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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why Authors Need A Therapist

Book publicists of the newer generation are more likely to have actually earned a college degree in public relations.  The prior generation likely earned a mass communications, journalism, or English degree.  Neither generation is fully trained in the techniques of psychotherapy, but the truth is, the most called upon skills of the modern book publicist is that of listener and therapist.

Authors, for as long as I’ve been in the book industry (since 1989), often confront the same issues regarding their ego, book sales, the pursuit of fame, and overcoming a fear of the media. 

They all want to be best-sellers, to be widely reviewed, to be validated by an adoring public.  Hopes, dreams, fears, and needs grip them like dog poop to a sock – you just can’t shake it so easily.

The authors project their concerns onto publicists, who in turn must become a member of the unofficial profession: PR Therapists.  Maybe colleges will hand out degrees for this one day.
Authors use their skills as weapons against themselves.  Creativity and vision, both often used to write great books, are also applied to an author’s fragile ego.  Suddenly, they fear the worst and envision disaster for themselves.

They often exist in their minds.  Authors live a whole other life in their heads and sometimes the brain is a home for negative, angst-filled thoughts.  If the thoughts manage to escape the echo-chambers of their minds, they are hurled at the book publicist.  Authors, never short on words, will look for a sympathetic ear in their publicists.

For authors, their book is their baby.  They spent countless hours weighing every word that was researched, written, and edited.  They feel an embryonic relationship with their book.  If the book fails, the author feels rejected.  Every book sale, every media appearance, every tweet is part of the battle ground for the author’s soul.

Perhaps authors aren’t the only ones who need a therapist.  Publishers aren’t much better.  They make a lot of decisions, some costly, and they must feel alone out there, trying to squeeze a few bucks out of every book.  But book publicists, above all others, could use a seat on a psychiatrist's couch.

They get it from all sides – the news media that rejects them, the author who nags them, and the publisher who pressures them.  But all a book publicist needs is that momentary high when he or she learns a media outlet wants to run a story, do an interview, or set up a guest post on a blog. 

Then the euphoria wears off, as soon as their author asks: “But what about the Today Show?”

Interview With Author Lesley Fletcher

What is your latest book about? My latest book, 5 Pillars of the Gypsy is a book of Art and Verse which follows the ‘gypsy’ as she tries to make sense of her own existence. She forays into all kinds of subjects, learning and growing along the way. Like most people she starts without a clue of where she may be headed but knows deep down that there must be something more to life than how she has lived it until this point. She begins by trying to throw her memories away and re-start but as we all know, this feat is impossible.  It swings into each pillar (Encore of a Beginning, Discoveries of a Universe, Realities of a Life, Mindful of an Imagination and finally Musings of a Gypsy) with a purpose which is only really known to herself at the end of the pillar.  Each person who has read the book and provided feedback or a review has maintained the same theme. It is a book that inspires the reader to examine their own lives and spirituality. It reads differently to each person though, depending on where they are in their own ‘journey’. The poems are in themselves, stories. They are not written in abstract, however most of the accompanying art is abstract. It makes for an interesting contrast.

What inspired you to write it? Over a period of about three and a half years, while creating my other books, marketing them and during time at the art studio, I was also writing ‘stories’ in the form of poetic verse. One of the first poems came to me while I was travelling. I wrote it up quickly in my notebook. By the time I knew it the notebook was full and it was only at that point that I was inspired to pull everything apart and re-build in a book format.  At the beginning of the book on what would have been a dedication page I wrote ‘This is my heart’ and so it makes sense that the book was inspired by my own heart and by seeing the world while listening to my heart.

What was the writing process like for this book? It was very emotional and very personal for me even though the book belongs to everyone who reads it. I am self-taught both in art and in writing so felt very un-nerved a great deal of the time (only after my decision to publish).  The actual writing process gifted me the freedom of expression and the freedom of emotion as well as a realisation that story telling had finally proved to be something that lit my inner fire and gave me wings.

