Have you been meaning to start writing that book or launching that podcast? How does one start? What is the process behind sealing a book deal and navigating a hybrid career?
In this podcast episode, LaToya Smith speaks with Lori Gottlieb about writing a book, getting into private practice, having a hybrid career, and much more!
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Meet Lori Gottlieb
Lori Gottlieb is a psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, which has sold over a million copies and is currently being adapted as a television series. In addition to her clinical practice, she is co-host of the popular “Dear Therapists” podcast executive produced by Katie Couric and writes The Atlantic’s weekly “Dear Therapist” advice column and.
Her recent TED Talk was one of the Top 10 Most-Watched of the Year and she is a sought-after expert in media such as The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, CNN, and NPR’s “Fresh Air.”
In This Podcast
- Lori’s advice to upcoming writers
- Getting into private practice
- Hybrid career
- Six Steps for getting a book deal
Lori’s advice to upcoming writers
I think we’re all writers … I think we’re all creative, and I think we’re all storytellers. Every single one of us is a storyteller, therefore we’re all writers. (Lori Gottlieb)
What to focus on
Personal Experience: Every person can become a writer because each person can perceive, feel, comprehend their experience, and share it in a way that is unique to them but can still resonate with others.
Practice: Besides being able to write, there is the aspect of learning the craft of writing, and that can take practice, patience, and skill. Get out of your way, hone your craft and allow yourself to write, because you are the only person that is truly stopping you.
Tell a Story: Like writing, podcasting is another mode of storytelling. The real hurdle that you have to cross is to get in front of a microphone, turn it on, and begin speaking. There is the craft of podcasting that you can learn, like any skill, but at their core people are storytellers, and that is the true essence that you need to draw from to write and speak successfully.
I think the proliferation of podcasts has to do with the fact that we are all storytellers. We love listening to stories and telling stories. If you want to do a podcast, get out there and say what you want to say. (Lori Gottlieb)
Getting into private practice
Once schooling is complete and a clinician is looking to start or join a counseling practice, consider joining a consultation group. In a consultation group, you can sit and work with other therapists, discuss work, and form connections. It can:
- Provide you with opportunities to learn every week with fellow therapists, sharing material, lessons, and advice.
- Solve any feelings of isolation, as almost all therapists work one-on-one with their clients and not with many other therapists.
Being a part of a consultation group, therefore, helps you to stay on track with your goals, grow your skillset, form relationships with other therapists in your area that work with your niche while soothing any feelings of isolation from having to work alone.
You also need to spend time with friends who are not therapists to vary your conversations and keep your life multifaceted.
Make sure that you are just living your normal life and you’re not talking about therapy all the time because that can feel very insular and can really lead to burnout. (Lori Gottlieb)
If you flourish with variety instead of doing the same routine every day, creating a hybrid career may be the better option for you.
Balancing a hybrid career can work in different ways. Some of Lori’s techniques are:
- Having a schedule that shows on which days activities will take place.
- Hiring an assistant to keep tabs on what has been done, what still needs to get done, and who can generally assist you in your endeavors.
A lot of times people will say “oh, I’ll just do it myself” and then the stress levels just become unbearable, and then you start not having joy in the things that you’re doing. When you stop having joy in what you’re doing, then what’s the point? (Lori Gottlieb)
Six Steps for getting a book deal
- Write your book proposal.
- Research agents in your area and which books they generally work on.
- Send your book proposal to agents who work with books that are like yours.
- Write the agent a short note of who you are, the scope of your book, and politely asking them to give it a read-over.
- Develop a thick skin, because you will experience rejection often.
- Listen to the feedback that you receive, revise your book, and start the process over until you find someone who takes it on.
Useful Links mentioned in this episode:
- Receive your first 3 months with Gusto free
- Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
- Lori Gottlieb TEDTalk
- Dear Therapists Podcast
- Next Level Practice
- Kate Erickson: EO Fire
- DJ Questlove
Books mentioned in this episode:
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- Sign up for Next Level Practice
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- Apply to work with us
Meet Joe Sanok
Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
Thanks For Listening!
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Well, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. I’m Joe Sanok, your host, and I hope you love this show so much that you’re telling other clinicians about it. Forget ratings and reviews and all that. The best thing, if you like this show that you can do is you can let other clinicians know, “Hey, do you listen to the Practice of the Practice podcast? There are some killer interviews there. You should go hang out over there.” It’s amazing to see how just that word of mouth happens. You know, whether it’s Netflix or some other new media, it’s usually someone saying, “Hey, check this out. It’s pretty awesome.” I just got back from podcast movement. You may hear that in my voice a little bit, because I did a lot of talking. Got to know this guy, John Dumas and Kate Erickson from EO Fire.
Also Quest Love was the DJ at one of the parties I was at Quest Love from the Tonight Show, he’s a great DJ. I had never seen him live DJ. But just the connections of other podcasters out there, like Sierra from the Runpreneur, where we’ve got pat, that is from podcast inbox and then who else? We had Reef who’s launching a TV show in LA and all these new friends that I got to hang out with so much. It was really awesome to just hang out with people and learn how they podcast, how they think about it. You know, those connections, those people that you know are, it’s amazing how they, when they grow, you grow. And Lori Gottlieb is someone that I had on my show a number of years ago when she was launching her book, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone and we’ve texted and connected and brought her into our community to really just kind of break down the writing process and the things she’s learned.
