Brutally Honest - An Indie Author's Tips and Lessons Learned for Success!
This is my July 2017 Newsletter sent to my subscribers but I decided to share it on my blog "About Books & Writing" for those who are interested in writing and publishing as an Indie Author. July 15, 2017
This will be a long, heartfelt, and brutally honest letter to my long-time loyal subscribers as well as the brand spanking new ones who just signed up this week. There will be nuggets of wisdom and lessons learned from my first year of practicing minimalism and an author that will make it worth your while to hang in there.
TigerFish Readers Unite!
I’m on in this incredibly delightful whirlwind called TigerFish, my memoir, (click to purchase on Amazon) published at the end of April. Since the launch, it’s been an unending show of support. Readers connecting me with people I should meet to talk about the book, which I then followed up on, and followed through which resulted in many bookstore events, book clubs, library events, etc. I also cold called to high schools, newspapers, TV stations, bookstores, wherever I felt would help spread the message of TigerFish.
Reading List John F. Kennedy High School Freshman Class 2017
High School Readers
One of my dream and aspiration for this book was to reach the high school students at their critical development stage, during their coming of age, like me at thirteen when I first arrived in America as a refugee. I wanted to impart the message of positive ethnic and culturally identity, something I didn’t have when I first arrived in the US. In addition, I wanted to share the message of tolerance and compassion to those who may look and sound different than the mainstream America; the one who eat different foods, wear different clothes and practice or held different religious beliefs.
I also wanted to reclaim the word "Refugee" which holds of negative stigma and images. I wanted to connect the word to a face, a voice, their humanity, and journey with which one could relate to the concept and an undiscovered truth of what it means to be a refugee, that we all want survival and dignity.
Success Has Its Struggles
I've worked tirelessly to gain much-needed media coverage and exposure for TigerFish and it is gaining incredible momentum. So what is the problem?
One of my current struggles is to keep creating useful contents for my Minimalist blogs which slowed down around the time of the book launch. I feel like I’m letting my Minimalist followers down. I’m not creating lists, posters, blogs, holding a contest, drawing, and challenge like I did in my first year, reflecting my personal learning and growth curves in Minimalism. As a result, I'm listing all the accessible resources for those on this Minimalism journey as follows.
Resources for Minimalists
Whether you just embarked on our Minimalism journey or have been at this for a while. There are evergreen tips and tricks in these resources:
First Year on Practicing Minimalism
My beginning Minimalist blogs took you through my writing process which necessitates my minimalising my household so I could focus on TigerFish. I walked through my personal process of minimalizing, and eventually into Eco blogging and plastic free lifestyles and hacks here: Read about it in my guest blog for Tiny Yellow Bungalow.
I’m still a practicing minimalist, and there is only so much that I could work on. I share the household with my husband, and I don’t believe in "nagging" him into practicing it the exact same ways that I do. I respect his process and time frame and I could live with things status quo. I believe there are a time and place for everything, forcing it to happen would only backfire in unwanted consequences. So, I will do what I can, control what is within my power, and just relax where I can’t. This is one of the common challenges that minimalists have when we share our households. And that is okay. I’m not freaking out.
Still With Me? More On TigerFish & What's In It for YOU!
Tell Your Story. If you have been following me since last June/July, you know that I’m an indie author and indie published, which means that I do everything. I don’t have a publisher to hold my hand, assign me an editor, book cover designer, formatted, etc. For this reason, it’s all on me to build a following, edit the book, send it to editors, seeing everything of the project management cycle without a coach and mentor. I hired consultants for social media, but that would be the closest thing to a coach. I learned everything online.
Authors and Community. You are not alone and don't have to be alone. I had many people coming to my aid during the last month of my launch, and it was indeed the most spiritual experience I’ve ever had. Everything went wrong before my first scheduled release date. Incredibly and miraculously, other authors have helped me, friends and families stepped in at the finish line. I believe that when I was ready to receive help and the universe provided.
Start Research & Archiving Stories for Your Book. I believe every one of us has a story to tell, whether it’s your own, your ancestor, or relative's stories. Start small. Do your research and archiving your stories. Most importantly, start attracting your followings early on the passion that you would like to share, be music, cooking, swimming, biking, orempowering others to pursue their life's dreams and goals. In my case, it was Minimalism.
