The first audio book to be produced in Barbados will reach the national and international markets in October, in time for the fall and holiday seasons. “Make Yourself Happy,” is a motivational book authored by former Barbadian government minister, Liz Thompson and published last November by her business, Bajan Beach Publications.

The audio version of the book, is being produced by leading Barbadian producer, musician and sound engineer, Chris Allman of Slam City Studio. Liz Thompson opted to voice the book herself “for authenticity” and Allman is happy with the result. Allman has distinguished himself in the production of Barbadian and Caribbean music, winning numerous awards and recognition throughout the region. Music produced by Allman has been included in top compilations in the Caribbean, United States, Europe and Japan.

The collaboration has made Allman proud to be pioneering audio book production in Barbados. He sees immense potential in the market, given the number of Barbadian books that are now being produced in every genre and the global growth in audio and e-books, which are outselling printed books. The collaboration puts Allman and Thompson in a new niche of foreign exchange earnings within Barbados’ cultural industries, by becoming a regional centre for audio book production.

Liz is excited to bring the book out in audio format, Kindle and other e-versions, as well as Amazon print on demand. She is an attorney, who holds Masters degrees in Business Administration and Law respectively. She also served as an Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations. Liz has co-authored two previous books on multilateral negotiations and international development. She admits being optimistic about the prospects of Make Yourself Happy because motivation and self help have become big business, worth US 11 billion annually in the United States alone, with motivational book sales worth US $775 million of that.

Liz, who has been making motivational speeches to companies and NGOs in a number of countries, suggests that Barbados has the potential to earn revenues and foreign exchange from the books and films being produced here. Her own writing is getting increasing attention and recognition. She already writes for the Huffington Post and over the next few months, essays that she has authored will be published in the popular inspirational series, Chicken Soup for the Soul, as well as in an anthology to mark the centennial of suffragism in New York. She is also now starting to build out her social media presence and platform.

The book is currently performing well in direct sales in the United Sates, some Caribbean countries and Barbados. Liz made a deliberate choice to self publish the book because it allowed her artistic control of decisions such as producing the book in full colour, to which readers have responded very positively.

To further capitalize on the opportunities in the publishing industry enabled by technology, Liz will be following the audio and e-books with an app. This is intended to further build her brand and platform and better facilitate the monetization of her online work. She believes that Barbados needs to make a new entrepreneurial thrust, one that fully maximizes the borderless business opportunities and the global markets in which the customer is a click away.

Make Yourself Happy has received strong endorsements inside and outside of Barbados. Karen Engelmann, author of The Stockholm Octavo, commented that the book is “rich with humor, wisdom and spirit,” and “a guide readers can turn to every day.Felix Dodds, International Sustainability Specialist and the author of 15 books, has lauded Make Yourself Happy, as has Colonel, Dr. Andrew R. Harewood, Former Deputy Chaplain of the Pentagon. Editor Emeritus of the Nation Newspaper, Barbados said of Make Yourself Happy, “you will want to read and reread this uplifting book and share it with those you love.”

The book is written in four parts Self, Others, The World and The Spirit with each part made up of a number of short chapters that range from three to seven pages. It also contains exercises and a questionnaire to help readers track their progress, feelings and growth as they read the book. Make Yourself Happy comprises 50 chapters of true stories that Liz describes as “stories of struggle and success for ‘hope-full’, happy living.” The themes of the stories are universal, bridging culture and ethnicity.

Make Yourself Happy has been experiencing strong sales in Barbados, with most vendors having restocked and sold out. Copies are only now remaining available at Pages and UWI bookstores. Liz hopes that the new formats will further boost local sales and penetrate the international market. A campaign is being developed to promote the book on the digital platforms. Liz joked, “if Make Yourself Happy can leap from being a local and Caribbean book to an international one, that would make me happy.”

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