Xeus and I spoke at today's meeting. It was a small crowd of familiar faces. We had a special guest all the way from London, Kak Teh, who frequently moaned about not being able to join us in our writerly events in KL. Well, this time, she made it and on a special day too - her birthday!
Another special visitor was ND Gong, a reader who contacted me after reading Life's Like That. Though we had been corresponding via email for a few years, it was the first time we've met. He went through my Honk! manuscript to check for grammar errors. And when he turned up today, he gave me two books : Tracing It Home by Lynn Pan and a xeroxed copy of an out-of-print Chiese Jetsam on a Tropic Shore by N.I.Low. This is one of the perks of being an author. You get to meet such nice readers.
Xeus talked about the common mistakes she sees in the stories submitted for the Dark City 2 anthology. And if you're a regular at this blog, you would have known what I talked about, honk, honk!
Honk! If You're Malaysian is my third book and the most successful to-date. It's my only book that has gone into reprint. The other two are still in their first print (FP). So what made the difference? One word : Publicity. No matter how good your book is, if nobody knows about it, it's gonna be stuck in FP land.
These were the PR tools I used :
I started the PR machinery for Honk! six months before it's release by running a suggest-a-title contest on my blog. It generated some buzz in the blogosphere. The week after my book was launched, it hit no. 1 in the local best-sellers chart in MPH Midvalley. It has made the best-sellers lists in Borders and Popular too. Later I ran a provide-a-link/post a mini review contest to help spread the word.
2. Media appearances
I contacted tv and radio stations to feature me in their programs. As Yvonne Lee says, you've got to be thick-skinned. I already know Sayed of RTM1, so getting the interview at Resensi was a breeze. The others I cold-called. Even though these aren't prime-time shows, they have an audience. People have come to my blog and book-signing, saying they saw me on tv.
3. Reviews in the print media
I've sent out a whole bunch of emails to magazines and newspapers entreating them to please, please review my book. It's gradually bearing fruit as it has been written up in Cleo, Midi, Going Places and best of all, it's got a fantastic review in The Star recently.
4. Book Talks
Though attendance is sparse at these events (I'm no celebrity and neither am I a foreigner), I conducted some talks at the bookstores. These talks help raise the profile of the book. The stores would put up posters and order more copies so my book gets more visibility.
5. Support from my publisher
MPH made 5 standees to display in the outlets. These help to attract more attention to Honk!
It was an interactive session, with the audience participating heatedly in the Bloggers are Liars discussion. Thank you, MPH for organising the talk and for the lovely spread of food.
Facing the camera is Esther Teoh (in white shirt) with tape recorder in hand. She was there for a college assignment on blogging.
Kenny (in tie) was there as my introducer. Beside him is Sharon Bakar and behind her is Grace who came all the way from Seremban.
(L-R) Chet, Xeus, me, Kak Teh, Eric Forbes and Janet Tay.
The woman in the tree is Sharon. (She is fully and nicely attired, so don't ask me why she's hiding behind the leaves. Chet, thanks for the lovely Janis Ian CD. Now I know who she is. I loved her song, At Seventeen. Had been listening to it without knowing who the singer was.)