Write Your Story
Your story is important. TigerFish has evolved into a movement, delivering a message, and became more than a memoir. Many of us have stories that are a lot more harrowing, traumatic, and dramatic than what you read in my book. Mine is only a drop in the bucket of many refugee stories. Unfortunately, they are not written and shared to the world and contributing to our oral history for one reason or another.
Your story is needed. Many people told me that I'm brave to write and publish my memoir TigerFish. Many said that it resonated with them even though they weren’t refugees. They were immigrants; They were once teenagers feeling the angst; They felt the same strict or oppressive family structure. My book transcends ethnic, family, and societal boundaries. It speaks to the marginalized, the forgotten, the invisible, the oppressed, the refugees and immigrants who struggle daily with culture clashes, identity, and assimilation. Many people cried, laughed, and paused for thoughts reading TigerFish. They recommended the book to their friends, family, colleagues, and parishioners.
Your honesty is wanted. I’m blown away that my brutally honest and sincere writing has stirred some readers into to thinking differently about the Vietnamese refugees, the Vietnam War, the Vietnamese they met in the war, and even the way they thought about their own actions in protesting the war, their government, and religions. This is what I learned from listening to them at events and reading readers reviews on Amazon
Is Writing A Memoir for You? What Does It Take?
What is bravery?
I have Vietnam Veterans writing to thank me for my bravery in writing my deeply personal stories. It’s somewhat therapeutic for them to learn that their sacrifice in “Nam” wasn’t in vain, that they helped people like me, someone with whom they can connect the word "Refugee" to with a face, name, and family who loves as they do.
I have a new Laotian friend who said I'm brave to write my stories and wondered if I’m afraid of the backlash, of getting killed, like the "Killing Fields person", or the late Dr. Haing S. Ngor. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t write because I feared of getting killed. Maybe I’m just naive. I’ve had trolls on social media, but that’s easy enough to tune out, letting them lay their hatred and ignorance bare for the world to see. It’s the free speech right, albeit grossly uncivil and uninformed.
I don’t know the answer to that, truly. But what I know for sure is that I feel it is my moral obligation not sit on my hands but speak up and out for other refugees, so they could enjoy the same freedom to education and economic opportunity like I have as a refugee in America since 1975. I cannot watch others getting turned away to be persecuted and killed in the country they tried to flee without doing my part vocalizing my protest.
Courage and determination
How did I get the courage and determination to write and publish the book? Once we know what hard work and the ensuing success tastes and feels like, it’s an addictive formula. I left Vietnam when I was thirteen years old. I had a sense of self. I understood hard work and its success. That feeling stayed with me, and not speaking English wasn’t going to deter me from achieving my dreams. I applied the same formula of sheer grit day in and day out. I put in long hours, keeping my head down, working and turning off the distractions.
Setting High Standards
I have high standards for myself because that is the only way I can reach my goals. I don’t compromise. I’ve been told many times in my professional life that they are too high. I disagreed. For those who wondered how I succeeded in publishing my manuscript in nine months. The answer is the expectation that I placed upon myself. I didn't allow or indulge on excuses that would keep me from reaching my goals. Set realistic expectations then achieve them. That’s it! There is no secret sauce. It’s true that if there is a will, there is a way. I swear it’s true.
Surround Ourselves With Supporters
I kept working towards my goals in spite of naysayers, and there were many on the journey. Instead, I surrounded myself with those who believed in me and my message like you. I want approval just like the next person, but when I didn’t get them, it's not a deterrence. Instead, they gave me fuel to pursue my dreams even with renewed tenacity. I am TigerFish. I don’t give in nor do I give up.
Thank You Supporters!
From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your following, encouragement, and support. I didn’t get here without your help. Like I said many times, authors don’t write in a vacuum, we have an army of supporters and cheerleaders who believe in the message. So here’s to you for believing in me, and here’s to our long and prosperous relationship.
Read more about my writing process, tips, advice for new authors on this interview with Wild Mind Creative earlier this year.
With gratitude and affection!
Book available at the following independent bookstores
Davis Avid Reader. Davis, CA. http://www.avidreaderbooks.com
Tower Avid Reader. Sacramento, CA. https://www.avidreaderonbroadway.com
BluMoon & Vinyls. Sacramento, CA. https://www.facebook.com/bluMoonbooks/
Petunia's Place. Fresno, CA. http://www.petuniasbooks.com
Bookshop Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz. CA. http://www.bookshopsantacruz.com
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