In last week’s episode of Book Journeys, Angela’s guest was licensed clinical psychologist and professor of Psychology, Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D. Ramani talked about her book, You Are WHY You Eat: Change Your Food Attitude, Change Your Life, which is not so much a weight loss book as it is a general wellness book. Instead of being directive like most diet books that tell people what to eat or how to work out, it mainly encourages its readers to listen to their bodies instead of what other people tell them, and to take stock not just of how they eat but how they live. The idea for this book came out of her own experiences and struggles, as well as those of the people around her like her students, patients, and her own children. She wanted to help these people with their daily struggles and to put out the message that they can live according to the expert which is themselves. Ramani’s book is based on science since she is a scientist and scholar and has gone into clinical training, but her exposure to individual people’s stories is a result of her being a practicing psychologist and professor of psychology. She has also been tapped as an expert voice for several television shows, talking about different mental health issues. All this background went into informing the book which makes it a great resource on the subject matter.
Ramani’s motivation for writing the book was to get psychology off its ivory tower, with all its scientific information that nobody can understand, and make it usable for everybody. A second motivation was so that her own patients could have information they could go back to when at home, while those who can’t come see her can also be reached through her book. Add to all this was her desire to become an author even as a little girl, so she pushed herself to write her story and get it out there. According to Ramani, writing the book was the easy part, but selling it was almost impossible for her because aside from the fact that she never learned about marketing, she knew that the public was saturated with so many books and concepts to buy. But definitely being an author has made it possible for her to reach out to different kinds of people in so many ways and send different wellness messages, allowing her to share her voice not just in the U.S. but around the world.
Ramani’s writing process can be an inspiration to those who say they don’t have time to write a book. She describes that she lives in chronic chaos, having four jobs and being a single mother with two children. So she learned to break the task down and make it a goal to write even just for an hour a day instead of targeting long hours, which made her anxious. Her advice is to make writing a daily practice even just for a minimum of 15 minutes a day, and learn to prioritize and make sacrifices. She also found it helpful to work with a traditional publisher who gave her deadlines to meet. She had a mega-deadline which was for the final delivery of her manuscript, as well as sub-deadlines for the copyediting of chapters and sections. Then she gave herself a personal deadline of one chapter a week. To overcome writer’s block, she would sometimes dictate parts of the book into her phone or write stream of consciousness style, or come up with bulleted points and subheadings. She would also take a break and do something different, all of which allowed her to start slow until she got her momentum back.
The biggest help she found when it came to publishing her book was from people who got her message–her literary agent who looked for a publisher, and the publisher’s acquisitions editor, both of whom believed in her work enough to represent her and sell her book. She admits that her book is not a runaway success but has a grassroots following, and believes she did well with it. For her it’s not about selling a commodity but about the love of writing a book and getting your message out. She tells aspiring authors to write from a place of heart. “A book can transform a life, but it can only do that if you feel passionate about it,” Ramani concludes.
Download the PDF: Book Journeys Author Interview – Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D – Sept 25 2014
Watch out for Angela’s interview with another exciting author.