And I had my annual diabetes appointment that day that I just couldn’t reschedule and it was great because LaToya Smith, one of our consultants did the interview with Lori and we wanted to give you this behind the scenes. Every month we do this with our Next Level Practice membership community. It’s a hundred bucks a month and you get access to top people like Lori Gottlieb, Jeff Woods from The One Thing is coming soon. We also have had people like Pat Flyn, Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, and then we also do all sorts of other events to help you grow your practice. So if you’re not a part of Next Level Practice, Next Level Practice is for people from that moment you want to start a practice until you’re ready to hire your first person. And it’s just great way for if you’re a solo practitioner to get that support you need. I mean, if you get one new client a month it pays for itself. So our next cohort’s not opening till November. So you can sign up for info about that over at practiceofthepractice.com/invite. But we are so excited to share this behind the scenes, Ask the Expert with Lori Gottlieb. Here we go.
[LATOYA SMITH] Okay. So I just want to thank everybody for joining us. I am LaToya, I’m not Joe, just in case. I know the picture says Joe on the side, but I’m LaToya. I’m one of the consultants with Practice of the Practice and I’m here in forward, but I’m excited to have Lori Gottlieb here with us today. I listened to the podcast with Joe and I was reading on your website, which, if you haven’t had a chance yet you need to go back. You need to make sure that you do that part. But Lori is the author of Maybe You Should Talk to Somebody and just the like accolades and everything that’s going on with the book, I’m like, “This is awesome.” So I kind of wanted to stay there, but I knew I had to be here. So I had to make sure I jumped over here. But Lori, when I was looking at a little bit of your bio, you talked about, and let me just do a real quick, what we’re going to do is I’m going to ask you some questions and I’m going to give people time to ask questions and then make sure you get out at the 45-minute mark. But tell us a little bit, what I was drawn most to you is that you love stories. And I love stories. I love the power stories. I love hearing people’s voices. I love the connection and all of that. So when you first, because you didn’t start out with your career in therapy, you started out exploring cultures and people and stories, right?
[LORI GOTTLIEB] Right.
[LATOYA] Okay. Tell us a little bit about that.
[LORI] Yes, so I took a very circuitous route to becoming a therapist. If you had asked me when I was a child, if I would become a therapist, when I grew up, I would’ve laughed at you. Not because I wasn’t interested in people, in the human condition in psychology, more that I was a reader. I was a really avid reader. I loved story. So I ended up, when I was in college, I studied literature and then I ended up being really interested in story as told on screen. So I started working in film and then I went to network television. I got to NBC the year that ER and Friends premiered. So it was sort of beginning of the rise of television.
I just love story But when I was working on ER, we had a consultant in the emergency room who was an actual ER doctor and I loved the real stories. I would hang out there, I would be there for research, but I just was so moved by everything I saw about these real human stories. So I ended up going to medical school and when I got to medical school, I was told there was this new thing called managed care, which meant that all of the ways that I wanted to be a doctor were going to be very hard. I wanted to have these very, I wanted to be sort of the family doctor who guides people through their lives, through the stories of their lives. That seemed really difficult in this new environment and so I started writing when I was up there and I left to become a journalist.
It was later, I’m still a journalist, so I never left writing. I simply added therapy to it. I had a baby, I needed to, I remember the UPS guy would come and I needed to talk to other adults during the day, new parent might relate to. And at every time the UPS guy would come, and he was our UPS guy, so it was like, “Oh hi.” And I would sort of detain him like, “How’s the weather? Do you have kids?” He would like back away to his brick brown truck. He like wanted nothing to do with this like lonely mother who needed someone to talk to. But we actually became friends later on and I decided that, I called up the Dean at the medical school and I said, maybe I should come back to medical school and do psychiatry. She said, you’re welcome to come back, but do you really want to do that with a baby, with a toddler? Also, psychiatry is a lot about medication management and she suggested that I get a graduate degree in clinical psychology and do the kind of work that I’ve always wanted to do. And that’s the very long story of how I became a therapist and continued to be a writer because I have a hybrid career. I do both.
[LATOYA] I love that story. I mean, if we definitely have more time, I’d like ask you every little question about just the route that you took, but I think that’s the beauty in it and that’s what makes it so awesome. And I love how you said it there. And I know I read it someplace else that you see yourself as both. Sometimes we get in that place where like, no, I’m a therapist and this is what I do and this is everything I learned out the textbooks, and this is all I am in these four walls where we can take all of us into the office and so that’s exactly what you do.
