Wednesday, July 11, 2012

An Interview With My Sis (or A Writer and a Massage Therapist Walk Into a Bar...)

Tip of the Day: Interested in the lives of massage therapists? Check out my sister's blog. I know there's a story in here somewhere....

My sister, Andrea Lipomi, an LMT based in Las Vegas and the author of CONFIDENT RELAXATION MASSAGE: ADVICE FOR THE BUDDING MASSAGE THERAPIST, asked me if I would be willing to interview her for her own blog.
Of course I said yes -- and that I would ask questions related to publishing so I could cross-post it here. What a win-win situation! I hope you find this interview interesting and informative in the areas of writing non-fiction, self-publishing ebooks, and creating related course work to your non-fiction topic.

DL: As a writer myself, I was excited to learn that you were writing a book in 2010, and then even more excited to read it and help with your line edits! But as a writer of fiction instead of non-fiction, I'm not as familiar with the process of writing "how to" books. Can you talk about the market research you did before committing to your CONFIDENT RELAXATION MASSAGE: ADVICE FOR THE BUDDING MASSAGE THERAPIST project, and how you figured out how to structure the contents?

AL: First, let me thank you again for all of your help with the editing! You and Darren (our scientist brother) are amazing, and I know that CONFIDENT RELAXATION MASSAGE: ADVICE FOR THE BUDDING MASSAGE THERAPIST wouldn’t have turned out nearly as well as it did if I hadn’t been able to pick your brains.
Back in 2007 I dabbled with the idea of writing a massage therapy tell-all – think WAITING, but with less food and more creepiness. The more I got into it, the more I realized that the bulk of I had to share with the reader was the “uncommon common sense” stuff that I learned the hard way – through making mistakes, trial and error, and utter embarrassment! We’re talking everything from upgrading services from Swedish to deep tissue, to dealing with the smell of onions in the massage room, to handling requests for happy endings (figuratively, of course).

I wanted to write a book about spa-style relaxation massage that would appeal to massage hobbyists and students, in addition to licensed professionals. I’d read a lot of great massage books over the years that were written with a specific audience in mind: people who had never performed a massage in their lives, independent practitioners in need of marketing advice, massage professionals looking to add new modalities to their toolboxes, etc., but I couldn’t find any books out there that focused on performing high-quality relaxation massage in a manner that would appeal to both newbies and seasoned massage therapists. I found my niche!

The structure evolved as I compiled my content. What did I advise my friends to do when they interviewed or auditioned for a massage position? What would I have wanted a friend to tell me when I felt alone and discouraged during my tenure in massage school? What have I shared to bolster a friend’s confidence when they were struggling to assert themselves or struggling to find balance?

There’s a clear distinction between chapters in CRM. This way, someone who’s already comfortable with performing a full-body massage can easily skip over the step-by-step instructions that make up that one particular chapter, for example. I don’t like taking a “one size fits all” approach to many things in life, including my writing.

DL: You also offer online continuing education courses for LMTs. Are they required to purchase and read CRM? How are the course assignments related to the contents of the book?
AL: I have written a continuing education course for massage therapists called AMERICAN SPASPITALITY, and I have another course in the works. It’s completely different from CRM, so to answer your question, MTs do not need to read CRM to take my course.
What these projects DO have in common is that both can be found on AS is free to download, and if people want CE credit for answering the quiz found at the end of it, they can pay me $48 through my website, CRM is $3.99, can be found on,, and There’s not a quiz or CE option with CRM.

DL: In the arena of fiction for children (the audience I write for), authors often try to find ways to provide lesson materials on their websites that relate to their books; the hope is that they will encourage teachers to use the book in schools. Did you find that sales of your book went up after you provided the additional content, i.e. the "lessons" for your course?
AL: Since my CE course and CRM ebook are totally separate, there isn’t a correlation between the sales of either one. CRM ebook sales spike when I receive a favorable mention on a social media platform, like when Allissa of massage blog Writing A Blue Streak read CRM and gave me a shout out. Her facebook audience, for example, is made up of different people than mine (as we travel in different circles – both regionally and professionally), so it was very cool to be “introduced” to all of these new people through the magic of social networking.

