Saturday, July 02, 2011

10,000 hours of deliberate practice : Maybe its time to realize my Fiction Writing ambitions.

The Golden Point awards submission closed on Thursday this week, and I have, a month earlier, submitted an entry for the English short story category. Perhaps after the announcement of the results, I can share my, as yet, amateur writings on this blog.

For the past 8 years or so, I took the easier road in writing and publication. Writing non-fiction does not really differ from project management. Simply start with a table of contents, break down the work structure until you can complete a section per sitting and start writing about 500 words a day. Rinse and repeat the cycle.

The tough part comes in after the manuscript is complete. As Singaporeans are not avid readers, you need to in-source a lot of functions like formatting and cover design to keep your costs at a bare minimum, by my third book, my cost per copy became as low as $3.80 a copy.

With the invention of the Kindle, authors now get direct exposure to international markets. While marketing remains a consistent problem for me, publishing a book priced at $0.99 can break even within a week. The Kindle based role-playing game I wrote actually sells about 15 copies a month.

Now it's time to move into the territory that I've been eyeing for years. Fiction writing is a big money loser in Singapore, and that's for our greatest literary talents. My distributor is always warning me about the perils of writing poetry in our business meetings, but I think the economics for Singapore fiction writing has changed, a short story can be floated on Kindle and if about 5 fans pick up a copy because of marketing over your blog, you can say that you've broken even. If you write a novel and can sell it for $2.99, your profit margin climbs up to 70%.

No paper publisher can offer terms like that.

Anyway, this years Golden point begins a fresh new cycle of deliberate practice for me in fiction writing. I can now say authoritatively that writing fiction is very hard and yield much lower rewards than non-fiction writing. But the process is psychically rewarding and you enter the state of flow much more easily.

Beginning next week, I will apprentice myself to a master wordsmith, Felix Cheong, who will smoothen some of my edges and, hopefully, make me a competent fiction writer who doesn't churn out drivel.

In the months that follow, I will share my vision for my fantasy fictional world of elite Singaporean secondary schools struggling for dominance in a Harry Potter cum Game of Thrones like setting.

I hope to target this product for teens as I now have a daughter to share my writings with in the future.

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