[LORI] Right. I mean, I say Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, also in my TED talk that I feel like a lot of times I’m an editor in the therapy room when I’m sitting in the therapist chair; that people come in with a story, we’re all unreliable narrators. We’re all telling our story through our particular lens. And by unreliable, I don’t mean that we’re lying. I mean that we see the story the way that we’re telling it, but we’re leaving out entire parts. We’re leaving other people’s perspectives. We’re leaving out certain things that we don’t even realize we’re leaving out, because we haven’t come to terms with them ourselves. Sometimes it has to do with shame or why we’ll leave out a certain part of a story. Sometimes we literally just don’t see it.
So I help people because they feel stuck. They’re stuck in their stories. Something is not working and I’m there to help them to get to the next chapter, to edit the story, to see what the problems are in the story and help them to move forward. And I think that the writing feeds the therapy and the therapy feeds the writing. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is literally the stories of four of my patients as they go through their struggles and then there’s a fifth patient who’s me as I go through my own struggle and go to therapy. So you can see how the stories in the therapy room naturally lent themselves to the stories in the book. And in fact we’re making a television series out of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone and there’s very little to change in terms of the structure, because the structure of therapy is like the structure of a television show where every week something new is happening. And I think that that’s the human story, the story of our lives. They’re not static and our lives change every minute of every day, even if we can’t see it.
[LORI] Yes, it’s awesome. So your book now is, when’s that series going to launch? That’s going to be —
[LORI] Well, it’s in development right now. It was a little delayed because of COVID.
[LATOYA] Okay, I got it. So I love the part where you said we all have stories and we’re stuck in our stories. So even when you started writing, like your first book you were kind of stuck there, but then that made way to maybe you should talk to somebody. So maybe you can tell us a little bit about that process. And you said the four people that those stories that you pulled out and then yours. So tell us a little bit about how you even developed those characters or who they are, all that stuff.
[LORI] So I wasn’t supposed to write, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. I had written a piece, I write for the Atlantic and I had written a piece called How to Land Your Kid in Therapy. The subtitle was why our obsession with our kids’ happiness might be doing them to unhappy adulthoods and that piece went viral in the most insane way. Publishers wanted me to write that book and I said, no, I didn’t want to write a helicopter parenting book. I felt like there were so many books out there about over parenting. There was this great line in the New Yorker at the time that said, another over parenting book would just be cruel. Because I think we want people to relax, not to be more obsessed with the whole parenting thing.
And I was a parent. So I very much related to that. I was like in Theros of it at that time with a younger child and people thought I was nuts. You know, how can you turn down this, I am also a single mother. So how can you turn down this extraordinary amount of money, more money than you’ve ever seen in your life to write a book that you’ve already done all the research for, because you wrote this very long piece about it and you had all the stuff that you couldn’t fit into the article? So you’ve done most of the work and now you just have to put it into book form. And I couldn’t get myself to do it and I said, I’m really more interested in what’s happening with the adults. And of course we always say that research is me search, meaning whatever you’re dealing with in your own life is probably what you’re interested in.
I wasn’t so interested in what’s going on with parents and kids. I was interested in what’s going on with the adults and what I was really doing was searching for meaning and purpose in a way that I felt, you know I’d sort of been on this treadmill of doing various things in my life professionally, and I wanted to find the thing that was meaningful, not just to me, but would be meaningful to other people. And I didn’t think a parenting book would do that for other people or for me. So I said, I want to write about the adults and they said, “Oh, you want to a happiness book?” And I’m like, “No, no, no, no, no. I don’t want to write a happiness book.” But that’s sort of what I got pigeonholed into.
And I really feel like happiness as a byproduct of living our lives a certain way is what we all want but happiness as the goal in and of itself is kind of a recipe for disaster. I think that happiness comes from meaning and purpose and connection and relationship. So I wanted to write about that and I thought, where do I see that? I see that in the therapy room every single day. So I said, look, and it took me a while. In Maybe You Should Talk to Someone I write the whole story of how I was supposed to be writing the happiness book and it was literally making me depressed, which is ironic, because it was a book about happiness and I called it the miserable depression, inducing happiness book. And I kept going to therapy and saying, “I can’t write this book.” And my agent says I have to write this book and if I don’t write it, I’ll never write another book and being a writer is such a part of who I am and I can’t ruin my career and because I didn’t write the parenting book.
It was this months long process where finally I just said, screw it. I’m going to cancel this book and I’m going to write the book that I want to write. And that’s what I did. I couldn’t sell Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. People said no one’s going to read this book and now of, course, over a million copies have been. I mean, it’s been read by a lot of people and I only say that because when you’re told nobody’s going to read this, nobody wants this and in the deepest recesses of your place of knowing inside that it’s the book you have to write or the thing you have to say, other people will come to it. And I didn’t realize that at the time.
The interesting part of that is that because I included my own story, because I was going through something at the time. So I made myself the fifth patient and a lot of people said, “Weren’t you worried about revealing so much about yourself, especially because you’re a therapist?” I said, “No. I thought nobody was going to read this. So I just kind of let it fly.” You know, and I think had I known, I maybe would’ve had the inclination to edit myself or make myself look a little more together or clean myself up a little bit. But I think the reason that so many people resonate with it is because I didn’t clean myself up. I think that they’re relating to the realness, the rawness, the authenticity. And I think it’s really helped other people to be more open in their own lives too.
