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My journey so far as a new writer…!

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It has already been six months since my books were published, for the last six months I have been really busy promoting my books and hardly had time to write, and it is time again to update on my journey so far as a new writer. Being a writer is certainly not easy, it is also very crowded and as we say here “even cats and dogs are writers”, and it is extremely hard to stand out from the big crowd. No wonder most of the people who have chosen writing as a profession are in such destitute position and I can comprehend why. Lucky for me, I don’t have to eke out a living out of it, I write it for my charity and it is nothing more than a pastime for a semi-retired guy. If I can sell a few dozens books, I should be happy and count my days as blessing from the almighty one up there.

But that is easier said than done for a self made guy like me, for good or bad I have a tendency of doing thing at my utmost best and without trying my best I won’t give thing up that easily. Just like everything in my life, if I have decided to become a writer, I want to be at least a decent one if not the best one, and I want to have a few thousands of readers of my own who would love reading my works. What’s more, I am also doing it for a good cause of sending poor children to school in Nepal, the more books I can sell the more I can send them to school, and I really want to give my best. I have started life from a very low and humble position, I have done everything and achieved many things in life by our own without any help, support or guidance from others, and this one would be no different. It is also the main reason why I have decided to go alone on my own, I am doing all of my book promotions by my own and I don’t see a reason why it cannot be done by my own. The pressure is already off my shoulders, if I cannot make it a successful one, I can at least try to make it a meaningful one, and my job is done here.

My presence on the social networking sites is already quite strong, my website is becoming quite busy now, and I already have some regular followers for my blog. I have used many ads in a regular basis, most of them don’t work except just a few, and I already have a few hundreds readers out there who have actually bought my books and read them. The reviewing and rating of my books posted by readers on Amazon and Goodreads are looking much better now, some of them are really encouraging, and with time, I hope to have many of my own readers. In addition, my contribution to the local paper is getting recognized, a substantial number of readers like my writing and my readers’ base is increasing. More noticeably, I also got to feature in The Sunday Morning post, the one and only mainstream English newspaper in Hong Kong, and it was one of the happiest moments of my life in recent days as a new writer. Slowly but firmly, I know I am gaining ground on this field of writing, it is still a very long way to go though, and I know I have to remain very firm, patient and devoted.

In the mid July, I also took part in the Hong Kong Book Fair and had some firsthand experiences on meeting directly with some readers. Being a new and self-published writer is not easy at any time, but it happened to be the most difficult one of them all, and I got to learn a lot on the field in real terms. The whole place was replete with big bookshops and publishing houses with colorful stands and many choices of books, on top of that add more gimmicky and few old tricks, and you got the much needed attention of the whole crowd. Moreover, they were seasoned veterans, they have been doing it for years and they knew how to attract peoples. In contrary, I happened to be the one and only writer with only his own books in a rather small and humdrum stand, we writers are rather shy and reserve bunch by nature, and attracting people turned out to be the hardest part of them all. Furthermore, selling English books written by a Nepali guy in a Chinese dominated society was a hard nut to crack and I really struggled. And yet, I found my own ingenious ways of inviting people towards my stand, turned my weaknesses to my strength and eventually managed to sell a few hundreds books. Most importantly of them all, I managed to find out the demography of my readers that I have not been able to find out hitherto and I returned home a happy man. Almost all of my books sold during the book fair were bought up by high and university students and I knew where to find my readers now. All in all, it wasn’t a total failure.

As I haven’t started writing again for the last six months, my 9th book is still stuck on the shelf, and I am itching to restart my writing again. So much so that I am even contemplating of hiring a new promotion representative or PR team, so, I can handover the job of promoting my books to them and I can start writing again. But it seems very hard to find the right one, all say they are experts but when it really matters, they are mostly just pretenders, and until I can find the right one, I will carry on my own. It definitely will take time but I am pretty confident and determined that I can get my goal.

