Thursday, August 22, 2013: Dedicated Issue: New Harbinger Publications

New Harbinger: Celebrating 40 Years

New Harbinger: ADHD According to Zoe by Zoe Kessler

New Harbinger: Living & Loving After Betrayal by Steven Stosney

New Harbinger: Fall 2013 List

New Harbinger: The Happy Couple by Berton Goldsmith

New Harbinger: The Migraine Miracle by Josh Turnkett

Editors' Note

New Harbinger Publications

In this issue, with the support of the company, Shelf Awareness celebrates the 40th anniversary of New Harbinger Publications and its mission of changing the world and helping people improve their lives. The stories were written by John Mutter and Shannon McKenna Schmidt.

New Harbinger: Backlists

Books & Authors

Helping People Improve Their Lives

Among publishers, New Harbinger Publications stands out for its 40 years of focused publishing, for its long list of perennial bestsellers, for its independence, for its success financially, for helping its reader-customers understand problems and improve their lives and, perhaps most important, for publishing books that, as it says, change the world and address human suffering. Consider:

  • The house continues to concentrate on publishing evidence-based self-help titles that have steady sales from year to year that help readers and practitioners deal with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, OCD, PTSD and other diagnoses.
  • New Harbinger continues to be the leading publisher in the field of cognitive behavioral therapy as well as "third wave" behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy. This has solidified its connections with authors and practitioners and kept it on the cutting edge of new trends.
  • The company, which focused initially on mail order sales, then worked with a distributor, now has its own sales team and sells directly to the trade, which has increased revenue, margins and its contact with the market.
  • New Harbinger is an ESOP, an employee-owned company, with staff owning 54% of stock, which, among other benefits, maintains the house's independence and improves staff morale and sense of ownership.
  • Last year the company's sales rose to more than $15 million, and it had its first New York Times bestseller, The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer.
Matthew McKay, 1973

To understand New Harbinger best, it helps to go back to the company's founding in 1973, which took place, as co-founder and CEO Matthew McKay said, "in a bar, where so many good things begin." At the time, McKay was a graduate psychology student while his good friend and imminent business partner Patrick Fanning worked at Miller-Freeman, the former book and magazine publisher and trade show organizer. Fanning, who retired in 2000 but is still close to the company, worked on industrial reference books, learning as much as he could about publishing and direct mail. Earlier, when they were fresh out of college, the friends had published and sold a mimeographed literary magazine as they traveled around the country.

Matthew McKay

At first, the fledgling company published poetry broadsides and a children's book; its first major publication was a pamphlet called International Postal Handbook, which in the era before the Internet, UPS Global and FedEx, consisted of U.S. postal instructions that were important for anyone shipping abroad. "The Guide was our first publication that made any money, and went through two editions," McKay said. "It gave us a nest egg to do other books."

Patrick Fanning, 1973

The next book, which came to define New Harbinger, "completely fell into our laps," McKay said. His girlfriend at the time was a psychologist who ran stress workshops at Kaiser Permanente, and wanted to photocopy a pamphlet for patients on dealing with stress. Published in 1980, The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook by Martha Davis, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman and McKay, is now in its sixth edition and has sold more than a million copies.

The second major book, Thoughts & Feelings: Taking Control of Your Moods and Your Life by McKay, Davis and Fanning--based on a graduate school class McKay had taken on cognitive behavioral technique--became a classic in the field. "Most of our early self-help psychology books came out of Matt's perception of the state of psychology and what people needed," Fanning said.

Patrick Fanning

A key element of the early books that continues today is the do-it-yourself approach, a striking contrast to most of the other titles that existed then in the field, McKay said. These were either inspirational books or books that mostly detailed "horrible problems," without offering strategies or tools for dealing with the problems. McKay and Fanning attributed the DIY approach in part to Fanning's love of building things, which in the early years of New Harbinger included a guitar, a barn raising and a wooden sailboat.

New Harbinger's workbooks have a three-pronged approach: teaching ideas and concepts; simple step-by-step exercises; and providing examples of how others have done the exercises. As McKay put it: "We blended Popular Mechanics with psychology."

