Home » Blog » MYWriters

Tag: MYWriters

MYWriters: The Writing Community for Malaysians

Our last post talked about NaNoWriMo and how having a group of writing friends can help spur on your writing—and make you a better writer. But if you’ve just started on your writing journey, how do you find such friends?

Introducing MYWriters

MYWriters banner

One resource you can look at is the Malaysian Writers Society, fondly known as MYWriters, which was established in September 2016. An inclusive and non-profit initiative, MYWriters facilitates activities and programmes related to Malaysian writing and publishing that transcends genre, language, function, medium, and experience levels.

MYWriters runs on two levels:

The online community

The Facebook group, founded by Tina Isaacs in October 2014, provides a place for interaction amongst writers of all stripes in Malaysia. This is a closed group, with posts only visible to approved members, so that writers can have a safe place to discuss writing and publishing matters in private. The only criteria to be a member of the online group is an interest in writing!

Members regularly post calls for submissions, writing and publishing articles, and have discussions about their work. Write-in sessions and chit chat sessions are also organised on a regular basis.

Join the MYWriters Community here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/malaysianwriters/

Members located in Penang also have a MYWriters Penang group to discuss Penang-related matters. Join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MyWritersPenang/

The Society

Official membership in the society provides benefits that aren’t available to the members of the facebook group. This includes discounts on society events, book sales and publication opportunities.

Some of the additional benefits to come include publishing advice, mentorship programmes, an industry rate card, and representation at international book fairs. See the full list here: http://malaysianwriterssociety.org/member-application/members-benefits/

Did you know that as a member of the Malaysian Writers Society, you get 10% off all services and publishing hub packages here at Teaspoon Publishing?

Sign up for Malaysian Writers Society here: http://malaysianwriterssociety.org/member-application/

And follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/malaysianwriterssociety/

Write-ins

If you’re looking for company as you write, check out the following venues:

KL:

CBTL NuSentral: Saturdays, 8.30am to 1pm (weekly; check Facebook for updates).

Old Town Bandar Kinrara, Puchong: Sundays, 3pm – 5pm (check Facebook for updates).

Penang:

LUMA, Hin Bus Depot, George Town: Mondays, 7pm – 11pm (weekly).

 

MYWriters AGM

The Malaysian Writers Society is holding their second AGM on 10 November 2018 (Saturday) at the GerakBudaya Hall, Petaling Jaya. If you’re already a member and are interested to find out more about the society or would like to get involved in this young vibrant society, do attend the AGM.

For more details: https://www.facebook.com/events/695054964201548/permalink/695056687534709/

Malaysian writers, are you geared up for NaNoWriMo?

It’s the middle of October and we’re gearing up for NaNoWriMo. Are you?

What’s NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo logo
Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Participants are challenged to finish a 50,000-word novel in the 30 days of November, writing 1,667 words a day. Founded in 1999 by Chris Baty, it started off as a tiny group of writers in the San Francisco Bay Area who challenged themselves to write a novel in a month. 19 years later, NaNoWriMo now boasts more than 400,000 participants worldwide and hosts a Young Writers Programme in November to encourage creative writing in schools.

Whilst it may sound like ridiculous hype, great things have come out of NaNoWriMo, including Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator, Marissa Meyer’s Cinder and Anna Tan’s Dongeng. Why not add your novel to that list?

 

50,000 words? In one month? That’s crazy!

Sometimes the problem with writing is… actually writing. Life gets in the way. School gets in the way. Work gets in the way. And then a new year rolls around and you’re still on page one of your novel. (At least, we hope you’ve started page one.) What NaNoWriMo does is add a little bit of challenge (and discipline) to your writing life.