My 7th and 8th books are almost done editing now, I am working on the book’s cover now, and hopefully I can publish them soon. Please mark this page. Thank you!

TIM I GURUNG/AUTHOR AT ISSLCARE – http://www.timigurung.com

Hong Kong’s youth must learn how to speak out their mind.

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I was at the Hong Kong Book fair last week, trying to sell my books to the Hong Kong public and I was quite surprised to discover about a fact that was pretty common amongst our youngsters in Hong Kong.

Since all of my books contain serious global and social issues, the ideal readers for my works were mostly high school and university students, and all the books I have sold during the exhibition were unsurprisingly to those youngsters. As of that, I got to see them close and understand them quite well.

Most of them were attracted to my stand because of my books’ cover, the cover of all of my books was designed and made by youngsters as well, which just happened to be my own son and daughter, and it had that cuteness, modernity or something special that attracted many youngsters. They would come in, go through all the covers of my books and more often than not, they would just stand there indifferently simply staring at the book in utter silence. So much so that they won’t even look at me, let alone talk or ask. Initially, I thought that it was just a rare case, after all they were youngsters and we hardly know what was going on in their mind, and didn’t pay that much attention. But when the same scenario started to repeat again and again, it caught the attention of my curious mind and I decided to tally it for how long it can go on and on.

By the end of the book fair, I had seen enough and ready to make my conclusion. Although I cannot say precisely for how many but I found many youngsters with such apathetic tendency and it seemed pretty common amongst them. After Occupy Central movement, which was mostly kept moving by students as we all are aware of it, I thought that Hong Kong youngsters had finally came out of their shell and started expressing their feelings, but that presumption was a bit premature and there seem to be still a long way before they can be declared as a strong, courageous and open-minded youngsters of Hong Kong who know very well of how to speak out their mind.

Seemingly, there are still many youngsters out there who are afraid of speaking their mind, they still lack the courage and skill of expressing themselves, and chose to remain mum invariably for the most of the time. As a result, it can not only hinder on the development of their mind but also their communication skill for the future. It can also make them unhappy, uninspiring and stop them from enjoying the life they deserve.

Hong Kong’s youth must learn how to speak out their mind; they must learn how to explore outside world and must start coming out of their own small world. It will be not only good for their study, career and future but also for their health as well. It will also make them happy, confident and they can start seeing things positively. All in all, it will help make them live a very enjoyable and meaningful life.

TIM I GURUNG/AUTHOR AT ISSLCARE – http://www.timigurung.com

What did I learn from my recent book fair in Hong Kong as a new writer…!

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First day at the Book Fair by myself!
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Even my dear wife was here to help me out, thanks!
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First book signing off of the book fair!
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The 2nd and 3rd days were good at the fair!
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My son and nephew were here to help the poor old man!
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All of my readers were university or high school students!

As you have probably noticed by now that I had been at the Hong Kong Book Fair for the whole last week, it was my first ever participation as a new writer and the main purpose of this blog is to share my firsthand experiences from the exhibition. I cannot say for sure if the same rules apply to other places, there must be certainly many differences between different fairs in various nations, and I am simply writing from my own experiences here in Hong Kong. And I sincerely do hope that it can be beneficial to all the new writers out there who have been persistently working hard for the much needed exposures.

I am not sure if the other so-called big book fairs also offer trade opportunities such as meeting with agents, publishers or distributers for writers, but here it was only for selling books directly to the publics, and that made the competition very tough. Unlike me, all of those exhibitors were big bookshops or publishing houses, they were seasoned veterans, and they have been continuously doing it for many years. They had all the big names, different genre and type of books, and needless to say, they knew all the tricks and tactics on luring customers towards their stand. Most noticeably, their stands were big, colorful and pleasing to the gallivanting eyes that attracted almost everything that passed nearby them. What’s more, the whole place was full of gimmicky, whatever new and old tricks that they could come up with were applied to attract peoples’ attraction, and the whole place was starting to buzz like a beehive with overly excited people. In no time, every stand was full of potential buyers, with playful children running and carefree students pacing around, all the wishes of the exhibitors were about to come true sooner, and those empty bags were filling up very fast. By the end of the day, the place had become so much so crowded and noisy that it felt like all the Hong Kong people had come in for the party and the business seemed brisk for all.

