Mind Meld Make-Up with Yangsze Choo: Lessons I’ve Learned as a Debut Author

[Here’s an addendum to the Mind Meld about 2013 Debut Authors on Lessons They’ve Learned Since Getting Published, coming from Yangsze Choo]

There were so many wonderful debut authors in 2013, so I asked a few of them this:

Q: What was the most fun/unusual/interesting/etc thing you’ve learned since becoming a published author?

Here’s what they had to say…

Yangsze Choo
Malaysian author Yangsze Choo’sdebut novel, The Ghost Bride, is Oprah.com’s Book of the Week and a Carnegie Medal nominee. Set in 1890s colonial Malaya and the elaborate Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities and burned paper offerings, it’s about a young Chinese woman who receives a marriage proposal from a dead man. Yangsze eats and reads too much and can often be found doing both at her blog http://yschoo.com

  1. Don’t serve snacks at your book readings. Well, you can, but I went a little overboard at my first ever reading, when I was so excited to serve authentic Malaysian kuih that I drove 2 hours back and forth to provide them. And I was very nearly late to my own book signing just because of some glutinous rice cakes! People are there to see you and talk about your book. Everything else is (literally) just gravy.
  2. What do authors actually wear? The first time I attended a writer’s festival, I was completely stumped by this. I had some suits from my previous corporate life, but somehow, looking like a prosecutor from the 2001 season of Law & Order didn’t seem quite right (we’re talking Sam Waterston here, not Angie Harmon). Clothing that you can walk long distances, in case you get lost, is always good!
  3. Someday, somewhere, you might be recognized from your author photo. Even if you happen to be scarfing down a bowl of noodles (it helps if you’re wearing a large Author name tag). The best thing to do in this situation is to swallow politely, and smile.
  4. Don’t take yourself too seriously. The late Elmore Leonard said this in an NPR interview, and I think it’s great advice for the exciting and terrifying ride of getting published.
  5. Readers and the community of writers are wonderful. :)