Inspiration to Write a Parenting Book Tweet This
Lynn Welch: Psychology is such a diverse field, what led you to study and work in the field of sleep?
Dr. Schneeberg: I’ve always enjoyed a certain specialty in psychology: behavioral medicine. This is the field that intersects psychology and medicine and, within this field, the field of sleep medicine is the most fascinating to me. Psychologists can offer so much to patients who don’t sleep well. We use cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia, for example, and this therapy works so much better than any sleeping pill.
Lynn Welch: Did you ever imagine that one day you would write a parenting book?
Dr. Schneeberg: I did not.
Lynn Welch: What influenced you to write Become Your Child’s Sleep Coach?
Dr. Schneeberg: I decided to write it once I realized that I was designing behavioral sleep plans for families every day in our sleep center and noticed that I was using the same five steps to design these plans.
I realized that I could teach parents how to do this if I broke the process down step-by-step for them. In addition, sleep coaches can be expensive and hard to find. So, I hope that my book will give parents the confidence to “coach” their own children to be great sleepers.
Lynn: We have a question from Book Coach Lisa Tener.
Lisa Tener: I don’t know if our readers know this, but as you wrote the proposal and sample chapters for Become Your Child’s Sleep Coach, my family put your system to the test and it empowered our son to sleep in his own bed throughout the night. We’d tried other methods and your approach is what finally worked. How many years did it take to develop this system?
Writing a Parenting Book: The Process Tweet This
Lynn Welch: You are a very busy individual, when and where did you find time for writing a parenting book?
Dr. Schneeberg: I usually write in the early morning before everyone gets up. I love making the perfect cup of tea and sitting down to think and write when my mind is at its sharpest.
Lynn Welch: You presented the 5 Steps, how to prepare your child’s room for sleep, as well as the 5 B Bedroom Routine. How did you keep a sense of balance between doctor and coach? Was it a challenge not to slip into clinical mode instead of using a voice everyone will understand?
Dr. Schneeberg: It was a challenge, yes. I tried to avoid the use of any professional jargon (or to explain it fully if I did).
Lynn Welch: While reading Become Your Child’s Sleep Coach, I felt as if I were having coffee with a friend. Some parenting books can sound clinical or preachy but Become Your Child’s Sleep Coach hits just the right tone to draw readers in and help them feel inspired and empowered. How did you find your voice and tone as a writer, and, in particular, for a parenting book?
Dr. Schneeberg: First of all, thank you! I also tried to imagine that I was writing to one specific parent. I imagined sitting across from her and encouraging her (and maybe making her smile now and then).
Lynn Welch: Become Your Child’s Sleep Coach is very encouraging of readers. There was always the feeling of “you got this” — no matter what happens in the process, you can help your child become a better sleeper. How important is follow through on the parent’s side of things vs belief in themselves and the process?
Dr. Schneeberg: This is everything. When we try any new thing, it is so helpful to have the help of someone who has “been there” and who can save us from making the most basic mistakes.
Applying The Parenting Lessons To Writing a Parenting Book
Lynn Welch: I’m curious whether you applied the lessons in Become Your Child’s Sleep Coach to writing your parenting book. In Become Your Child’s Sleep Coach, you went into great detail explaining how a child’s room should be prepared for sleep — no electronics, reading lamp, flashlight, bedtime buddy, and so on. Describe your writing space. How is it “prepared” to help you work?
Dr. Schneeberg: I love my work space. I work downstairs in the living room in a little nook. I like to be near the living spaces in my home (kitchen and living room) so that I’m available to my family. I do most of the difficult writing before they get up as I noted before but I can do lots of writing tasks when people are in and out of the room.
Remember that my kids are all out of high school so they are not all home at the same time unless it’s a holiday or college break. This makes writing much easier than it would be for a parent who still has young children at home.
Lynn Welch: Do you set rules and limits for yourself when writing? For example, instead of call backs, limit trips to the refrigerator or set timers? Do you reward yourself at the end of a section you’ve been writing?
Dr. Schneeberg: I do not have too many hard and fast rules. I do try to finish something difficult before I make myself another cup of tea or a snack.
Lynn Welch: How do you keep up with the latest trends in sleep? For instance, weighted blanks, bed wraps and moisture alarms?
Dr. Schneeberg: I attend the huge annual sleep conference every year plus several smaller ones and I use social media to keep up as well by setting google and twitter alerts for sleep-related topics.
Lynn Welch: Were there any unforeseen circumstances writing a parenting book or the process of publishing and launching that took you by surprise?
Dr. Schneeberg: I thought that I’d get to correct the galleys before they went out to early readers so that took me by surprise.
Lynn Welch: With as much experience as you have in the area of children and sleep, was the book proposal easier to write or more difficult?
Dr. Schneeberg: The book proposal was still very hard for me to write because it was more of a business and marketing plan and that is definitely not my strong suit.
A Few Questions on Writing a Parenting Book from Lisa Tener
Lisa Tener: Do you have any tips for our readers for writing a parenting book, in particular?
Dr. Schneeberg: I think it could be helpful for parents to include lots of stories in a parenting book; it helps parents to both see themselves and see how other parents solved similar issues. I also think that people just enjoy stories!
Lisa Tener: I agree. The stories bring the material to life and also make it relatable and entertaining. Are there any particular tips you’d like to share with our readers for writing a successful book proposal?
Dr. Schneeberg: I have taken lots of courses on both the undergraduate and graduate level as part of my training to become a board-certified pediatric sleep psychologist. But would you like to know what kinds of courses I never had to take to complete my undergraduate and graduate degrees? Business and marketing ones!
So, I found the sections of the book proposal that related to these topics the thorniest and most difficult. I have two tips: read several well-regarded books on writing book proposals, and, more importantly, seek help from a book coach once you’ve made your first pass at these sections.
Your advice in this area (and in other areas, of course!) was invaluable. You know what literary agents hope to see in these sections and, more importantly, You know how to help writers do the right work to get these sections up to snuff. You encouraged me to take some time to develop my skills and expand my platform before I ever submitted my proposal (and taught me how to do this).
Parenting Book Promotion and Launch
Lynn Welch: Do you have an email list or newsletter about children and sleep?
Dr. Schneeberg: I do! Anyone can subscribe by visiting my website and I will be sending out newsletters once a month. I just sent out my first one!
Lynn Welch: Are there times when you interact on social media? If so, which one is your favorite to engage your community?
Dr. Schneeberg: Yes, I do interact on social media. Twitter is, by far, my favorite but I use LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest as well.
Lynelle Schneeberg, PsyD is a pediatric sleep psychologist, an assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine, the director of the behavioral sleep program at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, and a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Take her Bedtime Quiz to find out if your child might benefit from a different bedtime routine. She blogs on becoming your child’s sleep coach on her own website and at Psychology Today.