But sadly for me, I hardly managed to sell even a copy for the whole first day and it was a pretty scary and disheartening situation for me. It must have been only my stand that happened to be empty in the entire hall, not even a fly was seen flying in and that put me in a very difficult position. Needless to say, if I were to save my day, I had to come up with some new plans and they had to be fast. If not, my exhibition was over even before it could start, it could have put a big dent in my nascent aspiration of being a writer and we all know that I cannot let that happen. That night, I tried really hard to analyze the situation around me, devised a new strategy on how was I going to change my luck and put it into practices the very next day. That day alone, I sold 30 books, and this is how I did it in real terms.

1. I turned my weakness to my strength – If the other exhibitors had hundreds of books of many choices, it happened to be only me who was selling only my own books and that fact alone put me already out of the race even before it started. But if I think it differently, it was in fact only me in the entire hall who was selling only his own books, everyone was just selling somebody else’s works, and it had provided me the much needed strength. I had to feel proud of my own works, talked with confidence in front of the public, and enjoyed presenting myself as a writer. After all, I was the rarest breed there, and I had to use it for my good.
2. I could be the best ambassador of my own works – Who else? Since they were my creations, the only person who can describe them in the best possible way was no other than I and inevitably I could easily be the best ambassador for my books. If I cannot talk about my own books then who will, I had to come out of my comfort zone and eventually started talking about my books. At the end, I was able to tell my story in many different ways, explain them in great details, and make them believe it. Needless to say, it was a pretty hard nut to crack at the beginning, I somehow managed to handle it quite nicely after many tries and became quite good at it at the end. Writers are naturally quiet, shy and less talkative bunch, talking to the stranger is the last thing they have in mind and it could be a really daunting task at the beginning. But trust me, it will get easier after sometime.
3. Display it at the fullest and brightest way possible – It is all about attention, e.g. attracting peoples’ attention, and that is the reason why gimmicks mostly work. Due to our nature, it is a bit hard for us writers to use so many gimmicks like the other exhibitors, but in order to stand out, we must at least try our best and display our books at the best possible way. I pulled my display tables at the forefront of the stand, displayed my books at the most colorful way, and put all the covers of my books allover the walls and at the front. I also made posters with quote, price, and other information that I wanted them to know and stuck it allover the walls. So much so that I even scribbled some words on a white paper and displayed it on top of the pile of books so people can see as they passed by.
4. If they don’t come to you, go to them – It is undoubtedly the hardest part for us all, we rather prefer to hide in a corner and do our own stuff, and talking to those total strangers is probably very intimidating. However, if you don’t approach them, they won’t come, and there is no sell. Unless you are selling Apple Inc’s product or can pay someone to do your job, you have no choice and sooner or later, it has to be done by no one but you. Therefore, I picked myself up, took a long breath and started to talk with my potential customers. Luckily for me, I had already done it many times before while I was running my furniture business, and I was feeling pretty good after the cold ice was broken. Still, if it is not for you, find someone who could do it for you (If you have found a big name publisher then of course, this article is not for you, and you can take a hike, thank you) or forget about being a widely known or respectable writer for anytime soon. Sorry to dishearten you all but it is the reality.
5. Find your good points and wholeheartedly advertise them – We humans are strange creature; we always look for new and interesting things and if you happened to be having some, no matter how absurd it might be, just flaunt them as the most precious thing in the entire universe. People just love them, if you can attract some, the other will follow as the sheep’s herd, and the loop can ballooning up to a big crowd. Being a lonely writer in a super-hyped place can be an asset, shout it loudly, and believe me or not, people want to speak with the writer. Thankfully, I had two more good things that played well on my favor, I am an ex Gurkha and people of Hong Kong love them, and I was doing it for my charity and people have respect and sympathy for genuine charity.

