Sunday, 11 August 2013

No Such Word...

I changed the title of my memoir on Amazon Kindle a couple of weeks ago, hoping to generate more interest in the book.  'Surviving Schizophrenia' became 'There's No Such Word as Can't'.  I also put the book on a free promotion for two days, then kept the price really low.  I sat back and waited...

And I have been really surprised by the outcome.  The book has not had many new readers at all, despite the new neutral title.  I thought that taking the word 'Schizophrenia' out of the title would definitely encourage more people to download it, people who wouldn't want to read about mental health particularly, but who might enjoy the book and learn something useful from it.

Nope.  In fact, the reverse - I think the use of the word 'Schizophrenia' actually helped to sell the book!  It has been really interesting to see the book fail to flourish under its new title - I was so convinced that the opposite would apply.

And the key to this conundrum,  I am sure, is marketing.  That is the crucial difference between us Indie authors and the traditionally published ones.  Using the word 'Schizophrenia' may have piqued people's interest initially, which was enough to boost sales, and then the book sold well for a while through word of mouth.

Of course, there could be other reasons.  The book has already been on the market for a couple of years - perhaps its time has simply been and gone.  I could well be flogging a dead horse - just because my instinct tells me that there is still a huge untapped market for my book, doesn't mean I am right.  I probably just need to move on to something new - and I'm trying, I really am. 

It's just that I can't seem to stop pushing my memoir, because I really believe in it as a worthwhile product. Nothing else I write seems to invoke the sense of worth that book does.

I am sure though, that if I just keep on writing I will come up with something equally good, hopefully better.  I am going to look for an agent, because the prospect of attempting to interest the general public in my work for years to come is not the most inspiring vision of the future that I have ever had.  In fact, I wrote to an agent last week, and have been encouraged by the fact that I did not immediately receive a polite rejection by return email (probably because she is on holiday or my email landed in her junk box, but still, you never know).

So, I am going to give it another week or so to see if anything else happens, and then revert to the original title (which has still been out there alongside the new one anyway).

Meanwhile, I am nearing the end of my ghost-writing project.  After fifteen months of weekly meetings, and devoting several hours each week to working on someone else's autobiography, I am really close to finishing.  Just one final push over the next week, and then a huge edit (not sure how long that will take) and I'll be done.  It will be sad in a way - the end of an era - but mostly I will be really pleased to have finished what I set out to do. 

Ghost-writing has been a really interesting process - not just learning so much about another person's experience of life, but also seeing how a book can build, slowly and steadily, with just three or four hours' work each week.  It shows what can be done with perseverance - because I had no choice but to keep going, week in, week out (and of course I was getting paid for it) just those few hours have built up to a massive piece of work. 

The book stands at over 150,000 words now!  (It will be much shorter after my edit, hopefully half the length, but it was important to the author that we got every detail of his life down exactly as he wished it to be recorded.  I have been printing the writing out weekly for him, so that he will always have that record, although the book itself will have to be shorter for the sake of the readers).

So, once the children are back at school, or not too long afterwards, my time will be my own again.  I don't like to make excuses, but I did fill up the last academic year somewhat, not leaving myself a great deal of time to write.  Between helping at the kids' schools and attending every single sports day, concert etc for all of them (and taking them to various orthodontic appointments and so on) and the Psychology A level I decided to embark on, and taking into account time allocated to the ghost writing and the writing group, I really have not had much of a chance to draw breath. 

All that will be left of that come September (once I have finished the ghost writing editing work) will be the writing group.  I don't want to stop that, especially as we have a brand new venue lined up, free of charge, which will give us a nice fresh start to the new term.  And it doesn't take up too much time to prepare for the group each week.  In fact the other day I had the bright idea that I might share the responsibility next time, by asking everybody else to take a turn preparing for the session.  Clever, eh?  It will make things more interesting, and at the same time reduce the pressure on moi.  I just have to run it by the others, but they are a nice lot and I am sure they will be agreeable.  (Are any of you reading this, by any chance?!)

So - yes, I should be able to devote more time to my writing soon, and about time too.  I don't know why I threw up so many obstacles in my path last year - I suspect possibly because I felt capable of much more than I have done for a long time (perhaps ever) and I wanted to test my capabilities.  It has been fun, but now I've had enough of flitting around and I'm ready to knuckle down again.

I fear that this has been a dull post.  I try not to use this blog as I use my journal, as a kind of tedious (to others, fascinating to moi, of course) thinking-out-loud tool, but sometimes I just seem to drift that way unintentionally.

