Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Beautiful Journey: Part 6 - Events & Marketing

Having received the books in my hands the first time, I glanced through the pages - it was really a dream book come true! And I couldn't believe it was in my hands.

At first, I was a lil worried as the pages seem dark (we use black as the background). But as I look at it from a brighter place, the pictures came alive. eM.K was around at that time, and we were rather proud.

Actually, getting the book out was just part of the process - I dare say not even half the process. We had to find ways to market it.

So began my rounds of meeting the bookstores & book distributors both in Singapore & Malaysia. And like I mentioned, some were sceptical as they've never really seen such a different book :) Bad part is many look down on local publishers - and the terms are not very favourable.

Many agreed on consignment, ie the books will be left at their shelves and payment done when there's sales. Boy, each time I clinched a 'deal', I really felt happy - it was the only way for the books to be out & seen by the public!

We also went to a few bookstores in Asia - and that deal was a bit better. Kinda proud we have our books in places like Bangkok, Jakarta, Seoul, Taipei & also Hong Kong. :)

Beyond Bookstores
Apart from just bookstores, we also participated & even organised our own events for more exposure, and hoping for more sales.

badawi at batik, klib

The series of events include meeting Prime Minister YAB Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at the Kuala Lumpur International Batik Convention & Exhibition. That was really an awe inspiring moment - to meet the no. 1 man in Malaysia! And at that time, I was really new to the business, so it meant so much more to me.

I will treasure & remember his words - which were full of encouragement & support, together with his very firm handshake. I remember stuttering as I asked him to sign 2 copies of the book for me. Willingly, he obliged :)

Meeting Amber Chia
Before that fruitful & eventful event, we also participated in the KL Asia Fashion Week. And surprisingly, Amber was accompanying Datuk Dr Victor, former Secretary General for Ministry of Tourism Malaysia.

datuk dr victor wee & amber chia

Datuk Dr Victor was encouraging as well and he liked the photographs in the book - another feather on the cap :) And I did have a short exchange with Amber, though the whole situation got me quite nervous! At that time, I think Amber was just coming up to be a well-known star.

Back To Peranakan Roots
Another event which we participated was the week long Peranakan festival - where we had a booth and also did a fashion show. That was actually to launch the book.

We had worked with the Peranakan Association of Singapore. For this, I actually choreographed the whole fashion show. It was scary actually and it being my first time, I think it was ok, though I think could have been improved.

I used the traditional peranakan & even some modern Malay songs (just instruments)... we also had some dramatic songs - very opera like, suggested by eM.K. That was quite a hit. The models paraded in lifestyle method - yes, they were modeling as if they were shopping, going out, etc. It really was something!

More Events
There were so many other events that we participated, again working with the Peranakan Association, there was the press conference cum fashion show in MPH, Midvalley, KL and even some batik talks in Singapore!

These were all done in a period of over a year. And it was really fun & exciting though very very tiring - from carrying the books to organising, and lots of time searching for information. Looking back, we sure came a long way and this is an experience we treasure and truly something we will always remember :)

See our pics: Our gallery of events.

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Beautiful Journey: Part 5 - Printing

I'm adding two additional segments to give an understanding on what went behind in the final stages in the book.

First, the books were sent to the printers - which were uploaded using FTP by the graphic designer.

The printers did an empty mock up to show us the book size, quality of paper and for us to approve it. This book was blank and was in full white.

Once they were ready, they actually called me to stay for 2 full nights (ie 3days, 2 nights) in their factory for press check. This was quite an experience.

They had a room for me with a sofa (no bed) but comfortable enough with working table. There's internet too. They mentioned that I will be in the factory for this whole 3 days - having to inspect on quality control for the book.

That means every 2-3 hours, I was walking back & forth to the printing room to check 8 pages each time (they printed in 8). This seem relatively simple, but for a lack of sleep and to do it even in the wee hours when the eyes are groggy, that was a bit of challenge. Also, the pages are not in order meaning I could be seeing 8 different pages from anywhere in the book.

Our pictures in the book are mainly full spreads ie 1 picture in 2 pages and this is where it becomes difficult.

One example is when I have to supervise one side of it (ie one page), while the other page has already been printed. That's not all - in fact, it could be 2 pages here (from 2 different full spreads) while the other 2 are in another 2 different stacks.

To make it even, and the pages to blend together, I may need the worker to increase or reduce a certain colour. But by doing so, though one spread will be fine, however, the spread will not blend well.

In fact, I took a while to resolve one of this. And luckily there weren't that many like that.

This whole experience of book printing is quite interesting for me. I never knew how printing a book would be and it was nice to see it 'come to live'! I can gladly say that I watched the printing process live!

After that, I went back, and in about 2 weeks later, the books arrived to my doorstep ready for delivery to the bookstores!