I had the honor of interviewing yoga practitioner, instructor, and president of Let’s Write Books Inc., Howard VanEs. Van Es self-published Yoga for Better Balance, a self-help book focusing on health and wellness.
Writing a Yoga Book
Zakeerah: When did your journey in yoga begin?
Howard: It started thirty-one years ago! I was at a weeklong workshop about making transitions in your life at a place called Kripalu in Massachusetts. We had the afternoon off one day, and I wandered into a yoga class and was hooked! I couldn’t believe how good I felt. In that moment I knew that someday I would want to teach yoga and share this amazing practice with others. I have been teaching yoga now for twenty-six years.
Zakeerah: In what ways has practicing yoga, including yoga for balance, provided inspiration or support for your writing practice?
Howard: It certainly has been the inspiration for content in my quest to share yoga with others. Several of my books have been yoga-based, including my last one, Yoga: The Back Pain Cure: The Yoga Therapy Back Care and Low Back Pain Treatment Program, and of course this new one, Yoga for Better Balance.
The Process of Writing Yoga for Better Balance
Zakeerah: Please share your process for writing this yoga book.
Howard: Dr. Harvey and I did some brainstorming, and we established a rough outline. Then we each took parts of the book we felt best suited for writing and shared the writing for feedback and editing. Of course, books take on a life of their own, so our original outline changed a bit from the initial concept. Once we finished the book, it was off to the proofread editor and the designer.
Zakeerah: When did you first get the idea for this yoga and balance book?
Howard: Within the last couple of years I have noticed many of my yoga students asking about yoga postures for balance and expressing their concern. Dr. Harvey had a similar experience, seeing more and more balance issues with his patients, especially those who have been in accidents or are aging.
Zakeerah: Do you have a special writing space, or where do you write?
Howard: Pretty much just sitting at my desk and writing on my computer. I always carry a small pad and pen as ideas to be included in the book can come to me anytime.
Writing for Wellness and Health
Zakeerah: What can readers expect to learn from the book regarding the balancing effects of yoga?
Howard: In this book, readers will gain an understanding of what is causing their balance problems and then be directed to what needs to be done to address those issues. We talk about yoga’s many benefits for balance, including bringing the body into proper alignment, building strength and flexibility, and enhancing proprioception—knowing where your body is in space. There are practices for all levels. For those who have been away from activity, to practices for accomplished yogis. We also offer lifestyle recommendations to help improve balance and avoid falls.
Zakeerah: In what ways did the experience or process of writing and self-publishing Yoga for Better Balance differ from writing other books of yours?
Howard: Well, this book was a collaborative effort between me and Dr. Harvey as opposed to writing just by myself. So there was some back and forth between us, and it was a great learning experience from a content perspective. We have worked together for years and always learn from each other.
Adding a Self-assessment Tool to Your Nonfiction Book
Zakeerah: How did you prepare the self-test in this book? And can you share the value of having a self-assessment tool for readers in a book like this?
Howard: The self-assessment test for balance is essential to the book as it helps people zero in on what may be causing a balance issue. Many people realize they have a balance problem but have no idea where it is coming from. With this test, they will be able to identify the underlying issue(s) and be directed to the right tools for dealing with it. The preparation for the self-test came from a combination of our experience, education, and collaboration between Dr. Harvey and me.
Write a Self-help Book
Zakeerah: What advice would you give someone aspiring to write a self-help book?
Howard: Do it! Writing a self-help book is a great way to share knowledge and help others. And your book will open doors for you that you would never expect.
Tips for Creating Book Titles that Sell
Zakeerah: Lisa Tener told me you have a great deal of expertise in setting up a book on Amazon and leveraging Amazon as a search engine. Can you share some tips for coming up with book titles?
Howard: I like using the Publisher Rocket software tool to help me find good keywords and categories. This is just the start; once I see them in Publisher Rocket, I look at the books and categories on Amazon to ensure the book is a good fit.
Marketing a self-published book on Amazon
Zakeerah: Do you have any other tips for getting your book to show up and sell well on Amazon?
Howard: Yes, the more you can market your book and drive people to Amazon, the more sales you can make, and your rankings will improve. The more your ranking improves, the more your book will be displayed to potential buyers, so it is self-perpetuating.
Zakeerah: Who is the primary audience for this yoga book, and how are you reaching them?
Howard: Our primary audiences are people fifty-five plus, yoga enthusiasts, seniors, yoga teachers, and anyone interested in improving their balance and deepening their yoga practice. We are marketing the book to our databases, friends, and family, networking with colleagues, using social media, holding physical book launch events, and creating YouTube videos. I also have a fantastic PR team working to get us interviews, reviews, and articles placed in publications.
Marketing a self-published book
Howard: Good question! Marketing your book is as essential as writing it. Even if you write a great book, there is high competition today for book sales, so you need a marketing plan. Many authors write a good book but do little to market it; they sell 100 – 200 books to friends and family, and the book disappears. Marketing doesn’t have to be overwhelming; there are a lot of resources.
Begin with a good book or two on book marketing, talk to other writers, join a writing group, and consult with a professional book marketer. Put any ideas you have in writing so you have a plan. Jot your ideas down in a notebook or a Word doc. You want to have a reference and let this reference be your guide to marketing.
Zakeerah: Anything else you wish I’d asked and want to answer?
Howard: Yes, our book Yoga for Better Balance is available on Amazon here.
Howard VanEs has been practicing and teaching yoga for over 26 years. VanEs is passionate about helping people build and maintain their overall health and well-being through yoga. In addition to teaching regular classes, Howard teaches a variety of workshops and has led yoga retreats around the world. Howard is the author of several yoga-related books and audios, as well as those that focus on health and wellness. Additionally, Howard is the president of Let’s Write Books, Inc., a company specializing in helping indie authors self-publish their books.