Celebrating the simple things in life

I want to tell you about my day today. No, it wasn’t a bad day, the sort of day that we often want to talk about, when everything goes wrong. It was a good day, of the sort we much too often take for granted.

Here are a few tips for celebrating the simple things in life.

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

This good day started with a good night’s sleep – not something I am able to achieve very often. We older women tend to complain to each other about our difficulties in getting to sleep – or the long hours in the early morning when we were awake. But a good night’s sleep, as we all know, is wonderful. You feel so completely refreshed.

Enjoying a Glorious Day

But the special thing was that it was a glorious day – sunny, blue skies, warm, but not too hot, with a gentle breeze.

It was the sort of day that makes people smile as they walk down the street. I went out for some errands and chatted to a neighbour, in part about the day and in part about the good things in our lives. She told me how she loved being retired, doing nothing, whereas I talked about how I love writing my books . We smiled together about how everybody is different!

I mentioned that I felt we took the good things a bit too much for granted.

Sharing with Grandchildren

But my ruminations on this issue had started two days ago. I had been walking down the street with my seven-year-old grandson, taking him to a doctor’s appointment. We had crossed a busy street and had held hands for the purpose, but he didn’t let go.

We walked for ages with his little hand in my bigger one, talking about whatever was on his mind. And I suddenly thought what a wonderful simple pleasure that is. That trusting child, feeling safe in your hands. What more can you ask?

And there are, of course, so many more joys associated with children. Watching an active toddler finally sleeping, watching a child of any age begin to understand something they had not understood before. We, as adults, can only sit back and marvel.

Eating Simple Food

And then there was lunch – for me, some tomatoes, cheese, good bread and a bit of yogurt flavoured with turmeric. Nothing fancy, but nonetheless fresh, healthy and delicious. And I then made some brownies, as my husband had asked for them. Now, there is a combination of ingredients that can hardly be bettered. And they came out well.

Appreciating Timeless Pleasures

The simple pleasures of a beautiful day, a trusting child, even food, have been the subject of many a poem, essay or other form of commentary, probably from the year dot.

But does it take getting older to really appreciate these pleasures? When you are younger, you are much more likely to rush. Yes, you say, it is a lovely day and then you rush on to your appointment or to collect your child from school or whatever it is that fills your time. You don’t really stop and just feel the moment.

You know you should, but on the whole, you don’t.

We can.

Visiting a Friend

And toward the end of the afternoon, I went to visit a friend in hospital. Like me, she does her best to keep herself fit, but she had the bad luck to have fallen and broken her femur. She had had surgery, loads of pain, pain killers, side effects from the medication and so forth. She smiled bravely, but it was clear she was not certain when she would get back to normal.

I walked back from the hospital, as the sun was low but still bright and buildings were glowing – my son calls this “the golden hour,” a new phrase to me – and realised I had missed the most important thing of all.

Simply being able to walk.

I sometimes think we need a wake-up call to appreciate the ordinary things in life.

 

This was originally published by SixtyandMe: http://sixtyandme.com/6-ways-to-celebrate-the-simple-things-in-life/

 

Talking about how I came to write and re-launch Life in a Hospice: AlzAuthors website

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Some years ago, I was taken to a hospice by a friend, who happened to be doing an errand. I immediately felt that this was the kind of tranquil place where I wanted to spend time. Soon after, I began to volunteer at a local hospice every Saturday afternoon. I did so for four years.

This experience had a strong impact on me, lasting even to the present day. Death – as with birth – is a very special time and I felt privileged to help people, even in small ways, in their last days.

As I was a writer, I thought the views and experiences of hospice staff would make a fascinating book. I had developed a technique, based on the kind of research I did for a living, of creating books formed around the direct views of people acquired by long and intimate interviews. Like a television documentary, it allows people to talk directly to the reader.

