High Hopes

Photograph by James Westby

Photograph by James Westby

I never expected this to happen; my memoir being published by such a nationally recognized publisher. I did have some hope that perhaps it might, but it seemed like such a long shot. Yet here we are.

On September 13, at 7:30 pm, I will be leading a discussion and reading from my memoir, which has just been released: Self-Made Woman, published by the University of Wisconsin Press. This is taking place at Powell’s City of Books, in downtown Portland, Oregon. Powell’s is the largest used and new bookstore in the world! It’s such an honor to be presenting at the one of the best bookstores in the world! 

When I first began writing my memoir out on the north shore of Kauai in 2010 — and then kept writing for the next four years amassing a 650 page manuscript — little did I suspect that a day like this would ever happen. It’s difficult for an unknown author to have their book published by a major, highly reputable, University press like Wisconsin. It is even rarer to have this happen without a book agent leading the way, but this is what happened in my case. I was always a good story teller and that is what I set out to do back in 2010; I simply wrote my life story in a genuine, sincere, and honest way by not leaving anything out. That included the good and sometimes very bad things that happened to me in life, many times entirely my own fault by making some poor life decisions.

It’s one thing to be a good storyteller and quite another to know which stories to keep, which to drop, and how to string that all together. That’s where a good editor comes into play. I was fortunate to find a talented professional. Towards the end of 2014, just when I had put the finishing touches on the manuscript, a senior editor with W Magazine in New York became very interested in my memoir. He offered to read the entire document at no charge and was so impressed, he offered his editing services at a very reasonable cost. I trusted my editor because he was sincere, as well as a good friend of one of my close friends here in Portland, who initially introduced us. The trust level was so high, that I gave my editor complete jurisdiction to edit whatever he wanted and he turned in a masterpiece! It was at this time, towards the end of 2015, that I began to sense that maybe, just maybe, something good was about to unfold .

When editing was complete, I asked my editor to help with approaching publishers. He was in New York City, and what could I possibly do out on the north shore of Kauai, plus I didn’t know anyone in the publishing world and he did. To our surprise in early March of 2016, the University of Wisconsin Press requested the entire edited manuscript after my editor had sent them a query packet. At first neither of us thought it would lead to much, but that was not the case. The Press became very interested in publishing my story and in October of 2016, I signed my book contract with the Board of Regents. It was an arduous vetting process with inside and outside reviews, and a final vote by the Press Committee whether or not to publish.

In late 2016, right after signing my book contract, I quickly realized that I needed a national publicist. Again I was fortunate to find a person with impeccable credentials with over three decades of experience in the book industry, who just happened to reside right here in Portland, Oregon too! She has been just as good for me as my editor was. Thanks to her, I will be presenting at Powell’s Books in one the biggest nights of my life.

I’m honored to have all this happening, and have high hopes for the rest of my national book tour that continues onto the Midwest next week with stops in Minneapolis, Madison, Milwaukee, (my hometown!), and Chicago!

K M Weber