My genre is spiritual psychology/self-development. I am a psychologist and life coach who writes about healing by addressing mind, body, emotions and Spirit. I have written many books that seem different—some are children’s books, books about relationships, spirituality or my cancer experience—but the through line is that that they have one of three overarching themes. They all help people to love more, to shift from fear into love and/or to empower them through change.
It’s natural for me to write about healing since I’ve been a healer most of my adult life as a therapist and certified life coach. I’ve always wanted to help people to grow, to live lives that they love and to join others in making this world a better place. Beyond that, I originally was inspired to write books based upon what I was seeing in my work as a healer (most of my relationship books) or based upon things I learned in my personal journey that I thought it would be helpful to others to share (such as my cancer books for other survivors going through what I did). I also wrote a few children books that I wanted my kids to read because I thought that they were important messages for future generations.
In a broader context, I began to write a book legacy 4.5 years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to go to chemotherapy and radiation for a year. I prayed and received a message that I would be okay but I had a book legacy of 22 books to write. I didn’t know how much time I had to leave my messages behind so I decided to do this quickly and to just write and self-publish them on Amazon one after another with little marketing. So, I just wrote about things that inspired me and didn’t worry about whether my ideas would be marketable. I was able to complete 21 books so far and have one book to go, with many more ideas. And book #21, The Book of Sacred Baths, is now being published by Llewellyn Worldwide, a publisher I love. I learned how to meditate in my sacred baths to get regular guidance on creative ideas and next steps so inspiration would flow and now I write more from my Spirit than from my ego mind.
What do you find most challenging about the writing process, and how do you deal with it?
The writing feels pretty easy for me because I try not to judge myself too much and just to write as I would teach or talk. I am not writing a novel so I don’t have to rewrite each sentence ten times, or at least that’s what I tell myself. I am not trying to be anyone but myself and there’s no need to impress. I think it’s important to know what you think will help that reader and just to practice talking to them through your written words. Plus, when I have a publisher I’m lucky enough to have an editor to fine tune my work. My challenge is to write from my heart, to be authentic and to complete each project so there is an opportunity to help someone.
Actually for me the most challenging part of the writing process is not writing, it’s marketing or getting the word out about my current book. That is a whole other project and these days the author is expected to spend 6 months to a year writing articles about their topic, doing media and learning to promote their work. I have learned a lot about pitching, making placements and spreading my message through various media including social media, television, radio, writing etc. This is time consuming unpaid work and there is often a lot of rejection so I’ve learned to just keep going. I almost treat it like a game where I spend two hours at a time just contacting people and I have learned to connect my topic to current media events and related articles that are in process. This is something very valuable for authors to learn, otherwise it’s like dropping your baby off on the doorstep and hoping people will find her. It’s important to help get your message into the world.
When and where do you do your writing?
I commute to my psychotherapy office for 50 minutes on the subway (now that’s only two days a week but it used to be more) and I usually get a seat. I always have a notebook where I jot down ideas for articles and books. Believe it or not that was my main quiet or liminal time because I have kids and no longer like to write at night because I strive to get 8 hours sleep. I wrote a bunch of books on the train ride or in interim work breaks and when I had enough notes I would find pockets of time to type it up at home.
After that, I started taking sacred baths for 25 minutes and it was the perfect relaxing, focused time to help me incubate and receive creative inspiration. As I took these sacred baths daily I began to channel ideas for my books very quickly and then my work came from my higher self instead of my ego, so there was less worry, judgement or blocks and things seemed to flow more quickly. So now I get my best ideas in my sacred baths (which I have written about in, The Book of Sacred Baths, being published by Llewellyn Worldwide) and then I make notes during the day in my notebooks to develop them and when I have a pocket of time I type them up. When I have deadlines to edit a manuscript or a book is due, I look at my calendar and devise longer pockets of time to get into the flow and to really work on it. Often I will print out my first draft and put it in a binder and carry it around with me to edit it on the subway rides or when a client cancels. That binder goes everywhere with me until it’s ready to be changed on my computer. There have been times my husband will take our kids to the play- ground for two hours at a time on a weekend so that I can work too, if I’m on a deadline and sometimes my mother-in-law has the kids visit on a weekend so I can work.
