Why did I write a book?
First and foremost, I wanted to document my journey. It is important to me that I have a written record of exactly what I went through because I know that once it is just a memory and not so vivid in my brain, I will forget. I recall giving birth to both of my children. I can tell you where I was when I went into labor and exactly what time I pushed them out. But the specifics of the night are lost and exactly what it felt like is no where to be found in my memory bank. Maybe for good reason because I know it hurt like hell. This cancer journey was obviously a different experience but it altered my life so much so that I choose to document the details.
Second, I wrote it for all the people in my life who knew I had cancer but were not close enough to know exactly what I went through. These would be the people who kindly sent a message of care and concern when I was first diagnosed but then shortly after, forgot or just didn't know all that I was going through, or what to say or do. Before this experience, I was one of these people. My uncle got cancer and I quickly made a dinner and brought it over to his house. For about a month or two, I called, checked and asked how he was doing. Then... nothing. If cancer hasn't touched you close, you just have no idea how long the battle really is and haven't a clue what to do to help. Yes, it is a lifetime battle, but I am speaking about the immediate treatments to try to remove the cancer. So many people said "I just feel helpless and don't know what to do." So, my feeling is that if people understand what someone with breast cancer goes through, it will help them to understand what they can do to help.
Third, I wrote it for my cancer peeps. Either newly diagnosed or in survivor land, if just one person with cancer were to tell me that they could relate to something inside my story, I would feel complete. If someone said I actually helped them in some small way, I could die tomorrow needing nothing else.
Why did I choose to include naked photos of my breasts?
This is what I wanted to see when I learned that the best course of action for me, would be to remove my breasts. I truly believed that I would get an Anna-Nicole Smith makeover. Little did I know that my reconstructed breasts would not have any nipples, nor would they be soft and mushy like regular breast tissue.
It is also important that I create awareness in my community. This is the truth. This is my truth. This is exactly what happened and what it looks like. We live in a visual world these days and nothing says breast cancer like a picture.
Why is my one-year story limited to 84 pages?
My attention span during this whole process has been extremely limited. I used more data on my phone in one year, than in the past 5 years altogether, staying up late searching for survivor stories. I was not able to read a novel full of words. I needed pictures and then an explanation of the picture. This is what helped me. I could have written 200 pages, but I chose to keep it short and to the point.
Why does this story include calendars for each month?
After hearing “you have breast cancer”, the next words were “you are going to have a busy year”. No one could give me an exact explanation of what this meant. So, for anyone out there who wants to know exactly how many doctor appointments I had to drive to and why, here it is, in a simple and organized 84 page memoir.
Why did I self-publish?
Although I wrote a book, which technically makes me an author, I am not. I just had a story that I felt was important to share. When my journey began in October 2013, I never would have thought that a year later I would be holding a printed book that I wrote, documenting my journey. Even six months ago, I never considered writing a book, I just wanted to make it out alive after the cancer treatments. When my last radiation treatment was complete, I looked through all the photos from the past year and decided that I would write my story. In less than a week, it was complete.
I wrote this book for the people in my community. I did not write it to make money and I have no desire to send the manuscript to dozens of publishers and wait for a response. There is also the politics of my nudity in the book. Without these photos, the truth cannot be told. I certainly didn’t want anyone telling me that some of them could not be published. I simply wanted to see my story and my truth in book form.
How I created my book, step by step.
I used DiggyPod to print my book. I researched several companies that printed books with graphics, but found DiggyPod to be a perfect fit. They sent me a free sample and both the photography and binding was impressive so I searched no longer.
It is common to write a novel using MS Word, but because of my magazine publishing background and all of the graphics in my book, I used Adobe InDesign. Let me tell you that the publishing world between books and magazines is completely opposite. I had not idea and that probably made life a bit difficult when it came time to upload my book for printing.
I am very pleased with their quality and customer service. I would recommend this company to anyone…even without the graphics challenge.
Publishing to Amazon isn't as easy as you may think. My book is loaded with photos, charts, & calendars and was graphically designed by my girlfriend. When I first uploaded the pdf to Amazon, she would have shit bricks if she saw the disaster that happened to that pdf when it converted to a kindle version. It was a mess. I later learned that Amazon appreciates text book, not graphic books. Thankfully, I found a video that offers step by step instructions on how to take your pdf file that is loaded with graphics and turn it into a file that kindle will recognize. Here is the link to that video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_52G0E3a3Uo
So, this completes the “how and why I wrote a book” segment. Next up is the “how to throw a book release party” post, and it will offer a huge tip to party throwers: Try NOT to have a party during the worst snow storm of the year.