On World Mental Health Day – Dandelions, Depression & Desperate marketing

Book Cover resize (2)(Please note – this is not just a sales pitch for a great cause! I include some poems to add value so bear with me…..)

I am proud to say that today is the first anniversary of the publication of Dandelions and Bad Hair Days, the book of wonderfully creative and heartfelt life-writing, poetry and photographs on the subject of depression and anxiety. More than twenty people allowed me to use the pieces they had provided for the monthly mental health blog post I ran on No wriggling and I am terribly proud to be its editor.

To celebrate World Mental Health Day (the launch of the book was planned to mark it last year) I have reduced the price of the Kindle version of the book by half to raise awareness and get it up the charts and royalties on the ebook mean that even with a price of £1.53 more than a £1 goes to mental health charity SANE. To go direct to buy (please!) click HERE. If you would like a copy of the paperback (and a chance to see Nettie Edwards’ great photos which we couldn’t replicate in the ebook) it is just £5.99, but I have a few copies I can send at a reduced price of £4.50, dedicated if you wish. Just leave a comment below for more details.

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Dandelions and Bad Hair Days: Everybody loves it so let’s go for the top 10….!

Last month Dandelions and Bad Hair Days; Untangling lives affected by depression and anxiety was published on Kindle. Available around the world to read on Kindle, PC or even iPads and smart phones, alongside the paperback version it is now available to millions of people. All the reviews so far have been 5*, with comments such as ‘moving’ ‘enlightening’ ‘uplifting’ ‘accessible’. The book has been featured at a Psychotherapy conference where a reading by Vivienne Tuffnell of her piece that gives the book its title was viewed by many therapists present as one of the highlights of the day.


All good then. Since going to eBook DABHD has featured in two Kindle charts, reaching the top 50 of one of them and the royalties available from Amazon mean that selling at 2.99 we get nearly as much in royalties as we do for a paperback at twice the price.

But we really need a breakthrough to get it on to  ‘must read’ lists. Looking at the charts, the ‘self-help’ books that do well seem to be the ones with inspirational quotes and have a life coach angle to them. Nothing wrong with that at all. However, I do think there is a place for a book full of wonderful writing by inspirational people who talk about their own experiences in their own words, creatively and with passion. Reviewers have said that even if they have no direct experience of mental ill-health themselves, the book has helped them understand how it can affect anyone, in any walk of life and however resilient they think they are.

So how do we ‘go viral’? How do we bring Dandelions and Bad Hair Days to the attention of all those that would benefit from it, learn from it, come to a better understanding from it? All of those involved believe that to reduce stigma and raise awareness we need to get our stories out there. We have poked our heads about the proverbial parapets, which for many has been a courageous move.

So lets find a way to sell in the hundreds, the thousands. Remember ALL profits go to mental health charity SANE, with a contribution to OCD Action in memory of Sybil Macindoe whose mother, Lois Chaber, writes movingly in DABHD and whose own book The Thing Inside My Head has done so much to highlight how damaging Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be.

I have to say I am not very confident at marketing the work I do – it feels a little like selling raffle tickets – you know people are strapped for cash and it is hard to ask. However – this is not all my writing; it is poetry and prose by some twenty contributors. It has a beautiful and unique cover, using artwork by the talented artist Ingrid Smejkal and the paperback includes photographs by photographer Nettie Edwards.  Everyone wins with this book. Please do buy it, tell your friends, review it. I can’t thank you enough for the hard work so far, but there is so much more it could do.

Cover smallI don’t usually re-blog posts to this site, but this is a wonderful piece by my friend Viv Tuffnell (author of The Bet, Strangers & Pilgrims and Away with the Fairies) who spoke at the Taunton Association for Psychotherapy conference with me on Saturday. I am going to write my own post on the same subject, as it was an important day for my book ‘Dandelions and Bad Hair Days: Untangling lives affected by depression and anxiety’ (for which Viv provided the title). We sold a lot on the day and have generated a lot more interest. But importantly, as Viv describes here, we heard some interesting ‘dialogues around depression’, the theme for the day. Thanks Viv!

