Since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this week’s blog features an interview with the author Karen Iverson. She is the author of, ‘Winning the Breast Cancer Battle: Empowering Warriors and Guiding Loved Ones.” It is a hopeful and inspiring story that keeps you wanting to know more. I had the pleasure of interviewing Karen in person about her journey to become an author, below are a few of the questions and her insightful answers.
Where did you get the idea/inspiration for the book?
I have always loved writing. Since I was a little girl, I wrote poetry and stories. I found I enjoyed journaling. In college, I took English classes and it confirmed my love of writing. I always wanted to write a book and when diagnosed with breast cancer I started journaling. For some reason I liked the tactile sensation of writing on paper. I would fold a piece of paper in half and would write what I could to make myself feel better. I then re-read it a few days later and would edit it. I would write new sentences and it looked like a jumbled mess, but to me made perfect sense. I realized I was writing a book. I wanted to share my experiences, so others would have some knowledge on how to empower their journey and guide loved ones. I put the project down for awhile but picked it back up to make this book. When I was a child, my dad died of cancer and it took years to process because I didn’t know how to get through it. This awareness went into the tip sections located at the end of each chapter.
What challenges did you face in writing this book?
There is always the aspect of, “is this book good enough and is this going to help people?” Periodically a little bit of doubt creeps up in your mind but you have to have faith that it will help people in a way not expected and help them in the future. The second challenge was: when doing the journal I didn’t tell anyone. I decided to show it to another woman who also had breast cancer and I shared a journal entry with her and this put me in a vulnerable position. Before I only shared journal articles with my mom. I read her the journal entry and there was just dead silence on the other side the phone. It just stayed silent and I didn’t know how to interpret it. I kept thinking, why is she not saying anything? When we started talking again, she changed the subject. After that, I stopped writing and wondered if it didn’t reach her or affect her? It took a while but I start journaling and writing again because I needed to. It made me realize that there is always a critic out there who doesn’t like your work or think it is any good, but there hundreds if not thousands whom this book going to help and need the information. That was a challenge.
What challenges did you find in becoming a published author?
I knew nothing about getting a book published. I knew I could write well, I did not know anything about publishing. I didn’t think I could get a traditional publisher to publish my book. The reason for this was, I could imagine my book sitting on a pile with other books but questioned why the publisher would pick my book. That was because of a fear I had about the publishing business. I chose instead to self publish the book. Self publishing was at first taboo but it is now more accepted, with many resources available to guide one through the process.
What have you found rewarding about the experience?
Three things: I found it very rewarding to know I can help people through words that are written in the book. Second thing, it is an amazing feeling to have the first copy in your hands and say “I did this I accomplished a dream of mine.” The third thing, I was at a writing conference and I received an award, the “Difference Maker” award. It helped reaffirm that what I am doing in the book is going to make a difference in others’ lives and that others are seeing that as well.
What advice do you have for other potential authors?
You have to really be dedicated and it takes a lot of work and financial support to publish a book. You have to want it enough and have to want it so badly so that you make it happen and you will publish a book.
I highly recommend this book. It is currently available online at Amazon.com. The author’s journey is eye opening and the tips, on questions to ask along the journey, are perceptive. There is supplemental information and helpful websites in the resource section of the book. In addition, health information on many health topics can be found at the National Library of Medicine in MedlinePlus.