The Unexpected Rewards of Helping Others
An Author' Notes
Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017
I've lived long enough to claim senior citizen discounts at some restaurants and still can encounter endless "First events" since I started in July 2016 working on publishing my memoir TigerFish. My new life as a new author is more fruitful and rewarding than I've could ever dream of achieving. It's full of discoveries and rewards, and I have my early readers and supporters to thank thus far, as you have been here for me from the beginning and cheering me to the launch date. If you are reading my blog for the first time, welcome aboard, and please join our TigerFish community where I also share my Minimalist and Eco-friendly tips Minimalist and EcoFriendly tips. Read my latest blog on my daughter's almost Eco-friendly and Minimalist Ranch Wedding here.
My 'Firsts' of Many Experiences
Do you ever wonder what an author does? I'm an independent author of TigerFish, a memoir about my Vietnamese refugee experience and coming-of-age in America, and I chose to categorize it as Asian American Studies and Autobiography for Young Adults and older.
My first website's email subscriber came from a reader from the San Francisco Bay area for my weekly Minimalist newsletters.
I created this website ChiBeingChi.com in July 2016 and blogged to share valuable information on Minimalism and reposted them on newly created social media accounts such as Facebook Author Page, Facebook Group, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest to start a following. These blogs and online conversations introduced my readers what I was about, what I had to offer, and lastly as a sidebar note, "For your information, I'm publishing my memoir in nine months, in case you're interested." I started with zero followings on all of these accounts, so imagine my joy when I received an email notice that I just picked up a subscriber! The first of many and to make it extra special, I didn't know this person at all! I still wondered where or how she found my website!
A few months passed, as I worked on editing my book, preparing for the launch, I generously shared two chapters of TigerFish to my subscribers and offered Pre-orders.
Within a day of my announcement of TigerFish Pre-order Offer, a reader sent me my first check payment.
I took to Facebook Live and announced my excitement and achievement. If you'd like to witness this milestone of a first-time author, check out the video on my Author Page.
Equally exciting was my first website orders from readers who discovered me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
I remember tracking the digital breadcrumbs as readers "Liked" or "Followed" one social media profile after another until they stopped at my website to make the purchase.
Gradually, I came closer to the launch date and lined up all of my thoughtful ARC or Advanced Readers Copies; These were the folks who were willing to read my manuscripts before publication to spot errors, make recommendations, and provide honest reviews.
There is nothing like launching one's first book. There can never be another first book launch again!
The excitement and anxiety of pushing that button on CreateSpace to self-publish on Amazon. I wondered then if anyone will find my book to read as there were about 8 million books on Amazon. Will people like my book? Will I get it into bookstores, high schools, universities, libraries, on radio and TV Talk shows or Newspaper? Will I make a decent living as an author? I had many insecurities at launching, but I felt overwhelmingly elated that I finished the tiring editing process and the book cover designing work.
I will never forget the first book I autographed, the first book club appearance, first high school presentation, or the bookstore and library that placed my book on the shelves with sponsored author events.
It's like that feeling of freedom and excitement of discovery when I first learned how to ride a bike, swim, or take that first scuba diving breath underwater! I cherished every one of my readers, standing in line with their copy of TigerFish in hands, patiently waiting for their turns for my autographs.
The Unexpected Rewards
Before I became an author, I didn't think that I would be good at cold-calling to pitch my book, but I've been wrong about that. I tirelessly emailed and called libraries, bookstores, schools, friends, families, neighbors, Facebook friends, and colleagues whom I haven't talked to in years to shamelessly plug TigerFish.
I was grateful for the people who supported me and surprised at those who didn't because my expectations which didn't match my realities. Ask for Help is my new motto because people will surprise us with their incredibly big hearts!
The most trying and challenging time I experienced as an author came at last push, the last month before my scheduled launch date. This was a miraculous time when seemingly insurmountable hurdles disappeared one by one as fellow authors, bloggers, friends, and families sprung to my aid. None of them wanted anything in return, "just pay it forward," they would say.
I am working with My Sister's House of Sacramento, a nonprofit with programs and resources to empower domestic violence victims and their children to live free from abuse.
Additionally, I'm working with California State University-Fresno Anthropology Professor, Jenny Banh to provide classroom guest presentations and advice to help Southeast Asian college students overcoming their barriers to graduation.
My oral interview for SE Asian students will be available soon. Watch for more details on this later.
The first rewarding "fan mail" came from a former U.S. soldier, a GI, or a Vietnam Veteran who served in the Vietnam war.
His email was heartfelt and expressed that TigerFish helped him understand what life was like for the people he went to war serving. It's cathartic for him to read about how he helped the Vietnamese during the war, how they survived and a assimilated in the U.S.
To be continued ... Check back soon!