About the Book
Born out of an idea during the COVID-19 quarantine, the My Life As A Woman: World Edition travels around the globe to explore and highlight the resilience, strength, and true power of women throughout the world.
About the Author
Matthew Gates is from New Jersey in the United States and holds an Associate’s degree in Social Science from Ocean County College and has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology from Loyola University Chicago. After graduating, Matt lived in Israel for a year, where he taught English to Ethiopian-Israelis and learned about a wide-range of socio-economic issues of the country. Once he returned to the United States, using a skill he taught himself when he was younger, he became a programmer. Over the years, he has acquired various skills and is working in New Mexico remotely as a freelance writer, technical writer, web designer, and web developer. And has since recently become a self-published author.
Excerpts from the Book
Brazil: Hi, my name is Bianca and I was born and grew up in Rio de Janeiro, the second biggest Brazilian city. As I am an only child, my mom taught me how to be independent, so I started to work at a very young age. I have never let my studies behind but when I was 15 years old, I felt like I needed to earn my own money, so I asked my uncle to work at his computer store. After one year and a half, I quit in order to take my university exams. In Brazil, you have two types of universities, a private one and a public paid by the government, this latter being the best one. However, to enter a public university you need to study a lot. I have graduated in business administration at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, a public one. I had to study a lot to enter and finish this course.
Israel: As a kid, or as a young woman in Israel, you believe you can become anything. You are taught to believe you can be anything you dream of. Not many people know that, but women at the Israeli army can be pilots, women can be Special Forces, women can take part in the Intelligence corps. Women can have meaningful service as commanders or officers. We are allowed to do anything men can do, and we do it. We do it well.
Qn 1: Can you tell us more about your book What is it about?
As the world was going into a lockdown quarantine, the first of its kind, I was doing what everyone was doing and trying to stay sane despite the COVID-19 numbers and just wanted to grab some stories for my blog to show what COVID was like for people around the world, particularly in China. I had mostly been hiring women and realized the access I had, so I came up with a new idea, as I could only obtain so much information about COVID. I wanted to know more about what women’s lives were like in every country on Earth and Fiverr was a great source. I ended up getting many people I hired to look within their own networks of friends on social media, paying them and the person they found for their story.
There were many women who loved the idea and were happy to write a story about their lives, where they grew up, how they grew up, who influenced them, how their family treated them, how their government treated them, if they had any goals and successes in life, and any failures that arose along the way, as well as any advice they might have for the world. There were also many women who were not interested and preferred to remain silent. There were some women who believed I was actually just taking advantage of so many women.
My goal was clear: show what women were going through in their lives around the world. One thing was clear: women are resilient, strong, and powerful. There are so many different personalities in this book with waves of emotion in every story. These women are all real and I did try to verify and authenticate every story.
As a result of my efforts, a woman from every country was obtained. While there are various official counts of how many countries there are, depending on if you’re looking from a United States perspective or a United Nations perspective, there are anywhere between 195 countries and 265 countries. I managed to obtain the stories from 201 countries, including some harder-to-reach countries such as China, Cuba, North Korea, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Iran, and others.
I was literally looking at Google Maps, just scanning the world for new countries, then with the help of the team I built, we’d contact people directly from those countries, but many times, they were not always directly available, so we had to contact someone from a surrounding country, see if she or he knew anyone in the country we were after, by checking with their social media, friends, or family, and getting back to us.
Qn 2: Who do you think would be interested in this book, is it directed at any particular market?
I do believe this book is for anyone to read, but it is mainly a book for women, by women, to women. Men should be reading this book too because there is a lot about women that men may not know or understand. I would also recommend that parents read this book to their children. Imagine being able to read or listen to a story from a woman in every country.
While I have already read this book about 2 or 3 times, from proofreading, after I officially bought my paperback copy, I still continue to read it as if I’ve never read it before. I pick out a story every night, and I read it to my wife, which often puts her to sleep. We have a short few minutes discussion about the story, what the woman was saying, and just try to understand her situation. It is like we are hanging out with a bunch of women from around the world, and every night, a new woman tells her story. Once in a while, we do hear a familiar story.
There are so many types of women in this book, from mothers to daughters and sisters, grandmothers and aunts and nieces, godmothers and best friends. Women from all types of backgrounds are in this book. So I do believe anyone would be interested in this book. It has no preferences, as the message from women was meant for everyone in the world.
Qn 3: Out of all the books in the world, and all the authors, which are your favourite and why?
This is an interesting question. I actually really wanted Anne Rice to be a part of this book. When I was collecting stories, I had wanted to get all 50 states in the United States, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, I was able to obtain about 20 or 30 states. Although I believe I did get her home state of Louisiana into the book.
I love Interview with the Vampire and all of her vampire books. There is something about her analogy to vampires and the human connection. The vampire represents our everyday life, our suffering, our pain, our love, our hunger, our drama, and our troubled relationship with death. I had actually emailed Anne about three times, and I even offered to compensate her for her time, but unfortunately, she did not respond. It was really a no hard feelings kind of deal because I am sure the woman is quite busy. Doesn’t make me love her and her stories any less!
Qn 4: What guidance would you offer to someone new, or trying to enhance their writing?
Write what is in your heart. Don’t be stopped by anything. With all the tools out there today, you just need an interesting story from a unique perspective, with a slight marketing edge to sell it, and it could become a next best seller. With Amazon KDP or IngramSpark along with other competitively similar tools, you can self-publish your book for free or for a very affordable price.
And while I’d like to tell you it’s going to be easy, everyone is going to flock to your book to read it, the truth is: your mom or girlfriend might read it to support you, but not many other people will be interested. So writing the story is only half the battle. Getting people interested and marketing the book, talking about it, driving home points as to why people should read it, why they need to read it, especially if it is non-fiction, why it could possibly be so important to them.
There are millions of books everyday, with thousands more being published and released into the world every day. You have to show people that your book exists and it is a good read! Don’t ever give up. And if you’re really just in it for the money, well, actually, give up.
Qn 5: Where can our readers find out more about you, do you have a website, or a way to be contacted?
I did list my author bio on the main landing page of the book at https://mylifeasawomanproject.com but I do run a blog, Confessions of the Professions which is actually a partial sponsor of this book. The website is dedicated to jobs, careers, and the workplace, but I receive all types of articles, and I rarely reject any. I get emails from marketing agencies, startups, companies, research departments at universities, and freelance authors. The emails never stop and it does ensure I stay motivated to keep running the website.
During the months of March, April, and May, I was collecting random COVID-19 stories from mostly women around the world. After women were done with this project, I would rehire them to write a story about their experience with COVID-19. I hired every woman from China twice, and this seemed to get information into China, so much that it drove traffic from China to my website, and today, China has now surpassed the United States in visits to the website.
Although we post for free, the funds to help hire the women for their stories were raised in part from rush fees on articles. We often schedule articles and they can be in the queue for up to a month. The companies that need their article out faster are usually willing to pay a small fee, which helps sponsor a lot of the project ideas we come up with for the website. Every year, we do try to come up with something new, and this year, I saw an opportunity for the “My Life As A Woman Project” and I took a risk and made it happen.