Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Shattering the Stigma

You don’t like to stand so close to me
You don’t want to see things the way I see
You’re afraid you’ll become just like what I’ll be

Ask yourself what it is you want to be
If you had a choice you would never be me
Your fear guides you too far away to see
You pretend you’ve got some other place to be

Do you know what hurts the most?
You don’t even know what I struggle with lately
You can’t be bothered with learning about how I feel

Are our lives so far apart?
Maybe you’ve got a broken heart
Perhaps you’ve watched it all fall apart
And when it does, where do you turn?

What if you had a friend like me?
Strong enough to conquer those fears daily
What if I could show you how to be strong
Or that surrounding me with stigma is wrong?

What if you felt it all for just one day?
Maybe you would have a lot more to say
If you could look through the eyes of mental illness
Would you really find so much of a difference?

I bet you’ve had good days and bad days
I bet you’ve felt lost and out of place
I think you’re scared of the way you feel
So you blame it on something that’s not even real

Stop for a second and take a look
Ask me a question, maybe share a look

Be nice to everyone you meet
You never know what pain they’ve beat
You don’t have to look sick to be sick
You don’t have to look ignorant to be ignorant

If you try it, you could gain something you’ve always longed for
If you carry your shield of stigma forever
What confusion you’ll endure

Maybe you don’t want to know me
What about him?
Standing there looking scared
Or her, with her nose in a book
So nobody truly sees her

There are many faces of pain and sorrow
And there are many faces of stigma
You don’t have to struggle with either

If you reach out and find the wrong person,
will you blame it on the disease? Probably.
But you’ll have learned
So that the next time you meet someone like me
Standing in a crowd, terrified of the judgment
and the stares, you’ll know to go slow.

Trust isn’t easy to give or receive

When you find an ally in a face in a crowd,
Couldn’t that be your proudest moment of all?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Tips I Offer Other Authors - From a Recent Interview with Anne Moss Rogers

How long did it take you to build an audience? 

Quite frankly, I’m still building an audience. I don’t think you ever really stop. Every possible chance you have to make a new contact or find a new reader, you take it. You never know where it could lead you. It’s possible they know someone in the business or have connections that could be a benefit.

How much traffic do you average on your blog? 

Blog traffic depends on many things. Your topics are the big factor. There will be times when I will specifically post a mental health related topic that is in the news at that time, sometimes that helps drive more readers, sometimes it doesn’t. I started my blog in 2013, and a good portion of it became my book.  So, my current blog picks up where the book left off. It still has the same URL and title. Since August of 2015, I’ve had over 18,000 page views. Considering there was a time when I was begging folks to read it so I could get to 1000, that makes me very happy. There will be dry spells, I just go with it and maybe advertise a bit more the next time I post.

 Are you getting book sales?

Yes, I am getting book sales. This also depends on many factors. All I can say is promotion, promotion, promotion. Do whatever you can do to get your title in front of as many eyes as possible. Use Goodreads.com giveaways, use Amazon.com giveaways. Find charities or companies that have a similar theme to your book and send them free copies in exchange for a review. Don’t be surprised if you experience a lot of disappointment and never be afraid to give out a free book to the right person.

Where are you getting them from?

I think my social media presence is a huge part of my book sales. Every single day I am thinking of a new and creative way to post about it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tumblr, my website, my blog. The list is endless. I reach out to groups on social media that are dedicated to mental health (as is my book), I reach out to other authors, people that are struggling, anyone that uses a certain hashtag. Then, there are the people that find me through my ads, which yes I do pay for some like Google Adwords and Facebook Ads. I’ve been in several local newspapers, and that has helped. I get to know people, and when the time is right, I bring up my book. A lot of people ask me about Twitter followers and why I have so many. Simple. I follow others. 

