Bestselling Author Jill Chang Gives Us a Taste of Her Tokyo Book Tour
We catch up with bestselling author Jill Chang on her latest book tour and more.
The immense success of Quiet is a Superpower: The Secret Strengths of Introverts in the Workplace by author and one of our Warriors to Watch, Jill Chang, came as no surprise as it continues to impact readers globally. She recently had a book tour in Tokyo, Japan where her book nabbed the top spot in the country’s “Best Three Books of the Year” 2022 list. We caught up with this multi-hyphenate superwoman for an insightful interview on her tour experience. Read on as she shares her highlights, learnings, and upcoming pursuits.
Congratulations on the success of your recent press tour in Japan! Could you share some highlights from your experience? Were there any unexpected moments or surprises that stood out to you?
Thank you so much! The whole trip was a highlight, lol. It was the first time since COVID that the publisher invited an international author for a press tour, so we were all very excited! And there were definitely pleasant surprises:
The age diversity of the readers: in other countries, my readers are mainly 20-45 years old, more females. I was very surprised to see many people aged 45-60+ at the event, and many of them were business owners, senior managers, and male—this demographic is something new to me!
The ‘aggressiveness’ of the audience: whenever I give a speech, it usually takes a while for people to raise their hands in the Q&A session. Japan surprised me with the audience’s level of engagement. As soon as the floor was open, so many of them raised their hands immediately. I’m surprised with how prepared they were—this may be a different category of introverts that I never met!
The cultural similarities between Japan and Taiwan: Taiwan was Japan’s colony for 50 years so I’m not surprised to find cultural similarities. What surprised me was the level of similarities in so many aspects. Most of the time, except for the language barriers, I don’t feel like working with foreigners. In one of the interviews, the host Ryan Takeshita spoke fluent English so I immediately felt the warmth, like we were already friends. Also, Japanese workplace culture is quite introverted—they’re super detail-oriented and they value preparation; I enjoy the working style a lot.
As an introvert, how do you navigate and manage the energy required for engagements like press tours and public appearances? What strategies do you employ to prepare yourself for interactions with a diverse range of people who are interested in your book?
I highly appreciate the fact that my agent and publisher provided a very detailed agenda in advance, such as when to pick me up from the hotel, and when I can rest. This was very helpful in managing my energy. My agency and publisher were super thoughtful to choose a hotel near the event venue, which was beneficial for maximizing the time I needed in my bubble to charge/recharge. They constantly checked on me and were so kind to understand (they are also introverts) my “alone time” despite wanting to take me out each night.
The most challenging day was probably when I had seven hours of interviews. It was a very long day, and I felt like an amateur participating in a marathon. But I know these opportunities are so rare and valuable, so I tried different ways to keep myself energized and engaged. Coffee and breaks were helpful. There was a time when I finally hit the wall—thinking and talking for that long was very draining (both physically and mentally), but I managed to overcome it. In the end, I even felt like I could do more.
I think scheduling is really the key. My agency and publisher were well aware of how my introverted energy works, so they tried to give me time to prepare, especially before the events. And to be honest, talking to my readers energized me so much. As an author, I don’t always get the chance to meet them (especially international readers) face to face. I was very grateful and enlivened just by standing on the stage, seeing their sparkling eyes, and feeling the energy flow through the venue. It was priceless!
Japanese readers have shown great fascination and engagement with your work. What do you believe they find most compelling about you and your book? Is there something specific in their culture or mindset that resonates with your message?
It was a total surprise and it still feels surreal! I actually asked my editor about this. I’ve known that the Japanese book market, especially business books, are dominated by domestic authors (only 7% are international authors), and there are already a good number of books about introverts in the workplace. Perhaps being a Taiwanese introvert working with an international team somehow provides a unique perspective that’s not only interesting, but also relatable. According to my editor, the readers think my story is unique and fun to read.
Culturally, eastern Asians are relatively similar—we are more reserved, and we highly value harmony and hierarchy. Although there are books from western authors about introverts in the workplace, I guess my eastern Asian perspective is a little more relevant to the Japanese readers’ experiences and needs. I also try to stay as authentic as possible. Sharing vulnerability is not something common in our cultures, but I realized if I don’t speak about it, people would think they’re the only ones struggling. So I try to reveal my personal experiences—both good and bad—and assure them that they are not alone. I’m coming from a place where I’d rather keep my readers company than coach/teach/mentor them. I guess this helps them to accept my book.