Setting yourself an achievable goal of 1,667 words a day helps you to pace yourself—and before you know it, you’ll have completed the first draft of your novel! This kind of sustained, target-based writing exercise doesn’t work for everyone, so if you don’t hit the target, don’t worry. What you’ll have gained from attempting it is an achievement in itself, including:

  • Discovering that you are capable of writing more than you think.
  • Building more confidence in your writing and your writing process.
  • Gaining a new community of supportive writing friends.
  • Finding out if you’re a plotter (you need detailed outlines before writing) or a pantster (you write as the story comes to you without outlines or plots).
  • Working out if you prefer to word-vomit and edit later or if you need to scrutinise every word, sentence and paragraph as you write.
  • Writing more words than you had at the beginning of the month.

It’s a win-win situation!

3 Do’s for November:

  • DO enjoy yourself! Whilst it’s a competition (sorta?) the most you’ll win is a certificate, discounts, and bragging rights. If your participation is affecting your mental health, relationships, or life/work/school, take a step back and chill.
  • DO attempt to write every day. The point of NaNoWriMo is to help you get into a habit of writing regularly.
  • DO get involved in community. Writing is usually a very lonely endeavour. With a bunch of other crazy writers working towards the same goal in November, it’s the perfect time to find new writing friends (online and offline) for encouragement and solace.

How do I sign up?

Sign up at the website here: https://nanowrimo.org

If you’re looking for a community of Malaysian writers to join you on this crazy writing journey, join the NaNo Malaysia facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/257264007651665/ or join the regional forum: https://nanowrimo.org/regions/asia-malaysia. More participants are active on the FB group than on the forum, but you never know. Things may change year by year, depending on who’s signed up for the year.

Also look out for the occasional write-in posts—the KL group normally meets on Saturday evenings at various malls. If you’re based in Penang, the MYWriters Penang group has a weekly write-in at Luma every Monday evening from 7pm – 11pm. It’s not directly related to NaNoWriMo, but you’ll be in writing company!

Now I’ve signed up, how can I prepare?

  • Join a writing group in your area (whether face-to-face or virtual) for encouragement, writing tips, and to convince at least one of them to join you on this crazy journey!
  • Look out for any pre-NaNoWriMo meetups in your area (see above) or create one!
  • Prep your friends, writerly or not, to cheer you on (and provide tea, chocolate, and tissue paper).
  • If you’re a plotter, start outlining and collecting miscellaneous information so you’re ready to dive right in on Nov 1!
  • If you’re a pantster, clear up your writing space and remove distractions from your desk so you’re ready to dive right in on Nov 1!
  • Check out the NaNo Prep page for webcasts, tweet chats, events, and all the other stuff we’ve missed out.

See you in November!

How much does it cost to self-publish?

how much does it cost to self-publish?

Now that we’ve covered how long it takes to self-publish a book, how much does it actually cost?

Let’s take a look at the costs, based on the process that we’ve covered so far:

1. Writing

Unless you’re paying someone to ghostwrite for you, you shouldn’t have any expenditure here. Well, maybe about RM100 or so for paper, pens, and printer ink. But if you want to be that nit-picky, you can count the cost of electricity, internet, food, water, etc.

Expected cost: NIL

2. Editing

Editing costs depend on the type and level of editing required. Here are the various types of editing, in suggested sequence:

Developmental editing

This looks at the overall big picture of your novel. How strong is your plot? Is there a plot hole big enough to drive a car through? Is there enough tension? Are there any slow, boring parts? Does your story make sense? Is backstory a problem (either too much or too little)? How can we improve and polish this story until it’s not just ‘good’, but ‘exceptional’? It’s pretty hard to find developmental editing here in Malaysia, but the numbers we’re seeing online estimate anything from USD1,000–USD6,000.

What we do have in place of this, are writing mentors, foremost of which is Gina Yap Lai Yoong. Hang about the Malaysian Writers Community and/or Twitter to see when some of our writers are looking to pick up new mentees! Most of these come at no cost to you, other than putting in the hard work and probably belanja-ing your mentor to dinner once in a while. An alternative is to find a critique group or beta readers that have great story sense that you can trust to give you honest feedback.