Also, I don’t only post about my book. I post about things I enjoy like sports, movies, music, etc. You will meet people with similar interests, and you will follow each other. Post EVERY single day and make it creative. Use an app like Hootsuite if you don’t have the time. You can use it to schedule tweets for months in advance.  HASHTAGS, HASHTAGS, HASHTAGS. Consider them Twitter keywords. Say you use the word baseball.  Other people that are searching for baseball at that moment will also see your post related to baseball.

What are some realistic goals in terms of book sales for new authors right at first? 

As long as you’ve done the work like announcing that the book is COMING SOON! Done things like a cover reveal, sent out press releases to local papers, worked with your publisher to advertise (or by yourself if you don’t have one) all over social media, you should expect a pretty good first month. The thing is, I didn’t write my book to make money, I made it to help people, so if I make money, it’s a bonus for me. If you’re a first-time author, I would consider every step you take a learning experience. 

The single most important thing, and I can’t stress this enough, is do not respond to bad reviews! It gets very, very ugly and ends up making you look like the bad guy. There will always be ebbs and flows, get used to it. The harder you work to get your name out there, the more return on your investment you can expect.

Are you self-published or did you use a publisher? 

This question is tricky to answer. I am not specifically self-published, and I am not specifically with a publisher. I work with a company that was just starting out in the publishing arena. They believed in my book, and due to that, we agreed that they would publish the book and help with everything they could, and there would be no money exchanged. They published my book through Amazon, which is where most self-publishers go.  I’m happy with my experience. 

Peter, my publisher, has learned, I have learned, my husband has learned, and through all of the trials, we’ve become stronger people. We have a great working relationship, and I still send people his way. More than a year later, he is still sending me cases of books for promotions. Not everyone can expect to have such a positive experience at first. It wasn’t without pitfalls, but once you finally find someone that believes in your work, go with it and if you don’t, know that there are many, many self-published authors out there that are doing it and doing well!

What have you found to be the most valuable tip for writers with a new book? 
Whatever it is, don't take it personally! My book is a memoir about my life, and there have been a few bad reviews. That felt like a dagger through my heart. It felt like they were not only telling me that my writing sucked, but my life story did too. Try to separate yourself. I cannot stress enough DO NOT RESPOND TO NEGATIVE REVIEWS. Be prepared for disappointments. There will be quite a few. There is nothing easy about this journey, but the bad stuff makes the good stuff so much sweeter. If you’re in search of a publisher, DO NOT go with someone that makes you pay a fee up front. These are vanity publishers, and they are not good people. Learn anything and everything you can about creating websites, social media, Google Adwords, advertising, and promotion. Take a course if need be. There are free social media courses available online; you just have to find them. 

Watch who you pay to advertise for you. For example, there’s a company called Fiverr. It has good and bad qualities. Some people will advertise for you for $5, but did you read their reviews? How many orders have they done compared to reviews and how many jobs do they have waiting in their queue? Just be careful.

One other thing, there are two book clubs on Twitter that I strongly recommend. They aren’t book clubs in the sense where you go over to someone’s house and talk about a particular book. They are strictly online, and they will help you learn the ropes. The first used #RRBC and they are called Rave Reviews Book Club. You can join them for a nominal fee, and they will help you spread the word, offer advice, and assistance and have many great programs. 

The other book club I would recommend is called Rukia Publishing. They use #RPBP and when you're in the club, the members will also retweet for you. I know some of the folks that work for them, and they are good people. 

Most importantly, try as hard as you can not to get burned out. If you're feeling stressed and just can't handle it that day, TAKE A BREAK. You aren't going to do yourself any favors with sales if you're a frazzled mess, I know from experience. Reach out to me if you ever have any questions or concerns. I'll try to get back to you as soon as I can. You can do this!

Best of luck on your journey! I hope you'll have much success!

Guest Post #14 - Mental Health Awareness Month - Dr. Jason Holland of Lifespark

About the Author: Jason M. Holland, Ph.D., currently serves as the CEO and Editor of Lifespark , an online well-being magazine focuse...