I undertook 31 interviews in two hospices with a whole range of staff – nurses, doctors, chaplains, managers and even a very reflective cook. They talked about the many ways in which they tried to make patients’ last days peaceful and meaningful, about the impact of such work on their own lives and, most importantly, about what they gained personally from such work. Like myself, they often used the word ‘privileged’ for being with people at the end of their lives.

The resulting book, Life in a Hospice, was, in my humble view, the best I had ever written – and I anticipated that many people would be keen to read it. It was very well reviewed, there was an article in the Times newspaper about it and it was even Highly Commended by the British Medical Association, despite not being a ‘medical’ book at all. All this was hugely pleasing.

But, alas, the breadth of the readership was very disappointing. The book was bought by many hospices and others working in end of life care, but it never took off with the general public. I quickly realized there were two reasons. First, most people do not have my fascination with end-of-life care and, indeed, avoid thinking about anything to do with death. And, second, the book was much too expensive, the price having been set by its medical publisher

I couldn’t do anything to overcome the first problem, but I took back the rights to the book and re-launched it as a very inexpensive e-book ($3.75), so that anyone who wants to read it will not be deterred by the price. It is again receiving some good reviews on Amazon. I must admit I have never heard anyone say they were not deeply moved by it. A paperback version is in the works and will be published soon.

My one caveat for this website is that the hospices in my book did not cater for people with Alzheimer’s. I can only say that the attention to the very individual needs of patients would go far when it comes to people with dementia of any kind.

This was originally published on the Alzheimers Authors website:  https://alzauthors.com/2017/06/14/welcome-ann-richardson-author-of-life-in-a-hospice/

 

Kind Cooking: the art of preparing food for sick people

Are you one of the many people who are looking after someone who is very ill? Perhaps a spouse, sibling, parent or friend? As you well know, it is a highly tiring and difficult task, however much it is undertaken with love.

You may be overloaded with advice, but I’d like to add a few thoughts about food.

Ill People Don’t Feel Like Eating

People who are ill rarely want to eat. Nothing looks good or tastes good and they just pick at whatever you put in front of them. And then they feel tired, have no energy and little chance to enjoy the days, months or, perhaps, years they have remaining

In the course of writing a book about end-of-life care, I interviewed a hospice cook who was devoted to encouraging ill people to eat. If they eat even a little, he said, they will have a much better quality of life.

Instead of sleeping all the time, he noted, they will be able to talk to family and friends – and, when needed, say their goodbyes. There may be unresolved issues and talking is important for laying these to rest. This is altogether better for the ill person and better for those looking after him or her.

Cooking from the Ill Person’s Point of View

The cook, with long experience, had many pointers to suggest. Give the ill person some choice wherever possible, as they will have so few areas in which they can exercise any sense of control.

Don’t overwhelm them with too much food; use small plates and small bowls so that what is offered looks an amount they could cope with. One small piece of meat, one small potato, something green or a small carrot for colour and it can look much more inviting. Herbs can add valuable taste for jaundiced appetites and can offset the effects of medication.

If possible, keep the preparation at a distance, as the smell of cooking can be very off-putting. See if you could borrow a neighbour’s kitchen if you want to cook something that takes time or has a powerful smell. People are often very eager to help.

Eating as a Social Occasion

Finally, the cook stressed the importance of making eating a social occasion. Talking and even laughing over food provides a welcome sense of life and normality. Sit down together and discuss the news of the day or something else of interest. Sometimes, a small amount of alcohol would not go amiss, depending on the drugs the person is on.

He was also keen to get people out of bed wherever possible. A table nearby, even with a tablecloth, can look much more inviting than the tiresome sick bed.

It’s Not Easy

Cooking for people who are very sick is not easy at the best of times. But these ideas provide some ways to make it more palatable for the patient and more satisfying for the cook.

This was originally published by SixtyandMe (see http://sixtyandme.com/kind-cooking-the-art-of-preparing-food-for-sick-people/)

How Hospice Care Can Help Meet a Patient’s End of Life Wishes

Have you ever spent time with someone in their last days? Was it intimate, peaceful and special – or was it full of intrusive hospital equipment, harried nurses, physical pain and no chance to talk?

