Shirley Mansfield contacted me on 6 November 2013, saying “I hope you can help me…” and that she wanted to write a book. The Grown-Up Business was released on 4 November 2014. From starting point to release for a full-length high-quality published book in just under a year – now that’s superb! Read more to find out how Shirley did it and what she can teach you from her experience. Continue reading
My real work with Angela and her brilliant, informative book started with one of the most difficult emails an editor has to write. Part of the way through a style edit, I realised that the manuscript wasn’t yet up to publication standard. Editing wasn’t enough: it needed a lot more content. And I had to tell the author that. As an editor, that feels like the worst-case scenario – but actually, the real worst-case scenario is to let your author go ahead with a book that doesn’t reflect their expertise. I normally don’t accept books for a style edit unless I’ve given them a critique first, to avoid exactly this situation: we make sure that it’s in order then we polish it. As with all my authors, their expertise isn’t book-writing, it’s whatever they’re writing about. Book-writing is the editor’s expertise and it’s down to the editor not to let the author down. In this case, a less industrious reviewer had given Angela the go-ahead, so it was left to me to tell her that she wasn’t actually finished after all.
I had a cup of tea, I carefully wrote that difficult, tactful email, and Angela responded like a pro. Because the book was foundational to her business, Second Wives HQ, she wanted a top-notch book that would really showcase her expertise and she was more than willing to do whatever further work was necessary. She valued my honesty, I valued her receptiveness, and so our work began. Angela’s enthusiasm, her opennenss to learning, and her energy made her a joy to work with – and I think the same traits help explain how she navigates so well the various aspects of being a second wife.
Nigel Collin and I first worked together in 2009 on his first major book, Herding Monkeys, and have connected on several projects since. In 2012, we started work together on a second book. After a few months, I did the one thing you wouldn’t expect a writing mentor to ever do: I told him to ditch the book and go travelling on his motorbike. Continue reading
When Melinda and her team first approached me about her book, I was both excited and alarmed about the subject matter: depression. As well as my own past experience of depression, two decades ago now, over the past couple of years I’d helped two people very close to me navigate depression. At times I felt like a flimsy life-raft when they needed a steamliner, or that I was caving in the dark without a map – and I was only the carer. I was excited to read a book that offered help and strategies, but I was also very anxious about what approach it would take. Did the author really understand the life-sapping weight of depression? The terrible feelings of guilt and shame it can bring, which is only made worse by jolly-hockey-sticks advice to “pull yourself together”? So much well-meaning advice given to people suffering depression just pushes them deeper into self-loathing and a sense of inadequacy. I felt frightened that the book might take that approach, and fiercely protective of the two people I’d helped life-raft back to shore.
I needn’t have worried. Melinda’s understanding of depression is deep and intimate, and her advice beautifully shaped to meet people where they are. From the first sample pages I saw, I breathed out with relief. I was also quietly awed by her willingness to share her own experiences with such raw honesty, and immediately felt, as she did, that this was absolutely integral to the book. She’s a powerful storyteller, and the way she shares her own stories makes the suggestions that follow so much more powerful. Even the best advice can be difficult to accept without that deeper truth, “I’ve been there.” The life-giving power of “me too”. Also, very wonderfully for a book on such a dark subject, she manages to keep a sense of light and hope running throughout it. This was definitely a book I wanted to work on.
Diggin’ Your Dark Side: Guidance to Transform Anxiety and Depression into a Deep Sense of Belonging and Love
Feeling like you have lost your purpose is terrifying. Feeling disconnected to your life and loved ones for reasons unknown to you can take you to a ledge that you may not come down from. This is the grim reality of depression.
Life should have been blissful for Melinda but her past was haunting her. Through a journey of healing her heart from the loss of her son, forgiving her sexual abusers and working tirelessly to overcome the internal self-loathing she found a place where the darkness could no longer hold its power over her heart and her life. Melinda shares her battles with depression and suicidal thoughts with rawness and authenticity. The story unfolds keeping you engaged at every juncture as she shares the tools and techniques she used to get down from the ledge and into a loving and joyful place.
