Today we’re interviewing author Ali Begun. Many of our readers are interested in international publishing as well as self-publishing, and Ali’s is an amazing story of success in both. We’re so happy we had the opportunity to interview her and hear a different kind of way toward publication success.
Tell us about your book.
¿Que chingados hago con mi crisis? or WTF Should I Do With My Crisis? Is a huge piece of my heart. I wanted to give my 18-year-old self the big sister she did not have when she first struggled with depression.
Half of it is a workbook because I have always read self-help books. Often, they only gave me theories when what I really wanted was practical advice. I wanted to create a tool for people to process what they were learning and for them to get the answers from their own hearts with a little help from my writing.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a tiny Mexican filled with emotions. My life is 100% run by my heart, (which is not always stable) but it lets me be me. I honestly just want people to live their best lives, to not just be alive, but actually living and falling in love with life every day. For me the most profound relationship I have ever had started when I decided to fall in love with life, even when it felt like life might not love me back.
Why did you decide to write this book? Who is it for?
I wrote it to my past self but it ended up being a present for my future self. I wrote the book 5 years ago, and I still read it and I’m really proud of the work. It ended up being not only for people who struggle with depression and anxiety, who I originally wrote it for, but also for people who just wanted to connect with themselves and live a better life.
What was your editing process?
This book started as my own journal. It had everything that I had learned in therapy, life, heartbreaks etc. I realized that my story could help other people not feel alone. I shared different exercises, techniques, and concepts that changed my life. So it ended up being 5% about me and my story and the rest is exercises that I invite people to try.
Tell us about your journey to publication.
I was signed with Penguin Random House prior to the pandemic, but life had other plans. Four of my editors quit while working on my book and the publisher had a different idea and concept of what they wanted from the book than I did. COVID made the prices of paper go higher so my publication date kept getting pushed back. When I got the first view of my book, I hated it, I did not connect with it and it became a selling product more than a loving project, but I wanted to publish what I wanted and I did not care that much if I sold thousands. I just wanted to be real, not commercial. After a lot of fear I decided to self-publish, and I cannot say it was the best decision regarding sales (probably not, who knows) but it was definitely the most self-loving decision I have ever made (and a really hard one).
You’ve been really successful with self-publishing. What has that been like?
I think I had a very “big” advantage with my Instagram following. I already had an understanding of social media so I knew I could do that part for myself. But it has also been hard, doing everything myself, from building my webpage to calling and being rejected my 99% of the books stores I called, to having to make a whole plan on how to send the books internationally, and finally getting the book on Amazon and the sleepless nights packing every book, but in a way I feel that is why the book is doing so great.
I get to sign every individual book. I connect in a much deeper way with the people who buy it. I won’t lie, it has been very scary, putting that much money and time into a project that I love, not sure that people would love it, but it has definitely paid off.
How do you use social media and your platform to optimize your reach?
Social media has probably been responsible for 80% of my sales. I respond to every single message I get, I try to tell people how grateful I am for their support, and definitely try to support them back. I’m blessed that I get to connect with so many people. Even though sometimes it’s draining, social media has been the most powerful tool I have, and I keep pushing myself every day to grow and help people feel connected in a place where we forgot about connection.
What was the biggest challenge you faced during your publication process?
Letting go of the idea that the book had to be perfect. I’m my own biggest critic. I was worried about what people were going to say about it, so worried it was not perfect, so worried I wasn’t smart enough, or good enough of an author to make it. And it has been such a hard and rewarding process just letting things be enough, not perfect, but enough. I know that my book is not for everyone. I know I can’t make everyone happy but I also know there is so much heart in this project that honestly, the only thing that actually matters to me is that I did not give up on myself and that I pushed past my own fears and my own expectations and just went for it.
What are your plans for the future? Do you have any other books in the pipeline?
Yes! I’m super excited that after all that work I’m finally an author. Sometimes I can’t believe that that is my actual job. I’m currently working on a book of poems and quotes. I’m also working on different projects to help more people live their best lives. I started my podcast and finished my master’s in psychology. I’m now giving therapy, so I can share tools to help people build the life they love.
If you could give advice to someone interested in publishing a book like yours, what would you say to them?
Don’t wait for it to be perfect. You will change, your opinions will change, but write for the version of yourself that needs those words at a certain time, and the right people will connect with it. Don’t be so afraid, you have the tools to get over every “mistake” you think you made.
I published my book without an ISBN (which is very important because it’s the product code and without it bookstores, amazon etc will not sell it) and when I realized how crucial it was to have it, I had already printed 1000 books without it. I definitely cried for a couple of days, but this helped me to realize that I had to get creative in selling it through other channels that did not require the ISBN. That’s why I started a TikTok account which grew to 250K followers in 2 months and sold probably more books than Amazon.
Where can people find and follow you and where can they purchase your book?
I’m @alibegun in most of my social media accounts except TikTok is @alibegunn and my book account is called @quechinga2hagocon