P/S: Write. Publish. Repeat

Bossofme books

Writing is like running – the more you do it, the better you get at it. Yes, there will be some days when you don’t feel like running, and you resist every step but do it anyway. You practice whether you want to or not. You never wait around for inspiration and a deep desire to run. It will never happen, especially if you are out of shape and have been avoiding it. But if you run regularly, you train your mind to cut through your excuses and ignore your resistance. And in the middle of your run, you love it. When you come to the end, you never want to stop, hungry for the next time.

That is what writing a book will do to you. As an author of 15 books and counting, I speak from experience. See you on the bookshelves!

Short-cut Tips From The Experts Who Have Done It

“Writers’ block is when your imaginary friends won’t talk to you.”

- Mary Papas

Throughout the book, you’ve read strategies on what it takes to be successful. Now’s the time to hear from the horse’s mouth, experts in their fields who are out there in the trenches, getting the job done. What are they doing? What makes them successful?

All the interviews were conducted via email and we’ve pasted all their responses as they were sent. The good thing about interviewing people who write for a living – no editing required! This is what it takes to build a career writing, folks!

·      Get Your Book Out by Acclaimed Author Neil Humphreys 

Neil Humphreys

Neil Humphreys is Singapore’s bestselling author. His works on Singapore - Notes from an Even Smaller Island (2001), Scribbles from the Same Island (2003), and Final Notes from a Great Island: A Farewell Tour of Singapore (2006), and the omnibus Complete Notes from Singapore (2007) – are among the most popular titles in the past decade. His fifth book, Be My Baby, (2008) chronicled his journey to parenthood and was his first international bestseller. He intends to publish a new novel - a contemporary detective thriller - and produce his Singapore-based movie screenplay this year.

1.   Did you always know that you were going to write? What were the signs?

I can remember the day. It’s a story I tell young, aspiring writers today. When I was 11, our class was sent on an Outward Bound course for a week and had to keep daily journals of our adventures. When we returned, I was selected to read out my diary entries in school assembly. My writing just didn’t follow a standard narrative, which I found eye-gougingly tedious, even back then. I leaned towards the irreverent, quirky, sometimes surreal, occasionally anarchic – all four if I was really on fire! So I read my journal extract out in class and the assembly responded, a wall of laughter washed over me. Kids, teachers, the principal all laughed in the right places – real laughter, too, not polite giggles from the grown-ups. They laughed. They listened. They laughed.  They listened. Adrenaline surged through me like the most addictive of drugs. I’ve chased that reaction from an audience ever since. It’s an extraordinary feeling. Something that I had created had caused that kind of reaction. And I can’t turn it off. It’s not a job. It’s my life. I was writing for audiences before puberty kicked in. It’s all I know. But you never forget your first time.

2.   Describe how you got your first book deal.

Frankly, I thought the average “local” bookshelf at a Singaporean bookstore was dreadful, either painfully superficial and fluffy or weighty, academic, indulgent and occasionally pretentious. On one end of the shelf, it was the life and times of Singapore hookers. And at the other end, it was the life and times of Lee Kuan Yew or Singaporeans under the Japanese Occupation. Throw in some nostalgic poetry about kampongs and Nyonya cooking and that was about it.

Don’t get me wrong. All of the above has a valid place on the bookshelf. I own copies of all of the above. But where was the middle ground? There was a cultural chasm on the Singapore bookshelf. Where was the Singaporean equivalent of Bill Bryson, Nick Hornby, Tony Parsons or Sue Townsend? Those were the books that my Singaporean mates were reading? What if there was something along those humorous lines, something dipped in social commentary with a splash of pathos? Something that was hopefully smart but still accessible? So, I banged out a synopsis and a few chapters and sent them out to three publishers in Singapore; the contacts were given to me from The Straits Times’ Sumiko Tan, something I’ll always be grateful to her for. All three publishers wanted to publish the manuscript and my Singapore notes series became the bestselling series of books in the next decade, so I must have been right about that gap on the shelf!  

3. Why do you choose to go with a traditional publisher? What are your thoughts on self-publishing?

I approached three traditional publishers because back in 1999, that’s pretty much all there was. I was a cocky little sod back then and my self-belief left me breathtakingly jaundiced in my thinking.

