North Carolina State women’s basketball fans know the name Kay Yow. As the team’s coach, she achieved more than 700 wins over her 34-year career, became a Hall of Fame inductee, and coached the 1988 women’s Olympic team to their gold medal win. In 2009, Yow passed away from breast cancer after battling the disease for two-plus decades. To residents of the Tar Heel state, Yow is a true legend whose story MaryEllen Williams wanted to tell:
Living here in Raleigh, NC, everyone knew the name Kay Yow but what made me want to know more about her was the fact that she was said to be a very special person, someone who was at a higher spiritual level than most of us. As I looked into her more I realized she was known worldwide. I wanted to find out her roots and what made her stand out among the best.
Before she could write Kay’s story, which would ultimately be released as her nonfiction book Triumph, MaryEllen spent a considerable amount of time doing research. She watched videos online, read all the newspaper articles she could get her hands on, and contacted the person in charge of Kay’s estate to get consents and releases as well as to option the story to the beloved coach’s life. Once she identified the key figures in Kay’s life, MaryEllen sought them out. Kay’s friends, family, and former staff members answered MaryEllen’s questions and thus the narrative was born.
Once she completed her manuscript, MaryEllen decided to skip traditional publishing altogether and go independent for one reason alone: timing. When told it could take years to get an agent and a book contract, she turned to Lulu, which ended up being, “the best thing I ever did because they have bent over backwards in their support for this inspiring project,” MaryEllen said.
Now Triumph: Inspired by the true life story of legendary Coach Kay Yow can be purchased through Lulu.com as well as both Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s websites.
To promote Triumph, MaryEllen hired a publicity firm to do a six-week PR campaign. But MaryEllen isn’t only relying on them; she knows that an author must also be her own biggest advocate and so she’s been hitting the pavement in her hometown of Raleigh. Recently, Quail Ridge Book Store and the N.C. State Bookstores agreed to take copies of Truimph, which MaryEllen knows is a triumph in and of itself.
Next up for MaryEllen is a screenplay of Kay’s story, which she’s been dreaming about even before she started the book. It’s been an incredible journey she admits — and she’s learned quite a few things along the way.
My tips to any author are to work hard, ask anything and everything about your subject. Persevere and never give up. Every hurdle you meet can be overcome. Believe in yourself and your project. You are, as I said, your biggest advocate. Get excited. It’s contagious.