Asian Writers Panel Reveals There Are Many Paths To Publishing

by Caroline on May 22, 2013

I attended an informative writers panel sponsored by the Asian affinity group, A3, at Time Inc. It featured Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Author of the novel Pastor’s Wives and the CBS pilot The Ordained and former TIME writer; Alison Singh Gee, Author of the memoir Where the Peacocks Sing and former PEOPLE writer; and Kirby Kim, Literary Agent, William Morris Endeavor. It was moderated by Julie Dam, Assistant Managing Editor of PEOPLE and Author of novel Some Like it Haute.

Some of my favorite Tweetable moments:

  • Alison Singh Gee – I wrote one scene at a time while teaching (CCL’s note: there is no excuse about not having the time!)
  • Kirby Kim (on what he looks for as an agent) – I want to be moved
  • Lisa Takeuchi Cullen – you can’t have spirits and ghosts in a Chirstian-published novel (CCL’s note: ok, that’s not a business tip, but a super fun fact)
  • Alison Singh Gee (on what it took to get published) – I decided it’s going to happen. I’m going to do whatever I have to do. Make your life about this process
  • Lisa Takeuchi Cullen – workshops and conferences are tremendously helpful
  • Lisa Takeuchi Cullen – Getting ideas isn’t difficult. The difficulty is in figuring out which are books and which are great ideas
  • Kirby Kim – Don’t wait to be done (before trying to get published)
  • Kirby Kim – Is what you have commercially viable?
  • Alison Singh Gee – you have to take the reins on publicity. Who are you going to contact? How will you get the word out? (Gee asked 50 influential friends to post on their Facebook!)
  • Lisa Takeuchi Cullen – your agent is the primary editor. Your book editor acquires

Overall, I loved how scrappy, non-linear and different the paths were to getting started and getting published. Julie Dam talked about doing her own publicity and not relying on the publisher – she blogged as her character for months leading up to book launch. Lisa Takeuchi Cullen talked about how she pitched her now agent multiple times before finally gaining interest. Alison Singh Gee talked about telling everyone she knew about her book to keep the momentum going. Helen Wan, an author/ journalist not on the panel, lobbed in that she worked on her upcoming book, The Partner Track, for 12 years alongside a full-time job.

These sentiments echo my earlier interview with Trevor Shane, author of thriller trilogy, Children of Paranoia, who still works as a lawyer at a financial firm by day, while writing his books at night.

What are you going to write (or film or create) now that there is no excuse?

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