Getting her Happy at Work book published was a long process with broken promises and disappointment for author Cassandra Gaisford. In the end, with her book ready to print and no publisher in sight, she published it herself.

The book was born out of a passion to help people, says the owner of career coaching firm Worklife Solutions.

"I have been passionate about helping people make informed career changes for years, it follows my experience as a recruitment consultant and later as a career transition consultant," she said.

Gaisford said her 326-page book, which is full of solid advice you can use, motivational quotes, tips and inspiring colour photos, was a huge undertaking that drew on her 15 years in the employment industry.

"The book had a long labour," she said. "I had a lot of interest from numerous publishers in 2004 and a literary agent even flew out from New York to talk about it. The agent took my near-completed draft to America and asked me to stop working on it while she talked to publishers."

Ultimately, the US agent's promises evaporated and so did the buoyant economy. She completed her book without a publisher in sight.

"By the time I had finished the book the recession was in full swing and publishers were staying away from first-time authors," said Gaisford. "I guess getting knocked back lots of times is not unlike what Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling went through - she suffered numerous rejections."

Undeterred, Gaisford created a publishing company to not only get her book into print, but to also maintain creative control. Publishers she had spoken to didn't like the idea of using colour photos to help illustrate her book as it added to the cost.

"I taught myself InDesign to lay out the book, took the photos, sourced the quotes, edited, proofread, found a printer and am now managing publishing, marketing and publicity," she said.

"I'm really enjoying it - plus I'm a walking example that you're never too old to make a change and that setbacks (such as having no publisher and tight finances) don't have to stop you."

But taking on everything herself was no picnic.

"I can honestly say there were times when parenting, running a business, having a relationship and trying to get the book out all seemed too hard," she said. "A few times I felt like giving up on the book. But an inspiring quote kept me going: 'There are only two ways to fail - not starting and not finishing."'

Gaisford, who has littered her book with dozens of inspirational quotes, said among the reasons she was dedicated to getting her book out was having heard so many distressing stories from clients who were unhappy at work and became ill as a result. She wanted her book to speak to them as well as baby boomers looking for a career change.

"I have coached people who were so unhappy with their work that it was taking a huge toll on their mental, physical and emotional well-being," she said. "Many people - unsure of the source of their unhappiness - took to antidepressants. But it was their job that was causing their ill health.

"Some people lost relationships and suffered from stress. I've helped people who were literally suicidal and those who have had heart attacks because of workplace stress. I've also helped people who were being bullied or performance managed reclaim their confidence and self-esteem.

"The book focuses on ways to find happiness at work, still pay the bills as well as rekindle passion for work and life."

But change doesn't always come easy as lifelong habits, work patterns and beliefs need to be altered. Change is not something that can be rushed.

"Many people lack objectivity, knowledge and motivation to make a change, said Gaisford. "This is especially the case when unhappiness at work has been left too long and has taken a toll on people's mental and emotional well-being, self-esteem and confidence."

Gaisford says most people have never sat down and thought consciously about their career choices. And even when they do, she says, there is so much information out there it can be overwhelming.

"The worst thing people can do is quit their job out of shear frustration or when things get too much," she says. "The best thing to do is heed the early warning signs and start making a passion action plan."

Gaisford said Happy At Work can be thought of as a virtual coach providing readers with action tasks, quizzes, useful website addresses and additional tools help inspire and will guide people through the change process.

"Working with a book written by an expert in the careers field fast-tracks the career planning and job search process," she said. "It helps facilitate and empower people with greater insight and awareness about what they want to do and how best to ensure they get the job they want.

"It takes courage and inspiration to define what you want. Fear of disappointment and success often underlies many people's reluctance to define what they want.

"As one of my clients said: 'If I tell you my dream I might realise I can't achieve it. Then not only will I have failed but I'll have lost my dream."'

To be happy at work, says Gaisford, people need to find their passion-point - the intersection of their favourite skills, interests, career, life drivers and market forces. And this, she says, can include self-employment.

"Follow your passion not your pension," she advises.

"Surround yourself with people and things that inspire and support your dreams. Take a wide berth from negative people. Plan for your future because that's where you'll be spending the rest of your life."

* Happy at Work: For Mid-lifers+ is published by Tiranui Publishing. ISBN: 978 0473 15991 7. Buy online at www.cassandragaisford.com priced $45.95.

* Steve Hart is a freelance writer, contact him via www.SteveHart.co.nz