We are all affected when someone we love is close to death. I am sure we all hope for a time of tranquility and the chance to say a meaningful goodbye. And, it goes without saying, a time that is pain-free. The concept of a “good death” is not an empty one. The question is how to achieve it. Can hospice care help?

Life in Hospice Care

It was my privilege some years ago to interview a number of nurses, doctors and other staff working in two hospices in England. From what they told me, outside of the family home, I could not imagine a better place for one’s last days. Everyone seemed full of compassion, but also thoughtfulness about the needs of the people there, both those who were dying and their relatives and friends.

 Attention to Needs

It is difficult to do justice in a few words to the breadth of attentiveness in a hospice. As described in much more detail on my website, it is not the big things that one remembers, but the little touches that make all the difference.

In my book, I introduce different patients, like the woman who didn’t want a bath at the normal time and was allowed to bathe at the time of her choosing. Or the family member who needed a sandwich to enable her to stay at the bedside and how it was provided. Or the patient who simply needed a cuddle.

I met a hospice cook who spent considerable time thinking about how to encourage people to eat. He said if they ate, they would be alert enough to say goodbye to their friends and family. He studied the impact of drugs on the taste of food and learned how to counteract this.

A choice of food was always offered. He encouraged people to get out of bed to eat, if at all possible, so they could have a sense of occasion with their friends or family.

Each person – whether a nursing assistant or chaplain or doctor – looked out for patients’ needs in all sorts of ways. This might be the need to talk about the past or simply to sit in silence with someone holding their hand.

Sometimes, some action was called for, such as an elderly woman who wanted to write to her grandchild, but needed a slight reminder to do so sooner rather than later. The stories go on and on.

Hospice Care Offers a Choice in Death

No one chooses to die, of course, but hospices do what they can to allow people to die in the way they want. Perhaps most memorable for me was the man who asked to die under a tree and was duly taken outside to do so when his time had come.

Some people wanted music and others wanted family with them. Some appeared to want to be alone. A Muslim man asked that his bed be turned so that his head was facing east. Every effort was made to respond to these wishes.

We don’t like thinking about these things, but we all know we should. Many people want to die at home, but end up in a busy hospital. There is a need to think about what you – or your family – would want, so it can be planned for.

 

This was originally published by Sixtyandme (see http://sixtyandme.com/how-hospice-care-can-help-meet-a-patients-end-of-life-wishes/)

Publishing: A Case Study of Getting Back Your Rights to a Trade-published Book

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Do you have a traditionally published book?  Are you unhappy with the publisher and, deep down, would like your rights back so you can self-publish it yourself instead? Read on. You can probably organise this much more easily than you think, advises American non-fiction author Ann Richardson.

First, Get Angry

In my case, it all started with a royalty statement.

The small but prestigious company that had published my book Life in a Hospice in 2007, had been taken over, and the new company did things somewhat differently. Their statement informed me that they owed me £3.27 ($4.18) but “if the amount due is less than your contractual minimum of £25, the balance will be carried forward to your next statement”.

I got hopping angry.

It wasn’t the money – it was the principle.

Yes, the book was selling only a few books a year, but the meagre royalties belonged to me. And, given my age, I figured I might well be dead before my royalties reached the required sum! I phoned the royalties department and they concurred. My £3.27 turned up on my next bank statement.

But it got me thinking. This book, about the wonderful end-of-life care provided in hospices, was the best I had ever written. The medical publisher had overpriced it for ordinary readers in the first place (over £21 for a paperback and not much less for the ebook) and given it little publicity. This was despite a Foreword by the late Tony Benn, some excellent reviews and being Highly Commended by the British Medical Association.

Why was I putting up with this?

