Stepping out is scary: Launching my first book
Stepping out to launch my first published book came with a lot of uncertainty:
What if nobody shows up?
What if I have nothing significant to share and inspire my audience with?
What if no one buys my book?
While I didn’t sell a lot of books (and I knew I probably wouldn’t, because realistically, most first time authors sell averagely 200 books on the first attempt), I made a huge profit in terms of old bonds rekindled and new friendships made.
Old bonds rekindled
I reconnected with Charlotte, an old friend (not that she’s old - our friendship goes a long way back to when we were seven). We lost touch for over 20 years and reconnected just a week ago when she volunteered to help me co-organize my Asian book tour. She has several years of experience under her belt as an events organizer and an emcee. Boy did she step up to the plate and run the show like a smooth, slick machine. I would have had a very rough time juggling three sessions of book launches in three cities over two days all by myself - imagine a single person playing multiple roles as host, speaker, marketer and book seller - that would have utterly drained me.
My all time favorite English teacher, Mrs Wong, whom I love and adored as a teenager because her enthusiasm for life and passion in her craft inspired me so (she also coached the school netball team to multiple championships, of which I was a key player and had a blast) - she came to the Johor Bahru session with her children, encouraged and uplifted me again and again, making sure I understood how very proud she is of me, and when I asked if she would adopt me, she agreed. So yes, I’m now an official member of the Wong clan.
I have an extremely strained relationship with my dad who inflicted years of physical and emotional abuse on me growing up. In his old age now he probably does not remember the misery he caused to his children; I did and struggled for many years to forgive him. To my surprise, he came for my book launch in Johor Bahru together with the rest of my family members including my mom, brother and his family. I was a little apprehensive about reading from a segment in my book where I described my painful upbringing but as I did, I noticed him looking at me with a softened look in his eyes. I might even have seen a held back tear. We didn’t talk much after the event, I was however overcome with a desire to hug him and tell him I forgive him, but I did not do so. I know that a chip has been made in the wall between us, and that full reconciliation isn’t too far away.
New friendships made
I’m honored to befriend Danny Lim, a fellow triathlete and humble owner of the Triple Mellow Cafe in Kuala Lumpur who very kindly allowed me use of his cafe to host my book launch in. From him I learnt the basic principles of effective business networking, a skill he learnt in his coffee distributor trade. Knowing few people in Kuala Lumpur and in need of a photographer for the event, John Ong, a fellow cyclist and a man I didn’t know beforehand, volunteered his time to photograph the event. Both Danny and John sacrificed their usual Sunday bike ride for my event.
Bernard Loh, one of the best emcees in Singapore, readily said yes to host my event in Singapore even though we’re barely close friends - his willingness to help and energy for life is highly infectious.
I’m running out of words to describe and thank everyone who showed up for all three sessions of my book launch in Johor Bahru, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
Rozz, Clive and Joan for allowing me to use Trilo Bites Cafe for the JB event; Clement for the use of Hood Bar & Cafe in Singapore; Benjamin Wong for photographing my event in Johor Bahru; Letty and Innesabelle for photographing and covering the event in Singapore; Andre and Janice, for waking up at 4.30am and braving horrendous traffic to travel in from Singapore to Johor Bahru with me because they didn't want me to travel by myself; Theresa Tan for your very present help, support, mentor and encourager in my journey to being a published author; Josephine Tan, Sherlyn, Olivia, Bevan, Winnie, Sam Wee, Michelle and Dave, Kezia, Fadzleen, Wendy Yap, Dave and Jessica Ern; of course, not forgetting my mom, brother and his family... and oh so many more.
I may not have the opportunity to thank everyone in person, but please know that your presence left a deep imprint in my heart. I’m grateful to you.
I don’t know if this Asian book launch is a success or not - it is after all my first. Whether it be the former or the latter, this much I know - the number of human connection I made far outweighs the sales volume. Lives, smile, laughter, tears, stories exchanged, lessons learnt, lives intertwined - these are far more precious than dollars. I’m made rich because of this.