P or E? That is the question.

I’ve often been asked if I’ve considered publishing or printing my books in Singapore.

“Yes” would be the answer to both.

Which writer wouldn’t want to see their work in print or better yet, picked up by a reputable publisher? I’m no exception, except for the sad facts that I’m perpetually the recessionista (read: always broke) and local publishers don’t casually pick up fantasy writers like yours truly.

Why? Coz FANTASY, unless you’re J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyers (sparkly vamps, anyone?), don’t automatically send the cash registers ringing. And publishers, above all, are businessmen/women (read: profits rule).

So what’s a perpetually broke writer gotta do? Short of having a publishing sponsorship fall upon her head, this writer has to strike it out all by herself in…you got it…e-book publishing.

Just think, so what if you manage to get your Great (insert country of origin here) Novel printed using years of hard-earned savings? What next? Sit there and expect your books to fly off the shelves (or in my friend’s case, from under the table)? No such luck, pal.

You might sell off your entire print-run, you might not. Chances are, you are not going to get very far without some form of marketing strategy. Displaying your books at local bookstores? Not unless you’re prepared to pay a certain sum for the ‘privilege’ to be displayed. And large bookstores don’t accept anything from a single writer, save for a writer represented by a distributor. On top of the fee you have to pay the distributor, you have to pay a certain percentage to the bookstore as well. In other words, it costs money a poor little writer doesn’t have.

So what’s an impoverished writer gotta do to gain some publicity? Here are some ways:

  1. Sin Min approached a few local indie bookstores like Select Books Online and Cat Socrates personally and convinced them to take a few copies to sell.
  2. Sarahcoldheart joined Nanowrimo where she eventually formed a writing group with like-minded individuals (one of whom owns Two Trees, an editorial company in Singapore) and published a book with the help of said editorial company. (Read: networking is very important!)
  3. Mint Kang published her book (6 Years of Parrot) but has since bemoaned the feasibility of her decision coz the printing was more expensive than it should be and she felt horribly cheated. So she decided that enough was enough and plunked her subsequent novel (The Cousin from Dar Tower) on Scribe where it proceeded to earn 1000 plus (and increasing) views plus a feature on the Scribe website itself! Although Mint may have given away her first publishing rights and all that by publishing it as an e-book on Scribe, the satisfaction of having 1000 plus readers is more than achievement enough. (Read: sometimes money ain’t everything)
  4. Lee Ju-Lyn, who was featured in a 17 Febuary 2009 edition of Today’s paper, took to the streets and personally approached people to buy her book. (Read: DIY takes a whole new spin here)
  5. All of the above writers/artist made their appearance on my other blog (Aspiring Mangaka & Writers Club) as part of my Virtual Book Tour hosting program. I feature self-published authors who, despite all odds, managed to make their writing dreams come true. Of course this program extends to illustrators who have published their own work as well. If you’re interested, check out the Aspiring Mangaka & Writers Club’s guidelines. My blog is only one of many offering this service so be sure to do your research and find out which is the best option for your book.

One thing you might wanna take into account is: if you’re writing for fame and fortune, drop that idea FAST. It ain’t gonna happen. Being a writer means A LOT OF hard work, disappointments and despair. If you don’t happen to date Lady Luck…well, let’s just say that the writing life ain’t gonna be easy to tough it out.

There are just so many factors determining your success. Finishing your novel is just the first step. That’s why I chose to go the e-book route. Not only because it’s practically free to publish it online, you can customise it according to your preference and you can reach a wider audience across the world. It’s a cost-saving measure that is environmentally friendly too.

I currently have two books under my belt: Anis the Unchosen & Rainy Skies: Lull before Storm, both of which are published online as e-books. Of course, you can opt to purchase Anis the Unchosen as a printed book. Hehs. Anyways with the introduction of gadgets such as iPhones, Kindle and iPads, you can always read e-books wherever you go. Even local celebrities like Joanne Peh downloads e-books to read on the go so just imagine the impact e-books have in recent times and the exciting millennium to come!

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