I believe in this saying more and more as time passes. When I first became an author in 2006, I read you had to have a great platform to get the attention of agents and publisher, especially traditional.
I worked hard through the years to push myself from shyness in front of an audience with knee-shaking speaking engagements. My ambition was strong because I believed, after losing a husband and daughter from substance abuse, it was a worldwide topic. The death rate was not going down.
I felt the addict had to hear what the family members fear and their pain. It wasn’t that they hated their loved ones, they hated the disease. The family has to listen to what the addict wants.
I listened for years to Steve Harrison, who runs free telephone training program helping authors to advance in marketing, seminars offered with top TV producers, and wonderful personnel to get you there. I felt strongly my topic would go anywhere with their help. I’d reach a huge audience. I wanted to go to one of his seminars but couldn’t come up with $5,000. That’s not including the hotel and travel. Steve offered many important people to help an author be seen on television or anywhere else. Another event I had to “pay” for to move ahead with no money for it or guarantees. But everyone else would walk away with money whether I made it or not.
Steven Harrison explained the difference between a poor author and a rich one. The talk really hit me. The poor author did no more than depend on book signing. The rich one pushed ahead to be seen. I spoke in halfway homes, substance abuse rehabs, court-ordered programs, jails, libraries, bookstores, U Mass in Boston, Massachusetts; wherever I could to help substance abusers and their family members.
At first many locations wanted me to talk at their events claiming not having money in their budgets to pay me. I wanted to get known. After awhile, there was no money of my own to pay for my books to sell at events, put on workshops, or hold other talks.
I went from a regular author to a three-time nominated author with reviews with Publisher Weekly. Even then, I had to “pay” for the review. Nothing developed with the great write-ups, interviews in newspapers, radio blogs, or cable television appearances. My speaking engagements started to sell books and then the pandemic arrived.
After 14 years, I became a co-founder to Authors Without Borders (www.awb6.com). We’re a great group of four women authors helping other authors and writers to avoid the mistakes we faced climbing up the ladder. I was a producer, director, and co-host to the NBTV-95 Cable TV out of New Bedford for five years, a writer for seven years on substance abuse with the Cape Cod Today blog. I thought I just might become an author with a great platform.
I wrote about my family life with a husband and two daughters behind closed doors during my young years of marriage in Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round; An Alcoholic Family in Crisis. I lost my husband, Richard Lopes, of Dighton, Massachusetts at the VA Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island from cirrhosis of the liver when he was only forty-five years of age.
I never thought the demon would return and take my daughter, Lori (Lopes) Cahill of Dighton at the age of thirty-nine from the same worldwide problem of alcohol and drug abused. I wrote my heart out with tears in the sequel, Please, God, Not Two: This Killer Called Alcoholism.
The two books are not just memories. I have my speaking engagements behind closed doors to private events in the sequel. In the story of Richard, I tell how I would have handled each event differently if it were today. They are books of lessons.
They are buried together at the St. Patrick Cemetery in Somerset, Massachusetts. There I pray to Richard and Lori, wishing I could change my actions for the better now that I have grown in education on the topic. I would have handled everything with more love and caring than with yelling, blaming, threats, fights, and pulling our poor daughters into adult conflict that they never should have endured.
Like all parents who lost children from addiction, we suffer from the agonizing questions, “what if I, could I have, why didn’t I,” or most of all for me the question, “what are we all doing wrong not being able to save our loved ones from this disease that is destroying lives?” What do they need from us?
From there I did research to get into the minds of the addicted; no guessing just the raw, honest answers of what they feel family can do to help them desire professional help. I have 34 contributors from the United States and Canada who have opened their hearts to tell us. I wrote The Mindset of the Alcoholic and Drug Addict; Healing Shattered Lives.
After fourteen years having found an agent for the book, she claimed within the a year that the pandemic stopped her from finding a traditional publisher. I returned writing query letters to agents and publishers. No one knows more about substance abuse than the person who has lived through the suffering and pain watching a loved one slowly kill themselves.
I’ve had six traditional publishers offer to represent me. For some reason, my book didn’t fall under their traditional side but they “all” offered self-publishing which ran between $6,000 to $14,000, especially if you wanted a “top” traditional publisher. Again, they win whether my book made it or not. One well-known traditional publisher would have taken my book if I was an “International speaker.” Being a professional speaker didn’t count.
It’s hard for an author to push forward. Any author can get published within days on Amazon. I wanted a publisher to believe in this book as myself, not to drown in money but to see a smile on one addict’s face showing they have hope after my talk. I wanted family members to see the points I listed for working together with communication. The hope to others if The Mindset of the Alcoholic and Drug Addict found it’s way in bookstores, schools, universities, class assignments, homework, a demanded topic in education, in other countries, and maybe see a small change going in the right direction.
If it’s a family disease, let’s start treating it that way. Treat the person who is struggling with addiction. Why are they hooked on addiction? What emotional trauma caused them to turn into numbness? Help them before finding treatment for the disease with pills.