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Gentlecloud Posted - 06 Jun 2005 : 08:46:20
Hi everyone, I am a newbie to this forum and maybe even to the literary world with one recently completed novel under the belt. It has been a very rewarding experience in terms of self-achievement and sheer pleasure when I receive wonderful comments. But then, one cannot live on water and fresh air alone so I would like to ask more bread and butter issues with regards to writing as a career.

I have tons of questions which I guess all new writers have. Where should I go to get them answered? Is there a writer's hitchhiker book that I could plough to get pearls of wisdom and bring some sanity to the wild ideas that I have to push my book out. Are there dos and don'ts that I should observe.

And last but not least, are there online avenues for publishing that are commercially viable.

Desperately seeking......for answers and writers in similar frame of mind : )
15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Gentlecloud Posted - 30 Jul 2011 : 17:59:40
Hi everyone, I have just googled to check the status of my site and found this series of old QLRS posts I made back in 2005. Its sweet naivete made me smile.

Anyway, it has been 6 years since that post. I thought I should give an update to anyone who happens to bump into this forum again.

I have published Through The Storm. I've also completed another novel titled Bright Links, Dark Links which I am working to have published, hopefully by November this year. And I'm now into my third novel. I also have a children's book published by Panpac Media. How's that for progress? :D

I've just set up my website. If you have time, do check it out. There is also a forum there for a discussion on favourite fiction. I would be delighted if you could participate in them.


I'm working on putting a animation video there as well for Through The Storm. It should be ready by mid-August. Let me know what you think. Thanks, folks!
alf Posted - 14 Jun 2005 : 00:26:01
Don't forget to read Alfian Saat's ONE FIERCE HOUR and A HISTORY OF AMNESIA, as well as the Urban Anthology NO OTHER CITY. You might also want to try Daren Shiau's HEARTLAND, Cyril Wong's books, Toh Hsien Min's ENCLOSURE OF LOVE (esp for more formal stylistics). Also Felix Cheong's BROKEN BY THE RAIN, and Dave Chua's GONE CASE.
Gentlecloud Posted - 13 Jun 2005 : 22:31:36
Hey Alvin, I have laid my hands on your book 'Testing the Silence' from NLB. I am not into poems but even then, it captivated me. I could identify with some of them. An example is that of 'Friction' which evokes a lot of sadness as it reminded me of a recent passing.

There is that raw one titled 'Passion' where you symbolized the ugliness of sin and subtly reminded me of what Jesus went through for us. I sat up and really took notice when I reached the one on 'Strange Fish' which places almost a divine power to the creator - the writer. Don't we all want to be able to do that...'with the rod of a pen, strange fish, as one by one, they begin to breathe:' Awesome.

I guess there is really no black and white answer to my question 'Can writers earn a decent living?' It's the perpetual catch all answer... 'It depends'. From the muted responses to this question as well as the postings of other writers, I begin to see the higher calling that most of you view writing. It is a self-expression, a lone voice crying out in the wilderness, a legacy that you want to leave behind.

Thanks for not mowing me down with my mammonist search for a goldmine, tainting the noble, beautiful spirit that most of you subscribe to. Through my short foray into this forum, I have gained a lot. I have learnt to rein in my material drive but instead, teach myself to soak in the loving creations that you have breathed life into.

I will become a more avid reader of Singapore works. Besides 'Testing the Silence', two other local creations are travelling with me on my holiday starting tomorrow. 'Following the wrong God home' by Catherine Lim which I have started on and am impressed with from the very first page. No wonder she is termed as a 'diva' by someone I spoke to :=) Well earned. Second one is Tan Hwee Hwee's 'Mammon Inc' that someone recommended in this forum.

If there are other recommendations, advice or even personal sharing, please let me know. Thanks.
Gentlecloud Posted - 12 Jun 2005 : 09:27:02
Thanks Alvin for the practical idea. I will definitely test out chapbooks.

Hey everyone, I have uncovered quite a number of writers' critique sites on the web. The one I found interesting is attached below. It also markets books relevant for writers such as 'How to write a good synopsis etc.' Their critique services here are fee-based though. Have a look and let me know if you have others which are good or that you have used.


Also, if there are any who had used companies like Trafford to penetrate the global market, could you share your experiences. Are they worth the money they asked for?
alf Posted - 11 Jun 2005 : 23:20:34
A large or competent enough publisher would already have an online transaction facility, in which case you don't have to foot the whole $350 a year yourself.

