How to tell your authentic story and find your niche
It is no wonder that Megan Williams' novel, Our Interrupted Fairytale has been wildly well-received. Not only is her and Chad's story breathtakingly honest, but she writes in a way that when you finally meet her, you feel like you already know her. Her authenticity shines through in all facets of her work, which makes her even more compelling. Below, you'll read why she is successful and how her ambition is moving her 'brand' forwards.
1. What were your career goals while with Chad and how did they change after Chad?
- When I was with Chad I was so young, my hope was to get a ‘big girl’ job and use my degree. I had graduated with a BA specialising in Advertising and PR. My first ‘big girl’ job was as Guest Relations Manager with Cactus Club and I was pretty excited.
Following that, I got a job with the 2010 Olympics. Chad was a huge advocate for me to apply for that job and I was so proud to be part of something big.
Because Chad was older than I was, he could recognise opportunity better than I could, so I always appreciated his input and encouragement.
As far as ambitions go, I liked working. Given our circumstance, we sort of a had a light understanding between the two of us that I’d be working the most. I was empowered by that. Because there was an age difference, I enjoyed that empowerment and responsibility. He was older and I always felt a little taken care of. So I liked the idea that I my working full time, I could balance that scale.
Career goals after Chad: It’s safe to say that it hasn’t changed much. My ambition has stayed as well as my entrepreneurial itch. I try to use “entrepreneurial” very lightly as it can be often misused. I’m not an entrepreneur for writing books. But, I like the idea that writing books has given me the opportunity to start a business helping others share their story.
I still like working as much as I did when Chad was alive and don't anticipate that desire for a full career changing in my relationship now.
2. At what point did you feel compelled to write Our Interrupted Fairytale?
- I was trying out a business blog, trying to get something going with a friend. It didn’t end up working, so when that dissolved, I thought “what am I going to do with this free time?” Within 24 hours, I realised that this was the time I should write my book. I always felt I should write it. But I didn’t know how to start it. I can easily find different things to fill my time, so I was not making it a priority. But when my plate cleared, I didn’t have much excuse to not begin.
I quickly realized, writing isn't like building a website or blog where you can see immediate change or improvements after an hours' work. With writing, you have to chip away at it every day; it’s hard to see how much you are building. It’s such a slow build.
3. Were your family and friends were supportive to write it?
They knew for a while that I wanted to do it so when I said I was going to do it, they knew I was commited to it and supported that decision. My fiancé Brad was very supportive of it. I feel very lucky that I haven't had to hide my grief with him. I could grieve whenever I needed to and it wasn’t bottled up.
But not everyone feels comfortable with the idea of such a fluid grieving process. I had two friends who thought I should hit rock bottom first before I started a recovery process. Starting a relationship with Brad didn’t feel as though I needed to spend an extended period in a grieving state because I think I'll always grieve Chad's absence.
4. How would you describe yourself as an author and brand?
I don’t see myself as a brand, but I’m very aware of how I put myself out there. My books are real stories from my life, so while I filter our family life very carefully online, I enjoy sharing pieces of my life with others. I don't know if I've found a perfect balance yet, but I'm working on it!
5. How did you decide to position the tone of the story (balanced with highs and lows)?
The timeline of the story is true to form. I didn’t change any order of events. It really went from high to low, high and then low again. It was a strong intention of mine to not make it a cancer story or a widow’s story.
There are loads of stories from a widow’s experience. But Chad had all of this written material and I didn’t want to speak for him. It was important to me that it was his side was included as it happened. I wanted it to be our love story and not a story about my boyfriend who had cancer.
From a business and branding standpoint, the original title was Me, My Love and Myeloma. After talking it through with my editor, we realised that title would group this book with other cancer stories. I knew the book could have a wider appeal if I had a title that didn't suggest it was a book about cancer. The whole idea is that it’s a love story. Tragically, this one didn't end up the way you want it to.
6. At what point did you feel as though you gained momentum with your marketing and advertising efforts?
- It would have been the week it launched. I got confirmation in the same 48 hour window that Chapters in Metrotown was willing to host the launch. Then CTV Live was interested in a segment on it. The next day, I was on Global BC's Morning show.
I didn't think about this at the time, but when you’re in a TV studio, you’re only talking to the interviewer and camera. But when I arrived at Chapters Metrotown there was a line up. It was crazy! I couldn't believe so many people were interested in reading my book! I was even more surprised the following weekend at another location to see a line up there too! That’s when I realized that the legwork I was putting in the months leading up to the launch had paid off.
I was prepared for it and it felt very rewarding and validating. Especially because I was navigating through it blindly. I knew nothing about the publishing industry before starting to write my book.
I had no idea if what I was doing would work, or if I would just end up with a pile of books that nobody knew about. But, over 2,000 sold books later, I've started a business to help those who have no background in publishing and marketing, avoid the months of guessing and missteps I took as I learned the business of sharing stories.
7. Do you have any words of recommendation?
- Don’t quit your day job. Whatever you’re writing for, it will be such a tremendous accomplishment when you finish it. In order to feel that accomplishment, you have to write for yourself. There are few people who get rich writing, so until you do, write for yourself.
And go for it. Time is going to pass whether you’re writing or not. So spend some time writing because a year from now you could be an author.
“Just because it’s work doesn’t mean it has to be hard” – Sunny Lendarduzzi
To order Megan Williams' novel, Our Interrupted Fairytale, click here.