Being an author requires marketing and promoting your book. It’s another side of myself I am getting to know. I am still not completely comfortable with this New Self, who’s always focused on her book, but so far she is behaving herself and not being totally obnoxious!
It feels like the cells of my body are rearranging themselves to accommodate this New Self. My old self did not feel comfortable in the spotlight, but would gladly support others to take the center of attention.
At AWP in March, I was handing out my publicity postcards to people I’d just met at the Portland Convention Center, leaving them on information tables, and so on. I had to make self-promotion part of my daily life.
I first went public as an author of The Lava Never Sleeps: A Honolulu Memoir at Passages Bookshop in Portland to a SRO crowd in late March. The reading featured several Willow Books authors at an off-site event during the conference.
Having printed lots of postcards to help promote my memoir, I unabashedly distributed them. The book cover is visually attractive and I hoped it would get people’s attention and generate interest in the book.
I was nervous about Seattle book launch scheduled for Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park on May 2. Since May is Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I wanted to connect my book to this national cultural observation. It seemed to make sense even though API Heritage Month is not hugely recognized.
I wasn’t sure who would actually show up although I was talking to people in all my various communities. And, yes, handing out postcards.
I planned and rehearsed my reading.
I made arrangements to serve island-style snacks like taro chips, mocha crunch, coconut candy, and butter mochi cake. Hawai’i people love their snacks! My friends helped me with the shopping and displaying/arranging the snacks for the reading with table cloths, ti leaves, plumeria blossoms.
As more and more people arrived, additional chairs had to be added to the original 40 already set up.
It felt overwhelming: So many people wanted to support me and my book. Longtime friends, my mahjongg sisters, colleagues at North Seattle College, people in my tai chi group, my neighbors in the apartment building where I live, and of course my writing friends.
Writing friends in Santa Barbara and Atlanta sent a bouquet of flowers. My Seattle friends surprised me with several lei, which touched me very much.
Very humbled and grateful for the SRO crowd standing in the aisles between bookshelves, I began the reading with an ancient canoe chant. I felt the aloha in the room during my reading and later as I signed books.
A friend came over from Pt. Townsend. Other
friends came from the Eastside whom I had not seen in decades. It was a wonderful evening of surprises! I could not have wished for a better book launch and celebration for my book.
A definite celebration because people understand how dang hard it is to get published by any traditional press. It can take years, which it did for me.
Here’s the thing. There are no guarantees when you’re a writer. You can only keep writing, keep learning your craft, keep submitting, ride the emotional roller-coaster, and just keep going. Persevere is the mantra if a writer wants to become an author. Or as they say in Hawaiian: Kulia!