What have you learned about promoting your books?
I have learned a lot about book promotion but still have so much to learn. I have read a lot of marketing books because I didn’t have money to pay a PR person each month (although I loved my PR person at Llewellyn who helped me two months before my PUB date and 3 months afterwards). This was a boon but I still approached it as if I were expected to do the lion’s share of the work on a small budget because the author needs to invest in promoting the book. I spent some of my advance flying to The American Librarian Association Conference in Orlando and on creating a television reel about my book. Other than that, I focused on free ways that I could spread the word. This included booking radio shows and doing them from home on the days I did life coaching by phone. I wrote a bunch of related articles and placed them in different publications. I posted daily on social media about sacred bathing for a year. I taught myself how to use Hootsuite and spent several hours curating daily posts for 3 months at a time so that when it got busy I didn’t have to worry about it. All this was in lieu of having an ongoing paid team. Many popular self-help published authors have a social media manager who posts for them, a dedicated ongoing PR person and more, but when you are beginning or do not want to spend money that you aren’t making writing than I think it’s important to learn these skills yourself. My friends are amazed that I am spending time writing articles and booking events and radio shows all for free but that is the cheapest way to spread your message. Plus, very few people write to make money. Most of us are mission driven and just want to reach people and when you see how many talented writers pray just to be published, you become grateful for that opportunity regardless.
What are you most proud of as a writer?
As a writer I am probably most proud of leaving my messages of love behind and for listening to that guidance to do this. I believe in leaving behind a legacy to make this world a better place and my books, my children and my therapy work are part of my legacy. I was also happy to win 14 book awards, to have my books translated into five languages, to be published by Simon & Schuster and Llewellyn and to have learned a lot about the book industry. I’m proud of my tenacity to keep writing even when no one reads it, publishes or applauds it. I still keep sharing, learning and expressing myself.
If you could have dinner with any writer, living or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about?
This is a good question. At this moment I think I would meet with Dr. Masuru Emoto, with an interpreter as he was Japanese. I say this because I dedicated my current book to him, ‘The Book of Sacred Baths: 52 Bathing Rituals to Revitalize Your Spirit.’ He was a fellow Atria author and a forerunner in the research on water. He showed that water responds to our consciousness, intention and prayer. He wrote several amazing books on this, including, ‘The Hidden Messages in Water.’ He passed away unexpectedly while I was finishing the last draft of my manuscript and I would have loved to show it to him and to see what he thought. We had never met so it would be fun to continue discussing our joint love of the metaphysics of water and how it can influence our consciousness and connectedness.
Dr. Paulette Kouffman Sherman is a licensed psychologist, life coach and author of the upcoming, The Book of Sacred Baths: 52 Bathing Rituals to Revitalize Your Spirit, published by Llewellyn, Dating from the Inside Out, published by Atria Books and 19 others. She won 14 book awards and her books are translated into five languages. She’s a monthly expert in JDate's JMag and on Eligible Magazine. She’s been an expert on television like Fox 5 The Ernie Anastos show, the CBS Early Show & the AM Northwest Early Show and a radio guest on the Curtis Sliwa show, NPR’s Cityscape, Pathways and others. Dr. Sherman was quoted on MSN.com, USA Weekend, the NY Post, Newsweek, Lifetime.com, More, Match.com, Foxnews.com, Fox Business, Crains, Better Homes & Gardens, Reader’s Digest, Redbook, Glamour, Forbes, Woman’s Day, Metro newspapers, Men’s Health, Seventeen, Men’s Health, New York Magazine, Web MD, Everyday Health, Complete Woman magazines, the Huffington Post and the NY Times. She has a psychotherapy practice in Manhattan and does dating coaching by phone.
To learn more, visit her websites at www.sacredbathing.com , www.DrPauletteSherman.com and