Most importantly, the publisher and editor own tons of credits! They did an incredible job of ‘translating’ the book into something more identifiable to the Japanese market. From the title of the book to the sales team’s efforts, they worked like an elite army that always had a seamless set of strategies in mind and achieved goals with incredible efficiency! I’m truly amazed by their professionalism, and I deeply believe they played a critical role in helping the book spread in Japan.
American singer-songwriter Frank Ocean once said, "Work hard in silence, let your success be the noise." How do you think individuals can strike a balance between acknowledging and celebrating their accomplishments without diminishing them or seeking excessive external validation?
It’s a great question, and I honestly am still trying to find the best answer. Nowadays, I feel like it’s more about marketing yourself, even before any success is achieved. Being someone who always tries to avoid recognition or compliments, what I learned is to give myself credit and celebrate my efforts rather than any (perceived) accomplishments.
Success or accomplishments depend on a lot of external factors, and we don’t always have 100% control on those, unlike efforts. For example, my book was just published in Poland, it’s the seventh language it’s being translated in. While everyone congratulates me on the ‘success,’ I don’t feel I own any part of it, not even the slightest bit, because I literally didn’t do anything for the Polish edition! However, I was able to change my mindset and take partial credit for it because I wrote the book after all.
The same goes for external validation—sometimes people validate you only based on what they see, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. You’re the only one who knows the entire process—the resources you use, the challenges you face, and the level of engagement you give—and you are in the best position to give yourself enough credit. Therefore, in practicing to accept accomplishments or giving yourself internal validation, celebrating your efforts is a good place to start.
Reflecting on the journey since the publication of your first book, "Quiet Is a Superpower: The Secret Strengths of Introverts in the Workplace" in 2020, have there been any insights or discoveries that have influenced your perspective? Is there anything you would like to emphasize or modify in the book if given the opportunity?
The book gave me the privilege of meeting other fellow introverts from various industries around the world and learning their stories. This is a very rare and unique experience because it’s not something you’d normally share with a stranger (or anyone). If I had a chance to modify the book, I would love to enrich it by adding their perspectives, stories, and experiences. I also had the privilege of receiving feedback from different cultures.
Quiet Is a Superpower is now published in seven languages, and I’m always fascinated by how different cultures view introverts and introversion, and the cultural aspect of how introverts are seen in society. I touched on this a little bit in my book, and I’d love to elaborate on it with the insights I now have if given the opportunity. As for the perspectives, I think most of them stay the same, and I’m happy to learn that my tips are applicable and readers can relate to my stories regardless of their cultural background, industry, gender, or age.
Indeed a proud moment for this enterprising author. | Photo by Wang Kai Yun
We're eager to know if you're currently working on a second book. If so, could you share a glimpse into what readers can expect?
Yes, I am. I actually just submitted the first draft of my second book! It’s about the imposter experience in the workplace and tips on dealing with it, and eventually making peace with it. I’m writing the book because, again, it’s not something people would freely share with anyone. I’ve been struggling with it in my career, so I want to share my stories and the lessons I’ve learned from it. I noticed introverts are more vulnerable to the imposter experience, so I also incorporated the introvert’s perspective in the new book. 70% of people have experienced/are experiencing imposter syndrome, so the book is really for everyone struggling with it. I also wrote about how people can deal with the imposter experience as a manager, colleague, minority, member of a multicultural team, and from an organization's perspective. I try to incorporate various perspectives and provide solutions for different types of people, just like I did in the first book.
It’s been five years since Quiet Is a Superpower was first published in traditional Chinese, and many people have been asking why it’s taking so long for me to write the second book. The major reason is, ironically, my imposter experience. With the first book’s international success, I didn’t think I’d ever have something similarly valuable to share with the world, and I’m convinced that it was successful only because of my publisher’s hard work plus luck, which I cannot duplicate. With ChatGPT and other AI tools becoming so popular and powerful (which is very different from five years ago), it took me a while to dig deep and think about my value as an author and as a person. The second book is the result of that, and I’m happy that I finally had the courage to write it. I hope it will also help as many people as possible.