Chapbooks - some writers produce beautiful, printed (even handmade) chapbooks; they don't have to be cheap photocopied flappy things but can be attractive in their own right. The basic idea is the same - small (< full length book) collection of writing, small run.
Gentlecloud Posted - 11 Jun 2005 : 08:36:12
Thanks Nicholas.

So the term is called a chapbook. A home-made print of poems or a short story to be cheaply obtained and discarded after reading. I see. It probably has its place with students who have a voracious appetite for reading but not the means.

I have just reread Alvin's idea regarding chapbooks. The idea of expanding the chapbook to cover extracts is an interesting one. These would not even be digitally printed but photocopied like you said and used as 'marketing material'. So, imagine a book fair where someone hands you a chapbook which contains say three chapters of a book. You read it, wanted more and there at the back is a URL where you can go and place orders. This is one avenue to drive the readers to the Pod portal. I like it.

The Pod portal would also contain these same chapters for viewing before the reader orders the book. The current challenge I have in Pod is the collection of payment. One web service provider told me that it costs about $350 per year to maintain the payment module there that allows the payment engine (Visa I think) to manage my money and payout at periodic intervals for a fee. With that cost, it would only make sense if the Pod portal has critical mass i.e. selling a collection of books.

As an afterthought, if the Pod portal is just tested on the Singapore market, one could do away with Visa and just ask for funds transfer to a bank account. Yep, maybe I will do that for a start.

Nicholas Liu Posted - 10 Jun 2005 : 23:57:44
I'm not knowledgeable enough to answer your other questions, but a chapbook in the modern sense is essentially just a short, cheaply produced collection, usually with a very limited distribution. Some chapbooks are produced by small and university presses, or as part of a competition; others are self-produced (all you need for your basic chapbook is a photocopier and some better paper for the cover) and sold by the poet him/herself, through the internet, by hand at readings, etc. Some local publishers (mainly Landmark, I think?) don't seem to discriminate, often marketing as 'normal' books what would usually be chapbook-length collections.

As far as prose is concerned, chapbooks, as far as I'm aware, are usually made up of a few short stories or a one or two novellas/novellettes, rather than an extract from a longer work.
Gentlecloud Posted - 10 Jun 2005 : 21:54:08
Many thanks, Alvin. Really appreciate your ideas. Your points are interesting. I have some questions:

Is it common practice to just print the first few chapters of the book instead of the whole book. Like you said, if the beginning doesn't grab the readers' attention, it is a foregone conclusion. Do distributors and publishers and reviewers accept such an extract vs the whole book? Are extracts the same as chapbooks in your second point. Gee, you have saved a lot of trees with this advice :=)

Small runs for marketing: do you do this yourself or do you leave the publisher or distributor to do that. Do we state the minimum things that these channels should do in an agreement? Could you give examples of marketing activities that would need these small runs?

Who would you suggest that we get reviews for the extracts? Is there a systematic way of doing it or do we just print and send to family and friends to comment? Notably, they would be biased and kinder and hence defeat the purpose.

Is there a critique or review board on this forum or anywhere else aside from publishers and distributors?

alf Posted - 10 Jun 2005 : 19:23:05

Do you have any thoughts, experiences, advice, reservation etc on on-demand printing? I know you have published works so may not need to explore unconventional avenues. Nonetheless, your comments would be appreciated. Thanks

I think Print-On-Demand (POD) has great potential, for the commercial as well as the creative publishing scenes. After all, the traditional fullscale publishing route is costly, time-consuming, risky and sometimes even fraught with dubious agendas.

But churning out entire books isn't the only way to go about it:


how about small runs for marketing , pre-print proof/review copies (I did this for City of Rain; it was well received and I got to make useful additions after getting feedback).

Or how about chapbooks, sample chapters of your novel (if your opening chapter, or your best showcase extract, doesn't grab readers the rest of the book is probably doomed...).

There might even be scope for customised editions - imagine a version of your novel written for a Singapore audience, another modified for the US market, yet another for China, another that's simplified for students, etc.

OR : several test editions (a snazzier styled vs a more conservatively written version of the same scene; different characters, different endings/beginnings, different covers etc).

