Showing posts with label chicago. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chicago. Show all posts

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Movie reviews by novelist Dwight Okita: FOXCATCHER and THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

I saw the movie FOXCATCHER tonight. It was filled with good performances and was a tense movie to watch.  A movie about wrestlers and conflicts of interest.  Though not the feel good movie for the holidays, to be sure, I was surprised how many were in the audience. Steve Carrell channeled something in his performance. There was a stillness at the center of his character that was chilling. As if he were encased in glass and the words he spoke and the words he heard took light years to reach him. What the movie lacks in humor, it makes up for in tension. I'd give it a B.

I also previously saw THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING.  Isn't the movie poster above stunning? I enjoyed this film. At the center, it was a love story, and also a story of transcending one's disabilities/ limitations. The movie was charming and touching and fueled by the scientific quest for knowledge and personal quest for romance. By the way, both movies in this post are based on real people who are still alive. I wonder what that must feel like to see yourself, your most personal moments of life, re-enacted on the big screen for the world to see. I'd give this film an A.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How's your marketing plan?

Well, anyone who is following this blog knows that you are getting a bird's eye view of one author's road to self-publication.  All roads lead to Rome.  This one happens to be mine.  And part of that journey is packing a good marketing plan.  I have talked to other authors and googled how self pubbers market themselves.  In the end, it's cafeteria style.  I pick and choose what works best for me, my personality,. my work-style.  Here are a couple steps along the way.

1.  Decide to self publish. Work with a good editor and designer
2.  Seek out venues for book signing + possible book reviewers + do book giveaway
3.  Make bookmarks to promote your book, seek out book clubs
4.  Design Evite for book signing
5.  Ask the universe for whatever karmic blessings are due to you

Beyond these steps and any others you come up with -- there is just the importance of keeping your eyes open for opportunities.  A fair amount of the marketing plan will be unplan-able.  You'll make it up as you go along.  The first step for me was deciding to self publish in the first place.  My agent sent my book around to a dozen places but when no solid offers emerged, he suggested moving on to the next book.  But I still had faith in my novel PROSPECT and I was aware that publishing paradigms were shifting beneath my feet.  During this time, because I'm a techie, I also developed a cool book trailer and website for the book.  You can see them at

At Createspace, I was lucky to work with an editor who totally got my book.  Here was the first paragraph of her seven-page critique:  "This was a strikingly original story with characters that felt human despite having specific archetypal titles such as Businessman or Orphan Teenager. Their quirks made them all empathetic and compelling, even, or perhaps especially, the antagonists. The dreamlike and poetic quality of the descriptions was consistent, creating an inner logic for the story that made things like watching dreams on a camera or empathetic painters believable. It is bittersweet, with regret and mystery at the end. It is a cautionary tale, yes, but not a parable or an allegory. The characters were alive."  The editor was also able to perceive pacing issues and missing plot points.  As I shifted from the editing phase to the design phase, I posted mockups of possible book covers on Facebook.  This allowed others to become invested in the evolution of the book.  Always a good idea.  Plus it's great to get quick feedback on these choices.

I made a list of potential publications and indy book review blogs that might be interested in reviewing my novel.  I sent out feelers to journalists and bloggers.  Not just for reviews but for features too.  I thought about possible venues for a book signing.  I kept in mind that with several Borders stores closing in Chicago -- the competition for book signing venues would become more intense.  I figured that indy book stores were my best bet.  I also decided to do a book giveaway on  I was delighted when 948 people signed up to win my book.  One Chicago paper has now committed to reviewing my book, and another is considering it.  (Which amazes me since I'm self pubbed, after all.  And I know it's hard for even traditionally published novelists to get reviewed.)  I did some author interviews for bloggers and will follow up with leads.  Two book stores have agreed to host book signings for me!  (The image above is from the Evite I'm developing for this event.)

I had heard of authors doing promotional bookmarks and that always seemed smart.  Even moreso with a print-on-demand book or e-book that is so intangible.  It made sense to me to have a bookmark with an eye-catching book cover and information on how to order my book.  The best vendor was which has built in software for laying out your bookmark.  This way you don't need to buy Photoshop or Publisher.  Over the coming months, I'm dropping off stacks of bookmarks at the many coffeehouses, community centers, restaurants that I frequent.  When I go to parties, meetings, street fairs -- I carry a stack of bookmarks.  I had them shrink wrapped in packets of 100.  I'm very social.  Also I'm familiar with members of a gay south asian org.  They have a book club and I asked if they'd be interested in reading my book.  They have added me to their list.  And a pal of mine belongs to a book club at the Book Cellar where my book is under consideration.  Of course, I am happy to attend the discussion, if they read my book and would like me to chat with them.

So now I'm designing the Evite for my big initial book signing/reading on October 26.  The gay asian organization I belong to -- -- has offered to host a post-reading gathering at a nearby restaurant which is sweet.  Let me add, in closing, that though Step 5. is "Ask the universe for whatever karmic blessings are due to you" -- it could easily be Step 1.  I happen to be Buddhist so I chant for wisdom and courage.  And I chant that my book finds its way into the hearts and hands and Kindles of every reader who can be moved and inspired and delighted by my book.  But whether you align yourself with a path of faith or are more secular -- it's always a great thing to hope for.  For me, I can't figure all this stuff out with just my brain.  There's a whole lot of luck and karma involved.  And any extra perks from the universe are always welcome!

Stay tuned for the next thrilling chapter of my journey.  Subscribing to my blog via email is the best way to make sure you get that post as soon as I write it.  On the right hand of the blog toward the top, just enter your email address.  You'll instantly get the latest updates.  And you can unsubscribe whenever you like.  If you just "follow" my blog -- you have to manually search my blog for new content.

I'm a pretty good out loud reader.  My background is as a poet so I'm comfortable reading/performing for audiences.  So I could share some of my tips of overcoming the jitters and having a good reading.  The key is to always remember that it's not about you.  It's about the audience.  It's about communicating across a great distance so they can be touched and tickled and happy that they came to your book event.  More on that later.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Website design and Book design

It's July 18th and two important creative projects are coming down the pike.  I'm designing a website for a dental laboratory in Chicago that should be simple and elegant.  It's due this Wednesday night.  And I'm working with Createspace on finalizing the book cover for my first novel due out in August!  Above is one draft of the dental website.  I'm very happy with it as is the client so far.  Seeing all the lab's great photos of bright white teeth brought to mind for me white tulips.  And so a concept was born.

And as for the book covers -- there are some good ones to choose from.  From top to bottom, I call them:  Escalator Boy, Handstand Man, and Falling Man.  The above three are my amateurish renderings.  The real designers will make them look more book store ready.  Handstand is a late addition into the face and a rising favorite.  I do like the words "a novel" on my cover so that people know what it is.