[LATOYA] That’s awesome and I love that. And if anybody else has any questions feel free to raise your hand or jump in. Okay, Kevin. What I was going to say before I lose my thought, I think that’s what draws people to stories and to us. That human connection, because had you been like, everybody’s going to read it, we wouldn’t have got the fullness of it.
[LORI] I was just going to say, I have a podcast called Dear Therapists, which I started after the book and it started because Katie Kerick became a fan of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone and she said, “What you’re doing in the book is making these conversations so accessible. You’re showing people what therapy is, what it isn’t, and just even if people don’t go to therapy, how connecting with people, the title of that, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone doesn’t necessarily mean maybe you should talk to a therapist. It means maybe we need to talk more to one another.” So she said, “You should start a podcast where you just let people hear your sessions.” I had been at a conference at the time with Guy Winch, I was about to do my first TED talk.
He’s done a bunch of TED talks and he’s a psychologist in New York and also a writer and I said, I want to do it with someone because I want people to have that dual perspective. It’s not just one therapist. It’s like, here are two people who are human and also therapists having these conversations. So we do real sessions with real people every week and then we give assignment. So they have to do something after the session. So there’s some takeaway and they have one week to do it and then they report back and let us know how it went. So people know how does this actually help? And people can see that in just one conversation, people can make real shifts in their lives, like things they couldn’t do for years. In one week, they’ll do it. And I think that’s so important for people to understand. So I hope that’s with the book and the podcast and all of the things that I’m doing are helping people to do, I want them to take it away and use it in their own lives.
[LATOYA] That’s awesome. That sounds so great. Kevin, you had a
[KELVIN] Yes, I’ve got a couple. Lori, it’s so wonderful to have you here. I love the book. I love the podcast with Guy.
[LORI] Thank you.
[KELVIN] Yes. I read the book when I was just finishing up my graduate degree and it just really, really inspired me to get into the field. And now that I’m licensed and doing my own work and my own practice I often see my clients reflected in some of yours. So I’ve got a couple of questions, one being I’m curious how you kind of manage your deep clinical work and kind of being one of the contemporary faces, one of the contemporary spokespeople for what it means to be a psychotherapist these days?
[LORI] I think it’s really important that we take therapy out of the therapy room because I feel like it had been this thing that was for people who were more knowledgeable about what therapy was, for people who had access to it, whether that’s financial resources or it was culturally sanctioned in their communities and for a lot of communities, therapy is still very much. You don’t do that. You don’t talk about our family business with a stranger. And I think there are certain communities, the African American community, the Asian community, Asian American community so many cultures where you just don’t do that. You just don’t go talk to a therapist. So I really feel like the deep clinical work that happens in the therapy room makes it more possible for people who never would’ve considered it before, to the other part of my career meaning makes it accessible for people to come in and do the deep clinical work.
I think that they feed each other. I think that the more we can reduce stigma, the more we can normalize this, the more we can say, “Hey, this is about the human condition and we all struggle. We all have issues. We all have things that, blind spots, ways we’re stuck, ways we self sabotage, ways that our families and our cultures talk us out of our true place of knowing what we need to do in our lives.” And how can we balance that? By also sort of staying connected with our communities. So the more we can get it out there, the more that this will become normalized in those communities as well. So people will feel more free to pursue these questions that are really important in their lives.
[KELVIN] Thank you. Also so I’ve got a book idea and I’ve got a podcast idea, but I don’t identify myself as a writer, and it’s not something that I’ve got any experience in. My husband’s a brilliant writer, but it’s just not something that I’ve ever taken up. You’ve always kind of identified as a writer. Do you have any advice for anyone who’s got an idea but yes, doesn’t consider themselves a writer.
[LORI] Yes, well, first of all, I didn’t always consider myself a writer. I always considered myself a reader. So it wasn’t until I was in med school that I really started writing. That was really more therapeutically for me that I needed to write about all of these experiences that I was having. And I think that we’re all writers. I think there’s this strange thing, like people say, I’m not an artist. It’s like pick up some paint. I think we’re all creative and I think we’re all storytellers. Every single one of us is a storyteller. So therefore we’re all writers. So can you learn the craft of writing? Sure. I’ve never taken a writing class in my life. And I’m sure that I could learn a lot from doing that, and maybe I will.
So I think we can all change and grow in our craft, but we’re all writers. And I think that anybody who feels like, well, I have to be a writer to put down on the page, something that I want to tell a story that I want to tell just gets in their own way. So I would say, tell your story. I think that’s why podcasts are so popular too. Look, I’d never done a podcast and our podcast, our first year out, we were nominated for an AMB against like Brene Brown and Krista. So I think I think the proliferation of podcasts has to do with the fact that we are all storytellers and we love listening to stories and telling stories. And if you want to do a podcast, get out there and say what you want to say.
[KELVIN] Thank you.
[LORI] Oh, I think you’re on mute.
[LORI] There we go.
[LATOYA] Sorry, I was going to say I like that we’re all artists and storytellers and so just be creative in the way you feel led to be. Go ahead, Stacy.