Over time, McKay emphasized, Fanning and CFO Kirk Johnson also built "solid strategies for inventory management, evaluating the business, acquiring good data and making empirically based decisions on what to do and not to do."

Another big shift was the hiring of Catherine Myers in 1996 as an acquisitions editor (see more about her below). She expanded the press's reach into third wave behavior therapy, which incorporates Buddhist concepts of mindfulness and distance from thoughts--"because they work," McKay said. "We latched onto that very early," he noted. "We were in front of the curve."

Julie Bennett

In 2002, New Harbinger decided to leave PGW, its distributor for 21 years, and have "a direct relationship to buyers," McKay said. The company hired Julie Bennett, now v-p of sales and marketing, whom they knew from PGW days. "Matt called and asked if I would create a sales culture," she said. "They were strong in editorial and had a solid marketing program, so I built a sales team and added it to the mix."

After that move, "our business started to grow rapidly," McKay said, "mostly because Julie knew everyone in the business." Sales rose and margins improved.

Another major milestone for New Harbinger was the creation of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) in 2004, which led to an immediate gain "in productivity and the morale of the employees," Fanning said. Staff now own 54% of New Harbinger, and there is transparency throughout the company, and ideas and suggestions flow easily, McKay said. "People feel more responsible and we retain more staff." He noted that for people who retire, the benefit is "in the hundreds of thousands of dollars." All staff are eligible for the ESOP after a year of employment, and become fully vested after six years. New Harbinger has a staff of 53.

The ESOP also means that New Harbinger will continue in its present form for many years to come, maintaining its values and the founders' vision. As McKay noted, "Typically on the West Coast, entrepreneurs start businesses, and when the time comes for them to retire or cash out, they sell, typically to a large publisher on the East Coast." After that, the company is often folded into the larger company, and most employees are let go.

The company is now expanding in ways unimaginable when it started in 1973. New Harbinger is putting its workbook therapy approach online and moving into event planning and direct training, organizing trainers around the country to teach evidence-based, cutting-edge therapies. It's also publishing Spanish-language versions of its products, as well as audiobooks. In an observation that applies to the company history, too, McKay said, "We continue to look at other products and continue to push outwards."

New Harbinger Newsletter

New Harbinger's Stress Solutions

Catharine Meyers

For anxiety-ridden individuals, New Harbinger has a solution. "Our books are therapy," said Catharine Meyers, v-p of development. "They're written by experts in the field and present a treatment plan to the reader. In their hands they have a program they can work on themselves and actually overcome their problem."

That's good news for the more than 40 million American adults (18% of the population) that suffer from an anxiety disorder, the most common mental illness in the U.S. and one that has no geographical boundaries. Regardless of where they live, Americans report experiencing comparable levels of stress. On average, it takes someone with an anxiety disorder 16 years to seek assistance, a delay that can lead to further psychological and physical illness.

Far from a one-size-fits-all solution, New Harbinger offers different ways to deal with stress and anxiety and also addresses specific stress factors such as phobias and worrying. The recently published Goodnight Mind by Colleen E. Carney, Ph.D., and Rachel Manber, Ph.D., guides readers on how to tame anxious thoughts and get a good night's sleep. The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Social Anxiety & Shyness by Jan E. Fleming, M.D., and Nancy L. Kocovski, Ph.D., is part of a series centered on new developments in mindfulness and acceptance methods (learning to work with and evaluate your thoughts rather than try to suppress them).

Written in a clear, accessible tone, books incorporate cutting-edge research and proven treatment methods. "We place great emphasis on the fact that our books are evidence based--meaning every one provides information that we know works because research has been done on the techniques that are presented," noted Meyers. "That has been a real driver of our mission from the beginning." New Harbinger has a close relationship with the professional mental health community and consults with therapists on a peer review board it established.

One of New Harbinger's bestselling books has been in print for nearly the entire extent of the company's history. Originally published in 1980, The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook (co-authored by company founder Matthew McKay) has sold close to one million copies and is still going strong. Now in its sixth edition, the book is a go-to source for therapists and others, detailing how to identify your own stress triggers and symptoms and create a personalized plan for reducing stress.