Line editing

A line editor goes into the nitty-gritty of the manuscript, focusing their red pen on everything from specific words, to sentences, to paragraphs, to chapters. They look at strengthening your work in terms of style, flow, structure, and readability, besides the usual correction for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and other basic/common language mistakes. Do your sentences flow well? Is your POV consistent? Do you flop between tenses? They may also help pick up obvious continuity issues—do you say A in Chapter 1 but then change it to B in Chapter 8?—though they won’t be going into the plot development itself. Line editing for a 50,000-word novel would range between RM3,000 to RM5,000 here at Teaspoon Publishing.

Proofreading

This is your final line of defence! At this stage, you’re pretty much just catching typos, concentrating on spelling, grammar, and punctuation, as well as other basic/common language mistakes. Proofreading for a 50,000-word novel ranges from RM2,000 to RM4,000 here at Teaspoon Publishing.

Some people tend to skimp on editing and jump right into just a quick proofread or do nothing at all. This isn’t really advisable, even if you’re an editor yourself, because it’s hard to find your own mistakes. It’s also really, really hard to tell if there are continuity issues or if things are confusing in your own manuscript because you know everything in your head. However, what’s in your head may not have all made it out onto the page in a way that others can understand.

If you’re really cheapskate (or you have really good friends), one way to save on this is to do a barter trade with your writer/editor friends, like I’ll edit your manuscript if you’ll edit mine. The results may not be really the best unless both of you are professional editors.

Expected cost: RM2,000 – RM5,000

3. Cover Design

A premade cover sourced online could cost about USD40 – USD80. An original cover could cost between USD100 – USD500, or more. We’ve paid between RM400 – RM750 for our covers. We recommend looking up Charis Loke Illustration and Magpie Designs!

Expected cost: RM150 – RM750

4. Formatting

Frankly, it’s not that difficult to format your own books—but it IS time-consuming, time that could be better spent writing your new book or doing marketing (ha). At Teaspoon Publishing, formatting generally costs RM60 per ebook format and RM100 for print layout (text only).

Expected cost: RM60 – RM280

5. Publishing

a) Online/ebook

The various platforms/distributors mostly take a cut of sales, generally between 30% – 50%. At the $0.99 – $2.98 price point on Amazon, they take a cut of 65% (I.e. you get 35% royalties on sales).

Expected cost: NIL.

b) Print

Printing costs depend on bulk. If you’re only printing 100 – 200 copies, you might want to check out these print-on-demand (POD) and/or book printing services:

Please note that we have not dealt with these services personally, but they have been referred to us or recommended on forums.
The higher quantity you print, the cheaper it is per copy.

OR, you can skip doing a local print run altogether and do POD with Lulu / CreateSpace / Ingram Spark. With this service, readers around the world can buy a physical copy of your book and have it shipped directly to their doorstep. You won’t have to pay anything upfront – the printing cost is taken out of the sales price & royalty paid to you. You can also print small batches of your book at their author price (cost of book + small markup for the printer)—but shipping from overseas is often the expensive bit.

Expected cost: ???

6. Distribution (for print)

This doesn’t appear in the timeline for self-publishing, but it’s a cost that you might want to consider if you want wider distribution if you decide to print your book. Most independent bookstores will ask you for a 30% – 40% “discount” on your retail price. This means that for every book you sell at RM20, they’ll pay you RM14 (30% discount) or RM12 (40% discount). This is how bookshops make their profits.

However, getting into chain bookstores (MPH, Popular, Times, Kinokuniya, Borders) normally needs you to have a distributor/agent. The only options we’ve come across so far are Inspiration Hub (30% royalty) and GerakBudaya (approx 55% discount). You’ll have to decide for yourself if this is cost you’re ready and willing to bear.

Expected cost: ???

Total costs of self-publishing

All in all, self-publishing an ebook may cost you between RM2,200 – RM6,000—and that’s not even including print! Yet 90% of this cost is from that one step you really shouldn’t skip: editing.