[STACY] Hi, Lori, how are you? Thank you. Oh my gosh, this is such a thrill. Thank you so much for being here. And I just love, love, love your book. I started as a school social worker, and now I’m doing private therapy just for the last year. So it’s still new. So oftentimes things that I read in your book or things that I had read will like come up and I’ll be like, “Woo. I remember when Lori would be like, oh yes, I know what direction he is coming in.” And I’d be like, “Yes, Lori, I’m right there with you.” So thank you. It’s always, I think sometimes when we’re in this profession where we feel a little isolated, so it feels so good to have kind of your words in my head sometimes. So thank you for that. Just looking for your advice as somebody that’s newer into the private practice field, I’m going on 16 years of being in schools, but now kind of moving away from that and going into private practice, any recommendations or anything that you think I should do or we should do?
[LORI] In Maybe You Should Talk to Someone I included the scenes with my consultation group because I wanted people to know, and this speaks to your question isolation too, that what we do can become very isolating because it’s just us in a room. So we don’t feel isolated when we’re connecting with our clients in the moment, but we don’t have colleagues or peers necessarily to see us do our work. So when you’re in another job, you’ll have a presentation or you’ll be on a team or whatever it is. But nobody actually sees us doing our work unless you have grad students looking through a one way mirror or something like that. So it’s so great to have, I highly recommend, I had this from the very beginning that everyone said to me, the one piece of advice I got that I pass on all the time is join a consultation group.
You have that weekly group of colleagues where you bring your cases, they bring their cases, you learn so much from them. I learn every week from my consultation group. Every week, I learn something new from hearing their cases that might have on the surface, nothing to do with my cases, and then somebody will come into my office and I’ll be like, “Wow, that case that they presented, that’s really relevant here.” And also just to get feedback. Sometimes we can’t see something because we’re so in it and we’re so invested in a certain way, and they’re seeing a more sort of dispassionate view of the case. And I say the case, which sounds a little bit distancing, because we’re dealing with real life human beings, but sometimes you see it that way because it’s not your person that you’re so attached to.
So I think that’s really important, to have community around you and even not just your consultation group, but make sure that you’re in contact with other therapists. You refer to each other, you go to lunch just to chat and then have friends who are not therapists. It’s really important. Make sure that you are just living your normal life and you’re not talking about therapy all the time because that can feel very insular and can really lead to burnout.
[STACY] Thank you.
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[LATOYA] Go ahead, Jenny.
[JENNY] Hi. Thank you. Put it on gallery so I can see. Thank you so much for being here. This is so wonderful and interesting. So I have kind of a technical writing question around working with client stories and confidentiality. And I know in the beginning of the book, you talked about creating kind of a mashup of people’s stories, but I wondered in terms of do you ask clients straight out for permission and let them know that they may recognize aspects of themselves? Could you just speak to sort of the nuts and bolts of how that works?
[LORI] Yes, that’s a great question. So it’s not a mashup. These are not composites. I had to write that at the beginning because there’s one scene in the Charlotte story that is borrowed from an anecdote from another client who was very similar to her and it fits so well into her story and the point I was trying to get across to people that I put it in her story. So there’s like a paragraph. But other than that, these are real people, real stories, everything is disguised. So in terms of permissions because I was a writer before I was a therapist and I was always writing about everything I was doing, I have in my informed consent, and from day one, I had this, that I am also a writer and that I might write about anything that comes up so long as I protect their privacy.
So they know that going in and most people had seen things that I had written because they were, you know New York times and things like that. So they had read me before and they knew that I handled things in a very respectful way and protected confidentiality, that I wasn’t writing like lured accounts of the therapy room. And this book was different because it was very detailed and it was very much following the treatment. It wasn’t like a quote here, an anecdote here. It was really their stories. So first of all, I had to think about who I would ask and why there were some stories that I thought would be really great for the book that I didn’t even ask. For example, there was a woman who always wanted to be like the favorite therapy client. And even though I feel like we had worked through that, by the way, I didn’t write about anyone I was currently seeing on a weekly basis.
So I couldn’t, I felt like that would just blur things way too much, even if I was writing about things that happened five years earlier. So this woman was no longer in therapy, but I felt like she would say yes, just because she would think, oh, I really was the favorite patient and I didn’t want that dynamic to be happening. I could see that kind of reemerging if I were to ask her. So I didn’t include her in the book. There was another one who always wanted to, she had trouble saying no. I think she had very much worked through that, but I thought that would be a very awkward position for her to be in if I asked her this and she didn’t really want to be in the book that she might say yes, even if she didn’t really want to be.
So I didn’t include her either. So the people that I asked, I really thought long and hard about, first of all, who should I ask and then what these conversations would be like. And I wanted them to know all of the parameters, which is that I was going to change details as I pleased. I was going to protect them that they would have to trust me that I was going to protect them in this way. They were not going to read it before it came out and were they up for that? In Julie’s case, it was her husband who I had only met in the context of being at the house when she was dying and then again at the funeral. So that was those conversations that I had with him, were incredible and thinking about Julie and what she would want.
