When I was turned down by the big distributor, I did seek out a smaller one the very next day. His words: "If they [the big shops] don't take it, it won't be worth my while – or yours."
So I have decided to distribute New Malaysian Essays 1 myself. I don't wanna go crawling back to any big or small company, asking to reconsider.
I am calling up the managers of selected bookstores and trying to be, as the quote from Pulp Fiction goes, "one charming motherfucking pig." (They should know me, since the first title by Matahari Books sold quite well...)
Perhaps I will not go through a distributor for all subsequent volumes of New Malaysian Essays. This means that the reach will be somewhat niche but that's OK. I always knew it was a niche book: it has over a hundred footnotes, for God's sake! But if people want the book, they should be able to get it.
I am lucky to have found a printer brave enough to publish the thing, but I might not be able to count on that forever. Maybe, to be safe, I should start asking around for foreign printers, those not so cowed by Malaysian printing legislation ...
We should get the 1,000 copies the day before the launch. The writers have received their advance royalties (am I the only Malaysian publisher that pays this?) Now let's see how, and where, the copies move.
New Malaysian Essays is an annual series that is independent in spirit. If I think an essay is worth publishing, I don't wanna be cowed by censorious commercial considerations.
Doing this annually will also stop me from being so complacent in letting the distributors and bookshops do the selling for me. We shall see how it goes!
sabarlah mir:dimane bumi dipijak, disitu langit dijunjung.
That's the spirit, Amir. Let me know how we at Holograms Publishing can help.
selling it yourself = you don't have to pay the middle man.
Yes, probably worth doing some research on foreign printers just in case, especially if you plan to bring out an issue every year.
I'm glad you're committed to this -- as I've said elsewhere, I think the lack of freedom of speech does nothing but keep standards of writing low. I think for real journalism/criticism/nonfiction/fiction to flourish -- in short, for good writing of any sort to flourish -- there needs to be freedom of thought and speech.
Amir, in this era of Internet, you should have no problem selling the book. You could always go to kinibooks, or maybe matahari can have its own online bookstore. And setting up an online bookstore nowadays is easy too. Good luck man!
dude, sell it online. malaysians pay through maybank2u, international through paypal. then you mail it to them lah - or you could set up a meet up point eg. pst bandar at midnight - so they could pick it up - definitely will create a buzz by doing that man :)
btw, it doesnt cost anything to set up a paypal account, and well for maybank2u you'd need a maybank accountlah.
I am totally not a business-minded person... you gotta learn these things, and what with my small brain... but still, selling it online does seem like a good idea and if you can manage it, you should DEFINITELY do it... I know people abroad (Malaysians and non-Malaysians alike) who would be more than happy to get their hands on fresh, new, uncensored quality writing from Malaysia. OK, I make these essays sound like fresh fish but you know what I mean.
I may be a huge geek but I, for one, am super-excited to get my hands on this book when it's launched. And when you're alone on Valentine's what's the next best thing? A BOOK!
Anyway, keep on fighting the good fight... such a cliche, but you've lots of support and not every Malaysian is a brain-dead sleepwalker. I think there are loads who admire your spunk and courage, because well, it does take courage to fly in the face of convention... and defy our scary Datuks-Who-Censor-And-Politicians-Who-Use-the-ISA-as-a-
I ain't too business-minded myself, but I hope I am a fast learner!
And thanks for all your support :-) This essay-book series would, if it takes off, be the single thing of which I am most proud. And if it doesn't take off ... well, there will still be pride what.
Cheap to print in India but you will have shipping costs. Unfortunately, the book itself is too Malaysian-centric for me to help much from over here. But if you think of something I can do, FB poke me. :)
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