Then, Ask

That was the impetus for doing what I should have done a long time ago. I asked for the contact details of the editor responsible for my book. Having learned how to self-publish, I wanted to gain control over its publication. But I also thought that getting rights back would involve lawyers, contracts, some payment to them and heaven knows how much time and trouble.

I emailed the editor, with a friendly request for my rights. I expected it would be weeks before I heard from her.

In fact, I had an email within two hours saying that they would be happy to revert the rights, with no cost. Indeed, it took less than three weeks for the contractual issues at their end to be sorted and a formal letter to be prepared and signed by the publisher and myself.

Lo and behold, the book was mine.

Moreover, they not only sent me a pdf of the book, but all the spare paperback copies lying around, free of charge. A surprising bonus.

That book has now been re-launched on Amazon  with an updated preface and a new cover, for £2.99. I can happily report that it is selling 3-4 a week, instead of 3-4 a year.

And Ask Again

And this led me to think – why not get my similar book back?

Wise Before their Time was about people with HIV and AIDS back when most people died from the disease. It had been published by one of the Big Five publishers in 1992 and was long out of print. It took me a while to track down the relevant person for reversion rights, but when I did, again there was absolutely no issue from their end. A formal letter returning the rights to me is, I am promised, on its way shortly. I hope to use that as a giveaway on my email list as it is still a good read, albeit out of date.

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So don’t be frightened. If my experience is anything to go by, it is much less of a problem that you think.

And what do you have to lose?

 This was originally published by the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) on 27 April 2017.

Reflections of a Palliative Medicine Specialist Registrar

The following short piece was sent to me and I felt that it reflected well the sort of views offered by hospice staff in my book, Life in a Hospice: http://myBook.to/Hospice

The same casual conversation keeps popping up, “So, what kind of doctor are you?”, they ask with drink in hand, expecting to reap the rewards of knowledge gained from Casualty, to wallow sympathetically in the long hours doctors work and to perpetuate doctoring lore. A fellow doctor at your side reels in a little, scoping out other conversational opportunities, knowing the answer you are about to give. “A palliative care doctor” I say, observing the face slump as they recall their Gran die.

The thought process is often predictable: “is that not the most miserable job in the world?” The job is so often tainted by the stereotype that it is a monotonous hand-holding, sickly, nicey-nice specialty, personified by wool and crochet.

My registrar interview question ‘why do you want to go into palliative care?’ I had answered boringly. I outlined how perfect I was for this job, I was born and raised like a Spartan to be a palliative care physician with my entire being – sleep, diet and life focusing on this one true life-fulfilling aim. I raised my arms in fists to thunderous rapture of the greatness of my person specification. Needless to say, it took me four attempts to get a post.

I wish I had instead tried to respond to the connotations noted above, focusing on what I realised was important. All of medicine is palliative care, really – you are not better until you feel better, but what if you’re feeling rotten all the time? Life is about living, drinking, dancing, devotion, family and football – this job is about giving that quality to patients. It is anything but miserable and, I kid you not, the hospice is one of the most welcoming, charming, blissful and happy places I have ever been privy to.

Is it wishy-washy woollen crochet? Nothing de-stresses me more than grotesque unadulterated violence on the football pitch, and there would be a niche for some equivalent anger management strategy in the hospice (I’m trying to figure out how). But sometimes folk need some fluff. Complementary therapies and the like, although they have no quantifiably measurable outcomes, subjectively calm patients and their family in what is arguably the most stressful time of their life. There isn’t much high quality evidence behind most of it, but rather an old true physician ‘art’ in getting subtle decisions right. The cleverness is figuring out the big picture, what is important to each person and then guiding them through their own – often foggy and treacherous – waters.

Is it for everyone? Well of course not. You are dealing with death, which can create a dolorous reflective environment and this can be hard to get your head around at times. However, being close to an aspect of life so often ignored can be liberating in a weird way. Life is precious and it seems all the more so when you see it depart.