When I was seeing Julie, she had always said, “You should write a book one day.” She would always say that. So I felt like I kind of had her permission in that way. So I changed any detail because with Google, you can find basically anything on anyone by typing in a word or two. So I had to make sure that anything that was very specific. The name of that had to be changed. But other than that, they didn’t read it until afterward. And a lot of people thought they were in it, which was interesting and were not. So they’d be like, “Was that based on me?” “No, it wasn’t.”
[LATOYA] That’s a great question. I was going to ask that question too, Jenny. So I’m glad that you asked that one. Anybody, what are some other questions we have? Go ahead, Carolyn.
[CAROLYN] Hi. I did want to mention, so I read your book back in early 2020 and one of the things I had mentioned in my good reads review was my appreciation of the humanness of your writing, both from the therapist perspective and the client perspective. So that was one of the things I really appreciated most about your book and it was a good one to put down
[LORI] Thank you. And thank you for posting a review. I think that was really helpful in getting people to read the book, because again, people have such, very fixed ideas about therapy. So I think when people read reviews like yours and they talk about the humanness of it, then people say, “Oh, I might see myself in this too.” Whereas before they might have said, “Oh, that’s a book about therapy. So this won’t be useful to me.”
[CAROLYN] Oh, absolutely. So my question is, you had mentioned earlier or used the phrase the hybrid career, and I find myself sort of straddling that too. I have a public speaking and consulting business and also obviously the therapy side of things too. So I find myself trying to just navigate those waters and balance things out and figure out how to allocate time, energy, resources, marketing all of that. So I’m just curious from your perspective, how do you try to navigate all of these different areas that you’re in and conceptualize it? Just try to balance it all.
[LORI] So I think it’s that I really do well with having variety in what I’m doing every week. So I think I wouldn’t want to be in the therapy room eight hours a day, five days a week. I wouldn’t want to write eight hours a day, five days a week. I wouldn’t want to do a podcast eight hours day, five days a week. So I think that all of the things that I do there’s a freshness, there’s a newness because of the hybrid career. So I think it’s great that you’re doing that too. I think in terms of balancing them, I have to have a certain kind of schedule to do that. So there’s like, this is the day, this is when we’re taping the podcast. And also there’s like a lot of other things that go into it.
So I got an intern and that was life changing because I don’t have time to do certain things because will take me away from the therapy work, the writing, this, that. I still get distracted by all those things. It’s sort of like modern life and how quickly it moves but I think having, a lot of times people say, “oh, I’ll just do it myself,” and then the stress levels just become unbearable and then you start not having joy in the things that you’re doing and when you stop having joy in what you’re doing, then what’s the point at that point. So I think it’s really important to notice are you getting overwhelmed? Can you get like a college student or someone young who is interested in therapy or interested in psychology, a psychology student who might want to assist you? That has been very helpful. So I would say make sure that you are doing what brings you joy and then allocate certain things if you feel like you’re getting overwhelmed.
[CAROLYN] Thank you.
[LATOYA] Awesome. We have a question from Jermaine. She asked or I’m sorry, the person asked, could you walk us through the process of getting a book deal?
[LORI] Yes. So I had written books before. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, my first book came about because I had found my childhood diaries as I was going to medical school and I was looking for my old physics notes. I went into my closet in my childhood bedroom and there were all these things there that I didn’t know were there including the diaries. That led to my first book because a friend of mine taught me how to write a proposal. You have to write a book or proposal. So he taught me how to write a book proposal. You can Google that. You can find so many examples of that online now, but this was in the pre-historic age when the internet was not the internet and you couldn’t find those things. So I actually had to learn how to do that. You can learn it in a few minutes on the internet now.
So I wrote a book proposal and he gave it to his agent and she happened to like it and that was how the first book came about. My other book came about because I wrote a piece for the Atlantic that went viral. That was the Marry Him book. And then this one again, I wrote that Atlantic piece, they wanted me to write the parenting book and I ended up saying, I want to write a different book. But I think the way you get a book deal is you write a book proposal and then from that book proposal, you send it to agents. You should look at books that are similar to the book that you’re writing so that you are sending to agents that you know like that kind of material.
So you want to make sure that you’re targeting the right agents and you simply write them like a very short note saying, “I’m so, and so.” You give them a little bio of who you are in two sentences and you say, “I’ve written this book proposal. Would you be willing to take a look?” They will either say no, were not taking submissions right now, or I’m going to pass it on to my call league, or yes, I will read it. And you have to have really thick skin because you will get rejected often by so many people who just don’t want to read it or they read it and it doesn’t click with them. And you can see, like with my book, I got rejected by everybody. And I was already a writer and I was already an established writer and even as an established writer nobody wanted to do Maybe You Should Talk to Someone.
So you have to remember those stories. There’s a book out right now called Falling. It was just on Fresh Air for those of you who listened to Terry Gross on NPR and it’s a flight attendant who wrote her first novel. She wrote it over all these years when she was working and she went to something like 40 publishers and got rejected from all of them except this one. And it’s been on the New York Times Best Seller list for a few weeks now. So those stories are the ones that I think you have to hold onto when you’re trying to get your work out there, that people think, oh, it’s really easy. People just write something and it happens for everyone else. Why can’t it happen for me? Even the people who are “successful,” they got rejected multiple times as well.