Last but not least, offer it in a bargain price, people just love them, and won’t have to think much before making the final decision. In order to feel good for myself about it, I tried to see it differently, I was not selling cheap but buying their readership and loyalty, and if they read it and liked it, they will not only come back for my new book but also bring theirs friends along. In other words, it was an investment and I could at least hope for the good future.

Selling an English book written by an ex Gurkha/Nepali guy in a Chinese dominated society was indeed a tough job, I have sold almost 300 books in total and learned a lot about this trade of selling books. Being a self-published and a new writer is not easy at all, the market is also fully crowded and my suggestion to the new writers will be this – please don’t leave your daytime job until you have became someone in the field and it definitely need a lot of hardship, patience and money to become that someone in the literary field and if you don’t have any of them as listed here, you have to reconsider your decision of becoming a writer. Above of all, you must have a heart to put into it. Good luck!

TIM I GURUNG/AUTHOR AT ISSLCARE – http://www.timigurung.com

All the Nepalese abroad are not necessarily a Gurkha.

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Nepal is made famous by the Himalayas, Nepalese people are made famous by the Gurkhas and there must be hardly any country in this world that doesn’t recognize them. Therefore, whenever a foreigner sees a person of Nepali origin, don’t be surprised if he or she addressed you as a Gurkha, and we should take it as a compliment. He or she means certainly nothing bad, trust me. The way outsiders think each Chinese knows Kung Fu, the outside world also presume that all the people from Nepal are Gurkhas and it definitely needs some polishing to change that wrong perception.

It is a simple fact that not all Nepalese are Gurkhas, it represents just a fraction of the total population of Nepal and there is certainly a significant difference between them. A Gurkha is a career soldier, who have served in the British, Indian or Singaporean forces and rightfully earned his name through his time, duty and services to one of those respective forces. The Gurkhas have been serving their respective masters for the last two hundred years, fought almost all those wars that the world has seen and sacrificed more than hundreds of thousands of lives while in the service. Amazingly, they are still in active duties in those three places even today and it will definitely carry on for the unforeseeable future. And those who have not gone through such harsh, rigid and disciplined services are just Nepalese and not Gurkhas.

Nepal has quite a substantial population of around 30 millions. Most of the new generations go abroad for better education, and just like other foreign students, they also stay behind for better future. There are also many migrant workers from Nepal who have ventured outside and stayed there. As of that, it already has quite a substantial community of Nepalese Diasporas in many countries and one shouldn’t be surprised to see them in foreign countries. But most of them have nothing to do with Gurkhas, they might even resent the term Gurkha as it sounds derogatory and could get easily offended. There are still some people in our own country who look at Gurkhas as something of a disgrace and simply don’t like the word. But it is nothing more than theirs own sense of ignorance and myopic view and they are simply unknown to the good name of Gurkhas outside Nepal.

After the British crown has decided to give citizenship to the Gurkhas, almost all of the ex Gurkhas have already left for UK and those still residing in Hong Kong are probably the 2nd and 3rd generations of the Gurkha soldiers. If the real Gurkha soldiers were renowned for their unconditional service, loyalty and discipline, it will be no surprising at all that the new generations were rather lacking on those same departments, and nobody is at fault for that. With time, everything will change, having new ways of life for the new generations are nothing new, and it is entirely not their fault that they have started behaving differently than their forefathers. Most significantly, they haven’t gone through the same rigidity of training, discipline and hardship that a Gurkha will have to go through in his career and that have made a big difference at the end. So it will be wrong to expect the same in return from the new generations.

