AU alum and author Nikolas Wong shares advice on self-publishing, pursuing career in writing

“Just pick up the pen and put it on the paper”

AU alum and author Nikolas Wong shares advice on self-publishing, pursuing career in writing

Nikolas Wong speaks at Multicultural Alumni Reunion Books & Brunch event in October.

 Author and AU alumnus Nikolas Wong has a message for aspiring writers: be a strong advocate of your work and write consistently. 

“Don’t listen to your haters,” he said. “Just pick up the pen and put it on the paper.” 

Wong, who was a featured panelist at the Multicultural Alumni Reunion (MCAR) Books & Brunch event during All-American Weekend, said that as a child, he did not read “on grade-level” and that contributed to students and teachers discouraging him from pursuing a career in writing. Some students “would laugh” at the idea, he said.

“I wasn’t a big reader in the first place, but I just had the passion to tell stories,” he said.

Wong, who earned a master’s degree in strategic communications from AU in August 2017, has published two books independently.

Wong wrote “The Coffee House,” a collection of short stories about Wong and his friends “sharing hilarious conversations” over coffee, while he was pursuing his bachelor’s degree in criminology at the University of Florida. The book was published in 2013.

Wong dedicated “The Coffee House” to his aunt May Leung who was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2007, according to The Reporter, the student newspaper of Miami Dade College, which Wong attended before transferring to UF.

Wong wanted the book to be a source of laughter for his aunt and others who had been diagnosed with cancer. He donated half of the proceeds made from his book to the American Cancer Society, he said. He decided to self-publish in order to get the book out as soon as possible.

“It can take up to six years to get something published,” Wong said. “I’m like, I have this strong message, my aunt is battling cancer, I don’t have time to wait.”

While attending AU, SOC professor Christie Parrell told him that the work he did to publish his book independently demonstrated that he was an exceptionally strong strategic communicator coming into his master’s program, he said.

AU alumna Kathy Kim, the chair of AU’s Asian Pacific Islander Alumni Network and a friend of Wong’s, connected Wong with Belinda Peter, the assistant director of multicultural and affinity engagement in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations, to sit on the panel for the MCAR Books & Brunch event.

Books & Brunch, which took place for the second year in October, provides “a platform for our multicultural authors to come and showcase their books” and enables them to “inspire our multicultural students,” Peter said.

Kim wanted Wong to speak on the panel because she wanted representation from the APIA at the event and for him to share his story and speak about publishing “The Coffee House.” Wong said that in addition to making connections while at AU, he developed lifelong communication skills.

“When I first met Nik, I really could understand the intellectual curiosity as well as authenticity that came with, not only his writing, but his approach to life,” Kim said. 

Wong spoke alongside a panel of AU alumni and authors Jennifer Collins, Jeremi Duru and Joy Thomas Moore in front of other alumni, students and parents, according to Peter. 

Peter said that it is important for multicultural alumni to stay in contact with one another, as well as show multicultural students what options they have after they graduate.

“It’s nice for that kind of support to exist while you are at AU, but even once you graduate to have that support,” she said.

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