue/Headache

*        Insomnia

*        Chest pain/Palpitations

*        Psychomotor agitation (the fidgets, pacing, hand wringing, etc)

*        Bruxism (teeth grinding)

*        Panic attacks

*        Anxiety/Depression

It will be obvious from the last 2 symptoms that stress may overlap with anxiety and depression. I have a formula which partially explains this overlap:

STRESS + ANXIETY + TIME = DEPRESSION

Time is an important factor in this formula. Symptoms affecting us for a short period of time may not lead to mental illness. The significance or intensity and duration of the symptoms is important.

Being stressed is like living with a high level of adrenalin in our body all the time. We all know that in a crisis adrenalin kicks in and carries us through – complete with palpitations, dry mouth, sweaty hands, upset tummy, nausea, butterflies, confused thinking, indecision, forgetfulness, wobbly legs, etc. I am sure you can understand how debilitating these symptoms can be over a longer period of time as is found in stress.

If in doubt about your own health, mental health and stress level please consult your GP.

In the next article we will look at anxiety.

Balancing the Risks around Mental Ill Health

Balancing the Risks around Mental Ill Health

We all have mental health and there is no health without mental health. As part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 I am presenting a series of articles covering a variety of issues on mental health subjects to increase our knowledge. The first article answered the question “What is Mental Health?” The second explored “The Impact of Mental Ill-Health” and the third posed the question of when is a mental health problem a problem. Before we look at some of the individual mental illnesses let’s try and get a balancing perspective. Are there risk factors that presuppose mental ill health?  Can it affect anyone?

There are a variety of risk factors around mental health and if we have enough of them, if their impact on us is more than we can cope with and if they affect several areas of our life we may be set up for mental illness at some point.

We all have several areas in our life. For example, I have my work area, my social area and my family. You may have other areas that are important to you and could include looking after elderly family members, or if you are in a formal learning environment there is the area of your education, or you may be a volunteer at a charity that is important to you or the organiser of a local sports event. These are all important parts of our life and overlap in a give and take as we place more or less emphasis on them at different times. Sometimes the overlap between the areas may be slight, at other times it may be significant.

Let’s now consider what may be risk factors for mental ill health.

* Nature – We cannot choose our genetics and on occasion our genes give us a nod in a particular direction. There is no particular one gene for any one mental illness. The genetics of mental disorders is complex involving many genes and these can be directly affected by our environment.

* Nurture – or the environment we live in and how we were raised, what’s around us; our non-genetic factors are also important to the occurrence of mental illness. Timing has to be included in the mix as a certain mix of nature and nurture may result in mental illness in one person but not another.

* Gender – not being sexist, but I think we can accept that women may present more often with mixed anxiety and depression and men on the other hand may present with more alcohol and drug dependence. These are generalisations and not cast iron specifics.   

* Temperament – our nature, disposition, character or personality.

* Childhood experiences – what we learn as children from life events and how they are handled/treated/supported may determine how we respond to events in later life.

* Socio-economic factors – according to the Oxford Dictionary this relates to or is concerned with the interaction of social (our society and its organisation) and economic factors (sources of finance, disposable income, type, quality and quantity of goods purchased, housing, etc).

* Being a long term carer – it should come as no surprise that being a long term carer for a chronically ill or disabled parent or child can be a factor in our own mental health.

* Some medications – the side effects of some medications may include, for example, depression or paranoia.

* Some medical conditions – having one mental illness can presuppose another; having a long term medical condition may presuppose a mental illness. For example someone affected by OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) may also be diagnosed with depression or someone confined to a wheel chair may be affected by anxiety.

* Trauma – a deeply distressing or disturbing experience, particularly as a child, may lead to mental illness in later life, particularly if inadequately treated or supported originally.

* Adverse life events including: separation, divorce, bereavement, moving house, changing job, childbirth, accident, or witnessing a traumatic event, etc.

 

Now a person may have good coping mechanisms in all areas of their life but if overwhelmed by a number of (risk) factors become unable to cope and develop mental illness. Similarly, a person may not have very good coping mechanisms and any one risk factor could be too much for them. This explains why the comments sometimes used “Pull yourself together” or “Snap out of it” have no meaning and do not help. The overwhelmed person is just that, overwhelmed, not coping and quite unable to pull themself together nor snap out of it. Similarly, a person coping well may develop bad coping mechanisms due to the stress in their life, become increasing unable to cope and become ill. Another person may cope remarkably well with a strong risk factor at home as long as work is going well. But should things at work take a down turn they cease coping all together.

 

The rest of this series we will be looking at various mental health illnesses and what symptoms to look for. The first will be stress.

When is a problem a problem?

When is a problem a problem?

We all have mental health and there is no health without mental health. As part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 I am presenting a series of articles covering a variety of issues around mental health to increase our knowledge of the subject in general. The first article answered the question “What is Mental Health?” and the second is “The Impact of Mental Ill-Health”. In this article I am posing the question of when is a mental health problem a problem?

When is mental ill-health a problem?

A problem is not a problem until it’s a problem, is it? In a way a mental illness could be compared to alcohol. Until the person is prepared to admit “Yes, I am an alcoholic,” or “Yes, I have a mental illness” the behaviours are not a problem (for the affected person at least).

Our mental health affects our behaviour and the way we think and feel. So taking that one step further how would we know if our behaviour, thoughts and feelings are on the side of ill health versus good health or somewhere in between? There are three pointers to bear in mind about the behaviour (we may call it the symptoms):

  • Persistent – the symptoms continue firmly and obstinately
  • Pervasive – the symptoms are widespread, noticeable and entrenched; they affect every area of life (work, social and personal/family)
  • Problematic – constitutes or represents a problem, they are having a negative impact on life (at work, socially and personally)

Failing to admit there is a problem for them self can result in the affected person being sectioned – forcibly admitted to hospital.

As an example we can all be affected by sadness, feeling down or numb for a short time and then get over it, get back to our normal happy self. But if the sadness becomes overwhelming and the numbness affects all areas of our life and lasts for more than a couple of weeks, that sadness and numbness are becoming a problem. The problem IS a problem.

From the individual point of view it is definitely time to get a doctor’s appointment. Don’t leave it until like John in the previous article you suffer a nervous breakdown and can’t cope with it any more. The HR people tell me it costs a company in excess of £30 000 when a middle manager like John is signed off due to mental ill-health.

Is there anything a company can do to decrease the cost of mental ill-health in the work place? Yes, most definitely, through mental health first aid training.

If a company trains staff in mental health first aid skills (in much the same way as it has physical first aiders) then mental ill health can be recognised sooner and appropriate help sought before a break down occurs. Once recognised sooner the company can support the person through recovery. If the person can keep working (and let’s face it there is a limit to how much day time TV anyone can watch!), even if with some concessions in terms of hours worked, or work load carried, then they will recover faster. In addition the business does not lose the knowledge, skills and experience of the affected person and that person’s self- confidence is maintained at a high level. Now if that is not a win-win, what is? Getting mental health first aid skills into a company is a no-brainer really.

Please use the Contact form if you would like to know more about the courses available to introduce staff to mental health issues through awareness and first aid training.

The next article in this series will take a look at balancing the risk around mental health. We will then move on to briefly examine some of the symptoms of various mental illnesses in future articles.