There is no stone left unturned, from nutrition, exercise, meditation, healings, self-love and the pure joy of laughter you will find the right practices to bring you back to the peaceful being you truly are.
This book is for anyone who has experienced trauma that has not been healed, depression that has stolen joy, purpose that has been lost and for the carer who has watched their loved one get lost in the darkness.
Melinda’s story and passion for helping others will inspire you to find yourself and realise how magical you really are.
You could have dabbled with the dark side for ten days or ten years, this book has powerful tools to elevate you into the most loved up and joyful place creating a life beyond your wildest dreams.
The original email from Melinda’s team said she wanted help with “grammar, sentence structure, overall flow of the book and spell checks throughout the book” – everything, in short, to get it ready for publication. These are actually three separate parts of the book-writing process:
- overall flow: a critique of the manuscript, to see what aspects may still need work or more development.
- sentence structure and style: this is called editing, or style editing, to smooth over the shape of the sentences and sometimes rearranges sentences and paragraphs as well.
- grammar and spelling & punctuation checks: this is called proofreading, or copy editing, and is the absolute final stage before a book goes to print, to make sure there are no errors remaining. It’s best to do this after layout, as new errors can creep in during the layout stage.
The three stages are often done by two or three different people – the same person might do the critique and the editing, but the final stage, the proofreading, should always be a different person. I emailed back to outline the process for Melinda, and we set up a Skype chat to discuss the chapter I’d seen, her plans for the book, her business and background, and how to proceed. She’d almost finished her first draft, so we arranged for a critique, with the option of coaching or a further critique after that. After the first critique, Melinda worked on the suggested changes for a few weeks, then brought it back for a second critique. It was then in great shape for her to make a few last changes, and send it off for editing.
The four pillars of Melinda’s book
Melinda’s business and area of expertise
I am a naturopath, fitness therapist and speaker. I opened Redhead Wellness Sanctuary 18 months ago to create a hub for people who want to take a holistic approach to their health and fitness. My area of expertise would be bringing spiritual, physical and mental health into one plane and helping to educate my clients around the importance of a balanced and inspiring life.
After my own recent experience with depression, I now have an unstoppable drive to help anyone else that is struggling to find joy in life get their zest back and to fall in love with who they are.
The role Melinda’s book plays in her business
My book was written to give hope and tools to those struggling with depression, anxiety and loss. I believe my book will transform my practise as a naturopath and speaker as I share my own experiences with this condition, allowing my clients to open up more with me so I can help them on a deeper level.
This book is for those who have struggled finding their magic, have suffered loss or abuse and for the carer of someone with depression or anxiety.
How Melinda’s personal & business values align with her book
There is an incredibly fine line between my personal and professional values: I live and breathe this life. My book is an autobiographical self-help book so it intertwines my personal experience of resetting my values with my work helping others do the same. My book is my business and personal life, collaborated together into fifteen chapters.
Melinda’s experience of writing this book
The writing itself was easy – I got lost in the process and loved every minute, the whole process felt smooth and natural. My steepest learning curve was the book world itself. I learnt so much about writing. I also learnt a great deal about myself: reflecting over your life and the lessons you have learnt is an amazing experience.
Writing this book taught me how simple the most effective tools are. It taught me that I didn’t have to keep digging on an intellectual level for answers that are already in our souls. It taught me that the best way for me to help others be their happiest, healthiest and freest versions of themselves is to keep it simple and loving.
I chose to self-publish because I wanted ownership of my work, I wanted to be able to give copies away freely if I choose to, and I wanted to promote my work in a way that felt right to me.
To anyone planning to write a book, I’d say, just do it! Don’t over-think it, just lay out your chapters summaries and then write from your heart.
You can find out more about Melinda Cabis-Reilly’s work and order her book on her website, here.