Tuesday Debut – Presenting Hanh Bui! PLUS A Triple Giveaway!

If you’re just arriving, the band is playing the Happy Birthday Song, so just join right in with the singing!

🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶

Time for Tuesday Debut!
It’s a book birthday, too!
Happy Birthday, to The Yellow Áo Dài (and Hanh and Minnie!)
Happy PB Debut!

*Party Blowers!*
*Balloons!*
*Confetti!*

. . .and of course, CAKE! 😊

And as if singing and party hats and blowers and confetti and cake weren’t enough, for party favors, our Tuesday Debut-ess is kindly giving away not 1, not 2, but 3 (that’s THREE!) personalized signed copies of The Yellow Áo Dài! To be entered for the random drawing, please leave a comment for Hanh below by Monday May 1 at 3PM Eastern and you could be one of the three lucky winners!

So without further ado, I am thrilled to introduce the lovely and talented (and generous!) Hanh Bui and her gorgeous debut picture book, The Yellow Áo Dài!

The Yellow Áo Dài
written by Hanh Bui
Illustrated by Minnie Phan
Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan
April 25th, 2023
Fiction, Ages 3-6

Naliah is excited to perform a traditional Vietnamese Fan Dance at her school’s International Day. When she finds that her special áo dài no longer fits right, she goes to her mom’s closet to find another.

She puts on a pretty yellow one―only to accidentally rip it while practicing her dance. She’s horrified to discover that this was a very special áo dài that her grandmother had worn to dance at the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam.

But with a little help from her mom’s sewing kit and her grandmother’s loving legacy, Naliah learns not only how to mend the yellow áo dài but also how to believe in herself and make it her own.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Hanh! Thank you so much for joining us today! I am thrilled to be getting to celebrate your very first book birthday with you on the actual day! Where did the idea for this book come from?

HANH: This book is inspired by my daughter and her beloved grandmother, my mother-in-law. My mother-in-law passed away when my daughter was a baby. My daughter has always been curious about her grandmother. One day I saw my daughter admiring her grandmother’s áo dàis. She especially loved the yellow one, her favorite color. Yellow was also my mother-in-law’s favorite color. My daughter was sad that she did not have a grandmother of her own like most of her friends. Sharing stories about all of the ways she and her grandmother are alike comforted my daughter. She enjoyed listening to stories about her grandmother being crowned a Mid-Autumn princess as a school girl. My daughter also loves pretending to be a princess and wanted to know more about her grandmother’s life in Vietnam. Memories of her grandmother deepened my daughter’s connection with the grandmother she never knew. I jotted the idea down and created bubbles with words that relate to this intergenerational story rooted in our Vietnamese customs.      

SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?

HANH: I drafted the first draft of this story in about a week and developed it over six months before I felt it was ready as a submission to agents. During the development stage, I worked on edits with feedback from my critique group and while I was querying agents, I submitted this manuscript and participated in Pat Cummings’ Boot Camp to further strengthen this story.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

HANH: It is important for aspiring writers to “embrace revisions” as a normal and necessary part of their writing journey. All of my manuscripts have been through between 20-50 rounds of edits. The changes can range from word choices, a different pov, more active verbs or changes to add layers of connection, strengthen the plot or improve on the pacing of the story. Be open to revisions, but also stay true to the heart of your story. You may receive lots of feedback. Choose the ones that resonate with you and consider that if more than three people make the same suggestion, then maybe you may want to make that change. I am open to revisions and collaborating with my editor, but I also believe in not making changes to my manuscript if I feel it takes away from the authenticity of my story, culture or my lived truths.

SUSANNA: That is very thoughtful advice. When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?

HANH: After I worked on it many, many times. I also shared it with writer friends and mentors. It’s also important to read it aloud to yourself and hear someone else reading your manuscript to you. This will help you to see if there’s any confusion or need for clarity. Hearing it aloud is helpful because you become the reader of your own stories. You will get to feel whether or not it flows nicely or engages you. Hopefully, readers will feel a connection to your story and want to read more.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

HANH: I did query agents to try and get representation because I knew that many traditional publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts from unagented authors. Once I had an agent, she submitted my manuscripts in January of 2021. I recommend that writers attend SCBWI conferences and sign up for workshops with agents and editors presenting. Attendees of these workshops are often given an opportunity to submit a manuscript even if they are not agented to an agent or editor who presented.

Hanh’s sweet writing buddies 😊

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?