Another highlight is the successful "Five Good Minutes" series, which shows readers how to improve their lives in an attainable way. "The majority of westerners don't have 45 minutes for a sitting meditation to really cultivate a monk-like mind," explained Meyers. "We tapped into one of the biggest hurdles, which is the time you have to put into it." A five-minute morning meditation session can help relieve stress even during the most hectic day. Five Good Minutes: 100 Morning Practices to Help You Stay Calm and Focused All Day Long launched the series, co-written by Jeffrey Brantley, M.D., founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program at Duke Integrative Medicine, followed by Five Good Minutes with the One You Love and other titles.

"Life is never going to be stress free. The key is learning how to deal with stress, and understanding our minds and our bodies," said Meyers. "Helping people do this in a way that gives them a high quality of life is our goal."

New Harbinger: Instant Help Books for Teens

Instant Help: Titles for Teens

From out-of-control emotions to peer pressure, the teen years can be tough. Some 69% of youth with major depression report that it severely affects at least one major area of their lives, such as school or family relationships, while anxiety disorders affect one in eight children.

Tesilya Hanauer

But kids and teens don't have to go it alone. Teaching them how to manage mental health issues and life challenges is the aim of the Instant Help series. "They can learn skills now that will help them be more effective adults," said acquisitions manager Tesilya Hanauer.

Looking to enter into the teen market, New Harbinger acquired Instant Help in 2008 from child psychologist Lawrence Shapiro, whose research-based, accessible workbooks dovetailed with its own approach in the adult arena. Instant Help's roster of titles was folded into the New Harbinger list, and since then the publisher has successfully built on the series and filled a need in the marketplace. Books address subjects ranging from anger management and bullying to achieving social success and being more organized.

Among the books originally acquired was The Anxiety Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Deal with Anxiety and Worry by Lisa M. Schab, a licensed clinical social worker who continues to write for Instant Help. Her most recent book, The Self-Esteem Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Build Confidence and Achieve Your Goals, has garnered praise from an array of experts, including a 35-year social worker who called it "a brilliant, inspiring book" and added that "the workbook format offers results-oriented lessons for a lifetime of healthy self-esteem."

Using a practical, skills-based approach--combined with new developments in behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based methods--sets Instant Help apart in the teen self-help category. Books share advice and treatments based on extensive research, including authors' own real-world work with kids. In addition, content is written in an engaging way that young readers can easily relate to and understand.

A crucial factor is reaching the children and teens that need help in the early stages. "Mental health is in the news so much, unfortunately in really terrible ways, and so there's a big push for being more proactive and identifying things earlier," noted Hanauer. "If kids receive treatment earlier, their risk for developing severe mental health disorders down the line is dramatically reduced."

Mental health professionals, who in turn use the books with their patients, are a core market for Instant Help's offerings, as are parents, school counselors and others who work with adolescents. The publisher also reaches out directly to teens with its packaging. Straightforward titles and references to clinical methods are geared toward professionals, but bulleted copy on the covers is written specifically to appeal to teens.

The first title in the new Instant Help Solutions series is Think Confident, Be Confident for Teens: A Cognitive Therapy Guide to Overcoming Self-Doubt and Creating Unshakable Self-Esteem by Marci G. Fox, Ph.D., and Leslie Sokol, Ph.D. Geared toward libraries, the books are still skills-based but are more prose-driven than the workbooks and packaged in a smaller format (6"x8").

"The reason I'm proud of these books and the reason I work at New Harbinger is because I'm confident we're offering proven, effective skills," said Hanauer. "That's what it comes down to for me--the proven effectiveness of the methods for helping improve teen lives. What could feel better than that?"