There are no overt heroics in palliative care, rarely quick drama, no adrenaline, which many doctors would miss. But what it does do better than all other specialties is offer the opportunity to not only hold the hand but walk the patient and family through the most difficult journey of their life.

Dr Matthew Dore, Palliative Medicine Specialist Registrar, Severn Hospice

Getting the motivation to exercise

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A few months ago, my six-year old grandson really took me aback. “Granny”, he asked innocently enough, “would you do me a favour?”. I assumed he wanted a second biscuit and said “of course”. As one does. “Granny, would you and Granddad try really, really hard to stay healthy, because I want my children to know their great-grandparents?” Well, that was surprise. I promised to try. What else could one say?

Too much trouble

We all know that one means towards good health is exercise, but how often do we do anything about it?  It feels like so much trouble. Once now and again is fine, but doing it on a regular basis is something else altogether. There are so many excuses – a bad night’s sleep, someone coming for dinner, just don’t have the energy today. And so forth.  It’s easy to slip.  Believe me, I know.

And yet you know you should be doing something to keep yourself in good shape. They keep telling us this. You probably know what might be possible if only you could get off the sofa and go do it. How can we get the motivation?

Find something you really like

First, you need to find something you really like to do. In my case, this was difficult as I had no love of sports all my life. I was no good at any of it – indeed, I was the girl in my PE class who no one wanted on their team. I tried to avoid sports wherever possible. Not surprisingly, this continued well into adulthood.

What about you? Did you used to love tennis? Or swimming? Or dancing? Perhaps you just enjoy walking. Have a think if there is something that you could still do that you really like to do. Are there others who could go with you? All that would be a good start.

Other benefits

Second, you need to think about what additional pleasures you will get from the endeavour. If you have a friend who likes to swim, you could go together and have a chat afterwards. If you go to an exercise class, you might make new friends and expand your social life.

Or, like many of us, you may want to lose a little weight or improve your body tone. This will certainly be another secondary benefit. Or particular exercises may help to reduce certain pains, like those arising from arthritis. I got started on yoga, because it was recommended by an osteopath as a means of strengthening my painful back. I have now been doing it for over twenty years.

Third, you need to make it really easy for yourself to keep at it week after week. You need to find something that fits readily into your daily routine. Is the swimming pool nearby? Is there an obvious walk? Are there exercises you could do in your own living room?

The extra push

And finally, you may need an extra push. Setting a target will help, such as promising yourself that you will go to the gym twice a week. My husband thought up a very novel means – he blamed me for not nagging him. I can now nag with impunity and he is happy.

I’m not sure I can manage to fulfil my grandson’s ambition for me, as I am not so young. But I intend to keep trying.

 

Originally published on the website of British Seniors: https://www.britishseniors.co.uk/life-over-50/guest-authors/getting-the-motivation-to-exercise/

Grandfathers are not what they used to be…nor are fathers!

Have you noticed that something very wonderful is happening to men? Perhaps not all men in every circumstance, but certainly with respect to children in their family. They are becoming so very much more involved. It is a joy to behold.

Young Fathers and Their Children

In our day, it was the rare father who would carry a baby around, do the school run or otherwise take a real part in day-to-day childcare. Of course, they would help out now and then by taking the children to another kid’s birthday party or reading a bedtime story. But they were not truly involved in the everyday business of childcare.

They argued that they were too busy or could not get time off work. Or, by the very old-fashioned, that most activities involving children were “women’s work.”

Nowadays, in contrast, you commonly see men on the street with a baby sling or pushing a stroller (‘pushchair’ in England) or, indeed, at the school gates. Fathers come home from work to get the children to bed. You see them at school plays. It is a very different scene.

I haven’t seen any data on the subject, so I can only speak anecdotally, but all my friends comment on it. Whether it is their son or their son-in-law, grandmothers notice how much the man plays his part. Mothers may not even be so aware of the enormous change, as they only see what is happening now – not what used to happen in our day.