 


 

At Teaspoon Publishing, we believe in empowering authors to take control of their career. If you need a boost on your journey, check out our Publishing Hub to see how we can help!

How do I avoid being scammed by publishers?

Publishing is a very confusing business. Many new writers in Malaysia have been burnt by vanity publishers. They’re convinced to pay thousands of ringgit (usually around USD3,000) to print hundreds of copies of books that don’t sell. Instead of getting the marketing support they’ve been promised, they end up having to do it all alone. Then they complain that publishing and self-publishing is a scam and a waste of money. But is it?

How do I avoid being scammed?

The line between self-publishing and vanity publishing is sometimes blurred—and many often confuse the two. Vanity publishing used to be synonymous with self-publishing. However, vanity publishing in 2018 is part of self-publishing only where “independently” and “own expense” is concerned—in its current form, it straddles a strange mix between traditional and indie publishing.

What’s the difference?

With self-publishing, you publish the book by yourself, essentially doing everything a publisher is supposed to do on your own. To produce the best book you can, you’ll have to spend on editing and cover art plus printing costs. Whilst editing services and cover illustrations aren’t cheap, they shouldn’t cost you tens of thousands either.

With vanity publishing, you pay a company/publisher to publish the book on your behalf. Sounds the same, right? You’re still paying for services … and even better: someone’s going to do everything for you! However, most vanity publishers (at this time) do not offer value-for-money services. Some of the big vanity publishers out there that we are aware of are Partridge and Author Solutions.

What if cost isn’t a big factor for me?

We’re not saying that you shouldn’t engage them. If you do engage them, however, go into the contract with your eyes open and understand that you’re paying premium prices for services which may not really be the best.

Review all the options you are purchasing as part of the package and ask yourself if:

  • you are able to do this on your own, and/or
  • if you can outsource these services to freelancers at a much cheaper rate, with better outcomes/results.

So far, all this looks like it’s just about the costs and standards. The confusing part comes when the vanity publisher tries to disguise itself as a traditional publisher or is an offshoot/branch of a larger, established publishing house.

This is where poor, confused new authors sometimes get scammed.

How do I recognise a publishing scam?

If you receive an offer from a company to publish your book or “win” a contract but you have to pay them for it (or “invest in their business”), then this is a vanity publisher, or at least someone trying to scam you in the name of publishing. A proper publishing house, whether they’re a big company or a small press, will NOT ask you for a fee. Even an agent that decides to represent you will NOT ask you for a fee. A publishing house will negotiate to PAY YOU royalties and/or an advance and an agent will take a percentage cut of whatever price they manage to sell your manuscript for. If an agent doesn’t sell, he/she doesn’t get paid.

The rule of thumb is this: Money should flow towards the author—if it does not it’s likely a scam.

What often seems enticing about a vanity publisher is the promise of a larger distribution channel than you can get on your own. However, this promise usually doesn’t materialise. Yes, they have a network, but they aren’t invested enough to push your book through it. As their main goal is to make money off YOU, their job is done once they’ve convinced you to sign up and pay for their publishing package. They don’t care if you never sell anything because they’ve already made their money!

Also, because of the prices they charge, you end up having to sell your book for ridiculously high prices just to cover costs. We’ve seen thin, badly edited volumes published via vanity publishers sold at prices between RM40-RM55 when other self-published books of similar length and proportions (and better quality) were priced at RM20.

What do I do then?

If you ever come across a publisher that seems just a little dodgy or a deal that seems just a little too good to be true, do a quick search for reviews. You can also check out the Writer Beware website at http://accrispin.blogspot.my/ to see if anyone has complained about or reported them. The Malaysian Writers Community on Facebook may also have discussed some of these publishers before. If you don’t find anything negative, then feel free to make a decision based on your gut feeling.

 


At Teaspoon Publishing, we believe in empowering authors to take control of their career. If you need a boost on your journey, check out our Publishing Hub to see how we can help!