Obviously loads of possibilities. But they all presuppose one thing - that the content and the writing are at least minimally publishable/marketable to at least one audience segment somewhere. No amount of technology will save a book that either can't sell itself, or is badly written (the two success factors can be mutually exclusive, but at least one of then has to exist!!).
Gentlecloud Posted - 10 Jun 2005 : 14:29:51
Strange. I emailed you at least two days ago using the hotlink to your id in this forum. My email address is mygentlecloud@hotmail.com. I am sending you my phone number again this time to info@writer.per.sg directly.

Do you have any thoughts, experiences, advice, reservation etc on on-demand printing? I know you have published works so may not need to explore unconventional avenues. Nonetheless, your comments would be appreciated. Thanks
alf Posted - 10 Jun 2005 : 13:13:06

Hey Alvin, your friend has not contacted me yet. How do I get an ISBN code? How much does it cost to create a cover?

I haven't received your contact info yet.
Gentlecloud Posted - 09 Jun 2005 : 21:11:09
Hi there, AYK, congrats are way too premature. Hmmm, how did I give you that impression that I have published it? Sorry about that. I have not found a publisher yet which is why I posted my steps to see whether any writers with published works might advice on whether I did the right thing and anything else I should explore.

I did digitally print some copies to send to publishers and friends so perhaps that was what you thought were published works. LOL. My novel is a love-cum-action fiction called 'Through the Storm'. I enjoyed writing it very much and even now, I enjoy reading it so I am my own biggest fan. I am sure you have your share of pleasure writing your short stories too.

Hey, your quotation is beautifully applied here. Hahaha. But.... I am afraid of deep, dark woods. I circle their fringe cautiously, apprehensively, psyching myself to venture in but wishing desperately that there is at least a sliver of light. Oh where is the moon or the stars if not the warm friendly sun? 'Let there be light and there was light.' Who said that, do you know? '... the light was good and he separated the light from the darkness.'

Did you know that there is a new local writer's showcase cum bookstore at Earshot which is located at the old parliament house? You may want to browse there. I will check it out this weekend to chat with them on what opportunities there are for us poor blighters. Another friendly bookshop called Select Books is located at Tanglin Shoppng Centre.

I am toying with the idea of print-on-demand and putting my book up on a local writer's site. It costs approximately $8 to print my book but it is almost equivalent to going the distributor route. The plus point here is that we bear little risk as we don't have a ton of inventory staring in our faces. If enough local writers want to explore this route, we can collaborate and spread the cost of creating and maintaining the portal as well as find a service provider to handle the logistics of printing and mailing our books. What about it? SingaporeDreamers.com, Merlioncreations.com or WritersDream.com. Inspired? Keen to explore, anyone?

I would also like to know whether anyone has 'serialised' their stories i.e. contract to print their story chapter by chapter to local magazines. What are the pros and cons?

Hey Alvin, your friend has not contacted me yet. How do I get an ISBN code? How much does it cost to create a cover?

ayk Posted - 09 Jun 2005 : 09:29:52
Thanks Gentlecloud. Was a very useful post for reference.
Am compiling my own short stories and re-editing them, probably half a year more and I should be coming back to read up on this post again - on what to do, haha.
Congrats on your novel published. Might as well do an advert here. What's the title of your book? Where can I find it? Would love to go check it out.
Have been spending a little time in libraries reading up on local book (hehe, and no, I've finished only a couple chapters of Hwee Hwee's Mammon Inc, and kinda flitted now to Claire Tham's rocker shorts).
Anyway and anyhow, don't most of us hold a full time job? - the woods are lovely dark and deep. but i have promises to keep, and miles to go before i sleep, and miles to go before i sleep.
Like Mr Frost said, we all have our promises to keep, to our family, but also to ourselves, and miles to go before we all sleep. So it doesn't matter whether Alice finds the rabbithole again in the end; it is knowing there is a rabbithole, that the dreaming lives.
And it is dreaming that makes the walk a little...hmmm...gentler.
So, till then, when Mr Sandman visits and I can make more sense of what's being written...
Gentlecloud Posted - 07 Jun 2005 : 19:04:02
Thanks Alvin. I have emailed my contacts to you. Have you explored this route before. Any advice?
alf Posted - 07 Jun 2005 : 16:43:17

Alf, I have just read your question. Yes, I am willing to pay if it is reasonable. Thanks

Ok, how can they get in touch with you? They're locally based and have publishing experience as well as access to the latest PoD and other technologies.

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