Is this development because mothers are pressing harder for more paternal involvement and fathers can find fewer excuses with real bite? Or have fathers discovered that it is actually a lot of fun to engage with their children? Or perhaps a bit of both? I suspect also that the more fathers are seen to be actively involved, the more normal it becomes and the easier it is for the pattern to continue.

Grandfathers and Their Grandchildren

The same kind of thing also seems to be happening to grandfathers. As discussed in my book, Celebrating Grandmothers, they want to play on the floor with their grandchildren. They want to tell them stories and in all kinds of ways want to be much more involved in their lives. Yes, there were always some who were highly active in any case, but the tradition was that it was the grandmother – along with the mother – who did the heavy lifting.

Some are the children’s favourite. We grandmothers have to grin and bear it. When I collect my young grandson for a visit, his first question, almost invariably, is “Will Grand-Dad be at home when we get there?”

Just as some grandmothers are providing a lot of day-to-day childcare for their grandchildren, so too are grandfathers. I have a friend who takes his grandson to school every day, collects him in the afternoon and makes his dinner, as the parents tend to work long hours. And he doesn’t even live near by. It is hard work day after day, but the result is a very close relationship.

A New Generation of Modern Grandfathers

Are these grandfathers making up for lost time? Some may feel they did not give their children enough attention when they were young and this is a way of making amends. Some simply have much more time now – and the lack of driving ambition – to put their energies to these tasks. And some, like grandmothers, have found that they get a great deal of fulfilment from their role. Perhaps they like the opportunity to give an outing to their softer side.

Of course, many grandfathers have been lost along the way. Some divorced the mother of the grandchildren a long time ago and had less and less to do with the family from an early stage. Others divorced more recently, but still choose to keep out of the way. Some grandmothers engage in considerable efforts to bring the stray grandfather back into the fold. My own view is that they will find it very worthwhile.

A Gift for the Next Generation

Whatever the reasons for these developments, we should celebrate them. It suggests greater respect is being given to the important task of bringing up the next generation. And, while families undoubtedly differ hugely in these respects, the children are surely benefitting from the real involvement of more people in their lives.

This was initially published with a slightly different title by sixtyandme (http://sixtyandme.com/grandfathers-aint-what-they-used-to-be-and-thats-a-good-thing/

Why Do Our Grandchildren Grow Up So Quickly?

We all know that our sense of time changes as we grow older – with everything speeding up at an alarming rate. One of the most notable markers of this is the age of our children – and even more so – our grandchildren.

When We Were Young

I don’t know about you, but when I was a child, time seemed to stretch on forever. If it was Christmas, summer was ages and ages away. You looked forward to being the next age up – to be seven when you were six, and so forth – but didn’t it take a long time to come!

It seemed the natural order of things that time passed slowly and one never thought to question it.

Children and Time

By the time you are in your 30s and 40s, time speeds up a bit, but not that much. Having children in the house keeps you so busy, you don’t think about time as such. Perhaps their birthday parties seem to come around more quickly than yours ever did, or you notice their friends getting taller rather quickly. But somehow there was nothing alarming about the speed of things.

Grandchildren Change So Quickly

But when it comes to grandchildren, everything speeds up so fast you begin to wonder if you have time to enjoy them. They seem to change from toddlers to teenagers in the blink of an eye.

This is particularly the case, I suspect, when you don’t see the grandchildren all that often. We all heard “My, how you’ve grown!” when we were children and thought it was a silly remark. Now, we all probably repeat it ourselves. And buying appropriate presents can be a minefield. It moves amazingly quickly from dolls to make-up, from toy trains to football gear, and for all them to small screens of every kind.

And then they learn so fast. One minute they are working out how to read and the next they are learning French or Mandarin. And they know things you don’t know. This came home to me recently when my seven-year-old grandson taught my husband how to use his iPad.

