As the publication date of my novel looms ever closer (August 2013), one of the things people have asked about is if I am going on a tour.
“What sort of tour?” I said, wondering if I could possibly repeat the first and last time I joined a real sight-seeing tour. It was back in 1998, when I accompanied my mother on her lifelong dream to visit Beijing. We joined a Chinese-speaking tour that embarked from Malaysia with lots of elderly people and a flag-waving guide. Scenes from the past flashed before my eyes as I recalled wandering around the Forbidden City looking in vain for a toilet.
“No, no – a book tour!” they said.
Then I had to explain that unfortunately, due to the changing nature of the publishing industry, very few authors go on tour anymore, especially unknown newbies like myself. It’s apparently much easier to connect with people on the internet via Tweeting and Facebooking and going on things like blog tours, where you show up on someone else’s blog. Best of all, these can all be done while sitting in front of your computer even if you are wearing elastic-waisted clothing. I tried to tell this to people, but they inevitably looked disappointed, rather than delighted, at the option of sweat pants.
“How about a book party then?”
“Oh, ah. Yes. I’ll be doing a few readings at bookstores with some snacks.” I carefully explained that I wanted to serve some local Malaysian delicacies but couldn’t figure out how to smuggle them into the country. I might have to make complicated things like pineapple tarts and kuih lapis myself. Horror!
“Why are you talking about cooking for your book reading? You should be thinking about what to wear instead!!” said a glamorous friend.
Of course, she was absolutely right. I was too excited about sharing some of the backstory behind this novel and hadn’t spent enough time thinking about logistics and some definite no-nos. Like showing up at a book reading smelling like fried bananas.
“Maybe that will make me popular!” I said, recalling the time my personal charisma soared thanks to eau de bacon. After all, I had been warned by many people, including booksellers and other authors, that a good crowd for an unknown author is about 10-20 people. But regardless of how many people show up, I’ve come to realize that this is an odd moment for me, when writing moves from being a personal passion to a more professional space.
I was particularly struck by this today, when I received news from my delighted editor that The Ghost Bride has been chosen as a Barnes & Noble Fall 2013 Discover Great New Writers selection. I was absolutely bowled over. First, I ran around the house shouting unintelligibly. Then I jumped up and down while ecstatically eating a piece of cake (please don’t do this, it’s not safe).
For all the people who might pick up a copy of my book in future, or possibly show up at a reading or festival (I’ll be at the AJC Decatur Book Festival in September, and the Singapore Writer’s Festival in November), I will not fry pisang goreng right beforehand. I will wear real clothes (not yoga pants) and try to speak intelligibly. And I am truly grateful for the support and encouragement I’ve received on this journey.
If you’d like to win an autographed ARC (Advanced Review Copy) of my book, there’s an international giveaway running on GoodReads right now!
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – I love Haruki Murakami, and his memoir about writing and running is a wonderful peek into the mind of a writer.
- On p86, Murakami suggests a meal made out of leftovers (“An apple, an onion, cheese, and eggs”). I vote for a cheese omelette with a side of sliced apples.
Photo credits: Photo 1 – Ernest Hemingway, from the Los Angeles Times/Handout. Photo 2: http://thestar.com.my/
Have you ever contemplated the change from a hobby to a profession?