HANH: I heard from my agent within a month that an editor wanted to acquire my books. Please know that this is faster than the norm. It could take months and sometimes years to get that “yes”. I have manuscripts under submission now that are taking much longer to hear back from editors compared to the first time I was on submission. It’s really hard to wait and rejections always sting. To keep from feeling discouraged and stuck refreshing my emails, I shift my focus to writing new stories.

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

HANH: I did receive an actual call from my agent when we received the offer from an editor. There were two other editors interested in my manuscripts. Ultimately, I made the decision to say yes to the editor who requested a virtual meeting and connected with my stories as I’d hoped. She seemed genuinely interested in my story and I felt she could help me make my story the best it could be for my target audience.

SUSANNA: How wonderful to have multiple offers to consider and be in a position to choose! How long was it between getting your offer and getting your contract to sign?

HANH: It took about three months from the time I was offered to actually signing a contract with my publisher.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

HANH: I celebrated with my husband and children by having dinner at my favorite restaurant followed by chocolate cake. Then I called my closest writer friends and mentors to share the good news with them. That whole day, I felt as if I was floating and I was one big step closer to my dream of becoming a published author. 

SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?

HANH: My agent did an amazing job negotiating a two book deal. She asked me to be patient with the process and to trust her to advocate on my behalf. I appreciated how much she cared about me and my stories. After several rounds of negotiations, we agreed on a strong, fair offer. My publisher has been generous with author’s copies and transparent throughout my publishing journey. My advice to new writers is to trust your agent to advocate for you and to be patient with the process because there are many steps and people involved in the process of finalizing contracts.

SUSANNA: Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?

HANH: My story went through three rounds of edits with my editor. The edits were not too significant, but still required a lot of thought and time because even the smallest changes can affect the overall manuscript and you’ll have to make additional changes to make your story polished. I feel my editor was intuitive and respectful of helping me share my stories authentically. Some of her edits motivated me to dig deeper about my experiences in order to make my story even more meaningful. I appreciated that my editor embraced my Vietnamese heritage. She did a wonderful job of honoring my family story and celebrated my culture with her vision for our book.

SUSANNA: It sounds like you definitely chose the right editor to go with! What was your experience of the illustration process like?

HANH: My editor kept me in the loop during the making of this book. She gave me three illustrators to choose from. Once the illustrator agreed to collaborating on my story, then our editor introduced us by email. I saw early sketches, second sketches and final art. My editor and the design team asked for my thoughts about the art at each stage of the illustration process. I was very fortunate to have Minnie Phan be the illustrator for The Yellow Áo Dài. She is also Vietnamese American and felt a personal connection to the story and how it relates to her own relationship with her mother. Minnie’s understanding of our Vietnamese culture and her dedication to sharing our heritage showed in how much care she put into the art. We both felt it was important to show representation of protagonists who are Vietnamese Americans and contemporary family experiences from our authentic voices in children’s literature.

text copyright Hanh Bui 2023, illustration copyright Minnie Phan 2023, Feiwel&Friends/MacMillan

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?

HANH: My editor did share with us advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ and Booklist. I was relieved to receive positive reviews from all three. Receiving trade reviews felt official and gave me hope that readers will also find our book to be meaningful and worthy of being in children’s hands, classrooms and libraries.

SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?

HANH: It took almost two years from the offer to me holding my first copy in my hands. And yes, I hugged it and slept with it near me for three days. It felt like a dream and I didn’t want to wake up and realize that it was only a dream so I kept the book right on my nightstand so I could see it first thing in the morning. My publisher’s first printing for The Yellow Áo Dài is 20,000. I hope that all of the copies of this book will find homes and will be enjoyed by children everywhere.

SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?

HANH: I was assigned a publicist who has been helpful and supportive as I navigate the business side of being an author. She has set up for Minnie and me to be at book festivals as part of our book launch events.

SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.

HANH: As part of my own marketing/promotion for this book, I have been featured in blog posts by writer friends and mentors. I am grateful for the support I’ve received from the kid-lit community. I have also been interviewed by SLJ, SCBWI Mid-Atlantic region and Highlights. I have shared my writing journey on podcasts and panels.

SUSANNA: How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

HANH: It took almost three years from the time I wrote my first story to the time I sold my first book.

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication? (Or what is your most helpful piece of advice for up and coming writers?)

