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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Interview with Laynee Gilbert author of self-help books

If you're ready to start fresh with a new year and you want to improve your life, take some tips from today's author who will show you ways to de-stress and move forward in your life in a more positive way. And it has nothing to do with exercising or dieting! So let's get on to the interview...

You are a licensed marriage and family therapist and probably have a lot of experience with crisis management, yet you’ve chosen to write a light-hearted look at raising a child as a single parent. Why did you decide to write a book in this style?
I write from my own personal experience, after I've navigated through rough waters and surfaced with lessons that may be helpful to others. Writing this book was much like writing in a personal journal. Documenting my own process and revelations helped me to maintain my own sanity as well as a sense of humor, which I feel is an essential aspect for staying afloat... thus the "light-hearted" tone.

One of the tips in the back of the book is to write it all out, and I couldn't be more serious about the value in that. In fact, all of my previous books are essentially journals to write in; "So What" is my first book that deviates from this trend.

You say it’s for a single parent but what about for someone who is now a part of a blended family, wouldn’t it work for them as well?
Note the asterisk in the title: Not just for single parents! I also state in the introduction that it's a "single mom's" guide because it's written by a single mom, not because it's intended only for single moms. I've received positive feedback from moms and dads in all kinds of situations, as well as from grandparents and even from childless folks. Anyone who can relate to the stress of living in a demanding, fast-paced environment can benefit from my universal survival tips.

This is a departure from your previous books which deal with the serious subjects of dealing with grief whether it was for a human loved one or a beloved pet. How did you decide to write books to cover this topic?
Writing about grief was also inspired by personal experience. The first of my grief books, "I Remember You: A Grief Journal", was born about a year after my mom died of cancer. I had been processing my thoughts and dreams in a journal, when one morning I awoke with the words "I Remember You" in my head and the rest of the book unfolded in my mind in a flash.

I later created the pet loss journal to fill a void I felt existed in addressing the intense grief inherent in the loss of a beloved animal companion. And "Pass It On" was inspired and created in about a month, in conjunction with a dying friend of mine.

How are these books different from other self-help books in dealing with grief?
My grief books all follow the same format. They begin with a brief, personal introduction discussing the grief experience, with suggestions for how to use journal-writing as an avenue to healing. Following the introduction are pages adorned with photos, quotes and excerpts from various sources, designed to normalize the grief process and encourage the reader to fill the empty spaces with their own memories, dreams and reflections.

I feel that when an individual is grieving, that person is already the expert on the subject, and doesn't necessarily benefit from reading a whole lot about it. Thus, my grief books are designed as containers for readers to write their own story, as they sort out their own array of complex feelings.

What were the topics of your earlier works? How did you go about getting your first book published?
My first book was titled "The Complete Dream Journal", published in 1992 by Pomegranate Artbooks. Pomegranate printed a second edition in 2001, and continued to keep it in print until just last year.

The first edition of "I Remember You: A Grief Journal" was published by Harper San Francisco in 1995. Harper sold out of the initial print run of 12,000 copies, but opted not to reprint. In both cases, I contacted the publishing houses myself; I did not look for an agent.

A woman whose organization had been relying on my grief journal contacted me personally, distressed that it had been discontinued and asking if there were any way she could get hold of more copies. I told her I'd been considering self-publishing; she told me if I did, she'd buy the first 100 copies, and that's what motivated me to start my self-publishing business in 2000, L.O.A. Publications. I've self-published all the rest of my books since then.

Which book has been your best seller? What are some of the most productive things that you do to promote your book?
I've reprinted "I Remember You" in print runs of 2000 at least three times since I began self-publishing it. There are some hospices that order from me in bulk a couple times each year, and I continuously have monthly sales on Amazon. When I initially self-published it, I sent direct mail offers to hospices, offering to send a complimentary copy and letting them know I offer a significant discount to care-giving organizations such as theirs. I used a similar approach with my pet loss book, a direct mailing targeting veterinarian clinics, and similarly connected with some that continue to order from me in bulk.

I believe "So What" has potential for taking off, as its core message resonates with a wide range of individuals, many of whom have sent words of praise and thanks to me personally or via wonderful reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. But ironically, since it has such a broad audience, it's actually more difficult to promote than the more niche grief books.

Similar to the grief books, I look for opportunities to give "So What" away, as I feel that word-of-mouth from someone who's already read the book is the best promotion possible. And in today's era of social networking, word-of-mouth is more powerful than ever before.

What is some of the best advice you’ve been given in either writing or publishing that you would like to share with others?
Many years ago, hockey star Wayne Gretzky was asked the secret to his success regarding having achieved so many goals. His reply: "I miss 100% of the shots I don't take." I printed and framed those words, and although they're not specific to writing or publishing, they're the best words of advice I could share.

Do you have any other works in the process?
Yes, I have a sequel to "So What" in the works, parenting tips for surviving the Tweens and Teens... But first I have to successfully get through it myself!

That’s it for today’s interview. If you would like to learn more about Laynee and her writing, here are some helpful links…
L.O.A. Publications: (20% off and no shipping charges)
Amazon: (also available as an eBook)
Facebook: (“Like” it and tell your friends!)
Goodreads: (add to your shelf!)

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