The Self Publishing Therapist

I'm just getting set up in Jerusalem to try writing a neighborhood walking guide, and facing the usual issues of commitment phobia and general indecision. I thought about this yesterday when visiting an old friend (in the octogenarian sense) and helping him out with a publishing question. As a retired psychologist, he assigns a real value to advice and always offers to pay me for my services. This time, I offered to take it out in trade, but I was joking. The truth is, as much as I could use a therapist (and they say the people who refuse help are the ones who benefit the most if they accept it) I think I make a better disher-outer than a taker.

My friend is one of several people who keep encouraging me to sell publishing consulting services. I've never been interested in that game, primarily because people who seek me out waving a blank check always seem to be a little off. Who wants to be beholden to some whacko for a few hundred dollars, who thinks a couple hours of tutoring is all that it will take to turn their memoir into a bestseller? Then it hit me! Maybe I should be billing myself as a self publishing therapist and selling time to authors with problems:-)

The great thing about publishing therapy, at least as I interpret the original Bob Newhart show, is that results aren't guaranteed. I could charge somebody for five or six sessions, and then say, "Congratulations. You've made tremendous progress. I think you're ready to publish your book alone now." Or how about, "I'm sorry, but we've run into a transference issue, so I'm going to have to recommend you seek publishing help from elsewhere." If I could get the family and a judge to go along, a paid vacation in a state institution wouldn't be a bad solution in some cases.

There are lots of unhappy authors out there sending nasty-grams to everybody related to publishing for whom they can find an e-mail address, just to complain they aren't being given a fair break. Trust me on this one. Nobody even remotely connected to publishing wants to get another e-mail starting, "X, Y and Z all said that didn't want my book, but I know it's a conspiracy." It's not a conspiracy unless you have multiple personalities and several of them have gotten together behind the frontal lobes to sabotage your career.

Anyway, I'd like to write more about this idea, but I'm afraid our time is up.

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