[LATOYA] Yes, that’s a good question. So keep at it. If you get a rejection, keep at it.
[LORI] And take the feedback because sometimes they’ll say, “Hey, here’s why I’m not taking it. Let me tell you why. Here’s why I think it might not work.” And then you can revise it based on the feedback. So every time you get that feedback, don’t look at it as a rejection. Look at it as I just got a free consultation with a professional in this industry, because that’s what it is.
[LATOYA] Yes. I like that. You got to switch that up a little bit, a free consultation. I like that. Anybody, we have about a little less than 10 minutes. Any more questions? Okay, go ahead, Stacy.
[STACY] Just a question about your audience, Lori, did you have a mix of therapists and non-therapists, or did you find that like we were the ones that were like soaking up your words and your book?
[LORI] It’s so interesting because I think therapists found it later, which was not what we expected. In fact, the reason that people did not want to buy it is because they said the only people who will read this are therapists. And it turns out that no, we had trouble raising awareness to the therapeutic community, like therapists had not heard of it. So it went out sort of in this very general way. We had no publicity lined up. People would not cover it. The only thing that I got and I was like a bulldog with this, I said, “We have to get Fresh Air. We have to get Fresh Air, because I need to have a long form conversation.” This isn’t the kind of book that you can describe in your four minute segment on the Today Show. Like we have to get a long conversation that people will listen to.
And, of course, that’s not an easy thing, getting Fresh Air. So it’s kind of a jigs. I have to fly to the moon. But that was literally the only piece of publicity that we had. We had nothing else. No one would touch it. Terry Gross, through her credit did and before our conversation, so you’re sitting there in studio and you’re in a totally different location than she is, a totally different city. And I’ve been listening to Fresh Air my whole adult life and it was very funny because she introduces herself and she says, “So my name’s Terry Gross and I have this interview show,” and I’m like, “Terry, I know who you are.” She’s like, “Well, some people come on the show and they don’t,” which just astounded me.
But she also said, ‘I want to let before we start recording that I’m in therapy, I’ve been in therapy for years. I love it. I may or may not bring it up, but I just want to give you that context. I almost started crying, like sitting there in studio that here we are. At every interview I did for this book, people would say like I’m in therapy and then they would bring it up and she did bring it up in the interview. So I think that that was really important in getting the general public but for whatever reason, therapists kind of heard about it through their friends who were not therapists, because everyone would say to their friends who are therapist, “Hey, you’re a therapist, you should read this.” And then the therapists started hearing about it and therapist also heard about it because their clients would bring it into the therapy room and say, “I read this book,” and they would want to discuss it with their therapist.
And then their therapist would say, “Oh, I’ve never heard of that. Let me read that book.” So that was how therapists heard about it. So now I would say it’s a mix, but in the beginning it was very much not the therapeutic community. And I’m really glad that the therapeutic community has found it because I feel like it’s a conversation amongst colleagues with all of us. Also I think it’s interesting a lot of therapists have written to me and said, “Somebody came into my office,” and I get this story a lot, “Someone came into my office with your book and they were mentioning the part where you ask Wende if he likes you.” But they didn’t want to ask me directly if I like them. So they would just bring up that part and I would know that they were trying to ask me that question too.
[STACY] Thank you.
[LATOYA] Any other questions? Trying to look in the comments too, to see if we have some more questions. No, I do like that part. Well, I have some, I always have questions. I do like that part when you talked about as far as just shifting from rejection to a free consultation. But even the same way, because I think that writing sometimes it seems like the biggest thing. Okay, write a book. Is the book like 500 pages? Like how do you pace yourself to say, “okay, I do want to do this,” but not to get burned out the first week because you didn’t make so many words or what’s the word count or how do I keep the creativity flowing and not to have the book on the shelf for 10 years?
[LORI] I just want to say that I am friends with so many writers and I don’t know any writer who would not say writing a book is incredibly hard. It just is. So for people who think that oh, people just sit down and write books, it’s not like that. People might say, yes, this section was easier or whatever it might be. For Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, the writing of that book was the easiest for me but only because it was something that I had been thinking about without knowing that I was thinking about it for years, because it was like the parenting book and the happiness book and then I was just like, I know exactly what I want to write. No one would kind of let me write it.
But then when I just said, “Screw it, I’m just going to write it anyway,” I knew exactly what I wanted to write. So it had been there for a long time. I think if I had originally sat down to write it, it would’ve been much harder. The book that I’m writing now, I’m writing a new book right now, it’s been incredibly hard. I already know the stories because these are real people’s stories, they’re real lives, but it’s hard I think to look at the book and understand sort of like how it all fits together in the writing. So I think it’s really important just to write something. And it doesn’t matter if it’s good, if it’s not good, if it’s going to work, if it’s not going to work, but just get something on the page because it will either, you’ll either use it in some way that you even don’t realize at the moment or it will help you to figure out what you do want to write. So I think people always say like, “Oh, I need to wait for this creative burst of inspiration.” No. It’s I have this phrase, butt to chair and basically that’s how you write, butt to chair. And by butt to chair, I don’t mean like scrolling on Instagram. I mean, like, butt to chair and you’re just sitting there with your page.
