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Conversations with the Inspiring Lana Gates

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lana Gates.

Lana, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am a breast cancer survivor. After my diagnosis, I underwent a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, and breast reconstruction. I also developed a complication called lymphedema in my right arm. I journaled throughout the two-plus-year experience and wrote a book about it.

“Help! I’m a Science Project” gives readers a glimpse into what it’s like to be a cancer patient as it transparently details my journey. Through it all, I never lost my sense of humor, examples of which are sprinkled throughout the story, along with actual journal entries. Readers will also find hope and encouragement that with faith in God, plus supportive family and friends, cancer can be overcome.

I have a writing and editing background and always wanted to write a book. I share my story in the hopes that it can encourage others.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Writing a book is definitely not a smooth road. It was a three – to a four-year process for me. I had to relive every detail of my cancer experience in order to write about it.

Once I had a draft, I had to go back through and edit it… and edit it again. I read it aloud to my husband so he help correct any inaccuracies, since he remembered things differently than I did. I got input from a couple of other writers and another breast cancer survivor. Once I incorporated all of those, I sent the manuscript to a professional editor and got even more edits I had to make. Then, I read through the entire manuscript again to make sure it was how I wanted it.

One of the hardest parts about the process was creating a book proposal to send to agents/publishers. That was almost harder than actually writing the book. It involved a lot of steps and included an overview of the book, my market, research about competing books, my writing credentials, and a synopsis of each chapter, among other things. I sent that and my manuscript to a couple of agents, both with negative results. So, I decided to go the nontraditional route and self-publish. That, too, was incredibly harder than I expected it to be.

Fortunately, I have a friend who’s a self-published author, so I got some tips from him. I paid a professional designer to help with the cover design and the formatting of the book. My goal was for it not to look self-published but to look professional. There was a lot of back and forth between the designer and me until we arrived at a finished product we could both be proud of.

From there, I uploaded the PDF version of the book to Createspace, a subsidiary of Amazon. Once the manuscript was approved by both Createspace and me, I was able to order a paperback proof copy to double-check everything. I had to make some more edits at that point before finally giving the go-ahead to go live the book. Once that happened, I was able to order paperback copies delivered to my home and announce the launch of the book to friends and family.

But I didn’t stop there. I wanted to have an ebook available too. So I had to reformat the manuscript for that experience.

What should we know about Author? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I write a blog called “Life Speak: Inspiration for everyday living” on www.lanagates.com. My goal with the site is to encourage readers to see the positive side of things. There’s enough negativity in the world. We could all use a little more optimism.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
Lack of confidence has got to be the number one barrier. Women need to see the good in themselves. We’re quick to beat ourselves up emotionally, but we’re worth much more than we give ourselves credit for. We need to see the value in ourselves and believe in ourselves. We’re capable of incredible things if we can get past that barrier.

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Lana Gates

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