HANH: Be open to revisions because so much of the writing process and journey to publication involves writing, revising, then more writing. While you’re waiting for the wishful “yes”, keep writing new stories. Know that the journey to publication is just as important as becoming published. Network and connect with other book people. Support indie bookstores, libraries and other authors. Surround yourself with like hearted literary soulmates who will help you tread water and stay afloat until you find harbor. Always be kind and pay it forward to others by mentoring and volunteering with writer’s organizations.

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Hanh! We so appreciate you taking the time to share your knowledge and expertise so that other writers might benefit from your experience. Wishing you all the best with this and future titles!

Author Hanh Bui

Inspired by her first teacher at the refugee camp, Hanh Bui pursued a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and taught second grade. Hanh’s commitment to celebrating her heritage includes giving presentations at school visits about her refugee experience to children studying immigration as part of their school curriculum. She serves as co-chair of the Equity and Inclusion Team for the Mid-Atlantic region of SCBWI. She is a member of Diverse Verse and has been featured in Highlights For Children magazine and Next Avenue. She is the author of The Yellow Áo Dài, April 2023 and Ánh’s New Word, June 2024 (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan).

Website: https://hanhbui.net/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HanhBuiWrites
Face Book: https://www.facebook.com/hbui333
Instagram: https://instagram.com/hbui333

Readers, if you have questions for Hanh, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond! Remember, your comment (by May 1 at 3PM Eastern) puts you in the running to be randomly selected to receive one of the 3 personalized signed copies of Hanh’s beautiful book!

You may purchase Hanh’s book at:
(all links below are book-specific)

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 😊

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out HERE!

46 thoughts on “Tuesday Debut – Presenting Hanh Bui! PLUS A Triple Giveaway!

  1. Jolene Ballard Gutiérrez says:

    What a wonderful interview! Hanh, I’m so happy for you–I know how hard you’ve worked for this day and there are so many of us in the kidlit community cheering you on! This is just the beginning, my friend! Susanna, thank you for another wonderful interview! ❤

  2. palpbkids says:

    Congratulations! What a beautiful lesson and story!
    Here’s to selling those first 20,000 copies in a blink of an eye :)!!
    Best wishes!

  3. authorlaurablog says:

    Hanh, I’m so happy for you and Minnie. Thank you both for this lovely interview! Hanh, as you know I love The Yellow Áo Dài, but I CANNOT WAIT for the next book! When you told me about it, the first time I met you, it brought me to tears! Huge congratulations! Celebrate! Celebrate! Celebrate! And give the pups a hug from Charlie and me.

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Thanks so much for stopping by to read and for your enthusiastic support for Hanh and Minnie, Laura! Apparently we should have a dog party with Hanh’s dogs, Charlie, Violet and Finn 😊

  4. Danielle Hammelef says:

    I enjoyed reading this interview and learning about this author and her beautiful book’s path to publication. Your writing buddies are adorable! Congratulations on your writing dreams come true.

  5. gloriaamescua says:

    The story behind the story is inspiring and I love the lyrical text as well as the gorgeous illustrations. I look forward to reading your book. I’m so happy for you. Congratulations!

  6. pamelanaturalliving says:

    A beautiful story and illustrations. It is always important to keep part of the family in a story! Congratulations, and thanks for the interview. One takeaway was the advice about revisions – I am sure it felt like it would never end!

  7. Stephanie Gibeault says:

    Thank you for another fabulous interview, Susanna. Hanh, the book looks great – Minnie’s art is gorgeous! I’m so excited for my copy to arrive. Congratulations and happy book birthday!

  8. marty bellis says:

    Congrats, Hanh! I love stories that include grandparents or intergenerational relationships. This sounds like a sweet heartfelt story.
    And what darling writing buddies! They’re too cute.

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      I’m sure you would enjoy this book, Marty, if you like grandparents and intergenerational relationships. (And Hanh’s writing buddies look a whole lot more civilized than mine do 😊 )

  9. Angie says:

    So lovely! Happy book birthday! Congratulations to both of you!

    (I won a copy from a different blog, so if my name is drawn, please draw another name. Thanks!)

  10. Norah says:

    I’m excited to read about this book. I’m not aware of many other books about Vietnamese culture. My hairdresser came to Australia as a refugee from Vietnam when she was six. She now has a little niece. I think they might enjoy this book. I’d love to win a copy, but I’m also happy to purchase it. Congratulations Hanh! It looks gorgeous!

  11. Wendy Greenley says:

    Wonderful interview, Hanh! I would love to read your story and them gift this book to my Vietnamese next door neighbors’ kids (3 kiddos, pre-K to fifth grade). It sounds like you found the perfect editor–and now we get to anticipate book #2!

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