The Vegan Serendib Timeline

I woke up thinking about how goofy it was to be pushing so hard to get out Vegan Serendib for Christmas. I mean, yes, we COULD do it, and Christmas sales are significant. But it would be very hard, and not done well in terms of promotion.

I ended up sending this message to the Serendib Press team on Slack, copying it here in case anyone is interested in how a teeny tiny press figures out a little bit more about how we ought to be doing things.

We’ll make it to professional eventually. Someday, I’d love to publish other peoples’ books too, but I figure we should make all the mistakes on my books first. 🙂

*****

Hey, team. So I’ve been thinking about the timeline for Vegan Serendib and I think it’s putting too much time pressure on all of us to get that done, especially me and Stephanie, and there’s really no reason we have to have it for Christmas. We might get a few extra Christmas sales, but it’s not worth doing it badly or killing ourselves.

So I had another thought — since this is the second edition, one thing we could do is set a launch date for say, May 1, 2021, which gives us a proper six-month timeline for promotion. You can start working now on the press releases for that, and start sending them in the next few weeks, giving us a chance at some magazine coverage. We won’t have physical copies to send out right away, but should have them by end of the year, I think.

And then another thing we can do is start taking pre-orders AND say that anyone who pre-orders we’ll immediately send them a digital copy of the first sampler edition of Vegan Serendib (bonus), so they can start cooking right away. Then they’ll get the full volume next May. I think overall, that makes a lot more sense. What do you think?

If we do this, then I think the next step is to ask Stephanie to go back through what we did for Feast, and make a calendar for what we’re aiming to have done each month in the next six months. Some of the things:

OCT/NOV:
finalize 40 new recipes (MA)
retake photos as needed (MA)
revise intro materials (MA)
talk to Ingram Spark and figure out what they need and when (Stephanie)
draft new press release for Vegan (Stephanie?)
draft back cover copy for Vegan (Stephanie?)
ask Jeremy John Parker to do final cover design (and pay him) (Stephanie)
figure out who we want to send copies to for review (Stephanie)
put up pre-order page for Vegan (Stephanie?)

plan some kind of holiday promotion for both books (Stephanie)

DEC:
redo interior design (Stephanie)
re-index (can we do this in house? Anyone here interested in learning how to index?)

copyedit and proofread (Darius or Emmanuel or both? check with Jed re: errors from Feast we want to correct here too)

EVERY MONTH:
keep making cooking videos — maybe one every two weeks (MA and Darius)

start writing food essays and sending them out (MA, who needs deadlines for this clearly, so maybe one every two weeks)

JAN/FEB/MAR/APR/MAY (promotion):
set up virtual cooking classes?
book more virtual events?

depending on COVID, maybe an outdoor in-person event in May for launch day?

And heck, while we’re calendaring, we can look ahead to the NEXT book, which should be Gluten-Free Serendib. Let’s say we aim for December 1, 2021 launch of that.

JAN/FEB/MAR:

develop recipes for GF (MA)

APR/MAY:
design / index / copyedit / proofread book (Stephanie and team)

draft press releases for GF, update press database, send out first wave

etc…

Ten Minute With

“Ten minutes with… is a special series presented by Coode Street that sees readers and booklovers from around the world talk about what they’re reading right now and what’s getting them through these difficult times.

“Writer, professor, and Strange Horizons founder Mary Anne Mohanraj chats with Gary about…”

Episode 523: Ten Minutes with Mary Anne Mohanraj

Ten minutes with… is a special series presented by Coode Street that sees readers and booklovers from around the world talk about what they’re reading right now and what’s getting them through these difficult times.

Corvallis Gazette Times Piece

And this piece appeared in the Corvallis Gazette Times (Corvallis, Oregon):

Sri Lankan food offers strong flavors

Mary Anne Mohanraj missed a lot of things when she went off to college, but the thing she was most homesick for was her mother’s cooking. When her parents immigrated to Connecticut from Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 1973, they brought with them their fiery curries, coconut sambols and countless rice dishes.

We Made it to Sri Lanka’s Daily News!

I’m finding myself totally curious about how newspaper articles work, because Gretchen McKay’s terrific piece on A Feast of Serendib has made its way from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to Sri Lanka’s Daily News! Would she have pitched them this piece? Do newspapers keep an eye out for pieces of interest and then buy reprint rights? Inquiring writer minds want to know. 🙂

But regardless, delighted to have such a lovely piece in the homeland major paper!

Mary Anne Mohanraj: Keeping the flavours of Sri Lanka alive in USA

Mary Anne Mohanraj missed a lot of things when she went off to college, but the thing she was most homesick for was her mother’s cooking. When her parents immigrated to Connecticut from Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 1973, they brought with them their fiery curries, coconut sambols and countless rice dishes.

The Fun Part of Being a Writer

It’s definitely more efficient to have distributors getting books into stores, to have people ordering from their local indie bookstores, from Amazon, etc. The bulk of my book sales should come from there, hopefully!