Children as Markers of Time

I have always used the age of my children as markers for particular times – we moved house when my daughter was seven, my good friend died when my son was ten. These were easier ways of remembering dates than the actual year, as the years tend to merge into one another with surprising ease.

In contrast, I find it hard to use my grandchildren’s ages as markers of time as they move so fast from one age to another.

Other People’s Surprise

And your friends are constantly surprised about ages. Is your son really 35 – it feels like only yesterday that we took him to university! Is that baby grand-daughter six years old already? Different friends are taken aback by different information, but what they have in common is surprise at the passage of time. I tend to say “Yes, they age, but we don’t. We just stay the same.”

And this is, perhaps, hardest of all – realising that we are aging, too. I still remember my own father saying he didn’t mind so much getting old, but he hated having middle-aged children. He always said I was 31, whatever age I actually was. I really understand now how he felt.

Originally published on Sixtyandme (see http://sixtyandme.com/why-do-our-grandchildren-grow-up-so-quickly/)

Handselling

My grandfather, who died before I was born, was a failed entrepreneur who ended up as a door-to-door encyclopaedia salesman in the 1930s.  I think of him often these days as I have discovered that a good way to boost sales of my most recent book is by what seems to be called ‘handselling’.

How I handsell my books

cover of Celebrating GrandmothersCelebrating Grandmothers is a narrative book about what it is like being a grandmother.  Who buys it?  Grandmothers, of course, but also many others buy it as a gift.  The pre-Christmas period is great, as people are looking for an original present for a grandmother, and my book is a solution to their problem.  Grandfathers may be looking for a present for their wife, young people for their grandmother, and parents with young children for their mother or mother-in-law.

It takes a lot of courage, but yes, I go up to people in the street and show them my flyer, and while they are looking at it, I pull out the book and say ‘this is what it looks like’.  As the cover has an eye-catching picture, they often say ‘ooh’, take the book and leaf through it.  Many say they will look at my website later (and then don’t), but a fair number buy it then and there.  I always carry change for £10 in my pocket, so the transaction can be completed without a lot of fuss.

How I decide who to approach

The key question is who to approach.  First and foremost, youngish-looking older women, asking if they are a grandmother.  They are invariably so surprised by the question that they ask ‘why’ and then I tell them. Very old women are not so interested, because once grandchildren are grown up they no longer identify with the role. If they aren’t a grandmother, I ask if they have a sister who is.

Another obvious group are pregnant women.  Of course, I approach women pushing prams or pushchairs, although the hazard in London is that they are a nanny and/or foreign and their mother doesn’t speak English or, indeed, they don’t speak English themselves. Men with pushchairs are better as they are invariably polite, unlikely to be a nanny, and more often buy on the spur of the moment.  I avoid older men, because with so much divorce, many lose touch with grandchildren and you don’t want to touch a raw nerve.

I need to aim for relaxed individuals – and a relaxed author

And what have I learned? You need to get people on their own, rather than two or more together.  They shouldn’t be rushing about, on their phone, dealing with troublesome toddlers or looking like their minds are completely elsewhere. I must be in a good mood, as otherwise I can’t muster the necessary enthusiasm.  It helps if it is a nice day as people are more willing to stop and chat. But all in all, people are surprisingly nice, some even complimenting me for selling in this way.  And best of all, every sale feels wonderful.

It’s worth trying quiet shops

Book on shelf in Limone Delicatessen

Finally, shopkeepers are also worth approaching, if they have no customers.  They may well want a copy, but my greatest surprise was a lovely woman who runs the Limone delicatessen in Highgate.  She offered to put a flyer in her window and then added, why didn’t she keep a couple of copies in case people wanted one?  They are placed just behind the counter, so I couldn’t ask for greater visibility.  She has sold five copies in three weeks and refuses to take any payment on the grounds that she likes to help people and ‘what goes round comes round’. I wish her all good things.

This was originally published by the Alliance of Independent Authors:                                    http://selfpublishingadvice.org/book-promotion-a-handselling-case-study/