Today, we have Eugenia Chu with us. Her new book, Brandon Goes to Beijing releases on Sept. 3 and will be FREE on release day. Here’s the buy link for the book on Amazon.
In this multicultural, multigenerational chapter book, Brandon and his cousins are on a trip to visit their grandparents in Beijing, China! This story includes some Mandarin Chinese (Simplified) with Pinyin pronunciation, adding layers for those learning or interested in the Chinese language and culture.
Hi! My name is Eugenia Chu and I am a first-generation Chinese-American citizen. I was born in New Jersey and moved around a lot as a kid, but grew up mostly outside of Boston, Massachusetts and then St. Petersburg, Florida. I also lived and attended school in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Taipei and Shanghai (summer study abroad). I met my husband in law school and we currently live in Miami with our son, Brandon, who is the reason I started writing. I love being a mom! I also enjoy traveling, reading, wine, skiing, yoga and drinking too much coffee!
What is your inspiration for writing?
My son, Brandon, is my inspiration and the reason I write. When Brandon was very young, after we finished reading a bedtime story (or 2 or 3) every night, we would talk about his day and everything he did. We would make up little stories about his day and about our travels (we travel a lot) as we drifted off to sleep. For instance, whenever my parents came to visit, he and my mom would make Chinese dumplings or jiǎo zi together (they still do this to this day), and this was the inspiration for my debut book, a picture book entitled, Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi (餃子). Our trip to Beijing a few years ago was the inspiration for my new chapter book, Brandon Goes to Beijing (北京). I started writing because I couldn’t find any storybooks with Chinese included in the story, so I initially wrote my own just for my son.
Tell us a little about a recent project.
My new chapter book, Brandon Goes to Beijing (北京), launches on TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2019 and the Kindle Ebook version will be FREE on Amazon that day! I’m so excited! Please download it and if you like it, please post a review on Amazon! Reviews are super important for authors and I read and appreciate every single one!
In this story, Brandon and his cousins are on a trip to visit their grandparents in Beijing, China! While bonding with family, practicing Chinese, touring historic sites and feasting on local dishes, Brandon thinks he sees a tiny panda. However, every time he gets close, the panda disappears! Is Brandon imagining this small creature, or is it real? Will Brandon find out before he has to fly back home? This multicultural, multigenerational chapter book includes some Mandarin Chinese (Simplified) with Pinyin pronunciation, adding layers for those learning or interested in the Chinese language and culture.
REMEMBER! Tuesday, September 3, 2019!!!
What’s your writing process like? Where do you get ideas for your plots? Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you use special software?
I don’t have a special or set writing process. I pretty much just write when I have time and am inspired. I get ideas from things I do and see and then I build from there. I think a lot about storylines while lying in bed trying to fall asleep, waiting in lines, doing menial tasks, etc. Sometimes I just sit in front of the computer and just start typing. I guess I’m more of a panster than a plotter! Although for my next book idea, I’m trying to plot and come up with storylines before I start even writing. I do not use any special software, just Word.
Tell us why you started writing. How long? How many books? What’s your motivation?
So far I have published 2 books – a picture book, and now a chapter book for older kids. I started writing a few years after Brandon was born, but didn’t become serious about writing or sharing my work until the past couple of years. Back when Brandon was younger, I was always searching for children’s storybooks to read to him at bedtime which touched upon Chinese culture and which included some Chinese (Mandarin) words to teach and/or reinforce his Chinese vocabulary but had trouble finding them. Most of the books I found were either straight translation or ABC/123 type instructional books with no storyline. Not what I was looking for. So, I started writing my own.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
I take a break and watch some TV or have a glass of wine to reset. Sometimes I’ll go to another room or run some errands – sometimes a change in scenery does wonders. Then I’ll come back when I’m unblocked!
Tell us about your marketing experience and the tactics that work best for you. Have you seen a change in the best marketing strategies over time?
Marketing is definitely the most difficult part of this whole journey for me! When I first started, I had no clue about marketing. I don’t know what I was thinking when I decided to try to publish – guess I wasn’t! Haha! My first book published over the summer while I was overseas on vacation and I didn’t even see a hardcopy until the end of the summer! So, I didn’t start any marketing efforts (besides telling my family and a few friends) until months after my book was released! So, I really got a late start. And when I finally started researching how to market a book, I was incredibly overwhelmed (still am) by how much there is to do to effectively promote a book! I am technologically challenged (that’s stating it nicely) and had to learn how to enter and use the world of social media – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. And I spent way more time than a normal person would in creating my simple website. I also sent out a gazillion emails to magazines, newspapers, bloggers, Chinese associations, and anyone else I could think of requesting reviews and features. Most of the time . . . crickets! But I kept at it and was lucky to find a few kind souls who agreed to review my book or feature me and my book in an article. I’ve also done some crazy out-of-the-box type things like teaching a jiǎo zi (Chinese dumpling) cooking class in conjunction with a reading of my picture book! So far, I’ve had my best luck with author visits at elementary schools which teach Mandarin Chinese as part of their curriculum.
I still struggle with marketing, but am continuing to learn and am trying new things all the time! For my new book, I started marketing BEFORE it was published – see, I learned! I even have a launch team to help me spread the word and I plan to set up a giveaway before I release to get people to notice my book. I’m promoting through interviews like this one and through social media (which I sort of know how to use now – yay me – haha!). I’m also not wasting my time trying to reach those who ignored me last time and will spend that time reaching out to those who did respond. I’m booking school visits now, too, as those are where I sell the most physical books. No matter what, I’ll keep trying to market and promote! Can’t give up!
Do you do all your marketing online or offline? Both? Which is the most successful?
I do both. So far, I’ve sold the most books through author visits and book fairs and through word of mouth. But, I’m doing a lot more online marketing this time around, so we will see.
If you could give advice to someone just starting on their writing journey, what 3 things would you tell them?
1)Write because you love to write and don’t let others discourage you. Not everyone will love what you write, but if it brings you joy then it’s worth it.
2)Start marketing as soon as possible – even before you publish, if you can. Make sure to set up an author website and tell everyone you know to tell everyone they know that you have a hook coming out.
3)Get on social media – set up a Facebook Author page, Twitter account and Instagram account. Also, set up author pages on Amazon and Goodreads. Join author groups on social media – I have found that most authors are wonderful people who help and support one another! This interview is a great example of one author helping to promote another!
Finally, keep writing! Always keep writing! Good luck to all my fellow authors!
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