ebooks on Amazon Kindle

I’ve just published Amazon Kindle editions of two of my books: Life’s Labyrinth: the path and the purpose and Focus on Healing: holistic self-help for medical illness. Both are also still available as ebooks on the Smashwords site.

I’ve enjoyed exploring the world of electronic self-publishing with its rapidly-evolving technology. Despite having only basic computer skills I found it quite easy to upload manuscripts – though did need help with text formatting and cover design. I love having the freedom to write whatever I like in my own time – seeing it online within a few hours after it’s ready – being able to edit and update later if need be – and to check on the sales figures as often as I wish – all without wasting any paper (having chosen not to make printed versions, although this too would be quite easy to do).

My past experience with traditional publishing has also been satisfying overall, despite the various trials and tribulations along the way – often waiting months for responses to submissions, getting the inevitable rejection letters not always kindly phrased (I was devastated by the early ones but eventually grew immune), more months of waiting after having manuscripts accepted, finding errors introduced into the proofs, and royalty payments representing scant return for the years of work involved. Self-publishing may seem painless in comparison, but perhaps the process has become too easy. Marketing is up to the authors themselves, and most of us are not very good at that. And now that so many people self-publish there may be more writers than readers. Most self-published books sell only than a handful of copies, and some sell none at all.

But, probably like most other people who were born with a compulsion to write, I feel it’s about passion rather than profit. Whatever publishing method is used, it’s rewarding to see the finished products out in the world, and hopefully get some good reviews. And, in the case of my medical books, the reward of having readers say they’ve found them helpful makes it all seem worthwhile.

I’m now working on another two books which I hope to finish later this year. Meanwhile, here again are the links to the new editions of Life’s Labyrinth and Focus on Healing.

Too much medical measurement?

Following a couple of recent high blood pressure readings I had a 24-hour monitor test which was reported as normal – a great relief. I don’t know whether my various small lifestyle changes had made a difference, or whether the previous reading was the result of ‘white coat hypertension’ at the clinic, or of an inaccurate machine at home. I’ll keep an eye on the situation – and continue the improvements in diet and exercise, and with following the mantra NO NEED TO RUSH.

I am uncomfortably aware that many other people are taking long-term, even life-long, hypotensive medication on the basis of just one single high reading without having the 24-hour test – either because this wasn’t suggested to them, or because they couldn’t afford to pay for it.

Many medical screening tests besides blood pressure checks are advocated today. Occasionally, they detect an early case of serious disease which can be successfully treated. This life-saving benefit for a few people has to be balanced against the downside for many others – a widespread increase in health-related anxiety among the ‘worried well’ and the practice of treating risk factors and borderline abnormalities in the same way as established diseases, although in the majority of cases they might never have progressed to cause symptoms. Sometimes the treatments, or even the tests themselves, cause harm. In my own circle, for example, one woman recently developed renal failure attributed to ‘preventative’ medication prescribed on dubious grounds, and another suffered a bowel perforation during a ‘routine’ colonoscopy which had revealed no abnormality.

Many experts, quoting statistics from studies on large populations, claim that the benefits of screening tests and preventative interventions outweigh their risks. Others disagree. Political and financial factors are often involved as well as strictly medical ones. For example, the recent books Pharmageddon by David Healy and Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre reveal the techniques through which drug companies covertly encourage doctors to prescribe. And although most healthcare professionals are sincerely motivated to put the good of their patients ahead of personal gain, they may be unconsciously influenced by the fact that careers can be advanced and money can be made by promoting screening programs or by broadening the definitions of pathology.

Over the years, I have been diagnosed with several different borderline conditions myself. I had treatment for some of them, and others I chose to ignore, but whether these were the ‘right’ decisions I may never know.