Local resident C.J. English, who was born and raised in Fargo, might seem like an ordinary woman, aside from the fact that she has written a memoir that recently hit No. 1 on Amazon Kindle in “Diaries and Journals.” Initially rejected by dozens of publishers, English not only took the dive into the world of self-publishing but also took a leap of faith by bringing her mesmerizing and scandalous love story to light.
Despite what the title, “Affairytale”, might presume, the memoir goes far beyond the story of a woman’s affair. It’s a true story about the hard and dirty stuff that happens to everyone but nobody talks about.
“The book isn’t 300 pages about having an affair. It’s 300 pages about a normal person in a marriage with a great guy and hardly any issues… but why couldn’t we get along?” said English. “Family values always said that you made your bed and now you lie in it, so I stayed.”
English’s spell-binding memoir documents her struggles of being in an unhappy, mundane marriage and staying in a relationship despite the fact that she knew she had married the wrong person. In her time with her ex-husband, there had been someone else, a close family friend whom she had an undeniable connection with for years and is now her current husband.
English knew that marriage didn’t have to be the way she was living it, until one night when she realized that she didn’t have to settle, that happiness in marriage was possible and you can truly find your “happily every after.”
“When I got together with my husband now, I really took that leap that (marriage) could be like that. It’s really good. I had no idea that marriage or relationships could be this good,” said English.
Writing her story happened by accident. English had spent a good majority of her life in the health and nutrition industry and came up with the idea to write a weight-loss and recipe book. The project didn’t capture her attention thoroughly, and so she started writing about her love story and found that it came together much easier.
“I didn’t have to pound down doors to get it through. Once I had my daughter and husband’s blessing, I knew I had to commit to it. And the ball just started rolling,” said English. She started the book three years ago and completed it this past May.
Once English decided to go full-throttle with the memoir, she teamed up with Amanda McKinnon, a local marketer and English’s friend by day and now her creative director and publicist by night. The duo set up an extensive marketing plan to reach out to book bloggers and reviewers and got the word out through social media. English also reached out to dozens of agents and publishing companies, only to be turned away for reasons such as, “Great title, great premise, but we’re not looking for a new author.”
That’s when English’s decision to self-publish the memoir came to fruition. According to English, Amazon has made it “easy and an option for individuals to self-publish rather than having the gatekeepers be the only ones that disseminate information.”
Within a month of the book being published, it reached the No. 1 spot on Amazon Kindle’s “Diaries and Journals” list and No. 4 on the “Love and Romance” list. Initially, the book was also available on Barnes and Noble’s Nook and other various e-book sites around the world, but now English says that by being exclusive to Amazon, the perks are much better.
“It gets a lot of traffic and holds its own on Amazon. We’re working on a big push to take it to the next level, but Amazon was already a huge accomplishment,” said McKinnon.
English has received an immense amount of positive feedback and, with the help of McKinnon, doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon when it comes to getting her book even more recognition.
“I was bracing for the worst, but the common theme in the reviews seems to be things like, ‘Don’t go by the title, it’s not a book about an affair,’ or ‘Everyone who has ever been in a crappy relationship should read this.’”
At the end of the day, readers say that they are inspired by English’s tale to search for something better, to not settle and shoot for the stars.
Originally published in Fargo Monthly Nov 2015