Most people today seek to connect on a personal level: authenticity is key. So, when author Kathleen Vallee Stein was told by agents and publishers that she needed to become an expert on hospice and write a how-to book, she knew instinctively that her book needed to be written from a family member’s perspective and not that of an expert or medical professional. “I wanted readers to feel as if they were standing beside me when the doctor told my dad that guys like him were considered terminal,” explains Kathleen. “Hopefully, the reader would think, ‘If she can do it, then I can do it.’”
Unwilling to compromise on her vision, Kathleen decided to self-publish her book. In November of 2017, she attended the Independent Authors Conference, held annually in Philadelphia. Kathleen heard enough at the conference to convince her that the self-publishing industry had come into its own and that she could produce a bookstore-quality book without a publisher.
Kathleen’s book is called Loving Choices, Peaceful Passing: Why My Family Chose Hospice. True to her vision, the book shares the story of her father’s acceptance of his impending death and how his family, through the support of hospice, was able to carry out his wishes of dying in his own home, on his own time. “I wanted people to know that there is an alternative to the sometimes painful and debilitating treatment in the last month of life, one that only prolongs suffering,” Kathleen commented. “Traditionally, doctors have not suggested hospice as an option. Through my book, I want to spread the word that hospice care can provide death with dignity. Families can grow closer, heal rifts, and plan for those who remain behind. As my dad’s physician said to me, ‘It’s best when the family decides.’ I want my book to encourage families to decide to take their loved ones home.”
Kathleen also wanted to see if she could write a book. “It’s very, very hard!” she laughs. Kathleen is an opinion writer and her pieces have appeared in the Los Angeles metropolitan newspapers for the past twenty-five years. During her father’s illness, she used her platform to share her experience. After he died, she decided to encapsulate in a book her “meaningful and transformative journey” with the hospice program.
Available in eBook and paperback, the formal launch for Loving Choices, Peaceful Passing takes place April 17 at Arcadia Library in Los Angeles. Kathleen ordered 150 copies of her book via Amazon for the launch, and plans to give a brief speech and have a Q&A. Beginning in May, the book will appear in twenty bookstores via DartFrog, a company that vets and then promotes self-published books in sixty-five bookstores in the United States. Through IngramSpark, Loving Choices, Peaceful Passing is for sale on Amazon and other online bookstores. Kathleen also plans on doing book talks at senior centers, libraries, and other places where baby boomers congregate. “I’m focussing on boomers since female boomers are the primary caregivers of elderly relatives,” Kathleen clarifies.
Kathleen arrived at 1106 Design after an unfortunate experience with another company almost set her back “a lot of money.” Says Kathleen, “They provided NO phone support and promised to respond to email questions within two business days. I got my money back and kept looking until I found 1106 Design.”
What did Kathleen like about 1106 Design? She reflects, “Everything 1106 Design did during our process together was exactly what I needed. Self-publishing is a rigorous process and I had no idea how to upload the book to Amazon and had never heard of IngramSpark. 1106 Design mapped out the process at the beginning, with clear directions on how to proceed at every step of the way. I never felt unsupported.”
Kathleen advises authors who are considering self-publishing to “make sure you have a fire in the belly for this. It is a lot of work, but very gratifying.” She adds, “Listen to constructive criticism respectfully and let it in.” Kathleen admits that the first editor she worked with, before 1106 Design, was tough on her but made the book much better despite Kathleen’s protestations. In addition, she worked with an editor and a copyeditor at 1106 Design, and was impressed with both. Kathleen also advises authors to join writers’ groups comprised of writers who are at their level or above.
Reflecting on what resources were most helpful to her through the self-publishing process, Kathleen spoke again about the Independent Authors Conference that she attended in November 2017 in Philadelphia. “I was with 300 other people, almost all with a book they had written and wanted to publish. I met many fascinating people who wrote great books.”
Loving Choices, Peaceful Passing is a niche book; it’s meant for a particular audience. As a result, Kathleen got many rejection letters from agents and publishers who said that, while she was a good writer and her story was compelling, the book was “just not for us.” Kathleen finally realized that they weren’t interested because they didn’t think it would make a lot of money. As a result, Kathleen encourages other writers with a book like hers—a niche book meant for a particular audience—to self-publish if they can. She says, “The independent publishing business has come into its own, and Exhibit A is 1106 Design. I never would have been able to complete a bookstore-quality book without their help and guidance.”
“I have a book I am proud to promote and sell, and I have accomplished my dream of providing a story for others to read that I hope inspires them to take their terminally ill loved-one home to die in peace.”
Thank you Kathleen for bravely sharing your inspiring story.
Loving Choices, Peaceful Passing: Why My Family Chose Hospice
Author: Kathleen Vallee Stein
Link to Amazon book page: https://www.amazon.com/Loving-Choices-Peaceful-Passing-Hospice/dp/1732620202/
Author website: valleeview.com