Fair warning, this is long and includes updates about my upcoming e-book and my future plans. So if that doesn’t interest you, let me save you the time!
I have been largely quiet this past month or so, and for good reason! The freelance marketing writing work I was doing for supplemental income largely petered out and I really do not have the inclination to rebuild it at this point. The good news in that is, I was no longer so mentally exhausted that I could not focus enough to actually sit down and write this e-book I have been talking about for the past year or more. Hard to sit down and create good writing for more hours after spending 5 or 6 on marketing.
My First E-book! Yay!
That being said – my first e-book What They Don’t Tell You About Bipolar Disorder – is currently going through my proofreaders and should be ready to release within a month! (Hopefully sooner.) Yes, I absolutely used proofreaders. I had previous grabbed a couple of the low cost books on the Disorder off of Kindle and they were atrocious. Spell-check is a thing that needs used. Proofreading is a thing. I proofed the damned thing once myself before shipping it out to my proofreader!
What They Don’t Tell You About Bipolar Disorder is literally about topics that no one really tells you about Bipolar Disorder while you’re trying to survive, get well, and thrive. It is written to be useful to both a mentally ill person or their loved ones. I cover numerous topics relating to common fears, common scenarios people present me with on a regular basis, dealing with the mental health establishment, empowering oneself with knowledge to pursue wellness, and quite a bit more.
The e-book itself is approximately 110 pages (this number may change once it goes through my proofreaders) of quality information, a bit higher when you account for images, glossary, and table of contents. All of it is original writing. I was once asked if I was just going to compile stuff from my blog and website to release as an e-book – the answer to that question is NO. I do talk about several things that I have talked about before, but it is all original text.
As for release and how you can get it, well this is something that I have pondered and researched deeply the past month or so. It really boils down to my need to change my approach in general. Bear with me.
Staying True to My Vision While Trying to Shine
I launched Bipolar Manifesto for numerous reasons. At the core of those reasons was the atrocious, shitty information that was all over the internet about actually dealing with the Disorder, trying to live life, trying to recover. As time went on, I found that probably 60% of the people that reached out to me are actually the loved ones of mentally ill people of all kinds. I was not expecting that demographic but embraced it once I figured it out.
I spent so long undiagnosed with both Bipolar Disorder and High-Functioning Autism because so many people around me either didn’t know what it looked like; or didn’t really give a shit. Thus, I wanted to provide my information for free to whoever needed it, to provide hope, facilitate recoveries, and hopefully reduce suicides.
Unfortunately, good intentions don’t pay bills. I’m also hampering my own ability to reach people by not offering an actual product to profit from, because I typically can’t afford additional advertising that would help get my work in front of more people. So, I’ve been looking at different ways to make doing what I do into a career that will accomplish two goals.
1. Honoring the core belief that I wanted anyone to be able to access and benefit from my work, whether they are sitting in a boardroom or eating out of a garbage can.
2. Get off of Disability and be completely independent.
I’m not interested in getting rich or any such bullshit. I want to build a comfortable life. Anything past that I would be investing in trying to make things better for other people. Money doesn’t mean much to me, but it is most certainly essential for getting anything done in this world.
I’ve explored numerous potential paths for accomplishing these goals. The first and what I view to be optimal for now, is getting certification and a job as a Certified Peer Specialist at a facility. I am pursuing employment that way, which will provide hours, pay, and benefits. It is a viable career and I will essentially be doing the exact same thing I’m doing through my website but in person.
The potential problem I’m now facing is the way I chose to go about providing my information. Even though I know I do good, quality work for people; will a facility want me associated with them? I’m regularly accused of not being “professional” because I decided the best way to build rapport with people struggling was to continue to speak their language.
Or as Lewis Black once put it, “I do not believe in bad words. These are words we use to express frustration, rage, and anger so we don’t pick up a tire iron and beat the shit out of someone. What do people who don’t swear say? What do they say if their company lays them off, they lose their retirement, their house; everything. ‘Oh, golly gee. I just lost everything. Gosh darn it!’”
But, I hate to admit it because I know she will gloat (and I deserve it), but my mother rightly pointed this fact out to me about three years ago. “You don’t want to have the work you do now mess up any potential future opportunities.” I don’t know if it will or not, but there is that concern in the back of my mind. At the same time, I know I made the right choice. One of the first times I landed on an “information page” and I saw the picture of two smiling faces being used as a tool to build rapport with people going through a rough life, I thought to myself, “Fuck those two assholes.” And I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be the only one.
There is too much public advocacy type stuff that does not actually try to speak to people who’s lives have been shit, who haven’t had a genuine smile in years. Those are the people I want to reach. The people just like me, who thought their lives were shit, who were sure they were going to end up killing themselves by 30.
