2018 IRWIN AWARDS WINNERS: LAURIE FINKELSTEIN
Laurie Finkelstein is the living proof that authors can be wildly successful with their first book. Her debut novel, Next Therapist Please, won several awards. The most recent, the Irwin Award for Best Romantic Comedy by the Book Publicists of Southern California. We talked to Laurie about the challenges of writing her first book, best marketing strategies, self-publishing, and her upcoming books.
SPM: They say an artist always has more than one talent. You are an award-winning painter, and your debut novel, “Next Therapist Please,” is a smash hit. What brought to life the writer within you?
Laurie Finkelstein: I’ve always loved to read and I daydreamed endlessly creating stories in my mind. I’ve wanted to write a book for a very long time, but the visual arts were a stronger draw when I was younger and it was a better fit for my anxiety. My writing career started when I used a common practice dealing with PTSD and started journaling. Once I started documenting challenging parts of my life, I felt compelled to bring the stories to life and share them so others would feel less alone.
SPM: Your book won several awards. There must be something extraordinary about it. What do you think it makes it unique?
Laurie Finkelstein: Next Therapist Please hits several important themes. One is the comfort of a romantic comedy. The other is the disclosure of what it is like to live with mental illness. One in four people have one or more mental illnesses. My book touches a lot of lives. I continually receive reviews and comments from people suffering as I do with anxiety, depression, and OCD, relieved that they found a character they can relate to and give them hope.
SPM: How does winning book awards translate into sales and visibility?
Laurie Finkelstein: Winning an award as prestigious as the Irwin Award lets people know there is quality behind the book in all aspects. Awards increase sales through building credibility and merit. Readers want to know they will be satisfied with the book they chose to purchase.
SPM: What was the most challenging aspect of writing your first book?
Laurie Finkelstein: I went forward knowing zilch about the mechanics. The learning curve pretty much twisted me into a Mobius strip. But I watched every webinar, read hundreds of newsletters and blogs, and studied every chance I had. If I didn’t know something, I researched and learned.
SPM: What are the best marketing tips you can give to a first-time author?
Laurie Finkelstein: You need to build a following on social media and an email list for newsletters. Choose the social media platforms you are most comfortable with and will easily engage in. Start posting memes, quotes, links to articles, anything related to your writing. Don’t cheat yourself out of a proper release with a three month pre-launch and three month post launch. In my case, this was an area I struggled in and serendipity led me to the best publicist, Desiree Duffy of Black Chateau. She has transformed my presense online and in the media making a world of difference in bringing Next Therapist Pleaseto the general public.
SPM: You self-publish your book. Why did you make this choice?
Laurie Finkelstein: I wanted my message outfast. I knew if I went traditional I would be looking at two years minimum if I were lucky to be picked up by an agent. Life is too short to wait that long.
SPM: What are the most valuable lessons you learned in the process of self-publishing your book?
Laurie Finkelstein: If you commit 100% of your being into a project, you can see it through. I learned I was stronger than I felt. I was smarter than I was told. I was braver than I believed.
SPM: What’s next for the novelist Laurie Finkelstein?
Laurie Finkelstein: I’m so excited about my next two books. The first is an adult humor non-fiction book called AHOOT!an acronym for A Higher Order Of Thinking. It is a senior’s experience with medical marijuana and what every marijuana virgin needs to know before lighting up. It is fun, funny, informative, and is filled with basic knowledge of all things cannabis related. I happily did all the research myself! It will be released February 2019. My third book is another romantic comedy called Dying to Play Mah Jongand has supernatural elements and a possible murder mystery to solve. That should be out by fall 2019 at the latest. And I have only just begun!