NOTEBOOK 9: THE LITERARY ROAD TO NOWHERE
My second poetry book will soon be published after some hiccups. The publishers simply refuse to look at poetry manuscripts, for there are no market sales at all for that genre. Even if authors were to pay for their own publication first, the interest in displaying those books in their shelves was lacking. Without connections, Malaysian writers in English, have no prospect of printing or selling their books in their home country, unless authors double as merchants. For my first book, I could sell a hundred or more in my clinic, but with retirement, that task becomes more difficult. Fortunately, I do not have to depend on writers’ income for a living.
It is a fact that Malaysians do not read much at all, and the standard of English is declining to the point of no return. My second poetry book will be my last print in that genre. Despite this, I have to consider writing in other genre, or give up creative writing completely. How do Malaysian writers help to improve proficiency in the language if we remain passive? The problem is simply too big for me. I could only do my best before the onset of dementia. How do I code switch to another genre, and in a language simple enough for our young ones to read and understand?
I ask myself to name the most important element in each genre. Plot is the essence of fiction; audience is important in drama; message is my elixir in poetry; clarity is sine quo non in the fourth genre. All creative writing requires all these elements, plus the flow, imagery, forms and skills. Maybe non-fiction will be my choice, even though I hardly read books on that, except in my MA English programme. For a beginner, the guides of experts do help; in brevity the five Rs: namely, reading, research, reflection, reality and review. In a digital world, that genre could be learned without incurring much financial expenses. A mixed genre, poetry with non-fiction, would be an appeal. I require friends in the web community for help and feedbacks. Bless me in my retiring years ahead. Thank you.
You are correct my friend, the writer of poetic verse faces a formidable obstacle in getting their verse into book form, I have tried to get my 500 or more verses into book form for a number of years now, sadly our words are not a lucrative market.
Only alternative is to self publish, and that is much money.
You have to be careful with self publication. It does not include marketing, sales, book launch and review. Each item has a cost. You may not even receive your royalty at all, despite the sales. It is cheaper to engage a printer, and sell to recover some cost, give more away to relatives, libraries and schools as gift.
I had to take my time to answer your comment mate, mainly as I needed to digest your words and compare them with my efforts, the end result being a writer and publishing is a pursuit in futility, there is no financial gain and only heartache in its endeavors.
I am currently writing a book and already the pitfalls are appearing, from advice on characters and settings through to thinking about a Ghost writer.
Think I will just plod along in my own way and appreciate the fact that I think I can write.
Cheers my friend.
There are a lot of things to learn in self publication. First, pagination and IT work. I got professional help.Then editing the draft for all kinds of errors and omissions. For my second book, my daughter and I amended the draft twice, before it was sent for printing. A lot of nitty-gritty work; more time spent than on writing per se. I could not afford to spend money on marketing and advertising. Forget about the bookshops if you are unknown and without connections. I prefer to go at a personal level. I offer to give 100 copies (out of my 500) free to a charity organization; all the sales money will be theirs, plus an extra pledge from me per book sold.