Monday, February 25, 2013

Bad Commercial

If you watched the Superbowl this year, or any TV since then, you've seen the Kia ad where the small child in the backseat asks his parents where babies come from. If you have not seen the commercial, click HERE.
Adorably fluffy animals are jettisoned from planet Baby through space, and land miraculously in their parents car via the sunroof. You must opt for the sunroof at an additional price if you are trying to conceive, I suppose.

When the child asks a follow up question to his parents' ridiculous tale, he is cut off, drowned out, and his attention redirected to a children's sing-along-song.

I hear you thinking, "So what's the big deal, Autumn? It's adorable. And who wants to talk to their kid about where babies come from anyhow? That's uncomfortable!"

Here's the big deal: Children who feel their parents are unwilling to discuss things related to their body and sexuality are less likely to discuss their body and sexuality with their parents. That makes sense, right?

Let's take it a step further: Children who are sexually abused or molested and desire to tell a trusted adult will not tell an adult who the child believes is uncomfortable discussing their body or sexuality. This child is more likely to be victimized over and over again by the same or multiple persons. This is why I'm writing a book on how to keep your child from being a victim of trauma; look for more on that this summer.

The parents in this commercial dropped the ball on this issue and Kia has done an incredible disservice to their commercial's viewers. The parents had a natural opportunity to correct their child's possible misinformation without having to sit down and make a production out of having "the talk" and could have simply taken it in stride, answering his question in an age-appropriate fashion. Or, the child may have already been abused and was trying to tell his parents, only to be drowned out by music as if what he had to say was unimportant. What would happen to that child? He's be sent back to his friend's house and the same thing would occur, but he would know his parents didn't want to hear it.

Oh, I know, it's just a commercial. But I believe that social change is slow and we have to begin at some point. Please take no parenting advice from Kia. Talk to your kids in an age-appropriate way every time the situation naturally occurs and in between. Your discomfort will lessen over time. No one guaranteed you parenting was easy, but you chose this. Keep the door open and allow your child to come to you with anything, no matter how uncomfortable it may be for him or you. This can only help your relationship over time and reduce the chances of trauma or re-traumatization.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist specializing in clearing trauma at Clear Mind Group in Weston and Whole Health Psychological Center West Palm Beach. Please call for a free consultation: 954-612-9553.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Self Publish a Book

I published my first book, Mini-Missions: Simplify and Add Joy to Your Life in Less than 30 Minutes last year. I'm always in the state of writing a book or two, or three. I'd been bad about finishing them, until Mini-Missions. Once done, it was a bit of a learning curve to know what to do next. Having done it once, I'm certain that when I publish my next one (a parenting primer, by the end of this summer), it'll be much easier. I want to take the pressure off of you in your publishing endeavor and am posting this tutorial for you, the writer and aspiring author. If you come across other tips or sites that were helpful to you, please share them in the comments section below!

I published on Amazon, and everything herein will refer to that process. I do plan to release my book at Barnes and Noble, but since I haven't done that yet, I won't speak to it.

1) Write your book. However short or long it is, just do it. Get it done. Set aside 10 minutes a day, or work furiously into the night, as is your preference. The following steps should all come after you're finished writing. Cost: Time.

2) Get your ISBN. Protect your intellectual material by buying ISBN numbers. At Bowker Link, a pack of 10 is not much more than buying 2-3 if I recall. The site sucks a little bit, but the cost isn't terrible. You will have to type it into your first pages and the back cover yourself as Amazon doesn't do it for you. So remember to go back and do so before you upload. You can upload your e-copy to their site for extra protection. Enter the ISBN on Amazon's walk through as you publish, so it will be searchable by number, too. There will be a space for it. Cost: $250 for 10 - remember that your digital and paper copies need separate numbers.

3) Be a legal beagle with your images. If you want to use images, make sure they're royalty-free. You can get a free random image each week at Big Stock, and you can buy them here as well, pretty cheap. Just make sure you always choose the biggest size so the print quality is good. I learned that the hard way also and had to purchase a few images twice, so I had the bigger size available. You can also use photos you have taken, which are your property, but if they are of a face, you may need another legal route that shows they gave permission to be printed. Cost: Up to $3 an image.

