Fellow readers and writers, I need your opinions please.
I need to be clear about the intended audience for the book I am writing. This is both so that the book can be found by those who need to read it and also so that, as the author, I can communicate clearly and directly into the needs of the potential readers.
My intention is that the book will instruct, inspire and give guidance and understanding for others to follow – therefore I understand that a ‘self-help’ genre and style is maybe what is required.
But is it ‘self-help’, or is it ‘health and well-being’, or ‘personal growth’? How is best to classify it?
The other question is: ‘Self-help’ for whom?
I had informally categorised the target audience as those ‘in recovery,’ or those working with people ‘in recovery’, as this was how I described myself. However, I think I now need to be more specific.
Earlier this month, I put out a small informal survey, on social media, asking what ‘in recovery’ might mean to people.
Some people mentioned multiple associations that came to mind from the phrase ‘in recovery’ – my overall analysis of the responses shows that:
Over 90% of the responses associated ‘recovery’ with addiction (mainly alcohol and drug/substance abuse).
Approx. 30% associated ‘recovery’ with physical illness/surgery/cancer/accident.
Approx. 20% with mental health/breakdown/stress
Approx. 16% with trauma/abuse
A further 25% of responses covered relationship breakdown, loss, grief, co-dependency, negative thinking, adverse circumstances in life, widowhood, life-problems, identity, emotional growth.
Of course all of these responses are correct and appropriate, and other responses were also possible. I am very grateful for the feedback, as it shows that I need to be more specific. The intention is not that the book is aimed especially at people in addiction-recovery, although I do think it is very useful for such people.
As people have pointed out, there are many types/causes of trauma on a person’s life. These can be relational, as mine was, but can be physical – like a stroke, or environmental – such as war/ tsunami, or mental – such as ‘burn-out’. The trauma may be buried deeply in the past, or it may be a very recent wound.
Trauma, however caused, if suffered in silence and untreated, at worst, can result in serious life-issues of ill-health – physical or mental – and often leaves the sufferer turning to and clinging to ‘quick-fix’ solutions and addictions of various kinds. At best, it can leave the adult burdened with emotional limitations and stuck in ways of thinking and behaving that are not as helpful or fruitful as could have otherwise been possible.
My own journey of healing and recovery were from the wounds of childhood trauma and included the journey to recover the authentic voice and memories of my young self. My own quick-fix was alcohol, to anesthetise the pain, and my emotional damage played itself out mainly in particular sorts of relationships.
The book I am writing shares the strategies and processes that enabled me to recover my voice, acknowledge the damage and the issues and to get well.
The intention of the book is to help you to find strategies that you can use to begin to process your own trauma issues, to listen safely to the wounded inner self, to grow in resilience and to progress in your own journey to emotional well-being.
So my questions are:
1 – How does one classify a book best? There seem to be categories and sub-categories!
(It is non-fiction/ health and well-being/ psychology/ personal development/ trauma recovery/ self-help, or self-improvement)
2 – What would you expect in a ‘self-help’ book?
3 – Would I describe it as ‘for people wanting to recover from any kind of personal trauma’?
(That sounds a bit clumsy though?)
Any other considerations and all suggestions gratefully received.