But there is something very satisfying about getting up in the morning, signing a book, sticking in a postcard or two, putting it in an envelope, with a cute little sticker on the back, adding postage, and walking it down to my mailbox on the corner. Very fun part of being a writer. 

Little Novel, Big Novel

Finished a revision of the opening to the big novel. (I’m thinking of it as the little novel and the big novel, but it’ll be nice when I actually finish the little novel and send it out, so I can just refer to the novel instead of big novel, but anyway.) I wouldn’t prioritize that now, except that I think this first chapter (about 5300 words) actually works as a standalone story.

So I’ve now sent it to a few people with some questions, and we’ll see what they say — with luck, it’ll be ready to submit shortly. In the meantime, I have a few other stories to finish, so I’m planning to pick up one of those tomorrow.

But now, switching gears to Serendib Press & Home stuff — I have some promo e-mails from the cookbook to answer, and some masks and books and curry powder to put in the mail. Always so satisfying, shipping out cookbooks. 

*****

“May I offer you lovely ladies some mas paan? It’s still hot.” Narayan-first-son-of-the-Big-House, the most tempting of all temptations. They had known each other since childhood – he only lived a few streets away, but lately, things had felt different between them. That electric spark she felt when the waves knocked her down, lightning in her veins? Sometimes she felt that same spark when Narayan smiled at her. Dangerous as the ocean.

He smiled at Tharani, and held out a paper on which two buns were nestled, side-by-side. Narayan’s curling black hair fell across his eyes, blocking his vision, and for a moment, the universe held its breath. She should be good. But then Tharani reached out, deliberately, and brushed the hair away. She could feel her world shake, reconfiguring into something new and strange – such a small gesture to do so much. Beside her, Raji took in a quick, shocked breath.

*****

Feast Amazon Sale!

SALE! It turns out that Amazon will sometimes do discounts on books, which doesn’t affect how much I make (as the amount they pay the distributor doesn’t change), and right now, Feast is discounted from $40 down to $26.49 on their site, which I have to tell you, is a heck of a bargain.

We’re probably going to be running a sale ourselves soon out of the house, but our price won’t be dropping quite that much, so unless you want a signed copy from me, and/or some homemade curry powder, I’d love it if you’d buy a discounted copy from Amazon.

Maybe one for a friend? Your parents who are getting bored cooking at home for themselves? Your best friend from college who you haven’t called in too long? So many options…spread the word!

Mother’s Day Medium Treat Box

Packing up the Mother’s Day treat boxes for shipping out tomorrow — this is the medium box. Kevin periodically asks me whether it’s actually worth the amount of time and effort I put into this, and so I feel like I should note for the record that strictly speaking, it isn’t. I have to run the numbers at some point, but I’m guessing I barely break even on doing these boxes. So why do them?

a) It means that when I’m doing recipe development, I can make back some of the costs of ingredients and time to try variations until I settle on a recipe I really like. It’s a shame I can only do that for items that I can ship — I can’t easily send out curries! The plan for Feast is that we’re going to release smaller cookbooks in future months, including one for sweets that I’m hoping to have ready by October or so, in time for holiday baking. So everyone who’s ordering these boxes, thanks — you’re helping me develop more and better recipes for that! (Which also means I can post the recipes, which feel like tiny gifts to the world in the midst of all this.)

b) it’s a nice break from the computer — especially now, during pandemic times, it’s really easy for me to spend most of the day sedentary. For the first month or so, I spent so much time on converting my classes to online versions, not to mention researching masks and mutual aid, that my poor Fitbit was shouting at me that I was only getting 2K steps a day or so. Just lots and lots of sitting. Baking is much more physical, and when I mix cooking and gardening into my day, I feel physically better at the end of it.

c) I just like sending out presents. I mean, I know people have paid for these items, but it still feels like sending out presents, you know? Here’s everything that’s going into a medium box this time around:

1 Lily-of-the-valley soap
1 Lily-of-the-valley bath salt
1 Lavender soap
1 Lavender bath salt
5 Spiced Chocolate cookies
5 Jaggery Chai Spice cookies
5 Lime and Rosewater Shortbread cookies
1 five-piece set of assorted chocolates, marshmallows, and cashew milk toffee
1 set of five postcards

Fun to wrap up, fun to ship out. I mean, if I were doing thousands of them, it would be less fun, but I’ve limited it to 10 boxes each, max, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

And as a bonus, sometimes people add on books — the box I just wrapped also took a copy of The Stars Change and a copy of Feast, the one I’m doing next wants a copy of Perennial. More people reading my books = yay! If they eat some lime shortbread while they’re reading them, even better. 

Please order by end of today if you want them shipped out in time for Mother’s Day! Here is the link:

https://serendib-kitchen.myshopify.com/?fbclid=IwAR2etl4wAJJD2SG8tw9zlPPjOnYSrXIe_2sGyB4-PQlsFKsmfbRRZuJkYCc