Having the same surname of a Gurkha won’t make anyone a true Gurkha, most of the new generations of Nepalese community living abroad are civilians, and they lack the essence of being a good Gurkha. The so called virtues of being a good Gurkha can be varied but in a nutshell it can be described just in few words such as tough, hardworking and disciplined. But it is their unconditional service and commitment of unparalleled loyalty that earned their good name. A true Gurkha solider will never cheat, he won’t do or get involved in illegal activities, and he doesn’t play dirty politics for self-interest. He is happy with what he has earned through hardship, he always put his master before his own wellbeing and if necessary he won’t hesitate to shed blood or die. It might sound like parable for many, but that is the main reason why it has survived for the last two hundred years and you won’t understand it until you became one and experienced it. Ironically, not many seem to care much about it, they all just want to ride on the gravy train and reap the benefits. Caveat must be sounded here, if we are not careful, it can give a bad name to the good name of the Gurkhas that has well been preserved for more than two hundred years. It might not go well with some folks out there, but one bad apple can ruin the whole lot and if the rumors flying around the social networking sites are true, there are plenty of bad apples out there. All have been warned here.

TIM I GURUNG/AUTHOR AT ISSLCARE – http://www.timigurung.com

Becoming Gurkha was not a choice but a necessity.

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When I was young and saw my grandfathers, uncles and brothers leaving the village in a regular basis to join the British Gurkhas Army, I genuinely believed that it was our main tradition and following it was not only a ritual but also a prestige. After all, it has still been going on strong after two hundred years. We had been seeing it since the day we became big enough to understand it, we felt it was the right thing to do while growing up back then at the village and we really didn’t see anything wrong about it.

Nepal being as a nation stricken by feudal caste system, one’s future is decided by its birth, you do things that your family has been doing for generations and that hardly changes throughout your lifetime. It must have changed a lot since then, especially in the cities but back then in our village, it was still very much in practices and the choices were limited. Needless to say, following the footsteps of your forefathers and joining the British Gurkhas army happened to be always the first choice and such significant things like going to the university or finding right work weren’t even on the list. So much so that being unsuccessful on joining the British Gurkhas army was considered a failure and the community would make sure that you fully understood it at the very early age.

The British Gurkhas were entitled of six months holiday after completing each three and half years’ term and returned home. They would not only return home with nice and colorful clothes for their respective families and relatives but also with substantial cash that could be used for buying lands, send families to a better school or buy lands in the nearby city for future home. It makes them not only glamorous amongst the rag-tagged villagers but also attractive and respective as well within the community. What’s more, it also gave them the rarest chance of flaunting their newly acquired wealth that served our inflated ego pretty well. For all of those young boys, who have been growing up while seeing it in a regular basis, it was almost impossible to think the other way and joining the British Gurkhas army happened to be the only available dream for all.

But becoming a Gurkha was not a choice but a necessity. No matter how we put it, poverty has always been the main reason why Nepalese still join the British Gurkhas army even today. It didn’t dawn at me until I did join, serve and experience it by my own, it saddened me when I found out the reality of being a Gurkha soldier and I was genuinely disappointed. Everything that glitters is not always gold, being a Gurkha was not a prestige but a stigma, and no matter how hard we tot our own horn, there is nothing to be proud of it at any ways. I have seen and experienced by my own how Gurkhas have been treated and exploited by the British for the last two hundred years; the Nepal government has also transgressed by selling their own people to other nation for money; and if you look hard, there are not only people who praise us as the bravest of the brave but also call us mercenary. We can argue for the whole day but being a citizen of one country and fighting for another country for money cannot be called anything but prestige. Why? Because there is simply no honor in doing so, and a free, proud and honorable man, in his right set of mind, will never accept it, and ironically that is the position we Gurkhas are in now. Had our country been rich, autarky and uncorrupted, we would have never been forced to work for other country for money and we would have lived a simple, dignified and honorable life as other proud peoples do in this world.

But sadly nobody seems to care much about it, they all seem happy as they are now and changes are nowhere. Perhaps it is in our destiny that we are to live a life relies on others.

TIM I GURUNG/AUTHOR AT ISSLCARE – http://www.timigurung.com

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