Ever interested in the path to publication for local* writers I asked him to tell me something about the background to the book. He told me that he got the idea for the collection whilst doing his B.A. In English language and Literature, but:
... the stories had been germinating in my mind for a while before that, bits and pieces of different stories coming together, gelling and expanding, certain story plots growing clearer and clearer.He believed in his book so much that he quit his job and spent seven months writing:
... it was a very tough time for me, emotionally and financially. Emotionally, as I was debating inwardly whether I could actually write these stories, and I had to wrestle constantly with negative thoughts about my writer identity and my ability to put down in words the ideas and thoughts in my head. Financially as my savings started to peter out four months after I began this project. I was living day by day on the essentials, stuck in my room, drafting and writing frantically, willing my stories to be completed before I was totally broke.After completing his first draft, he then went back to full-time work and freelance writing. Then:
Fast forward. In early 06, I took up the manuscript and began to work on these stories again. I think with the passage of time, I began to read my stories anew and see them with different eyes. I knew I had to be brutal with my stories and I did major surgery on them. It was a painful experience, as any writer can testify.He approached a writer friend for advice on how to get his work into print.
He recommended some local publishers and I sent my manuscript to these publishers. Out of the four or five publishers ... only two responded. One rejected my manuscript based on the taboo subjects I touched on in some of the stories, and the other had stopped publishing local titles and advised me to seek other avenues. ... I was not discouraged but continued to seek for help and advice. The same writer friend, who had published his second book with a small print press in the US, iUniverse, told me about his experience with self-publishing and its advantages and benefits.The "tipping point" for O was the fact that "iUniverse has already an on-going relationship with major online booksellers like Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Booksamillion" which meant that selling his work would be easier.
The company has several packages to choose from:
... each with its own terms and conditions. I chose the Premier package which comes with initial editing, and a book cover design among other things. It cost about US$699.But his feelings about the service are mixed. The initial design for the cover was so dreadful, O decided to hire his own designer. And then he found that there were some hidden costs and he actually needed to pay about US$200 more for his proofreading and editing.
His twenty free author copies were sent out to overseas and local reviewers, and when he purchased another batch for sale he discovered it an expensive business, what with shipping costs and the Singaporean taxes.
O says he is now peddling his books from bookshop to bookshop "and it is really hard work".
I think what this story underlines is that local writers who want to self-publish need an awful lot of stamina to get their books out there.
I do hope that after all his struggles, the book does well for O.
*Perleeease do not give me anymore of that "Singapore is not local" crap. Basically, we share the same publishing and distribution fishtank, so let's be nice to each other.