What are the rewards/challenges of writing in your genre? I was warned time and again that poetry doesn’t sell and I have to say that it not true at all. It sells but to a select audience. The audience for this book is not limited to but of more interest to a woman over twenty-five with some life experiences in which to gauge the concept and emotions in the book, which cuts out about 50% of the population!  I needed to develop it as a journey even if the word journey has become one of the most over-used words in recent times and yet I also wanted to keep it fresh. The actual pillars are segments. Pillar 3 is a difficult one to get through as it does deal with realities that not everyone wants to face. Pillar 4 lifts the reader out of that phase and train of thought to a fantasy/imagination level that is light and fun. Figuring out the pillars was one of my biggest challenges. The reward has been in its completion and naturally the fantastic reviews and feedback from the audience. My readers have pointed out to me what my words and art have meant to them and in doing so made me see how spiritual I have become in myself. That was my biggest reward and my biggest surprise about the book. While I recognised the spirituality and the gifts the book had to offer, until I heard it from readers, I was a bit unsure of the impact. It is very satisfying as an artist and as a writer to have produced a book like this.

What advice do you have for struggling writers?  Writers who are struggling are not alone in their struggle. There are many, many writers who are very tough on themselves, so tough in fact that they try to adhere to a strict schedule rather than giving themselves time to receive. Listen closely to your own heart and then during that ‘break’ go out and research what other writers have done (especially in the case of self-publishing) to get to the point of a finished product. Write blog posts, inviting other writers to comment on your perceived downfalls. There is such a big community of willing and able people that would be more than willing to provide a boost when needed.  Try to be in a physical place to gain insight for your book. For example, if your book characters center around teenagers, find a way to be around teenagers whether it be on a commuter train or at a soccer field. When writing my first book, Prom Girls a North American Passage, I engaged every person I came across to tell their own story. Everyone seemed to remember being 17 and graduating from high school and so I had wonderful material to work with.

Where do you see book publishing heading? This is a loaded question. I believe we are already there. All those who formatted their book in e-book format only have started to swing around to also formatting a hard copy which I was surprised took so long. I believe that every format that a book is offered in is another step toward a greater audience. Audio books are also on the rise.  As far as the actual big six versus self-published, it has been debated and written about so many times that I can add nothing to it. I do think that the sooner it loses the “us” vs. “them” stigma the better off the buying public will be. I am happy you asked this question though because I have given a lot of thought to physical bookstores and the fact they do not carry or list independently published books unless it is a best-seller gone AWOL J. I would like to see a database – Kiosk, similar to the Amazon database or even via Amazon where customers may look up and order books into the store they are shopping at. The store (I am thinking Indigo/Chapter here, being Canadian) will then have an indicator or which books the store should carry in their physical inventory. I think it is a doable, innovative idea that needs to see the light of day sometime soon.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2013 


  1. I am a Hedonist. I write because writing gives me the greatest pleasure. I am delighted when I can share this pleasure with others.

    1. I beg to differ with you on the therapist thing. Once I was asked if I or any member of my family suffered from insanity. I said: "Oh hell no. We never had a problem with it, in fact we rather enjoyed it."

      But that's just one writers opinion.

  2. Hey Lesley great interview!

    The world evolves as it revolves, well certain the humans within do. Writers are an interesting group of creative creatures (meant in the nicest way) Many aspects of self-publishing (once the how-to's are overcome) are hitting writers in their comfort level. The promoting, well I think that's going to be a little while longer in the doing, we still have the fragile ego (well most do)thing going on! I agree we are on the right road going the right direction, however! Excellent article/interview! Penny

  3. Thanks so much for your comments, Stan and Penny and to Brian Feinblum for the opportunity to answer these questions.
    Interview questions like these do bring out tidbits from beneath the surface.

  4. Lesley this was such a great interview thank you. Will share on FB. yes authors need therapists, but I reckon that having someone like you in my world makes up the lack of a therapist.

    1. Haahaha - Susan who needs a therapist when we have such a wonderful on-line community of like minded souls? Thanks so much for sharing this. I will be giving away a hard copy of my book shortly, by the way...

  5. It took me a few days to get a moment to give this my full attention, but it was worth it. The interview was great, but your first point about authors needing a therapist is a very good one. The curse of the creative person is that their mind will always communicate their ideas better than any medium in the physical world ever could...and thus the initial point of frustration is feeling "I didn't achieve my vision." I've come to the realization that this is why creative people are more sensitive to others' criticism (or just indifference): there is sometimes a feeling that they simply communicated their vision poorly when the simple fact of the matter is that the world doesn't work that way. To remind a creative person of that can be a huge helping hand.

  6. This is my first introduction to Brian Feinblum, and now I'm hooked! I promise to discuss him in the third person, and am inspired by this great post and the interview with Lesley Fletcher to now discuss Gail Storey in the third person as well. What a huge relief! Brian is on to something there. ;-D

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