What I Learned as an Author, that I Wish Someone Had Clued Me In!

I started writing at nine, keeping a diary.  But let's not go there for now, as I certainly wasn't expecting to make any money from my diary.  Nor was I anticipating an income when I wrote somewhat morbid poetry in the my teenage years.  However, by the time I was writing short memoir pieces such as "Am I my Cousin's Cousin?" in which I wrote cleverly about how I see myself related to Marissa Berenson, although she wouldn't recognize me if I feel over her, I was looking for a bit of recognition and perhaps some remuneration.  I was quickly disappointed.  Those were the days of sending the story in the mail to the magazine or newspaper and waiting for the acceptance note.  Of course, the rejection letter appeared first, again and again.  Finally I gave up for another 20 years.

When I started to seek fame and fortune again the world was changing.  My ship had literally come in, when an acquisition editor loved my Enchanted Self (R) methods for inducing happiness and states of well-being and asked me to write a book for Harwood Academic Publishers.  I was ecstatic and after 18 months or so of writing and editing, The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy was submitted and sent to the printing press.  In those days, mid-90's, the printing was farmed out abroad.  My book was printed in Singapore.  That was fine for me, until it turned out the first printing sat in the bottom of a ship for about five months, waiting for enough cargo to be loaded to make the trip across the oceans to this country.  I had already hired a publicist and was talking up my book in short articles, press releases and some radio interviews.  Needless to say, the book sitting in the cargo hold of a ship thousands of miles of way was distressing.

However, the day did arrive when my 10 copies came in the mail, and I could proceed.  One of the things I decided to do was pay for advertising in magazines that offered radio guests.  This was a fairly successful venture and I appeared on about 60 radio talk shows.  The most well known were several public radio shows. 

From there my check book was almost never closed.  There always seemed to be another expense involved in sharing my concepts and books with the world at large.  The web became of course, the MOST for every author and I was one of the first to jump aboard.  In fact, my website, www.enchantedself.com was one if not the first mental health wellness website for women on the web.  Am I talking $$$$?  Yes I am.  Everything costs and everything seems to have a learning curve. 

Now, seven books later,  my latest being Secrets, Diary of a Gutsy Teen, what advise should you take from me?  Here are my suggestions, based on learning, wisdom and the spending of money:

1. Think of what you are offering the public carefully.  If it is truly a message that you want and need to give others than be willing to partly share it as you would offer yourself to do volunteer work or babysit your grandkids.  Not everything can give a monetary return.

That said, here are some suggestions to not empty your savings account:

2.  Do your diligence homework.  Want a website? Research carefully different options and fees and if possible network to get a reliable referral.

3.  Want a publicist?  Again do your homework and realize that publicists expect to be paid whether they get you anywhere or not.  I know as I have paid about 4 for almost no results over the years.  Now I pretty much do my own publicity, except locally, where I do have a local publicist help me when necessary, through channels that I have found very successful.....

4. Leading me to a channel that does work and is not too costly.  That is the press release.  If it is done by an expert and uploaded correctly to the right sites you and your work will be sending out signals via connecting links and social media almost forever. 

5. Social media is fun and can get you out there, but the research has yet to confirm that it helps you sell books.  However, consider the following: putting up some of your book or all of it for free on a site such as www.wattpad.com.  (If self-publishing that is a way to go.  Great exposure if you work to share your book.  If you have a publisher, check with them for your rights to do so.)

6. Network as much as you can.  If you really get to know your clubs, groups, etc. locally and you offer to talk about your subject of expertise you will get a chance to do so.  Enjoy it, polish your style and yes, you will sell some books.

7. Lastly, unless you are far more talented and lucky than I have been, make sure your source of income comes from other means!

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein. I have been a positive psychologist in private practice for the past thirty years. In the course of working with my clients, I originated the idea of THE ENCHANTED SELF(R), a positive psychology therapy where I teach people how to recognize and utilize their strengths, talents, skills and even lost potential. I have developed a number of methods, including using our memories to rediscover what is right about ourselves and our lives, rather than what went wrong, helping people to overcome adversity, experience positive emotions and live the good life!

Since developing this concept, I've been able to use many tools to bring the Enchanted Self to everyone, particularly women and girls. I've written many books, starting with THE ENCHANTED SELF, A Positive Therapy, and then Recipes for Enchantment, The Secret Ingredient is YOU!  My books for girls are very popular, as they are great fictional reads and also help deal with many of the questions that trouble kids as they move into the tween and teen years.  The Truth, Diary of a Gutsy Tween and Secrets, Diary of a Gutsy Teen are the first two books in this series.

I really love to teach and educate about happiness and how to benefit from positive psychology in ways that let us lead lives of meaning and happiness. You can find me all over the place on the web.



  1. The impressive cover is what I like the most from today's post.

  2. Thanks so much for hosting me and I hope writers benefit from my story and suggestions. Also, they may want to join me at www.authorsandtechnology.com, a site I started to help authors get out there!


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