I sent the blueprint of my first autobiography to the printer shortly after Christmas. The printer said I could expect the copies to be ready in about two weeks. After a week, Su began inviting friends through the social media to place orders. I am not good with marketing, and I feel embarrassed to push the product myself, so I stayed in the background and had only written the odd messages in some groups with very limited results. On January 8, the printer called to invite me over to see the product, adding that the book was ready. I presently went over and obtained a copy, took a picture and showed it to some friends on Facebook. I actually liked what I saw, which was a good start. The sight of the actual book prompted more orders with immediate payments from some people. Not bad, not bad at all; and I was encouraged.
Finally, on January 12, the books arrived at my doorstep and we started the book launch the next day at the Florist operating at United Centre by my nephew’s wife, Tso Tso. It is a sort of boutique florist: the location is great and the setting, perfect. I was hoping that my friends would like the flowers if not my book, which would in turn bring more businesses to the shop. By then, we had just over 100 book orders, not counting copies for relatives and very close friends, for which I have asked hard back covers to be added which would take another week.
On the first day, I arrived at the shop by 10am to find that Tso Tso had placed a small table in the shop with a maroon colored table cloth amongst flowers and potted plants. About 100 copies of my book were stacked up neatly by the table. No sooner had I sat down than Dr. Pang turned up. We almost couldn’t recognize each other in face masks. He became the first customer. Su then arrived, followed by streams of friends, most of whom had already paid for the books they ordered, including a group of ladies who appeared to be more interested in the plants, which did not surprise us. We had planned to stay in the shop from 11am to 6pm, for two days. It was extremely enjoyable time: we met up and chatted with friends, some of whom we had not met for a long while. Indeed, the lockdown and the social distancing arrangements had not be conducive for meetings between friends. I autographed each book and had tried to make every one different and personal to the owner. Most of them said they liked the book and that I appeared rather smart on the book cover. I agreed. Su and I had a great time. Indeed, the photographer turned up for a session with his equipment and took some clips that could be used for promoting the book, if necessary.
It soon became clear that we needed to have more sessions, which we did. We ended up having six sessions, from Wednesday through Saturday and the following Monday and Tuesday, and we had to ask our friend Andrew to bring in more stock on Friday.
We had friends turning up unannounced; we had ex-colleagues and old friends whom we had not met for a long time; and we had total strangers, people we did not know but who had come specifically to acquire the book after they had heard about it on Facebook, sometimes from friends of friends. At least one old friend from 25 years before had turned up because he was seriously thinking about writing his own memoir, while I could hardly recognize a colleague, even after he lowered his face mask, whom I had known for 50 years who had since retired and whom I had not met for five to six years. It was physically and mentally tiring; and I missed my afternoon nap, but these sessions were so rewarding and the experience irreplaceable. A few friends came with champagne and one bought one from the shop; while some friends came to collect or buy copies for their friends. Su and I had taken pictures with all visitors, without exception; and indeed most friends would take pictures on their own phones, again almost without exception.
Friends came to ask why I had embarked on the project, how long did I take to write it, why I had picked the book title as such, when I would write a sequel, and so on; and nearly all friends were amazed at how thick the book is – at one and a half inches.
Today, I collected the hard cover copies and would have them taken to the florist for distribution on Saturday when I would do more autographing. These various sessions and the related chores of sending copies to people through the Post Office and Shun Fung Express are sharp learning curves, but are extremely useful and practical things and processes to have learnt. We now understand and appreciate why Shun Fung has done so well and is so successful. We are impressed by the efficiency and efficacy of the staff and the processes. I am afraid that the Post Office can never match them, but that would be another long story.
I hope to talk to you again soon.