Like a cheap $2 Bra

We don’t get enough support.


I’ve said it.

The we defined here refers to the writers of fiction in Singapore. Don’t give me rubbish of that we have do get some support from various ministries or councils. I said we don’t get enough support. It doesn’t include said ministries or councils. It needs to involve more than that.

Here’s a post in January at Bibliobibuli about “Singapore’s Fiction Famine”. Technically the main article is on the link on her blog but I linked to that post since it has her opinions on it too.

Well, it’s all fine and dandy that Ng Yi-Sheng did say about NAC and Jacaranda in that post but alas. That’s not enough. Amusingly, he did also say about Nanowrimo which heh, I am the municipal liaison in Singapore to know very much well about.

You know what? There are fiction writers in Singapore but they’re all hidden like rebels against the imperial army or unicorns in a forest. They’re there and difficult to find but if you did find one, you might find the rest and realize why they’re hidden. See, being the ML of Singapore’s Nanowrimo, I get to actually see or meet these hidden writers and woah if you get the chance to read their things, you’d go “WHY IS THIS NOT IN THE BOOKSTORES?”.

It’s definitely not because of their skills but more of what we write. (You might doubt my skills, whatever but I have read very well written things by others.)

And we actually write fiction. GENRE fiction. The fun stories you’d actually pick up and buy in bookstores about fantasy, science fiction or romance! Drama, crime thrillers and all sorts of genres! The stuff people read and talk about online and go “OMGOMG I SHIP THIS PAIRING!” and write fanfic about.

You’d think that’ll be interesting right? But no. See, even if we write (and yes we do) these things, they won’t get published here. If they do, it’s usually by a small press publisher or done by the writer’s own initiative. The rules of getting published in Singapore is different than those in the US. Some of those guides or “rules” that one might read in articles of becoming a published author don’t really work here.

The main point. Said fiction writers are here but our stories have no home to go to. You want stories published in Singapore? Ok. But you got to do it yourself or convince the publisher you’re worth it in the local markets here.

Do you know what’s accepted here? Literature-ish, diaspora, expatriate, ghost stories erotica. With a dash of self-help assessment books and the trial and angst of being an X in the time of X. (I’m not including children’s books in this because it’s under a different category but they do still need support too.) At this point you might go “PFFFT, that’s not true!” but hah! Why don’t you check out the shelves then? Apparently these are “best sellers” thus anything other than those things stated will not be considered unless the publisher takes a gamble at you for you are:

  • a celebrity/important person
  • had stuff published before
  • some award winner
  • you’re paying for the label because you’ve connections

As I said again, this is for genre fiction like fantasy etc. Those writing on “serious” topics, good for you. Your stories or articles will probably have more chance of finding a home than ours do. Anyway, if you ever want to see the fun stories they’re actually posted online under various nicknames in various websites like (for fanfiction, duh), Scribd (for original works) or even on their own blogs or websites.

We didn’t stop writing.

We just hecked it and did it online instead because at least then there would be people reading them. Or we’re just sending our stories to online magazines and publications! Of course no one here would know it, would they? We don’t exactly write “AND HEY Y’ALL, I’M A WRITER FROM SINGAPORE AND THIS IS MY STORY” because that would be silly.

Ok, it could probably be in the bio somewhere but still it’s not as if newspapers or the local media would go “Oh gasp! Look, it’s a story by a writer from heeeeeeeere!”.

What tangent am I getting to? Well, if you want to know more fictional writers here, you’ve got to hunt down for them. If you actually want to read books by them well, this is my opinion:

Grants and competitions aren’t enough because they’re just money. What these writers need are people who handle said money. It’s like “Yay! Grant approved!” for getting your book published but no, it doesn’t end there. The writers are writers you can’t expect them to be marketers and everything else too!

They don’t have the knowledge to do so. They’re good at writing fiction but the majority of them would have no idea how to get through the grants and the information on how to get their books printed and such. Tsk, tsk. They could actually be quoted a scammy price by printers if they’re not careful and think it’s the “industry price” when it’s not.

And they wouldn’t know, would they? Because there’s no one to tell them different.

They need marketing people. Or at least someone to handle advertisements and book tours and stuff. If you’ve got your book out, yay! But people need to know they exist! It is best to have someone who communicates with magazines, the press etc.

You might say get an agent to do this but really, NOT ALL the writers here know that we have existing agencies.

In the end, the writers end up going gaaaah because they’d have to do so much work and not because they don’t want to but they don’t know how to which would conclude in a mess. Or something that’s poorly sold.

I have… examples but I’m not writing them here for obvious reasons. It’s not in just the book world but in some other comic world that ends in despair.


Those who so know what I’m talking about are totally reading in the lines on what I didn’t say. Heh, heh. We don’t get enough support and you might not even get to read these stories because as it keeps up, more and more writers will go meh and say what is the point, hide their stories away and stop doing it.

We exist.

But we don’t have enough support.

Eventually, it’ll all snap like a cheap $2 bra.

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Well, this is seriously Sarah and that's all you need to know for now.

5 thoughts on “Like a cheap $2 Bra”

  1. YES. Yes yes yes YES. This is exactly what I keep telling people. Singaporean publishers, on the whole, suck. No offense to the hard working, well meaning people who actually grind away in those cheap little offices to get things done – my point is pointed at the general structure of the publishing industry and its, oh, let’s call it ELITIST for want of a better word, its elitist insistence that only certain kinds of writing are acceptable to readers (as if they ever asked those readers?)

    And it is so bloody true that writers are not marketers. The NAC and the whole DIY government policy is basically a pile of self-indulgent bullshit along the lines of cross-module courses in university and sending medical students to take a concurrent liberal arts degree. An unrealistic, self-satisfied pipe dream with a mean little twist of parsimonious malice hidden behind it – “so you want to be all arty? here, have your cake and eat it until you choke because WE aren’t going to pay for your marketing or even give you a hint on how to do it.”

    It’s like those publishers (see above) sending editors for courses on…tantara…how to COPY EDIT. Instead of sending them to learn sensible things like how to handle copyrights and fill in payment authorization forms and occasionally do some layout with their own fingers because the designer is away.

    Wake up and smell the…soil, policymakers. Writers do not need help to write. They need help to do the things that support their writing. Like editing. And publishing. And design. And marketing. And sales.

    Perhaps we need to stop calling writers “writers” and start calling them “communications and creativity entrepreneurs” instead. Will that get us attention of the useful kind for a change?

  2. Heh for those wondering why it’s “quiet” on the discussion side here it’s cause we’re spread across facebook and twitter talking on this.

  3. @ mint kang: what cheap little office? My books are published from my living room sofa (with my husband’s office as the company’s registered address). No low-cost arts housing ever comes my way. And as for the writing and copyediting classes, my detailed written proposals for same were ignored and then lo and behold other people are doing them at extortionate fees. Nuff said.

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