4) Edit and format. I've read that you should use a serif font (like Times Roman) for your text as it helps the eye glide across the text, but a sans serif font (like Arial) for your chapter heading, sub-headings, and photo captions to make them stand out. Choose only 2 fonts for your book, and don't use Comic Sans for anything, ever, ya novice. Also, don't use underlining as it may not translate well in printing. You can still use bold and italics as necessary, as well as caps when warranted. Learn to spell properly, use grammar properly, and/or be prepared to pay an editor to fix your book for you so it sounds educated and readable. For example: The Hunger Games, which has a great story, is written horribly and consists almost entirely of sentence fragments. People who do know how to write well will think you are an idiot if you write like this and may (as I did) feel the need to get the audio book instead.

For some tips on formatting your book before you  attempt to upload it, try this eBook by Jake Taylor, which you can get for Kindle, in fact, it runs on free promotions now and again, so you might get it for free, also. Cost: $3

If your use of language is not so great, and that's okay, pay an editor. You might even look for a retired editor or retired teacher or someone looking for part-time freelance work like that to save a few bucks. Remember all that stuff in school about how English was important and you said "When am I going to need that?" Well... Cost varies by editor. I would expect to pay between several hundred dollars and a couple of thousand dollars, depending on the state of your work, the length of the text, and whether or not you have it typed or handwritten. 

Note: I've taken for granted that you have typed your book in word processing software to save you and your editor a ton of work.

5) Upload your material. Watch this free webinar by Denise Wakeman and Daniel Hall, and hit pause as often as you need to do stuff. It's a little convoluted. Having done it once the hard way, let me highly suggest that if you plan to release an eBook as well as a printed copy, that you do the printed first. I did it the other way around and it took a lot of extra time to format. If you do a print book, they will send you a digital e-formatted copy you can simply upload. Cost: 0

You will also be creating your cover at this time. Think of what the dust jacket will say about you, the author, as well as get the reader's attention. It should hint at the age-range of your target audience, who the book will appeal to, and why the reader needs this in his/her life. Remember to include the ISBN on the back cover. Keep your colors simple. Keep your fonts easy to read. Ensure that your photos are royalty free or are your property.

This stage also includes pricing. Price the book cheaper in digital format than in paper, as it's cheaper to produce that way. Choose a price that seems reasonable for similar books of that type and is not too low as to seem value-less, but not too high as to be cost-prohibitive. My first book is a small book and I priced it accordingly. My next book will have a completely different price as it's a different category, different length, and offers more substance. However, it will still be affordable to my target audience. Amazon will direct deposit your royalties periodically, and the results of your sales are recorded in a monthly spreadsheet for you. Keep copies of this for tax purposes as it is income.

6) Review. Check and double check and triple check to see if the pages line up right, that your margins are looking spiffy, that your every little thing looks just so. You're going to learn what a "bleed" is - the space between the edge of the page and the place where text starts, that could include glue for the binding, white space, and margins. Once you learn this stuff, it's easy and you won't forget it for next time. Amazon's program is very good, and once you upload, you only have to wait 2-24 hours before it's ready to view. Don't tell anyone it's up until after you've reviewed it, fixed it, and reviewed it again.You want customers (and family and friends) seeing the final version. Check it out on the computer, on your Kindle, change the size and such on your Kindle and see if it still translates, and order a paper copy, too. Plus, your parents are going to want one. Cost: Price of your book, minus royalties

7) Claim your space. Now that you have signed up, free, with Kindle Direct Publishing, claim your name on Author Central. Anyone can type in simple information (mine is: and get to your page, listing all of your publications. Amazon will automatically link your books for you to your Author Central page, which is handy. You'll want to add a professional photo here, or have a friend who is good with a camera take one that looks professional. You have a lot more space here than on the dust jacket to talk about your writing style, who you cater to, and that sort of thing. Cost: 0

