The salt flats of the vast Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, beneath which lies roughly 50 percent of the world’s supply of lithium.
In June 2015, I read Jaime Lowe’s New York Times Magazine article “I Don’t Believe in God, but I Believe in Lithium! My 20-year Struggle with Bipolar Disorder.”
The critically acclaimed article went viral. After I read it, I had a strong feeling – heck, it was more of a premonition — that she’d land a spectacular, bipolar-themed book deal with a Big Five Publisher.
My envy of Lowe’s success made my tongue turn green!
A few months later, I subscribed to a trial of Publisher’s Weekly. The subscription included PW’s daily email that announced new book deals in every genre.
In my very first Publisher’s Weekly email, I spotted an announcement of Jaime Lowe’s book deal for her memoir Mental.
After her article’s wildly positive reception, I knew Mental would do well. My prediction was accurate in that Lowe landed a Big Five Publisher: Blue Rider Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House that was also Carrie Fisher’s publisher for The Princess Diarist.
In my typical paranoid fashion, an irrational thought slimed its way through my brain synapses:
I hope Mental isn’t released when my book comes out – it would kick Birth of a New Brain’s ass!
Okay, friends. Fast forward nineteen months later to January 2017.
Thanks to my ghost writer Lucy, my book is finally written and edited!
Every week I review Amazon’s list of upcoming bipolar-themed books. (I do this because like to know what kinds of books will be published, and sometimes I pre-order one if it intrigues me, such as this one.)
As usual, I was scanning Amazon’s bipolar books when I spotted Lowe’s Mental and its release date. I double-blinked when I saw her book would be published in nine months on October 3rd, a mere week before my book publication date of October 10th.
(If you sort our paperback books by the publication date, they are literally next to one another.)
My first thought was Waaaaah!!!!
Your first thought might be, “Shut up! I can’t even get out of bed.”
Friends, keep in mind that I did nothing during the many, many years of my treatment-resistant bipolar depression. Please forgive my insensitivity and rudeness, and keep reading!
Here’s my wack-a-doo theory I call:
The Theory of Relativityinsecuritythisissoembarrassingyuckmouth
When a reader who wants to buy a bipolar memoir is faced with a choice of two books published the same week, they’ll buy the book written by the New York Times writer. Not mine.
Believe me, I know how super-dumb this is, but that’s how my brain rolls.
My topic is fundamentally different – I’m writing about postpartum bipolar and being a mother. As far as I know, Lowe isn’t a mom, and her book focuses on her experience with lithium.
I spoke to my husband Craig, a published author of an award-winning book. (Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West)
“It’s actually a good thing,” he said. “The subject matter is being stirred up and promoted by the other author. On Kindle when people see what other books on the same topic have been bought, they might see yours and buy it.”
Okay, I’ll buy that.
But doesn’t it seem a teeny bit weird that out of all the days in the year, my book is alongside the very NYT Magazine superstar whose book I’ve been
stalking tracking for 19 months?
I almost didn’t share this post because it’s so petty. I forced myself to press the “publish” button and cringed.
The heart of the matter is that I need to believe in my book’s worth. I won’t magically stop worrying about my competition, but I can remind myself, mantra-style, that my book will help people.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I could write fiction and transport readers in that amazing way. However, there’s a place for my memoir in this world. And if you’re writing a book, or if you plan to write one, there’s a place for your book too.
I recommend Joanna Penn’s book The Successful Author Mindset: A Handbook for Surviving the Writer’s Journey, specifically her section 1.11 “Why Write? There Are Already Too Many Books In The World,” and you’ll be encouraged.
Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn Company
I want to share a call for submissions. I copied most of the details below. If you’re even a little bit interested, why not visit the website and go for it! The co-editors/renowned authors are very respectful of the topic and moreover, they’re cool. While there isn’t payment, it’s a worthwhile project.
Have a good weekend!!!
I’ll see you next week!
an anthology on parenting and mental illness
Call for Submissions
- Narrative nonfiction–be it essay, memoir, or some kind of creative hybrid. It doesn’t have to be in first person, but it needs to be personal and true.
- Stories from a wide range of diagnoses: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, OCD, schizophrenia, and eating disorders, to name a few. Anything covered by the DSM is accepted.
- Focused writing with a clear point of view.
- Stories from every point on the parenting timeline, including essays by people who are expecting children, raising infants, toddlers, school age kids, or parenting adult children. Even people who are not yet parents (and maybe not sure they want to be).
WHAT WE’RE NOT LOOKING FOR
- Prescriptive or “How To.” Rather than giving advice, show how you tackled issues or disclosed personal information.
- Stories about Postpartum Depression (unless PPD was unresolved and became a chronic condition). These stories are valid and extremely important, but they have been written about extensively in other places.
- Stories about parenting a child with mental illness, unless it relates to your own experiences with mental illness and your parenting. Like PPD, these stories are important, and like PPD they have been written about in other places.
- Fiction. Changing names and details to protect privacy is okay, but the work submitted must reflect personal experience.
- Typos. Please read your work carefully and have others read it as well.
- We welcome submissions between ~1,000 and ~10,000 words.
- Previously published material is accepted, as long as the author retains the rights.
- Simultaneous submissions are accepted, as long as the author notifies us if the work is accepted elsewhere.
- All files should be Microsoft Word .doc or .docx, double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 point font.
- Please include your name, email address, and a short bio with your submission. Phone number and website are optional.
- Electronic submissions only. Submit via email to email@example.com
- Contributors will be compensated with copies of the book and our undying gratitude.
SUBMISSIONS OPEN FROM 4/1/17-8/1/17. Responses can be expected by 10/1/17.
Dyane Harwood’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th.
Birth of a New Brain is available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon at this link – Kindle pre-sales coming this summer!