Zen and the Art of Tightrope Walking

Vine leaves, dandelions and serendipity ~ my thoughts on the TAP conference

There is a woman on the train with two small children. She’s beautiful, dressed in stylish clothes, her hair immaculate. The children are boys, one aged about four, the other a baby of about fifteen months, seated in a pushchair. They’re well clothed, clean, well-fed. The older boy talks constantly, the air punctuated by “mummy mummy mummy”, and the baby grizzles in that tired way of babies who need a nap, a feed, a cuddle, the grizzling becoming an occasional screaming fit. The mother ignores the children more or less totally, only answering the older child when his demands become loud or he makes the baby yell. Her entire focus is on her smart-phone, held in manicured hands like a pearl beyond price, her long fingernails whipping across the screen and her eyes dead as they scan the…

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Dandelions and Bad Hair Days – the ‘clock’ counts down as the website is launched

Apologies for the rather dodgy pun in the title but what an exciting day! The book Dandelions and Bad Hair Days is awaiting the final touches and a foreword from the charity SANE (who have seen and read it and been so impressed that they are happy to endorse and support it) and today I am able to launch the official DABHD website. (DABHD is the acronym and #DABHD is the twitter hashtag – the full name is rather too character-hungry!) Apart from the fact that I obviously need to have a new photo taken  – the one on the site it is everywhere as I am one of those people who generally look frightened or frightening in photographs – I am really pleased with it.

For those who are new to my site, Dandelions & Bad Hair Days is a collection of poetry and prose on the subject of mental health written by more than twenty people who have experienced mental illness – either personally or as a carer or friend. Many of the pieces were written for the mental health monthly guest post slot on this blog, with additional material by other talented and creative contributors. I wanted to publish the book to be something of a ‘support group on your bookshelf’, offering personal experiences that are inspirational, emotional and uplifting and which show how mental illness really can affect anyone – even those who feel themselves immune. And I hope it will help raise awareness and be a worthy addition to the public campaign working to ensure anyone affected is treated effectively, with respect and without discrimination.

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Do I have to change my personality to market my book?

Dandelions and Bad Hair Days will be published in the early autumn of this year. That is great news and I am looking forward to seeing it in print and using it to raise awareness of mental health issues and raise funds for nominated mental health charities.

However, whilst emailing round to all the wonderful people who have contributed to what is not only ‘my’ book – it being an anthology of prose and poetry written by more than 20 people who have experienced aspects of mental ill-health – someone raised the issue of marketing. Being helpful, and having published his own book, he wanted to know how I was publicising Dandelions. He was concerned that after it was ‘out there’ so to speak, there would be an anti-climax.

I have been blessed with the people who have been excited by this project. It isn’t only those who have written for it who have been so supportive. Editor Rin Simpson and her sister Ingrid Smejkal from Ingrid Eva Creative  who designed the cover without charging, although she spent a lot of time on it to get it just right; wonderful Sarah Cruickshank of Sarah Cruickshank Admin Solutions  who has offered her time to help me with communications and marketing. But he does raise an interesting point.

Do I really understand what it takes to get this book in front of people and ensure they  want to buy it? And as a person who experiences anxiety at the most inopportune and occasionally unexpected times, how do I get the confidence to do what almost every author has to do now – sell themselves to sell their book?

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Dandelions & Bad Hair Days – how mental health & motherhood woke up the writer in me

In a few months time a book will be published; an anthology of prose and poetry on the experience of mental health issues. It will have my name on the cover and I will have written some of the pieces the book includes. It will be called ‘Dandelions and Bad Hair Days’, inspired by one of the posts written by writer Viv Tuffnell and all royalties will go to nominated mental health charities. The picture at the top of this post is the original artwork painted and donated as the cover by Ingrid Smejkal. However nervous I might feel, there is much to be proud of in bringing it to publication.

But as I do so, and especially as I have been drafting the acknowledgements, I have been thinking about how it all started. And it started with ‘mummyblogging’.

In fact, this is a great moment to celebrate that fact. This post is written for Jo Middleton over at Slummysinglemummy, the funniest blog about the joys (or otherwise) of single parenting you are likely to find. I am lucky enough to count Jo as a friend and ex-work colleague and it was as we were procrastinating over some fundraising project or other that she explained to me about how her blog was gathering readers, and how it was helping hone her writing skills. I was intrigued. Newly redundant with a lifelong ambition to spend my time tapping away at a keyboard being creative, this seemed an avenue I needed to explore.

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