First Draft of My Blanket

Hello everyone, sorry for being AWOL for the last while, but exciting news! The first draft of “My Blanket” was completed and awaiting review from a few lucky friends and friends of friends. So after we collect feedback from the readers, we can go back and make any modifications necessary.

Just before anyone gets any ideas, this isn’t the first draft that I created. In fact, this may be the 10th or 11th revised version before this test launch was sent out. So for those looking to write, be prepared to get a lot of feedback – some of it may be consistent, some of it may be totally off base. Whatever the case is, the reader always knows best. I know it’s hard to separate yourself from your own creation, but at the end of the day, it’s the reader that will dictate whether or not your work is good.

For example, my second story, the “Sunflower…” I’ve been given a lot of feedback from Mr. Suba and a few test readers. Though there is some personal investment in the story, the feedback is valid. I know it’ll be a better story overall if I went with it, but I’m just such a proud person that I don’t want to change it.

I guess to recap, the two lessons I’ve learned to getting to this stage are:
1) Accept feedback and work at making something that can please both your artistic vision and the vision of your readers
2) Don’t be lazy. Some changes will require a LOT of re-working, don’t be lazy. Suck it up and keep working.

Nobody will buy something that you’re half proud of, or that you put half your effort into. Make something that you’re proud of. Make something that your readers will be happy to read, over and over again.

Coming soon, I’ll post some of the rejected pictures onto my Facebook page and maybe a few things here and there. Exciting times are ahead!

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Change in Plans – Full Steam Ahead

During this “testing” phase of research and finding out how to get a book published, I’ve also been working diligently on book #2, titled “The Sunflower, the Peony, and the Casablanca.” As you’ve probably guessed from the title, it will be about three flowers.

So how does this all fit in? Mr. Suba will be delaying the production of our first draft (my 5th with “My Blanket”) and will produce both at the same time. I was aiming for an October release for “My Blanket” and a November release for “The Sunflower…” which means we are back on pace and, hopefully, ready to go.

My next few posts will most likely document how we go from a simple PDF format to a real hardcover book. I’m still working out the details, but maybe I can get by without an ISBN number… for now. Any incremental costs that this project creates… well, it’s basically incremental cost out of my pocket.

Do you think Kickstarter is a viable way to get noticed?

The Importance of a Title Page and my NEW Facebook Group

First and foremost, I’d like to introduce my new Facebook page. There’s nothing much on there yet, but I plan on uploading some exclusive content that you won’t find on this site. What you ask? I’m thinking about some of the short stories and short comics that I have written in the past, as well as some of the rejected art that didn’t make the cut in My Blanket.

Again, I would really appreciate everyone clicking the like button and subscribing to the page (also available on the right side of this page).

Now on to today’s topic: title pages. I sat down with Mr. Suba a few times to go over my title pages and he’s rejected four of them so far. I hope the last one I’ve submitted gets more traction. He said something that resonated very well.

“They say never to judge a book by its cover, but that doesn’t mean you can’t buy a book because of its cover.”

And he’s right, It’s hard enough to get distribution and traction as an independent writer, but having terrible cover art? I may as well give up now. So what’s next for me? Back to the drawing board.

Marketing and Distribution of a Book

PushPull

Supply and demand with a little bit more substance.

Above is what I call the Andy Chiang Diamond Model. There’s probably a better name for it somewhere on the internet, but for now, we’ll stick with that.

It’s a simple supply and demand equation added in with logistics and marketing. Essentially what it says is, if we create a product (in this case, the writer creates a book), and we are able to secure distribution (ie: Amazon, publishers, etc), then we are able to push the product to the consumer. We will be creating sources where the consumer can then purchase the product and consume it. On the other hand, if we promote or market the product properly, we create a pull from the consumer – demand.

Now you might be wondering, why can’t we just do both? Because as a writer that has yet to release a single book, the chances of me getting proper distribution are very slim. So with a little help of marketing and promotions, we can create a demand from the consumer, which will hopefully lead to distribution.

Simple enough right?