8) Offer autographs. People love to feel special! Although they bought the Kindle version, they may still like a "signed copy" of your book. Use Authorgraph, a free service, to create a virtual signature, saved as a PDF for your readers. You'll get an email whenever someone requests an autograph and you can personalize each one, or keep a stock signature on file, changeable at your whim. Cost: 0

9) Make an audio book. Because some people really like to listen to their books, and this is a whole other demographic you can market to, as well as the visually impaired. Remember that you need a separate ISBN for this format. More information is here. I haven't done this yet, but I'm sure it's free, minus the use of an ISBN. Cost: 0

10) Enjoy! You wrote and published a book. You've gone from writer to author and it hardly cost you a thing. Enjoy that. Look how few people get to this step, but you did! And hey, link your book in the comments section below and tell everyone that you did it, and they can, too. That first royalty check (even if you're the only one that bought it) is so fun to receive. And when you look back at last year's taxes and see how much you made in book sales, it's amazing. Plus, that never stops being available. You've put something into the world that will be around as long as libraries, and every reader loves a library.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing in South Florida. She is also the author of Mini-Missions: Simply and Add Joy to Your Life in Less Than 30 Minutes and is working on 3 other books, 1 to be released this year on parenting techniques to keep your child from becoming a victim of trauma.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Avoidable Death

Two weeks ago, a dear friend of mine died of cancer. He had smoked cigarettes for over a decade, and by the time he realized there was a problem, he had stage 4 throat cancer. Stage 4 if the highest stage and he went through chemotherapy and radiation to destroy the cancer. They got it all. He quit smoking, cut his drinking back a lot, and focused on what mattered most to him - his business, his friends, and living healthy. The treatment, including biopsies of his throat, caused him to lose his hair, feel miserable, have difficulty swallowing, lose interest in the taste of food, and lose more weight than he could afford to on his frame.

About a year after all his treatments, it was discovered that the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes and brain. I'm told his last weeks were miserable and he raged against life itself in an effort to make peace with his situation. He was in hospice for a few days and died quickly, as was expected. He was in his early 40s.

This man was in my life for nearly a decade. He walked my mother down the aisle at my wedding. He came and talked with my husband and me after his marriage started to fall apart. He told us of his dreams to open his own barber shop and how, without needing to support anyone else, he could finally chase his dream, and he made that dream a reality.

He was, and I shall remember him as being, full of life: dancing, singing off key songs about his daily activities like "I'm cooking eggs," smiling, working the trebuchet at the Renn Faire, playing midnight bocce ball in the back yard, and having intense conversations about life and love and the meaning of it all. This is who he will always be to me. I loved him and I love him still. He was my friend and I was honored to be his and to share even a little bit of his life, and have him share in mine.

He died the day before my anniversary. It is our tradition to watch our wedding video on our anniversary each year. This year, we were with friends who were also there, and who also loved him. We watched the video together, saw him being silly and funny and loving and...just being himself. I cried. We all had a moment. We said, "That's who he was, who he is," and we toasted him.

I don't talk a lot about myself in this blog. I don't tell clients personal things very often because I generally feel there's no place for that, but this story, I felt needed to be heard.

I want to tell this story because this early death was completely preventable. Had he not chosen to smoke cigarettes, he'd still be in my life and I in his. Us friends, and his mother, we'd have no sense of missing him, because it could have been avoided. I implore you: DON'T SMOKE. If you smoke, quit by any means. I don't mind if you use my services, the patch, cold turkey, or any way you choose, but take this message to heart. Don't smoke. Don't let anyone else smoke. Tell someone you care about that you don't want to lose them, to sob, to miss them, that you value them too much to sit by and watch them put themselves in harm's way, and for what?

In honor of my friend, I'm running a discount on smoking cessation. $400 for 5 hours, which includes the intake session and phone consultation. Please, for the love of those around you, if not for yourself and all the amazing things you've yet to do, call me to discuss this. Details are listed in This Blog, as is the image of the signed frame we made for my friend, which was set next to his ashes at his sending off.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist at Clear Mind Group in Weston and Whole Health Psychological Center West Palm Beach. Please call for a free consultation: 954-612-9553.