My first book, You Need a Cellmate Not a Soulmate, was released by Ladybug Books in November 2010. It’s about the history of finding love through classifieds and the absurd things people write in their dating profiles. I find it humorous that people will go to such great lengths to meet someone for a date.
Tell us something about yourself.
I was born in Bangkok, Thailand. My father is a Vietnam veteran and brought me to the U.S. many years ago. I have always enjoyed writing and find it a relaxing way to end a stressful day. I often hear people say they would write if they knew how. They say this believing that they must write for others, which isn’t true. If people want to write, they should write for themselves.
What inspired you to write this book?
America’s current state of marriage inspired me to write this book. If you study marriage statistics, you will see that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. Additionally, statistics for second and third marriages are even worse. It’s said that the number one reason for divorce is marriage. Granted, that’s a dismal statement, but it’s where marriage stands. Prior to marriage, people will invest their money and time on dating, which is considered an audition for marriage.
How did you choose the title?
I knew I wanted to use a title that would get readers to understand that the soulmate business is only a myth invented by society. If you listen to a dating commercial, you might start believing that everyone has a soulmate. I don’t necessarily agree with this because our society pushes the idea that single people must be miserable, which isn’t true. I think some people just aren’t made for marriage and children. I know people that enjoy being single and embrace it. It’s a personal preference.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
Anyone in the book business knows there are roughly three options for publishing: submit query letters and find an agent, bypass the agent and locate your own publisher or try self-publishing. I contacted more than ten different agents and was rejected by all of them. Then while reading an issue of Writers Digest, I located an article about publishers that were willing to work with new authors. One of these publishers was Ladybug Press. After reviewing their website, I sent a query letter to Ms. Georgia Jones, who agreed to work with me.
How did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I have always wanted to be a writer. My desire to write came from my love for comic books. As a child, I collected and read comic books. My personal favorite was Spiderman because I always enjoyed the great story lines. Also, when I am stressed, I enjoy writing.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Not really. I just write whenever I am in the mood. Although I don’t have a ritual, I do enjoy listening to music while writing.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
Through much rejection and research, I gained a better understanding of the publishing business. People have a misconception about publishing. They think that all writers earn millions after their book is published. In reality, only a small percentage of authors earn a living by writing books. Unless you’re Stephen King, J.K. Rowling or a celebrity, you have to work harder to encourage people to purchase your book. Regardless, book promotion is up to the author. Most publishers are too busy with other projects to give your book the attention you think it needs. When I wrote my book, my publisher told me it was up to me whether I sold any books. She gave me tips and advice on marketing and said that I would be responsible for getting it to the public.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
My experience publishing my first book was a challenge but taught me how the publishing industry works. The only thing I would change is the query letters that I sent to potential agents. I definitely would have spent more time writing better query letters.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?
I read close to 100 books annually. I have a ritual where I go to the library and check out 8-9 books at a time and read them all simultaneously. I will read a chapter in one book, then pick up another book and read a chapter, and so on. I don’t really have a favorite author because I enjoy so many different books. I prefer comedy, horror, mystery, and have a special love for reading about biographies and history. Currently, I am reading a few classics: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Guadalcanal Diary.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
Yes, I have two ideas for a second book. I am considering the topics of Fibromyalgia awareness and my child support enforcement. I spent several years enforcing child support and alimony orders for a local government agency. I met so many people that opened up to me and shared their failed relationship stories with me. The experience was so unusual because total strangers often felt like sharing intimate details of their sexual and personal lives with me. I would like to write a book for young people and warn them about the consequences of dating or marrying the wrong person. Unfortunately, these future relationships will end up in a courtroom where a judge will have the final word about financial and custody issues.
My other topic is about my experiences with a loved one who was recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. As of this writing, Fibromyalgia is an illness that mostly affects women. I would like to bring awareness to this non-curable illness.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
It all depends on why you are writing. If you want to write for a few friends and relatives, then self-publishing is an excellent option. But it you want to write for the masses, you may want to work with a small publisher or query an agent. I will say that the latter two processes can be frustrating because of all the rejections you will receive. When you receive your first ten or twenty rejections, don’t take it personally because everyone gets rejected—even Stephen King. It’s part of the business. Although some agents and publishers are kind enough to send you a rejection letter, others won’t even reply.
I recommend any future authors to do their research and find out how to write a query letter. You must also pay attention to what a publisher or agent wants. If the agent or publisher states that they will not consider poetry or children’s books, don’t send them poetry or children’s books.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
My book isn’t for everyone. It’s a comedy that pokes fun at terrible classified personals and lists the worst pick-up lines ever. My perfect reader is someone with a sense of humor and enjoys laughing at the foolishness that goes with the dating process. When people write dating classifieds, they often exaggerate or make themselves appear taller, smarter or more romantic. Sadly, people often believe that they aren’t interesting enough to get by on their own credentials so they have to lie.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?