On the road

When you publish a book, the first months are full of activity to send it out into the world and get it reviewed in useful places. My publisher, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, was no exception when it came to launching my book, Writing in Bereavement, A Creative Handbook. A flyer was produced, review copies sent out, and a guest blog spot was made available to me. The results included some gratifyingly positive reviews by significant names in my niche field. I shall place a bag over my head to hide my blushes while you read extracts from a few of them:

‘Grief is…about discovering a new narrative, a new source of meaning to our lives. Jane Moss here shows us a way of helping bereaved people to do just that. It gives us a choice of techniques and suggestions, exercises and insights, that are well supported by research and which we can adapt to the particular needs of individuals at this turning point in their lives.’ – Colin Murray Parkes, OBE, MD, FRCPsych, psychiatrist, author and Life President of Cruse Bereavement Care, U

‘Here is a wealth of ideas and inspiration for those of us aspiring to work creatively with bereaved people using the written word…a truly useful volume to have for reference and advice for those of us working in the field of bereavement support and counselling.’ – Dodie Graves, counsellor, bereavement service co-ordinator and author of Talking with Bereaved People and Setting Up and Facilitating Bereavement Support Groups

‘…she scaffolds a structure for Writing in Bereavement that fosters continuity and connection in life narratives rewritten by the experience of loss. Whether you work with bereavement support groups or in the intimate crucible of grief therapy, you will find in this book an indispensable muse to your clinical creativity.’ – Robert A. Neimeyer, PhD, editor of Techniques of Grief Therapy: Creative Practices for Counseling the Bereaved

After the initial trumpeting, the business of promotion continues with mentions of the book in seasonal lists, quarterly mailings and my own efforts via social networking and personal appearances. This is where it becomes interesting, a year and a bit on. A book like mine is never going to dent the best seller lists; it has a strictly niche appeal so it’s in my own interests to woo that niche and get out and about to promote the book and the techniques it puts forward, as much as I can.

I love this part of the job. My readership is very specific, so it’s easy for me to go after them. I seek them out by visiting counselling teams, charities, volunteers and others who are providing support to bereaved people. I offer them a training session as part of their development programme. I can only reach so many people on my own, so training others is the best way to spread the word.

My training sessions run for anything from a couple of hours to a full day. I provide a live experience of the techniques in the book, inviting everyone to bring their own pen and paper and try out a range of writing exercises for themselves. In the process we consider ground rules and ethics, self care and how, whether and when to suggest this sort of thing to clients, with the caveat that it’s not for everyone. People share what they have written and reflect on the experience of expressing thoughts and feelings through their writing. We have fun, too, which is an important element. I am often facilitating the expression of sad and difficult thoughts and feelings, but the ability to also laugh and enjoy happier memories as we write about loss, is part of the therapeutic value.

Next week I shall be on the road, visiting three hospice counselling teams in four days. I shall reach over a hundred interested people and I will be paid for my time. I shall sell some books and, in the process, convert some of my audience to something about which I feel as passionate now as when I first pitched the book to the publisher.

Writing the book was just the first step. Marketing it never stops.

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