Virtual Book Tour Guest: David J. Berndt, author of 'Overcoming Anxiety'

Our guest today is David J. Berndt, Ph.D., author of Overcoming Anxiety.

David J. Berndt, Ph.D. was an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Chicago where he published or presented over 80 papers and articles before establishing a private practice. Dr. Berndt currently lives in Charleston, S.C. where he also teaches in an adjunct capacity at the College of Charleston. He is best known for his psychological tests The Multiscore Depression Inventory, and the Multiscore Depression Inventory for Children, both from Western Psychological Services.

His latest book is the nonfiction self-help, Overcoming Anxiety.

For More Information
About the Book:

The good news is that anxiety can be overcome without relying on medication. Psychologist David Berndt, Ph.D., in Overcoming Anxiety outlines several self-help methods for management of anxiety and worry. In clear simple language and a conversational style, Dr. Berndt shares with the reader powerful step by step proven techniques for anxiety management. 

You will learn:

·        A Self-hypnosis grounding technique in the Ericksonian tradition.
·        Box Breathing, Seven Eleven and similar breathing techniques for anxiety relief.
·        How to stop or interrupt toxic thoughts that keep you locked in anxiety.
·        How to harness and utilize your worries, so they work for you.
·        Relief from anxiety through desensitization and exposure therapy.
The book was designed to be used alone as self-help or in conjunction with professional treatment Dr. Berndt draws upon his experience as a clinician and academic researcher to give accessible help to the reader who wants to understand and manage their anxiety.

For More Information

  • Overcoming Anxiety is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

I realized that my ability to help clients as their psychologist was improving dramatically year in and year out over the last 20 years. I have had the privilege of collaborating with my clients, sharing this or that technique that I had learned, only to have them point out a better way, then the process would start all over again with the next client. It seemed like every five years or so I had become twice as competent, effective and knowledgeable, mostly due to the ideas and feedback my clients shared with me.

I noticed a couple of years ago that much of what made my interventions helpful to my clients was unavailable to others. I had formerly been very involved in training, especially when I was at the University of Chicago. I thought of writing for my colleagues, as was my habit, but in the end I felt it was more important to help as many clients as I could, so I decided to present this information in a way that would be helpful to someone struggling with anxiety.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

It was a lot harder than I ever imagined, especially the mechanics of it, like the copy editing and proofreading. I wrote about 100 pages in the first couple months, and eventually gave it to family and friends for editing and feedback on that early half-completed manuscript.  Only after getting feedback did I realize I was repeating myself over and over, especially the points I most wanted to get across. I had to put Overcoming Anxiety on a diet and pretty soon that 100 pages was more like 20.

Another frustration was trying to capture my “voice” in writing. I set out to write in a way that reflected how I talked with my clients, and so I needed to use the first person intimate point of view, to get it even a little right. However, you can’t really capture on the page a raised eyebrow or voice tone, much less warmth and authenticity. Actually just writing about this now makes me want to use my own voice for the audio version.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I self-published Overcoming Anxiety but there is a bit of a story behind that. My wife is a New York Times bestselling author and she has one of the best agents in NY, and she has written for several of the top publishing houses. I got to know some things about the industry and landed a darn good New York agent for myself, for my nonfiction writing.

However, I took on the task of publicizing my wife’s books and learned a great deal over the last 12 years about book promotion, but also about the rapidly changing publishing industry. In 2003 we won the Waldenbooks Greatest Sales Growth Award for one of her books, and she went on to have a string of successes. But the industry has really changed since then.

To anyone paying attention it became obvious that eBooks and Kindles ™ were seriously hurting the legacy (Big 5) New York publishers, and they did not seem to be nimble enough to keep up. Whereas self-publishing was once something to be shunned, suddenly authors who were self-publishing were beating the pants off the dinosaur publishers, selling more books, making more money, and ranking higher on the bestseller lists.  Indie authors were getting a fairer share of the royalties, and as an indie author they could exercise choice in covers, prices, and when and what to publish.

When Hachette and Amazon had their recent feud, I could see the writing on the wall. The publishers were going to insist on charging way too much for their books – more than the market would tolerate, especially for eBooks. The legacy publishers want to sell eBooks for double digit prices, even though the eBooks cost virtually nothing to publish.

I knew that I wanted my book to be more accessible than that, and more affordable. I am selling the print book for under $10 and my list price of the eBook version is under $6. If I was going with a traditional publisher my readers would be paying about double that, and no way could I get a publisher to discount that further. The extravaganza sale I offered over the first days of my book launch would have been out of the question with a traditional publisher. 

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

I was surprised that most nonfiction books, especially self-help, do not have people on their front covers. I guess I hadn’t noticed. I was somewhat surprised that nonfiction is still making more money in print when compared to eBooks, and that promotional venues for nonfiction books were more limited. I was really surprised that my eReader does not hold more books.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

My next book in the Psychology Knowledge series is about Special Topics in Anxiety and deals with skin picking, hair pulling, complex PTSD, insomnia, and social anxiety, so it focuses in on these specific topics. I also am scheduled to do books in 2016 on managing emotions and PTSD. My book on anger probably will be delayed until 2017. I also give away a lot of free information, as well as keep people abreast of what I am writing, at the Psychology Knowledge Readers Group.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

As an indie writer I learn a great deal from participating in Kboard’s Writer’s Café discussion forum, and I think Joe Konrath’s self-publishing blog is always worth a look. For fun, you might see me refining my Texas Holdem poker skills at Tournament Poker Edge.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

First, if you are serious about beating anxiety, you need to adapt what you learn from your therapist or from self-help books, so what you are doing feels authentic and relevant to you, and then you need to make those techniques yours. Second, you have inside yourself a vast store of resources that, when mined and developed, can put you in charge of your emotions and thoughts. Third, you need to get a strategy in place that makes use of different tactics for different problems.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

I would like to thank Dorothy and everyone at The Writer’s Life for the thoughtful questions and giving me a chance to talk about Overcoming Anxiety. I, of course, also want to thank everyone who has read the book, or are about to read it, especially those who give me feedback so I can become a better writer, and better psychologist.

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