Friday, February 19, 2010

Children of Invention

I came across a trailer for a movie called Children of Invention that has won a ton of awards, and was featured at the Sundance Film Festival. It's really seems to capture a certain mood and tempo about immigrant life that comes across as authentic. I'm hoping that the movie is as good as the trailer indicates. Something tells me that it will be.

And here's a wonderful clip from the movie:

CHILDREN OF INVENTION HD clip - "Pyramid Scheme Party" from Children of Invention on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

it takes a village

I used to think writing a book was a solitary journey.  And I still believe that, because no matter how large your writing/support group may be, in the end it's still just you putting down your own words.  Often alone in the dark of the night, scribbling or typing away while the rest of the family lies sound asleep.

But one thing I've never fully realized is how it takes a village to publish a book.  The moment I signed with AmazonEncore, my editor immediately pushed a button.  A team of experts immediately descended upon my work, each member specifically assigned to a niche role.  And what a team they've been.  I've heard horror stories from other authors who've experienced road blocks, fading interest, unreturned phone calls or emails, horrible title changes, and vomit-inducing cover designs they had no say in.  And these were with top-name publishing houses.  Not so with AmazonEncore.  They've been professional to the T, yet personable as Oprah between takes.

There's my copy editor, for example.  Not only tightened my language but also found some subtle time discrepancies and factual inconsistencies.  Here's one small example: in one scene, I described how two characters (who work in a food court) went to bed early on a particular night.  My copy editor jumped in: food courts typically close at 9 p.m. on weekends, so after clean-up and the commute home, the two characters would not have been home soon enough to turn in so early.  That's a great catch.  Not a big deal to the overall plot and it was an easy fix, but it gave me a lot of assurance that my book was being so thoroughly vetted for the big time.

Then there's the cover design.  Let me just say this: there are certain milestones in an author's career, and getting the cover design to your debut novel is one of them.  A heart-thumping one.  In my case, my editor sent me not just one, but three design concepts.  Two of them blew me away.  There's a story in how I ended up with the final cover (and I'll blog about it one day), but let me just say this: AmazonEncore pulled me in early on and made sure that I was an integral part of that process.  They respected my input ("please, no faux-Chinese fonts and dragons") and the design team did an incredible job.  The cover is totally amazing; not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it also captures the ambiance of the novel perfectly.

The marketing team has been likewise top-notch.  The publicity aspect of this business is one I know next to nothing about.  Left to me, I'd probably craft a signboard and walk up and down Main Street in a costume.  But my publicists - seasoned experts with great contacts - have been great in explaining the process, working behind the scenes, and doing an awesome job in getting word of this novel out there.  ARCs are now landing in the hands of media bigwigs all around the country.  There's a lot of work for me as well, but at least I'm working with direction and not like a headless chicken.  And pre-publication buzz is building by the week, enough to keep me awake at night.  So exciting.

I could go on, easily.  There are so many more people to mention, I'm realizing that this will probably become a blog series.  Is that advisable, to have a blog series on one topic?  I don't know.  I'll have to ask Sarah or Terry or Julie or . . .

Because one thing I do know: it takes a village.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

my first sale!

For the past few days, I've been watching my Amazon sales rank (for the paperback) go from roughly 600,000 (yes, there are 5 zeros in there) to a mind-staggering, truly-humbling 1,587,465.  Yes, as in over one million five hundred thousand.  Who knew there were that many books out there for sale?  I tell myself not to get caught up in the numbers, I just went public with this after all, and we're still 3 months away from the release date.  But still...1.5 million?

Well, I just checked my depressing numbers, and suddenly I've leap-frogged to a sales rank of 130,595.  Somebody pre-ordered my book!  Maybe more than just one.  Whoever you may be, you just made my day.  The nightmare scenario of being the first person in publishing history to not sell a single officially over.

And now I feel like a bonafide author.

So whoever you may be, thank you, thank you, thank you!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

breaking the news

Even though I've gone public in the sense that this website has gone up, I've actually only told a handful of people.  Mostly family and, because "I had to," my superiors at work.  Since so few people know about the book, this website is secreted somewhere in an obscure nook in cyberspace.  I'll probably go public and proactively inform friends, colleagues, and acquaintances sometime next week.  Truth is, my natural inclination is to actually wait until the day of publication and say something like: "hey, please buy my book, it's on sale now."  But I can already see the disapproving look on my publicist's face as she somberly shakes her head.  She wants build-up, she wants momentum before the release date.  She wants news of it to break out now.  Yesterday.  She even set up - without my knowledge! - a Facebook fansite.  What can I say?  She's the perfect publicist.

Truth is, I'm chomping at the bit to let people know.  I think this must be how expectant women feel just before they let the world know (at the 3 month mark?).  I can imagine how they feel: elated, bristling with the anticipation of letting friends know, the sharing of joy, the joy of sharing.  (And a chance to explain the extra poundage and perhaps gloominess from morning sickness).

I feel like that.  Except I've been pregnant with this baby for a decade.  It's been a baby that has kicked me hard at times, filled me with seasons of self-doubt and despair, only to be followed by seasons that percolated with creative energy.  Then back to despair.  Solitary nights slogging away in front of the monitor, days of frustration when whole chapters are trashed, the piles of rejections letters, the close calls that ended in 11th-hour rejections.  And all finally leading up to that moment last year, when I received that magical phone call ("Hello, is Andrew there?  I'd like to talk to you about your novel...").  And that's when the water broke.

And so when I make the announcement next week, it's going to be with a parent's pride and joy...