Photos of the English and Chinese versions of the book, courtesy of Vera Koo
No doubt, if you follow competition shooting, you’ll recognize the name Vera Koo. An eight-time winner of the NRA National Action Pistol Championship, aka Bianchi Cup, she spent more than 20 years in the world of competition shooting and quickly rose to one of its top female competitors. After retiring last year, Vera refused to slip away into her comfortable life in the Bay area of California. Instead, she embarked on a mission to promote her memoir, The Most Unlikely Champion, published by Balboa Press in 2017, in China.
This is a daunting task, with major hurdles and obstacles along the way. We checked in with Vera recently and asked her about how progress is going with the China book deal. Here’s what she had to say.
A1F: What’s the back story of your memoir and its journey into China?
Vera Koo: Last year was supposed to be the year that my book came out in print at the 2019 Shanghai Book Fair. There was a last-minute hitch; my book did not come out in time to be delivered to the book fair. My husband, Carlos, and I went to Shanghai, nonetheless, to visit the Shanghai Book Fair. I wanted to go see the place that I was supposed to give a half-hour talk at the publisher’s exhibition booth. (I benefited greatly from our visit to the Shanghai Book Fair in 2019, as now I know what outfit I should wear when I go to make the speech in 2020.) The talk I was asked to do had to be accompanied by a 20-minute video that my publisher asked me to make. I was asked to speak in Chinese only. I came to United States when I was 12 years of age. I have to practice a great deal in order that I don’t use one word of English. So my trip to Shanghai was a warmup. I am expected to be asked to do at this year’s China book fair, in August.
Photo of Vera Koo with Race Gun by Yasunari Akita
A1F: Is your book available in China now?
Vera Koo: Yes, it came out in print in China a month ago. I saw the books in an iPhone picture my friend took in China. They will try to get me my copies soon; as a matter of fact, tomorrow evening our friend is bringing me two copies brought over by a friend’s friend from China.
A1F: Where will your book appear?
Vera Koo: My book in China will be distributed to all national libraries, national book stores and outlets. The book has been translated and edited in China. My first translation was started by a journalism university professor in Taiwan before the English version of my memoir was published. It was many years of hard work on the part of my Taiwanese translator. The book took more than two years in translation work alone. Then, it was again edited by professional, from Mainland Chinese into the simplified Chinese. (It was first translated into traditional Chinese in Taiwan.)
A1F: Is it difficult to promote a book such as yours in China?
Vera Koo: I have started to look for people who can install my website in Chinese and help me to engage in the social-media platforms in China. As of now, Google and Facebook are not permitted in Mainland China, but they do have the equivalent to Facebook and a Google search engine. I just need to find out how to get to the things I need to get done before the 2020 Shanghai Book Fair in August. Right now, a videographer is working on making a book trailer for my book. The video will also have subtitles in Chinese.
A1F: You work with a writer, Justin Pahl, in the United States. What’s next?
Vera Koo: My recent trip to Juneau, Alaska, was to work with my ghostwriter, Justin Pahl, on my second book. In this book, I am targeting the Chinese audience in mainland China. I will compose a book with topics on subjects such as travel, sports, garden, theater, art, the ways of being a housewife and being a woman, philosophical views on life, opportunities in life, my competitive shooting sport, exercise and diet. (Visit Vera Koo’s website to follow her adventures and mission with book #2.)