Welcome to my Authors 40+ Series – sharing the stories of amazing authors who published their first book over the age of 40. The series features talented, experienced and inspirational writers who share their (often non-conventional!) writing and publishing journeys honestly and articulately. Next to feature, is Toni Mackenzie!
1) What is the title and synopsis/premise of your first book and how old were you when you published it?
‘Your Flight to Happiness: A 7-Step Journey to Emotional Freedom’.
Your Flight to Happiness is a self-help book with a flying theme, taking the reader on a journey which will enable them to release negative thinking and limiting beliefs, and create emotional freedom and happiness from within. Chapter one tells of how the author found herself at an all-time low point in her life, her ‘plane crash’. She then guides the reader through the seven steps she used to rebuild her life and learn how to fly again.
So many people believe they will be happy at some time in the future – when they get a new job, meet a new partner, go on holiday, buy a new outfit, lose weight… The truth is, happiness does not come from outside experiences or other people, happiness ultimately is an inside job!
Throughout this colour-illustrated book the author also shares some of her relevant early childhood experiences, illustrating how our subconscious minds become programmed during the first few years of our lives with downloaded information. This information leads to our beliefs about ourselves, other people, and the world we live in, and we continue to act upon them, often holding ourselves back, believing that we’re not good enough, feeling anxious about the future, fearing that we’ll fail…
The exercises and information within the chapters provide the reader with various tools and techniques to change the way they feel by changing the way they think, and ultimately reach their destination of Happiness.
I wrote my book in 2015-2016 and was not just 40+ but 60+ – and I still am 60+!
2) Tell me about writing the book e.g. where did the idea come from / how long did it take / what did you learn along the way?
After having a devastating and life-changing episode in my life, I fortunately managed to discover the inner strength I didn’t know I had, picked myself up and started to rebuild my life. I became very curious as to why some people seem naturally confident and generally happy while others compare themselves to others, feel that they’re ‘not good enough’ and feel fearful and/or unhappy, even though they actually have so much in their lives to be happy about.
I wanted to understand more about the power of the mind so I began to study psychology, which led to me studying counselling, hypnotherapy and psychotherapy. My training involved much self-awareness and self-development work and I learned how to release the negative childhood messages and limiting beliefs I’d subconsciously been carrying, let go of the past and take responsibility for the choices I made in my life. I began to develop positive new beliefs and live the life I wanted to live.
I set up my own private therapy practice as a fully qualified Counsellor, Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapist, Life Coach, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) Tapping Practitioner, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Therapist, RTT (Rapid Transformational Therapy) Therapist and Mindset Coach. Over time I met and read or heard about so many people who were unhappy when they really didn’t need to be and I really wanted to share the powerful teachings, tools and techniques I’d discovered and used, not just with my private clients, but with as many people as possible who were ready to learn how to do the same. I thought for some time that I’d like to write a book but really didn’t know where to begin. It’s said that when the student is ready the teacher will appear and eventually I must have been fully ready because my book writing mentor, Sian-Elin Flint Freel, appeared in my life.
I knew that I wanted to share in my book what I’d learned and had been living by for several years, so when I sat down to plan it, it was really just a case of developing an outline then putting the seven most important life-changing lessons I’d learned into chapters (the 7 steps), in a creative and easy to implement way for the reader to follow.
The flying theme was suggested by Sian-Elin as before my children were born I was an air stewardess and I married an airline pilot. There were many flying metaphors which worked really well within the title and the chapters.
3) Tell me about your publishing journey step by step – what happened once the book was finished?
Once I’d finished writing my book and it had been proofread and edited by Sian-Elin, I found a graphic designer who designed the cover and the interior illustrations and decided on the paper quality and colour scheme I wanted to use. I then registered my book with Nielsen’s and received my ISBN numbers.
I’d learned along the way that for so many people self-publishing has become the preferred way forward so I didn’t waste any time attempting to be published by anyone else, I published myself! When my book was completed, I contacted Ingram Spark, a company who enable self-publishers to get their books out on the market by printing and distributing them to Amazon and many other booksellers internationally.
4) Who or what has helped you the most in becoming a published author?
Definitely Sian-Elin Flint-Freel – a copywriter, proofreader and book writing and publishing mentor – who I met at a networking group I attended. She guided me through the whole process and without her expert help I may never have published my book.
5) What are the main obstacles you faced/overcame when writing and publishing your book?
There were a few frustrations from time to time with delays and errors, mainly with the person who was designing the interior layout – especially when I couldn’t contact her because she was in the USA and in a different time zone – but apart from that there weren’t really any obstacles.
6) How do you promote/advertise your book?
I used Facebook to promote it pre and post launch, I’ve run a competition to win a copy on Facebook and I’ve placed Facebook ads from time to time. There’s a link to it at the top of my personal and business pages on Facebook, I have a link to it in the signature of every email I send out, I have link on each page of my website to download a free except and also a link to it’s Amazon UK sales page. I’ve given away lots of copies as prizes in charity raffles and when I’ve given talks at events I’ve taken copies along with me to sell. I’m planning on stepping up my marketing and implementing some new ways to promote it further.
7) How did you celebrate the incredible achievement of your first book being published?
It entered the Amazon bestseller chart on day one of publication and went higher still a day or two later reaching #5 in the Popular Psychology category, while the phenomenally successful self-help book ‘The Secret’ was at #1 and the first ever self-help book I read – which started me on my journey – ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ was one place below it at #6! I celebrated with my daughter and a friend and we popped open a bottle of champagne!
8) What advice would you give to other authors about to begin their publishing journey?
Contact Sian-Elin Flint-Freel and you’ll have a smooth journey from A to Z with a very kind, caring helpful person who is an expert at what she does!
9) Where is your book(s) currently available to read and where can people find you online?
You can read over 60 five-star reviews and look inside here on Amazon UK:
It’s also available from Amazon worldwide and from Waterstones and WHSmith online, as well as several other booksellers who sell through Amazon Marketplace.
10) Are you working on anything new we can look forward to in 2019?
I’m currently working on creating a programme/course based on the seven steps in my book with a special emphasis on helping divorced women rebuild their lives, as I learned to. It’s to be called ‘Learning to Fly Solo: Rebuilding Your Life After Divorce’. I have a private Facebook group of the same name so if anyone is interested please request to join me there.
Thank you for taking part in my Authors 40+ Series Toni! If you are an author who published their first fiction or nonfiction book over the age of 40 and would like to be featured in this blog series just like Todd, Elizabeth, Stephen, Iuliana, Tamsin, Julie, Lynne, Devorah, Paul, Joanne, Paul, D.P., Reyna, Michael and Christina, please get in touch!