Psychotherapist Bill O’Hanlon has created a useful package (book, audios, videos, and worksheets which he recommends completing noting that they are not there for filler) based on his own track record—more than 30 books and over 60 articles or book chapters published (with his materials translated into 16 languages), as well as coaching over 100 books into “existence”, leading workshops and book-writing boot camps—to guide psychotherapists through “their inner resistance and fears, as well as dealing with the real world barriers to launching their books into the world.” He clearly has the skill and the know-how to write this book, and his presentation style feels familiar, connective as if he’s sitting beside you sharing his stories so you can share yours.
Becoming a Published Therapist: A Step by Step Guide to Writing Your Book
Written by Bill O’Hanlon
Reviewed by Nancy Eichhorn
I am a writer, an editor, and a teacher. It is more than simply what I do, it is part of my inner experience. I was born with an innate curiosity to find my way on the blank expanse of a page. From a place of wonder, I come to a sense of knowing as I honor this drive to discover what I didn’t know I knew, to understand the facets of my inner world as they spiral through stories, embodied in consciousness and all its layers of presence and accessibility. Words fall into place guided by sensations; my body, archiving tales waiting to be exhaled, speaks its own language that I have learned to hear.
And over the years I have come to know that one of my greatest passions in this writer’s life is to support others as they discover themselves through their own textual travels. Working with writers for the magazine as well as for other publications (scholarly peer-reviewed journals, chapters in books and complete manuscripts) and facilitating writing workshops means I am constantly on the hunt for handouts and books to augment what I know and to extend what I don’t. I learn from every book I read, every article and blog I encounter. The books lining my shelves on writing and publishing date back to the late 1970s, and while the basic skills necessary to write remain the same, technology has dramatically changed the world of publishing with self-publishing, e-publishing, social feeds, blogs, and websites.
I know that we all want to be heard. We want other people to hear our thoughts and feelings, our ideas and creations—the plethora of online writing sites is testimony. And writers, in particular, want and quite honestly need an audience. Yet, fear often holds wannabe authors in check. There’s a sense of wanting to write an article, a book, wanting to share this incredible information, these uniquely personal ideas but progress is stymied fearing rejection or miscommunications. I have often heard writers say, “they didn’t get what I mean,” as if their readers would respond to the text exactly as they intended. It’s hard to accept that readers interpret what is written based on their own background experiences, their own current situations; even something as basic as being tired or hungry will impact how the text lands on someone. Yet, there remains this desire to move out and reach a larger audience than our clients or family or friends. There are professional needs that also fuel our desire to write—we want to establish ourselves as recognized experts in our field, we want to gain greater visibility to help grow our clinical practice, we want to make a positive contribution to the world. And it doesn’t hurt to develop some supplemental income, too.
Well there is a new book on the market to add to your writer’s shelf that both addresses the fears and offers a precise, step-by-step guide for both writing and publishing your book (or article): Becoming a Published Therapist: A Step by Step Guide to Writing Your Book.
Psychotherapist Bill O’Hanlon has created a useful package (book, audios, videos, and worksheets which he recommends completing noting that they are not there for filler) based on his own track record—more than 30 books and over 60 articles or book chapters published (with his materials translated into 16 languages), as well as coaching over 100 books into “existence”, leading workshops and book-writing boot camps—to guide psychotherapists through “their inner resistance and fears, as well as dealing with the real world barriers to launching their books into the world.” His most recent books from W. W. Norton are: Quick Steps to Resolving Trauma, Change 101: A Practical Guide to Creating Change in Life or Therapy, and A Guide to Trance Land: A Practical Handbook of Ericksonian and Solution-Oriented Hypnosis. He clearly has the skill and the know-how to write this book, and his presentation style feels familiar, connective as if he’s sitting beside you sharing his stories so you can share yours.
Bill’s background as both a therapist and a published writer affords him an insider’s view into the inner and outer work of writing and publishing. And, in putting together this book, admirably in my mind, Bill adheres to the content—he does what he tells his readers to do. For instance, he talks about the imperative need for focus, that writers must find their own unique voice, slant, style on a particular topic and leave their readers with one provocative thought at the end of the book. Despite the fact that numerous books and magazines offer writers guidance, this is the first book targeting therapists written by a therapist, that addresses both writing, from conception to completion, and then on to publication, including creating your platform and reaching out to agents and traditional publishers. Bill offers his unique approach to writing beginning with his own self-perceived inadequacies then moves into what he calls the four energies of writing: blissed, blessed, pissed and dissed, that he says motivates people to write. We are privy to his journey as he offers direct instruction with a light touch, a bit of humor to make a seemingly overwhelming process fun. There’s a sense of a cheer leader here as he lets readers know, “you can do it, too!”
The book contents include: Introduction: Stop Me Before I write Again! Chapter 1: Why would a Therapist want to Write a Book? Chapter 2: Getting Clear on Your Topic and Direction: Problem, Promise, Population, Positioning and Program. Chapter 3: The Proposal: Never Write a Book Before You Sell It. Chapter 4: How a Busy Therapist Can Write a Book, Overcoming Busyness, Barriers and Avoidance. Chapter 5: If You Build it, They May Not Come: Carving a Platform to Help Sell Your Book. Chapter 6: Planning: Well Begun Is Half Done. Chapter 7: The 10 Ps to Getting you Book Written and Published. Appendix: Ten Pieces of Advice from a Nonfiction Editor by Deborah Malmud, Bill’s Editor at Norton. She is also the Vice President of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc, and the editorial director of Norton Professional Books. Deborah offers her prospective to psychotherapists detailing mistakes often made along with advice to increase the likelihood of getting your writing noticed. The book ends with “Resources for Writers” including a few books on writing proposals and writing in general, and websites for help with technical matters and self-publishing sites.
Near the end of the book, Bill summarizes “The 10 Ps of Getting Your Book Written and Published” that he detailed in the book.
Passion: What energizes you: Blissed, Blessed, Pissed Dissed?
Problem: What problem does the book address?
Promise: What promise does the book make to address this issue? What benefits will come from following this process?
Population: Who will buy this book?
Program: What are you offering that is unique, how does your approach differ from what is already out there?
Platform: Who are you and why are you qualified to write this book? What audience do you already have and how are you sharing your work?
Position: What niche does this book fill? What is your compelling slant?
Proposal: This is your sales tool, the rationale and summary of the book.
Polish: Bill suggests that you write the book first and then worry with editing. Don’t let perfection get in the way of making it happen.
Plan: Make a writing plan that you can stick to, write a plan for every step of the way from writing to contacting agents or researching self publishing options and so forth.
And then he offers an 11th: Persistence . . . keep at it, he says and remember that book sellers need fresh materials to sell.
As for me, I’ve dog-eared pages to guide my progress into publishing the magazine. Quite honestly, I started this magazine because of my passion for writing, for sharing other people’s stories, and for body psychotherapy. I started little actual publication know-how, just a background in writing and editing. I rather jumped in and just did it. Reading Bill’s book has motivated me to reach out, step by step, to embrace a larger audience, to employ a larger marketing stance. The content has given me ways to methodically consider all that I need to do to continuing nurturing this publication as it expands.