Sorry, and all that.  Hopefully I will think of something better to write about next time!


  1. HI Louise,

    I was interested to read your blog and I am sure that I will find your book interesting as well. I was actually led here by comments that you left on the Mad in America blog about recovery.

    I am the husband of a lady who was diagnosed with schizophrenia about 2 and half years ago. Like I believe you were, she was told that she would be on medication the whole of her life, something we never accepted. She was initially on 3 different medications but is now medication free.

    We have a little girl who is 6 years old and my wife is very afraid of the stigma of the disease. In fact we are far more concerned about the stigma than the disease itself... which we appear to have beaten. The disease disappears, but the stigma lives on. My wife interestingly commented to me the other day that aero planes scare people in the same way schizophrenia does. The difference is when an aero plane crashes someone from the airline industry is there to point out, actually, how statistically safe planes are. When a crime is committed by a person who has been labeled with "schizophrenia" there is no rep to draw attention to the fact that this is not significant, statistically.

    Today we have reduce all of the stress out of our lives. She exercises almost every day and takes a supplement called SBX that contains all the things that studies by psychiatric researchers say are important, but that they tend to fail to personally recommend.

    Anyway, we want to help people more, but the stigma makes it difficult. I find your ideas and opinions extremely interesting, particularly in respect of recovery and I look forward to reading more from you.


  2. Hi Matt

    It's good to hear from you - I wish you and your family all the best. I would advise your wife to dismiss her diagnosis - it is just a word, and does not define her as a person. I am so glad she is better now - and also that she is taking steps to avoid another breakdown. I believe we are each the best guardians of our own mental health. I had three breakdowns in total - if I had learned more about looking after my mental health after the first one I might never have had another.

    In another few years - I really don't think it will be many, but who knows - I believe that the label 'schizophrenia' will be changed. It is inhumane and misleading. In some ways I wish I had never taken my diagnosis seriously - but then eventually it led me to educate myself about the reality of mental illness. Perhaps I would never have healed as thoroughly if I had denied it from the outset. But your wife can take it from me - as if she doesn't already know - it is not a helpful term.

    Yes, there is a stigma associated with the diagnosis. I still feel it at times. However, as I get older, I find I don't care as much what people think about me. I know I am okay, and so do my kids and my husband. In fact, telling my story has been quite liberating - again, I wouldn't advise anybody else to do it, but for me it has definitely been healing to realise that there are many more important things in life than what other people think about me. And hearing from people like you who have been inspired by my story confirms that I did the right thing to tell it.

    I appreciate that you want to help people more, but are put off by the stigma, and I think you should only do what you feel comfortable with. I would advise that you and your wife add your voices to the growing recovery movement online. If you comment on sites such as Mad in America or blogs such as my own, people will read about your wife's experience and be encouraged to know that another person has recovered. You can do this anonymously, or use a pseudonym.

    I am really encouraged by your statement that you find my ideas on recovery interesting. I have been working on a recovery book for years now. Sometimes I think I have nothing new or original to say on the subject, but somehow I feel the need to say it anyway. Its present incarnation is called Schizophrenia at the Schoolgate and subtitled 'Ten Easy Steps to Recovery'. The steps (in no particular order) are: 1.Write 2. Reject the Diagnosis. 3. Accept Assistance. 4. Get Your Mind on Side (develop a sense of self). 5. Get Busy. 6. Talk about It. 7. Cultivate Relationships. 8. Take Care of Yourself (helpful activities and therapies). 9. Diet and Exercise (live cleanly). 10. Keep on Trying.

    It is very nearly finished, but the last time I looked at it I got downhearted and decided it might as well be titled 'Stating the Bleeding Obvious'. However, your comment has reminded me that there are many people who are at the beginning of their journey of recovery, and who might be helped by what little insight I have acquired over the years. So, I will press on. Thank you for your encouragement, and please stay in touch.

    All the best


    Hello everyone! I'm conducting a research project for Baruch College, NYC on the experiences of families who has a member diagnosed as schizophrenic. If you would be so kind as to take my survey, I would really appreciate it! If you would like to take this survey please e-mail me to

    I’m conducting this study because I have a brother who is schizophrenic and the diagnosed had a great impact in all my family. It is a research paper for a class, I also need to interview anyone who has a close family member diagnosed as schizophrenic. I live in Manhattan, NY. E-mail me if you are interested in the interview as well.

    Sorry Louise for taking your space to do this. My paper is due on DEC, 12,2013.

  4. You are welcome Irene. I do hope you get a good response to your request. I will email you myself. All the best, Louise