What a Year That Was

2006 proved to be a very fruitful year for me both career-wise and on the personal front.

The year got off to a good start when my novel, The Pacific Between, was released unofficially in January, and officially in February. The launch hit a little snag when some bookstores refused to stock the book and hold signings because of computer glitches -- they couldn't find the book in their databases. My publisher eventually straightened everything out and I had my first signing in April.

In May, I got words that the novel had been selected as a finalist for the Independent Publishers Book Award in the Multicultural Adult Fiction category. The national award boosted the book's chances in the market (we went into second printing in August). Out on a whim, I went to Washington D.C. for the award ceremony and it was fun.

Meanwhile, my publisher went through a few changes as well. Most notably, they found a national distributor, putting the company on a different level on the playing field. Paired with a number of awards, it was an exciting year for Behler Publications as well.

In November, 17 Behler authors gathered in New York City for a publicity blitz reading from our works. It was a great experience, especially meeting and talking with fellow authors and the publisher. It strengthened my feeling that we were indeed part of a family. You never forget your first time, and I'm glad that my first time (as a novelist) involved this lovely company.

I also sold two short stories to Mundania Press and The Deepening.

On the personal front, I took some time off during the summer, trying to refocus on my work-in-progress and my family. In March, my brother finally immigrated to the U.S. The family reunion was a sweet triumph after over a decade of filling out forms, going through interviews, and much waiting. We got to spend some quality time together and I look forward to more family gatherings in the future.

Acting-wise, my agent started to call me more regularly, no doubt due to the increasing demands for Asian actors. I landed a few minor projects. I also took part in the 2006 Freedom Heroes tribute which will become part of a nationwide curriculum for K-12 students.

Then in December, I made my national advertising debut with a G.E. Aircraft Engine commercial. It will be aired nationally sometime in Spring, 2007. The commercial was very fun to film and I met a few wonderful people on the set, including the director, Rocky Morton of Max Headroom fame.

Also in December, I was selected as one of Pittsburgh's 25 Most Beautiful People, to be featured in the January 2007 issue of the Pittsburgh Magazine. As frivolous as the title is, it's still a good wonderful thing; hopefully, the title would also help my book sale.

One of the things I've learned during this year of constant promotion is that it's really difficult to self-promote and not come off as a pushy, arrogant braggart. I have been trying very hard to find the balance, focusing more on the work than on myself. Still, there were times when I let things get to my head, but subsequent events quickly brought me back down to Earth. It pays to be humble, even when I'm supposed to be talking up the storm about my work. Truth be told, it's a continuous learning experience for me; and I plan to make a career out of it.

In closing, I had a wonderful year and I hope to continue my streak and continue to learn and improve as a writer, an actor, and a human being.

Here's to a great and prosperous 2007!

Take care, my friends.


Mark said…
Ray my question would be what did the agents say about your book? I think "not for us?" Hence Behler.
Ray Wong said…
Most thought it was too intimate and less commercial than they'd like. One even told me she wanted a new John Grisham, while knowing very well what my book was about. I decided to go with a niche, small press. Actually I got two offers and I chose Behler.

But I don't think it's fair to Behler to say "oh the agents all rejected you so it's a fall back." I had NOT exhausted my list of agents when I decided to go a different route. My idea was not to strike it rich with this one, because I knew it was my first novel, small in scale, intimate in nature. It really does fit a small press better. The goal was to get myself published. I achieved that goal. Small publishers have their places in the industry. I don't think it's fair to ditch them just because everyone wants that 7-figure advance and multibook deal.

A Barnes & Noble manager told me they dealt with a couple of Behler books and really liked the quality of the books. They sold all 40 copies of mine.

Success comes in all shapes and sizes. And this is only my first book. I have more.
Dawno said…
Lovely, gentlemanly response, Ray. ((hugs))
Mark said…
Well the market is tough Ray, and just getting copies in the stores is a chore with this type of new Independent. It's no surprise I think, given the history of the forums, this is another one of those incestuous relationships common to absolutewrite and Mindsight. I find it hard to believe you exhausted the agent list since I can't seem to for three of my books. You ran out of patience, and Behler is still not a credit an agent will take notice of. It was your call though. Good luck with the next one.

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