An On-paper Interview of Thy Nguyen's Book Writing Process
Being away from Babson and being at home in quarantine can be tough. It can be really hard to keep up the motivation and inspiration to do work and follow through with your goals. In times like these, reading stories can sometimes help inspire or give you new ideas. Motivation is why I wanted to share my story! I published my book, Origins: An Immigrant’s Journey in America this year, and I wanted to share my story. In reading this interview, I hope that it can help inspire you, enlighten you, or at least entertain you in some way during these times. I hope you enjoy this interview; good luck in quarantine everyone!
What first motivated you to write a book?
Ever since elementary school, I have written in a journal. When I was younger, I would keep a physical diary, but now I just write in my Notes app on my phone. When I journal, I write down my thoughts and feelings and tell stories about my day, or anytime a significant experience happens. I also used to write short stories too--I have always loved writing and reading.
When I moved from Vietnam to America, I experienced a lot of cultural differences--food, stereotypes, the way people acted. I wrote all of these cultural differences and experiences down in my journal. The longer I lived in America, the more differences and discrimination I began to see here. I began to start researching more and more about Asian- American culture and community.
When I went to college I saw that others were feeling similarly, and decided to share my journals and experiences with the world and for others in the community on a bigger scale. I decided to take these thoughts and make them into goals: to promote diversity and inclusion for different cultures. I thought that writing a book was a good first step to achieve this goal since it is what I have been doing all these years in my journal, and it fits well with my writing skill set.
Did you take any writing courses? What course were you taking at Babson?
At Babson College, I am a Writing Center Tutor. In order to become a tutor, all tutors must take a writing course called Practicum in Peer Consulting. This writing class includes personal reflection essays, film analysis essays, and text analysis, and more. This class was portfolio-based, and each half of the semester, we would have 5 to 6 page long essays due in the portfolio.
This class really helped me hone in my writing and analytical skills. Since my book is a sort of autobiography, the personal reflections really helped me with my storytelling and self- reflection. The reflection assignments helped me a lot with knowing which parts of myself to analyze and write about, which helped immensely for the book.
How did you go about it (writing a book)? From the first stages of writing to how did you go about getting published?
I got connected with a professor at Georgetown--his name is Eric Koester--who introduced me to a hybrid publishing company called New Degree Press. The publishing company helps authors who have a story to tell share their stories with the world.
Every author that works with New Degree Press has a specific outcome tied to the publication of their work. When an author publishes a book with New Degree Press, the company coaches and helps them turn their manuscript into a book they are proud of.
New Degree Press offers a program where there are writing deadlines and workshops to hone in your skills and stories for your book—essentially, coaching us throughout the book writing process. Throughout the program, they offer you a team of developmental editors, cover designers, copy editors, and mentors to help you and guide you through the writing and publishing process. They offer coaching but do not actually edit the content of our work. All the work from the author is 100% their work.
So through the professor, I applied to this publishing program and began the program in December of 2019. Over the course of a year, I did the workshops and met the deadlines, and once I almost finished my manuscript, I launched a presales campaign to gain traction for the book and get some funding for the publishing process.
Once I completed the presales, I finished up my final manuscript and sent it to copy editing for final revisions and then submitted it to New Degree Press to create the final book copies. Then we published it to Amazon, Kobo, and Ingram, which are the book wholesalers of Walmart and Barnes and Noble.
What did you enjoy most in the process?
The most fun part of the process for me was either designing the book cover or doing the final manuscript revisions. Designing the book cover was really fun because I got to work with a team to bounce ideas off of, and together we kept on improving the cover with new and different ideas. It was also cool to see the cover come to life--it made the process really real. Doing final revisions was also really enjoyable because I got to see my work finally come to fruition and see it all come together.
What did you least enjoy?
I least enjoyed having to write when I was uninspired when a deadline came up. For me, it is really hard to force myself to write when I am uninspired because the work can turn out to be a bit forced. However, it was alright because the deadlines kept me on track, and I went back and edited everything while feeling inspired, so every piece written still comes from the heart.
Did you have any hard days where you felt like giving up? And what kept you going?
There were definitely days where I felt like giving up. There was a time in particular when I felt uninspired for so long--I had no new ideas nor a desire to write about any experiences. At this point, I did not have enough material for a final book and I felt like giving up because I couldn’t think of more stories. I pushed through because I kept on thinking back to the goal that I had in mind in the first place: to share my voice to others within the Asian-American community and add my piece to the world. I also had a supportive network of people to encourage me to continue pursuing my goals.
Now that you have successfully got your first book published, will you be writing another one?
Yes, I definitely intend on writing another book. However, I want to fully flesh out Origins and promote it and run with it for a while longer and see where it leads first.
What next? The goal of Origins is to create a vehicle for other minorities, especially Asian-Americans, to feel understood and have a voice. Also, to promote conversation about diversity and inclusion and spread awareness. With this goal in mind, I want to further pursue this goal by expanding on Origins. I am currently working on a nonprofit that offers a mentorship program relating to diversity and inclusion, and also a community where people of all different backgrounds can share their own stories or struggles. You can learn more about it on findyourorigins.com
Do you have any words of advice or tips for anyone who wanted to write a book?
My advice for anyone who wants to write a book is to just write and don’t overthink it. A lot of people can find writing very intimidating and feel like they aren’t good writers. But writing a book is supposed to be sharing a story, so you have to just start writing from the heart. Don’t overthink grammar, writing style, the structure too much—at least at first. Those are things that you will edit afterward to make your story be read well. The most important part of any book, in my opinion, is the story, and that comes from the heart.
I hope you enjoyed this interview, if you have any questions, please email me! And the link to my book is on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Origins-Immigrants-Journey-Thy-Nguyen- ebook/dp/B08548R246/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=origins+thy&qid=1583975792&sr=8-1
Article by Thy Nguyen
The views expressed herein are attributed to their authors and not to this publication nor Babson College. The materials appearing in this publication are for information purposes only.