So there you go, mom. I just admitted that you were right in front of thousands of people. I feel so, so dirty. And not in the good way.
Every Plan Needs a Back Up Plan
That being said, I do have back up plans. Many years ago, I read an article about how to make a living doing what you love, no matter what it is. The premise behind that article was to take multiple small things and turn them into revenue streams. The example they gave was about a person who’s passion was scuba diving. That person could offer lessons, sell equipment, and do guided tours. If the person was mechanically inclined, they could even offer maintenance services. While it may be difficult to make a living doing any one of those things, the combination could provide a reasonable income, especially in a tourist spot.
That is essentially the approach I’ve been working on for awhile now. A few years ago I was introduced to Foreign Currency Exchange Trading. Not something you make a ton of money off of without a lot of money, but it is an income stream. I have my website with donations. That’s a very sporadic income stream. Phone consultations are another sporadic income stream. I was doing freelance marketing work, which while providing another stream, also negatively impacted the time I could spend on my e-book. And if I am able to land a job as a CPS, that will be another. The past month or so I have been trying to find a job even just flipping burgers or in regular retail to make up for that shortfall. And then there is Disability that I am still receiving for now.
The back up plan is going into business for myself. Building a business of what I do since the Affordable Care Act made In Home Support Services (Peer Support work) billable to Medicaid, I could actually function as an independent contractor or form a company of my own. To do that, I would need to get state certified and probably have to pay the $1200ish out of pocket for the training and testing. I would probably also need to relocate to a larger city. I’ve always known I was going to end up relocating so I’ve kept my shit to a minimum. Everything I own can fit in one truckload. I’ve deduced that, if I were to just look for someone needing a roommate or rent a room out of someone’s house, I could relocate to another location for under $1500.
Most of the revenue streams I have are foundation or just not reliable. I didn’t want to push hard on them until I was sure I was well and stable enough to no longer need Disability. The good news is that if you relapse within 7 years of coming out of the system, you don’t have to go through the application process again. You can just call SS and there is a quick process to get readmitted.
I think that if I were to go into business for myself, I would probably start as an independent contractor and build towards a for-profit business. The unfortunate part of that approach is that I will be spending way more time figuring out and doing administrative crap than actually helping people. I would need to focus on directing others. On the plus side, I can think of three people that I know off the top of my head who would be great in these roles who are currently just working survival jobs. But these jobs just don’t really exist in a coherent fashion in Ohio at the moment, making it a niche I could potentially step into.
(Being very far thinking theorycrafting) Furthermore, I feel like that much further down the road, I will be looking at how I can organize a push towards protecting and even growing mental health funding at a state level. The poor, disabled, and mentally ill are the ones that get fucked because we don’t have lobbying and special interest groups pushing our agenda and needs.
I’ve also long been thinking of a way to help give people a second chance, whether they are homeless, coming out of prison, or recovering from a mental illness. The soundest way to go about that, I feel, is via a business that can provide goods or services. A service like what I could offer as a CPS or more. The main problem with that is – I don’t particularly want to found a business of my own. And I don’t have the money to invest towards making that happen right now. It’s something I’ve been thinking about the past couple of years and still don’t have a good idea for that I feel would be sustainable. (/end far thinking theorycrafting)
And then there is the possible of going a “Life Coach” route. Life Coach is a borderline bullshit career though, in my opinion. Primarily because there’s no regulation about it. Anyone can call themselves a Life Coach. Good ones typically have some specific body of knowledge or a college degree that they use to provide advice for people. I looked heavily at them when I was trying to find a price point for my Phone Consultation. I’ve seen prices for their “hour long” consultations ranging from $50 to over a $1000 an hour. That is insane to me. But that’s also why I set my price point at $20, because it’s something about anyone can afford and is still worth an hour of my time. Although, depending on how things end up panning out, that may eventually need to increase anyway.
Building an E-Book Revenue Stream
An e-book is a product I can offer to people, but I want to honor my original statement of being very accessible to anyone. With that in mind, let me share the strategy I have come up with for doing so.
People do not read electronic books the same way that they read regular books. They prefer shorter works that they can read in a couple hours and move on. That is a good thing for me because of how complicated this subject matter can get. I can write smaller books about specific subjects relating to my body of work. For example, What They Don’t Tell You About Bipolar Disorder is specifically filled with things that people really should know about the Disorder and trying to get well. Mostly in the apparatus surrounding the process.
Now that I’m not doing marketing work, I can pretty easily produce a 100-150 page e-book every few months, assuming my brain isn’t being a pile of shit. I can easily write 8-10 pages a day if I can sit down and dedicate the time to getting the shit out of my brain and into a document.
