The following are the words of Monya Williams, Archway Publishing author of “I CAN-CER VIVE” Learn more about Monya on her author website and blog. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.
I have written in personal journals since I was eight years old. I carry a pen and pad with me at all times in case I see something interesting. In 2009 I decided to put my thoughts and feelings in a blog platform. Two months later, I was diagnosed with Stage 3C breast cancer. My silly blog soon had millions of followers, many asking me to write a book. My answer to this question was always, “I’m not a writer.” Now here I am, eight years later, an author.
The Deciding Factor
When a person decides to write a book, it’s a huge undertaking: 80% of people who start writing a book never finish it. Now I understand, many do not have a big enough “why.”
I believe the reason for writing a book is what propels writers across the finish line.
The desire to finish your book has to be larger than anything else you have going on in your life. I had to write my “WHY” down and see it everyday to remind me. On days when I didn’t think I could write anymore I looked at the picture of my family and told myself, “this is not about me.” I wanted my family to look at my life and be proud of how I handled adversity.
Choosing a Publisher
For many authors, choosing a publisher is easy. My circumstances were a bit different, I wasn’t sure I could finish this book before my life ended. I was fighting against time and needed to connect with a publishing company that would understand my situation: because of my ongoing battle with cancer, this book was not going to happen over night. With this in mind, Archway Publishing – a Division of Simon & Schuster – piqued my interest. I had interviewed with several other publishing companies and never felt a connection like I did with Archway. I was blessed with a wonderful team of compassionate supporters. Choosing Archway was one of the best decisions I made in this publishing adventure.
You’ve conquered. The completion of a book is an enormous accomplishment. You’re smiling from ear to ear, and for good reason: you are among only 20% who finish a book they’ve started. When I finished writing my book, I was asked to pitch my story in two minutes or less. It took four years to write a four hundred page book and now I was supposed to reduce it down to two minutes. Are you kidding me? Well, I’m happy to tell you it doesn’t matter how big or small your book is, you can pique the interest of anyone with only a few sentences.
This Is My Why
- Decide why your book is different than another book, what makes it stand out? When I attended the LA Book Expo, I was stunned by the amount of books written about “curing” cancer. My story tells the true story of what it’s like to survive cancer: from surgeries, procedures, side effects, despair, determination, loss of hearing, a bi-lateral mastectomy, and permanent facial paralysis to finding faith and hope for my future. I didn’t romanticize my breast reconstruction or gloss over my abuse. My story tells the true, raw emotions of what women are going through. I write about some things that are never talked about openly. My story will make you cry, it will make you laugh, and if you’ve ever known someone affected by cancer or abuse, it will touch your heart and soul. Take the three or four most compelling parts of your story, and write them down.
- Memorization: the importance is not to script your voice or take the emotion out of it. A book pitch is more about practicing so as to keep your voice and story succinct. I wanted the listener to connect with me and my journey, but leave them wanting to know more.
I will most likely not have the chance to write another book, but I have no regrets. What I wrote is authentic, raw, and real. I transferred my thoughts to paper and I continue to blog today, embracing a combination of hard work and magical thinking.
When I received the first copy of my book, I stood in amazement with tears and said “Yes, the hard work matters, but I will always leave room for experiences to come along that are even better than I could have ever imagined.”
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