[LATOYA] Awesome. I feel like I want to write something now. Let me jump up, just check to see if there’s any more questions. And then I know you got to go on like three minutes, but if you just want to, if you can just let everybody know just how to either keep up with the book or see what’s next for you or even the podcast or listen, are you taking guests for your podcast for that one week, fix your life?
[LORI] Yes. So yesterday in fact, we just launched season two of Dear Therapists. That’s the podcast. So people get confused because I have a column in the Atlantic called Dear Therapist and then the podcast is called Dear Therapists, plural, because it’s me and my co-therapist Guy Winch. Season two is already taped, but we are definitely taking letters for season three. So if you want to write in something, you can write to firstname.lastname@example.org. And that’s all in the show notes. If you go to the podcast itself on Apple Podcast or Spotify or wherever you listen and you can hear. Especially as therapists, I think it’s so interesting to hear sessions with people to hear how other therapists do it, how you might do it differently, what happens as we know, as therapists often, the issue the person comes in with goes in a completely different direction because it’s a symptom of some larger issue or some underlying issue.
So you can see that in all of them, this season and last season, if you missed them also. And the good thing that we’re doing this season that I’m so excited about is I think as therapists we’re used to hearing week to week what happens with people. So in our podcast, you get that one week follow up. But what we’re doing with season two is we followed up a year later with our season one guests. So you have all brand new sessions with our season two guests, but you also have these, Where are They Now Sessions where we are following up with the season one guests you can hear, well, what happened a year later? Like what kind of change happened that maybe did or did not happen in a week, what’s different in their lives. And it’s been really, really interesting and I think it’s good feedback as therapists to hear well, what worked and what didn’t and why so we can all learn from that experience as well. So people can listen to season two that just launched of Dear Therapists. They can go back and listen to season one so they understand where they are and the episodes they are referring to. They can read Maybe You Should Talk to Someone if you haven’t already. They can listen to my TED Talk, which is sort of based on Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. It’s about how changing our stories can change our lives and about working with narrative and the stories that we have ingrained in ourselves, like the I’m unlovable, or I can’t trust anyone or whatever those stories are and how to kind of edit those stories.
And then I’m writing this new book, which is about how we love. It’s about couples of all kinds, meaning mother, daughter, sibling romantic. One of the patients that I follow his wife has died and he’s sort of in the room with us in a way, because he’s going through that grieving process through this long marriage. So it’s really about how we are loved and how we love, and you can look out for that when I finish it.
[LATOYA] And look up for the show to, right?
[LORI] And the TV series of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, which is in the works right now.
[LATOYA] Awesome. Well, congratulations and thank you so much. It was as good as like a creative burst and I feel like we all can just launch in our lane like this, that spot of creativity, whether it’s writing or podcasts.
[LORI] Yes. It was also going to say I have a workbook to Maybe You Should Talk to Someone that you can pre-order now. It’s all about how, it takes you through the process of rewriting your story, and it’s really useful for clients, if you want to help to rewrite their story. It’s all exercises and it is an actual workbook. It’s called the Maybe You Should Talk to Someone workbook and you can find it on Amazon or wherever. It’ll be available at the beginning of November, but you can pre-order now and you’ll get it the first day. And I think it’s really helpful I wrote it both for therapists and for their clients. So therapists can use it both for personal growth, but also to see how can we help our clients move through their stories and then also just for clients to work on it themselves.
[LATOYA] Awesome. Thank you for sharing that last fact, because that’s going to be extremely helpful in counseling and for ourselves. And I don’t know if you can see the notes, there’s a lot of people just giving you praises and this is just an awesome. I’m glad I was able to join this one. So thank you so much, Lori, for even coming on here to Ask the Expert like you. Thank you everybody for joining in and we’ll definitely be ordering and watching.
[LORI] Great. Thank you so much for being part of this conversation. It’s so great to talk to other colleagues and I really appreciate y’all taking the time today.
[LATOYA] All right, everybody have a good day for yourself. Thanks Lori. Have a good day, everybody.
[JOE] Oh my gosh, wasn’t that an amazing episode? I mean, Lori and LaToya just knocked it out of the park. Thank you so much for listening today. And also Gusto is back. Gusto has been a longtime sponsor. Gusto does amazing payroll solutions so easy. You can see it from the employer standpoint or from the employee if you have employed yourself. I know that whenever my accountant needs to have a little bit of extra information or if my attorney does, it’s so easy to just run those reports and get them to them because I use Gusto. I can show all of the taxes that I paid and it does all those automated things so I don’t have to think about all that stuff. So try Gusto over at gusto.com/joe, and you’re going to get three months for free. I personally use them. I love them. It’s so streamlined. If you’re not using Gusto for your payroll, you’re probably wasting a whole bunch of time.
So I thank you so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain, have an amazing day, and I’ll talk to you soon.
Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music. We really like it. And this podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.