And of course – the important question – how much? The price point I decided on is $4.99. It is a very reasonable price compared to other e-books, especially given the nature of the subject matter, my own body of knowledge, and the fact that I will make absolute sure that it is a quality piece of work people will be fine with spending money on.
I do have to charge something unless I was just going to self-publish through my website. And that is a whole fucking slew of additional work that will take my time and attention away from helping people. After all, e-book providers are businesses and they need to make money too.
I am going to release through Kindle/Amazon exclusively. People without a Kindle can still read it through the “Kindle Reader for Windows” app that is available for mobile and PC. I’ve done a lot of research into how I should go about releasing, and I believe an exclusive release through Amazon is the best approach for reaching a large audience and providing myself options.
– Roughly 70% of all e-books downloads occur through Kindle/Amazon. Huge potential market.
– Amazon offers 70% royalty on book sales priced within $2.99 and $9.99. So for each sale, I’ll make about $3.50, which is fucking awesome compared to traditional publishing.
– Amazon offers benefits for being exclusive! Such as…
– I can price the book for free for up to 5 days every 90 days. I am a mental patient with no credentials. The burden is on me to prove to other people that my work is worthwhile. I will make it FREE for the first 5 days after release. That way you all, my regular readers and followers, in addition to new people; have a chance to pick it up and see what I have to offer. This also allows me to take advantage of Amazon’s “Hot New Release” marketing thing to hopefully generate many more reviews than if I offered it at full price on release. If you pick it up, I hope you will take the time to leave an HONEST review. If it sucks, tell me why it sucks so I can provide a better product. I fully believe that good, quality work will stand on its own. Assuming that Amazon continues this program long-term, I will do this for EVERY book I release so you will always have a chance to get my work FREE!
– Exclusive release also means the book qualifies for other Amazon programs like Lending or picking it up through Amazon Select. Authors do make royalties off of some of these programs so that is a consideration for me. If I recall correct, once a person who picks it up on Select reads 10% of the pages for the first time, I will receive the same royalty as if I had a regular sale. So Select and Prime users will also be able to get it that way.
– Oh, and an additional thought. I do not intend to release physical copies of any books, only digital. That’s another bunch of expenses, time, and effort if I were to physically self-publish. I don’t particularly care if my work ever sees physical print. I can reach many, many more people through the internet.
I did thoroughly look at other platforms or even offering it directly through my webpage. But again, that is a whole shitload more work that will take my time and attention away from producing the next book, content, or trying to help the people that reach out to me. If you don’t use Kindle or don’t want to download Kindle Reader for Mobile or Windows; well, I’m sorry. Not much I can do for that.
Last year, the first week of August, I had ran a fundraiser to help generate financial contributions for my website to help cover some of what I put out in advertising, web hosting fees, and the bunch of hours that I sink into it. This year, I think I’m going to hold off on that and do a different approach.
You see, I already know what the next e-book is going to be. A subject that I know many people will be interested in – a book about having friendships and relationships with Bipolar Disorder written with anyone in mind to benefit from. After I release this book, I will probably wait a couple of weeks to give people time to read it and review it; then do a Kickstarter so that I can dedicate my time to writing that e-book instead of trying to find a job flipping burgers or working retail.
There will be more information forthcoming about the release of What They Don’t Tell You About Bipolar Disorder and what I plan to do for fundraising in the coming weeks. Hopefully, August.
Anyway, if you managed to get through this, you deserve a cookie. But I can’t send you a cookie. So I’ll give you a free e-book soon instead!
And I would like to close this meandering post with a thank you. Thank you to everyone that has supported what I do, through sharing my work, taking the time to comment to me, or financially contributing. It all means a lot to me and I appreciate you all for it. I never in a million years could have guessed, when I was at my lowest, that all that pain and suffering would eventually be worth something positive.
If you’d like to help me out, please consider making a financial contribution. As always, please like and share my work through your favorite social media outlets. You never know which of your friends may be suffering in silence that could use my body of work.
Should you have thoughts or questions, feel free to comment below or send me an email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org . I read and reply to everything that I’m sent. I also have many more original articles available on my main website www.bipolarmanifesto.com .
Want to help me out? Consider making a financial contribution. A majority of the funds contributed I turn around and use in marketing efforts to put my body of work in front of more people. Even $1 can put my work in front of a couple dozen more sets of eyes.
Liking and Sharing my content and website on your favorite social media platforms is another great way to help me towards my goal of reaching other people that suffer their mental illness in silence like I did for so many years.
Thank you for reading my work. Have a great day!