40 Years of New Harbinger Bestsellers

New Harbinger's bestsellers over the years include:

  • The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael Singer (a New York Times bestseller) 9781572245372
  • 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food by Susan Albers 9781572246768
  • A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook by Bob Stahl and Elisha Goldstein 9781572247086
  • Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett 9781572248618
  • The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook by Matthew McKay, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman and Martha Davis 9781572245495
  • Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom by Rick Hanson and Richard Mendius 9781572246959
  • The Mind's Own Physician: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama on the Healing Power of Meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Richard Davidson 9781572249684
  • Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder by Paul Mason and Randi Kreger 9781572246904
  • Children of the Self-Absorbed: A Grown-Up's Guide to Getting Over Narcissistic Parents by Nina Brown 9781572245617
  • The Anger Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Deal with Anger & Frustration by Raychelle Cassada Lohmann 9781572246997
  • Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving & Thriving with the Self-Absorbed by Wendy Behary 9781608827602
  • The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne 9781572248915
  • Get Out of Your Mind & Into Your Life: The New Acceptance & Commitment Therapy by Steven Hayes and Spencer Smith 9781572244252
  • The Anxiety Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Deal with Anxiety & Worry by Lisa Schab 9781572246034
  • The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Anxiety: A Step-by-Step Program by William Knaus 9781572245723
  • The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation & Distress Tolerance by Matthew McKay, Jeffrey Wood and Jeffrey Brantley 9781572245136
  • Self-Esteem by Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning 9781572241985
  • The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety: A Guide to Breaking Free from Anxiety, Phobias & Worry Using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy by John Forsyth and Georg Eifert 9781572244993
  • The OCD Workbook: Your Guide to Breaking Free from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Bruce Hyman and Cherry Pedrick 9781572249219

Book Brahmin: Michael A. Singer

Michael A. Singer is the author of The Untethered Soul, which has been featured on Oprah Winfrey's Super Soul Sunday television and radio shows and was New Harbinger's first New York Times bestseller. Singer received a master's degree in economics from the University of Florida in 1971. During his doctoral work, he had a deep inner awakening and went into seclusion to focus on yoga and meditation. In 1975, he founded Temple of the Universe, a yoga and meditation center where people of any religion or set of beliefs can come together to experience inner peace. He is also the author of The Search for Truth and Three Essays on Universal Law: Karma, Will and Love.

On your nightstand now:
Tao te Ching--A New English Version translated by Stephen Mitchell. I find that any verse I open to instantly takes me to the depth of my being. It never ceases to amaze me.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Death Be Not Proud by John Gunther.  I read this book when I was 13 or 14 years old. I remember being inspired by how it depicted the depth of strength and love that one can draw upon while choosing to rise above very difficult circumstances. Even at that young age, the message I was left with was that though we cannot always control life, we can always control how we live it.
Your top five authors:
Paramahansa Yogananda, Meher Baba, Khahil Gibran, Sigmund Freud, Seng-ts'an (Third Zen Patriarch, author of Verse of the Faith Mind).
Book you've faked reading:
House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I was required to read this book during the summer between my eighth and ninth grades. It was definitely not something I found engaging in any way at that time in my life. So, after all these years, I cannot tell a lie--I faked reading this one!
Book you're an evangelist for:
The Prophet by Khahil Gibran. I love sharing this book because it speaks to everyone, regardless of religious background or beliefs. Its beauty is in Gibran's sublime use of poetry to transmit very deep spiritual teachings about living life at the highest level.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Monet in the '90s: The Series Paintings by Paul Hayes Tucker. I love Impressionist art, especially the works of Monet and Renoir. Their paintings are like dear friends in whose company I could delight for hours.
Books that changed your life:
The Three Pillars of Zen by Roshi Philip Kapleau and Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. The Three Pillars of Zen was a priceless gift early in my path. I had awakened to see the noise of the personal mind, and this book was the first practical guidance I found on how to directly work on quieting my mind. Autobiography of a Yogi inspired me by showing me the potential for the tremendous love and self realization that one can achieve by devoting themselves to the spiritual path.
Favorite line from a book:
"I am the prince of perpetual peace playing the drama of sad and happy dreams on the stage of experience" --Whispers from Eternity by Paramahansa Yogananda. I have nothing to add to this--it pretty much says it all. It is a perfect depiction of the state of Witness Consciousness.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Ramakrishna and His Disciples by Christopher Isherwood. Isherwood introduces Ramakrishna, one of India's great Spiritual Masters, simply by calling him "a phenomenon." I found that by taking this fascinating journey into the life of this amazing human being, I changed my entire view of who we humans really are and what we are capable of becoming.

Look for the gift edition of The Untethered Soul, coming to stores in November!

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