Getting a book published is no mean feat. Regardless of whether that process is with a traditional publishing house or via a self-published process.

I should know. I have done both. Both are scary, fraught, incongruent, inconsistent, stubborn, uncompromising … shall I go on? Perhaps not. Not only is it a tedious experience, it is a mind-numbing story.

As a result, I am about to mind-numb you.

In the process of looking for a home for my book Delving Deeper: Understanding Diverse Approaches while Exploring Psychotherapy, I got a call from one of the many publishing houses I had sent my manuscript to.

The stand out part of that conversation was the question, ‘who are you proposing will be your target market’.

I thought, ‘aha’, relieved suddenly that all the seminars, workshops, trainings and info-platforms had paid off.
The training programs say this will be the question you most need to be able to answer.
I had my answer. Proudly I said, ‘a diverse age group in the general public, however most generally people who have been considering and or looking for a practitioner working in the psychological area of emotional and mental health.

A soft voice responded, ‘oh we thought as much; however we no longer publish for the general readership, we now specialise only in academia’.

I wanted to argue.

Naively, and with little insight I began to say that I had done research and saw they did publish self-help books. I said I had even seen them in bookshops as recently as that week. The dear woman would hear me out, perhaps perceiving the desperation in my voice … perhaps even hearing a despondency around get my book on the airwaves.

She replied that that had been the case, however, as recently as several years earlier they had taken a new direction and specialised only in certain academic areas.

This plucky, warm, professional woman was not to be deterred. She said, ‘we really like your book and would very much like you to write an academic version of it. We have done quite a bit of research and there is nothing out there in this field {relational psychoanalytic Psychotherpay}’. She went on to tell me of her research and of one book she had found that had a wee mention but nothing for the profession to lean on.

Mortified that my book was not going to get a gig with this prestigious publishing house, I said, ‘thank you however that area is not my passion, hence not my strength, I would have to say no’.

We chatted briefly and hung up. I can only assume she went about her business … as did I, still writing and looking for a home for my book.

As one is apt to do in disappointment, I bemoaned to any and all friends, family and colleagues who might listen. I am sure they were more tired of my rejections and my evaluations of those rejections than I was.

Amidst the ‘tut tut’s’, the ‘hang in there’, ‘someone will love it as we do’ and general support and empathy a few people did say, ‘are you mad, you knocked back a book offer’.

This comment became more frequent and louder.

Was I mad?

A few weeks of vacillating between despair over how I would ever get my book published and sending manuscripts to various publishers, I was still pondering the conversation with the prestigious academic publisher … and that warm professional editor.

Eventually with my pride in a hidden, ‘I-could-be-mad’ compartment I called the publisher back. I openly and honestly shared the story of family, friends and colleagues; asking if the offer was still on the table.

To my surprise, she immediately said, ‘yes, absolutely’.

She also made the suggestion that because I had just spent three years developing the current book, I might like to get a contributor to write a chapter or two.

I had one of those light bulb moments, that seem like a great idea at the time, though might not be the case down the line somewhat.

Regardless, I was immediately onto it. As a member of an international community of relational psychoanalytic psychotherapists, I sent an email to our communal conversation portal. I asked for anyone interested in writing in the area of working with an animal in the room, and the effect that might have had on practice work.

Quick as a flash, I had twenty-five enquires flood my inbox. Things were going well.

The next step of the process would be to distribute the publishers ‘proposal guidelines’ to those unsuspecting potential contributors. A terrifying five-page document on how this book and the writer/s would present that proposal. I will admit to making time to modify the document down to two pages to lessen the fallout/shock factor.

Sadly, I still lost 50% of the initial potential contributors.

No matter how I encouraged, coerced, coached and coxed, these people could not get past the academic rigour of the proposal guidelines.

Though, with the reaming twelve professionals, I still had a good international mix, knowing I could write several chapters to make sure the book had substance.

Our group did and still does consist of participants from England, Israel, New Zealand, Canada, the US and of course Australia.

Around this same time, my own book was published. I had had the book launch and I was heavily into promoting it. December to March I did little to nothing on the academic book. If I am honest it scared me half to death, I guess not unlike the thirteen people who dropped out after I dispersed the proposal guidelines.

To steal a clever term from a good friend, it had become like herding cats, keeping the team together. I was becoming jaded by managing such a diverse team of writers

As time went by and the task got more and more complex. I began to feel like I had another fulltime job in my life. I needed to pull back before my sanity gave as to madness. I began to liaise less and less with this group, as my own book filled my life.

Late March I received a call from the publisher. When I saw her number come up, I was tempted to let it go to message bank.

Over time I have learnt that those big things just never just go away by themselves!

She was not harassing me, she was not reprimanding me, she was warm, polite and enquiring. She said she had noticed I was speaking at a conference in Sydney in May and that the publishing company would there with a bookstall … could we meet and discuss the book. As if by asserting her commitment to me she suggested she might be able to assist me with a way forward in what she felt was an important book.

It was an excellent meeting. I was reinvigorated and motivated.

She gave me exceptional guidance and made some very important suggestions. As I spoke of my strengths and weaknesses in this process, she asked how I might feel about a co-editor. I realised I owned some assumptions about that role and was not full across the pros and cons. This patient woman spent quite some time discussing with me how that might look.

From the moment she suggested a co-editor I knew who I was going to approach.

Something settled deep inside me. The book would happen.

Curious to know how this evolved? Stay tuned and look out for part 2 on July 15th!