Well that’s where having someone like Mr. Suba comes in handy. I have very little marketing experience, but Mr. Suba will be helping me brand and create what Andy Chiang Books will be all about. He will be helping me create a signature for Andy Chiang Books.

Some writers are lucky in that their writing or characters are unique and that can act as a signature for them. But for a children’s book with few words in between, it becomes tough to have a unique footprint. But with Mr. Suba’s help, I am sure we can create a unique offering for all Andy Chiang Books.

Well, it’s crunch time for us here. We are creating our first print-ready version of My Blanket this weekend. If all goes well, PDF drafts will be ready to go in 4 days!

A Mother’s Touch (and Father’s)

Part of writing a book is to get as much feedback as possible. Luckily for me, since My Blanket has no more than 250 words, getting free and voluntary feedback has been easy.

I’ve written long novels (250+ pages) and getting feedback has been tough. Either my writing was really boring or the people I asked to help, didn’t want to help. It’s very rare for someone to get to the end. So my advice for the novelist? Either give someone the “Cole’s Notes” version of your story and see if they want to read through the book to get to the final reward, or write a children’s book.

BUT, since I’m starting in the children’s book market, I strongly urge you to go through the novel route.

Today, I spent my day getting feedback from some of the mothers (and one father) from my work to see what their opinions on My Blanket were (this is now my second draft edition). The feedback has been phenomenal and that on its own has me excited.

The cynic in me, however, thinks that they’re nice to me because I work with them. But at the same time, I just want to tweak a few things here and there and keep going. Maybe I need to find a random online user to read through my work?

Words of Advice from a Friend

I have been gathering feedback for “My Blanket” and so far, so good. I’m happy to report that the illustrations have been well-received, so that definitely makes me feel good. The story has been good, and a few minor tweaks later, I think we’ll be on our way to publishing. Again, still need to work out some details, but with Mr. Suba on board, I think we are on our way. The four week window may have been a little too ambitious, but let’s keep going.

My friend gave me some sound advice on publishing: “Don’t write because you want to make money; write because you want to share your words.”

I can’t help but agree with his sentiments. I had dreamed of being on talk shows promoting my book, but my friend is right. Be happy that people want to read what you have written. Don’t treat it as a means of just making money.

Progress Update: My Blanket

Today was a monumental day for me. I shared my “finished” work for the first time with a marketing guru. He was impressed with both the story and my illustrations. Yes, that’s right, he was impressed with the illustrations!

He said there’s something about the child-like drawings that just bring more to the story, so perhaps these drawings get to stay.

So what progress do I have to report? Well, I’m going to be collaborating with Mr. Suba on not only marketing the book, but marketing Andy Chiang as an entity. I feel this is a good first step to getting to that end goal of publishing.

The key to all this? You have to align people to your vision otherwise, you will wind up with an end product that isn’t remotely close to what you had originally intended (and not in a good way). So here’s to hoping that Mr. Suba can help bring the “My Blanket” project to life.

Food for Thought: A Little Inspiration

The few people who know me in person will have probably heard this story at some point during my random ramblings, but I’d like to share it with you in 250 words or less (not including this intro):

Traded everything for love – credit to Tumblr

Where does my inspiration come from? It always comes from the people around me, whether I know them or not. In this case, it was about 8 years ago when I was inspired by a homeless man. He approached me as I was waiting at the bus stop. Being Chinese, and him being Caucasian, he immediately struck up a conversation about race with me.

“You should ride these buses for free,” he mumbled incoherently at my general direction.

I tried to ignore him, but he knew he had my attention.

“We’re all the same: you and I. We all get hate,” he continued.

I smiled and nodded at him, trying not to offend him. I wasn’t worried about coming across as an asshole, I was more worried about whether or not he was going to touch me, stab me, or worse, lick me.

A few more pointless lines later, the bus finally came. The homeless man knew it was his cue to leave.

He didn’t ask me for money; he didn’t ask me for food; the only thing he wanted was a pair of ears to listen to him deliver a message. The final message he delivered was the one that stuck with me.

“I’ve read many books in my lifetime,” he said, still slurring his words, “and you know what they say about love?”
“What?”
“You can’t live without it.”