DL: What book are you working on next, and will it relate to a new LMT course?
AL: I am working on a fun new ebookcourse that I hope to roll out within the next month. I’ll keep you posted!

DL: Will you ever try to traditionally publish a book on massage? Or on any other topic?
AL: Traditionally? Probably not. I like the relative immediate gratification and control that come from independently epubbing. My time is best spent working on my next project, whatever that happens to be at the moment.

DL: What is your typical week like? When do you fit in your writing?
AL: I work three 10-hour shifts every week at a resort spa here in Las Vegas. On those days, I sleep, eat, shower, try to stay out of trouble at work, and that’s usually it. I get the bulk of my writing done on my four days “off”, and can usually be found at Starbucks or The Beat (a fabulous indie coffeehouse in downtown Las Vegas) where the distractions are limited to loud cell phone gabbers (as opposed to laundry piles, dirty dishes, and husbands).

DL: What ways have you found to promote your book and course that have worked well?
AL: Marketing is an adventure for me right now. I’ve been tinkering with Google Adwords to promote AMERICAN SPASPITALITY, and the results have been wildly varied and interesting. When my new course comes out I’ll blast my facebook page(s), twitter, local networking groups, etc.
CRM shows up as an “also bought” on Amazon for a lot of people who buy massage books, since there really aren’t that many out there. Amazon is totally where it’s at for me income-wise on the ebook side. I love Smashwords for their free ebook capabilities, multiple formats, and indie-friendly vibe. Deena, I know you love your Nook; unfortunately Barnes & Noble is my least lucrative ebook outlet right now.

DL: What platform do you use and/or prefer to read ebooks?
AL: I usually read ebooks on my smartphone. If I purchase an ebook, it’s usually from Amazon and I read it on the Kindle app on my DROID. If I download a free epub formatted book from the public library’s digital catalog (which I encourage EVERYONE to do), I use the OverDrive app on my DROID. I also love to use OverDrive to download free MP3 audiobooks from the public library and listen to them when I walk or work out. It’s motivating because you have to finish listening to the audiobook before it returns itself in three weeks!

DL: Your husband is also an LMT; did he offer any insight from the male perspective for CRM?
AL: Here and there. We talk about the challenges faced by male MTs all the time. I keep (half) joking that we should record our rants and host our own massage reality show. It would be fantastic.
I have a blog post idea percolating in the recesses of my mind regarding the hardships faced by male MTs: discrimination by clients and employers, false accusations of a sexual nature, assumptions that male MTs always deliver deeper pressure than female MTs, the list goes on and on. I’ll probably bust out on the laptop after I finish working on my new CE course, because I do get worked up emotionally when I consider the BS that some of these hard-working MTs have to deal with, just because they were born with a Y chromosome.

DL: And for our fiction readers, what is your favorite novel that features a massage therapist? Is there one? If not, what story line would you like the LMT to have?
AL: I’m not aware of one, but I’m really out of touch with what’s going on in the world of fiction. The last several books I’ve read have been about massage therapy, primarily ethics and business-related non-fiction, with a dose of old-timey anatomy and dissection non-fiction for good measure.
I would want the massage therapist character in a novel to be realistic. Authors, please do not follow the model set forth by Jennifer Love Hewitt in ‘The Client List’, or Phoebe in ‘Friends’. We may be weirdos, but most of us are ethical, intelligent, hardworking individuals who would love to read a smartly-written book about one of our own.

DL: Any final thoughts?
AL: Deena, thanks so much for interviewing me! If anyone on either one of our blogs would like to ask me pretty much anything about massage therapy, life in Las Vegas, or having an awesome sister, please contact me and we’ll chat. My website is, my email address is helpinghands (at), or you can add me on facebook or twitter. OK, time to drink my lemonade iced tea and work on the next project…

Thank you so much, Andrea! This was very interesting and informative. I have a thank you gift in the mail for your time (think library book donation.... :)). Readers, feel free to leave any questions for Andrea here or on her blog! I really need to get going on a massage therapist novel since it seems to be untapped territory....

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing


Andrea Lipomi said...

Thanks so much sis! And everyone, please don't be shy if you want to ask me anything about anything. :)

DeenaML said...

This was very fun! We should do it again!

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