Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Nothing Personal, It's Business.

The managing director of a publishing company said I shouldn't be wasting my time writing in English.

Why don't you try write romance stories in Malay because the market for this segment is huge, growing steadily making it good for us to stay in business. Just look at the titles we've got so far, these are very popular among young Malay girls which is our primary market. I can see that you've got something, and you can do it if you want to. Go ahead try it, write in Malay and we'll see if it is any good for us to publish. We can talk terms later. Okay? And one more thing, if you think you can't pull it off, just give it a shot writing ghost stories. We've got a strong market for that too. Okay?

I liked him, not because he bought me lunch after that but because he knows what he's talking about, and he knows his trade well. He also has a firm grip on what the market wants, and he responds to that fast enough to make good money. In other word, he's a true businessman.

Over lunch he said I should not entertain the thought of making it as a writer of some great works in English. There's no market for this kind of literary product here in Malaysia because let's face it, Malaysians won't buy something written in English by Malaysians, not even if you are Dr Mahathir. This segment of the market comprises English educated, urban, metropolitan individuals who feed on a regular diet of works by international, caucasian writers. It makes them feel separated from the mainstream Malays from Keramat, or Selayang. It makes them feel good. So take my advice, write me something in Malay and stick to our winning formula, make sure the victims are always women. I don't think I understand that, sir. It's simple. Say you write about an illicit love affair. You must work the ending so that the reader can hate the woman, not the man, and make sure the woman suffers like the grave won't take her body in when the villagers try to bury her. You see this kind of stories make it easy for our artist to work up the page to entice the readers to buy the books. They will draw up nice erotic pictures of the woman in bed or something like that. Something like that. Got it?

I went to a corner shop to look for this type of books. A guy manning the store looked me over when I had something like ten titles on the counter while he punched the number on the cash-register. Some of the cover page on these books are good enough as XXX pornos. That got me thinking, I can't take these books home. What if Aunt Su found out. Neither can I keep these in the car because she's bound to find out about it. I can't go to a place like a park and read them, and throw them in the trash can when I am done with it. A man like me reading a book like that in a park? I can't read them in the car either, with the engine running, air-cond turned up full blast. A man like me reading a book like that in a car with the engine running? Where do you go to read this type of book? In the end I decided to be discreet about it like reading it in my room and throw them later. It ain't easy trying to be a writer doing a research reading books with erotic cover page. I hope all this efforts will bring in money so we can live in the city like everyone else.

I told Aunt Su about what I plan to do, writing ghost stories. You are not serious, are you? Of course I am serious. It maybe crazy but we need the money. And I shall start the series with 'Hantu Kuali,' or how about 'Ranjang Nafsu.'

(Close your eyes and jump, mate. Think of the money.)


Blogger Noni said...

Alamak... please don't tell me it was my company u had gone to...

3:52 PM  
Blogger torts said...

i can imagine the horror to aunt su if she 'found out' ur latest reading 'interest'. biaq betui..

4:13 PM  
Blogger A Babe Of Very Little Brain said...

bloghopped. found you.

i am a supporter of malaysian writers who write in english. please write in english.

and if you must write in malay, please don't write those crappy romance novels that are strewn all over the bookshops. write something classy ... like salina.

outta here.

4:23 PM  
Blogger Count Byron said...

Berg, I'm closing my eyes.. and

nothing happens..*smile*

Lovely entry. I love you to bits. And we have not yet started talking about diamond bits by Christensen?

You are doing all the right things Berg.. keep going.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Nurelhuda said...

Bergen, just remove the covers it is that simple! Tear them off and if you want a touch of class, ahem replace the covers with those of a scholarly work! hehehe...
As for no market for Malaysia writers writing in English, why market books in Malaysia, not enough readers..go market it international man! You be like Pearl S Buck who wrote the very Chinesy novels like The Good Earth.
MAke yours very kampungy , there is always a market for novels that are in English but at the same time very ethnic and talks of a culture very different from the mat sallehs ..your market is the english speaking population of the world..that publisher has a small mind since he only sees the Malaysian market ..which is so very small!

4:34 PM  
Blogger aalborg said...

you can do like what guys used to do when they were teenagers, place the book within another "intellectual" book. Aunt Su probably won't be fooled.

4:53 PM  
Blogger bergen said...

Noni: Hmmm...

Torts: Don't worry about it, Dr Nurelhuda has got an interesting idea to get around this.

Babe: I gotta read about this Salina that's everyone is talking about.

Count Byron: Firstly I must thank you kindly for your encouraging words, sir.

Secondly, I need to tell you that I can't log into your site. It's the same problem trying to login to Dr Nurelhuda, QOTH, Awang Goneng, Pok Ku and a few others.

Dr Nurelhuda: It's a brilliant idea. Wish I'd thought about it first. Thanks. Problem is I don't have a cover the size of these XXX books I've got. Oh well, balut dengan surat khabaq boleh kot, kat depan gambaq pegawai hutan dok ambik gambaq ataih pokok besaq.

Ailin: Gosh, you girls have better ideas when it comes to hiding things. LOL.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Noni said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Noni said...

@ ailin:

macam biasa buat ajek...!!!

5:08 PM  
Blogger carinasuyin said...

I love the way you tell your stories. Hope you do publish them one day the way you want them to be read. I'll be sure to get a copy! :)

5:51 PM  
Blogger AuntyN said...

Want to try "Bila Larut Malam"? *wink* we can share the money 30 : 70. You can have the 70 part. hehehe

I have never read any of those books before, if you tell me your book title will buy it just as a support OK.

5:58 PM  
Blogger bergen said...

Noni: I think she's good at it.

Carinasuyin: Good to have you coming this way, ma'am.

AuntyN: I read your entry Bila Larut Malam. It's a riot the way it you end it with a small print at the bottom of the entry.

6:53 PM  
Blogger anggerik merah said...

Bergen, I could not agree more with what been said above. You are a very good english writer! Find the opportunity and go for it!

7:35 PM  
Blogger dee3 said...

yup, SALINA. and the sudden activity and need to search bookstores for it *me included* hehe

i think i've read it once in my early teens. can't remember anything now tho...

ps. the fascination with love by our younger generation is disheartening (sounds crude, to put it mildly)...

12:01 AM  
Blogger Em said...

I would read Hantu Kuali..serious...

7:02 AM  
Blogger AuntieYan. said...

I'm waiting for you "Hantu Kuali"...;-)

11:46 AM  

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