One respectable publisher liked the essence of the book, but wanted to turn it into more of an academic, Simon Tay-esque critique of Singapore in the late 1990s. Well, that’s what Simon Tay is for! The second publisher gave the manuscript to a foppish Hugh Grant-type of expat that still floated about the island in the late nineties and, in his rather patronising fashion, took issue with the book’s earthiness and the swearing. But my eventual publisher just got it. They understood its tone. They recognised that it might – heaven forbid – be a Singaporean book for Singaporeans, rather than another, tedious “Englishman in Asia” diatribe. So they took a gamble. And in a pre-Facebook, Twitter world, my book seemed to be positively rebellious. It reads rather quaint, almost twee now. So I stuck with my publisher. That said, I think self-publishing offers budding authors the kind of possibilities that didn’t exist when I was starting out.    

 4. Any advice for budding authors?

Get your writing out everywhere. Use blogs, social media even YouTube clips to spread and promote your work. Try and build an online following, even if it’s just friends and family. The recognition will add weight with potential publishers. If that doesn’t work, get it self-published. Manuscripts can now be converted to ebooks for pocket change. There’s nothing holding back budding writers now from getting their work onto a bigger platform.

5. Why do you choose to write humour and how does one write humour? Any tips?

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, if you’re going to tell the truth, make them laugh, or they will kill you. There is no sharper tool in the socio-political box than humour. One punchline can hit harder than a 1,000-word essay in the commentary section. The best tip is also the hardest in face-saving Singapore. Laugh at yourself first. That’s your launchpad. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you have no right to laugh at anyone else. If you can’t earn empathy, you can’t earn trust. Finger pointers will always have a limited shelf life. There’s some mileage, particularly online, from making fun of others, ridiculing politicians, town councils, governments etc. It’s an open goal, but can smack of bullying after a while. If you’re not prepared to make fun of yourself in print, take up political commentary instead. Those guys are deadly serious.

6. What’s your biggest mistake as a writer and how did you bounce back?

I made the above mistake a little bit. When my first book was successful, it went a little to my head. I thought I was a rebel with a laptop. So my second book was twice the swearing, twice the aggression, twice the finger-pointing and half as subtle. I learned that lesson pretty quickly.

7. Do you ever get writer’s block and how do you get over it?

I don’t get writer’s block. I’m a working class kid making a living as a full-time writer and feeding a young daughter. I do not enjoy the luxury of writer’s block. Sometimes I write as a tradesman. Sometimes I strive for a little artistry. Some days the writing is going to flow; other days it will be laborious and the sentences stutter. But I never stop writing. I don’t have a choice. I keep going and edit later!

8. What inspires you and what are some of your favourite books and authors?

Quirky, insightful, funny, poignant, engaging writers; writers who look at the world from a skewed, surreal, daft, even child-like curiosity. Spike Milligan, George Orwell, Sue Townsend, Tony Parsons, Nick Hornby, Philip Larkin, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, Jimmy McGovern, David Simon, David Chase, these are my writers.

9. What is your daily writing/work schedule like?

I get up, take my daughter to school and write for the rest of the day. I have to work in silence. Gaskets tend to be blown when I’m interrupted. If the train of thought is derailed, there’s no guarantee I’ll find the same way home again. Hence the silence!

The profession is not particularly romantic, but it’s the only one I know.

10. What do you think are the key factors of your success, and has success changed your life in any way?

A splash of talent and buckets of industry. Yes, success has changed my life. I work even harder now.

11. Have you ever done a book proposal for a publisher. If yes, do you mind sharing it?

I pitch an idea, usually in an email, or sometimes in a meeting and they either say yes or no. Most of the time, they say no! 

·      Blogging From The Heart by Award-winning Blogger Grace Tan 

Grace Tan

Grace owns the award-winning business and lifestyle blog, workingwithgrace.wordpress.com. Her blog won the coveted Best Individual Blog award at the Singapore Blog Awards 2013. She is also the author of the bestselling book, Blogging For A Living, and conducts workshops and coaching sessions on the craft of blogging. She has been widely featured in the media - from TV, radio to print.

 1. When and why did you start a blog?

I started my blog, workingwithgrace.wordpress.com, in October 2010, when I was still a salesperson with a high salary. I was bored of doing the same thing, day in and day out for close to two years, and wanted to find out the “secrets to success” of those young entrepreneurs, millionaire businessmen, and even pose some questions to celebrities I admired (such as Michelle Chong)! My blog was simply, my “excuse” to interview them. I knew people would not let me interview them unless I had a good reason to.

 2. Unlike most bloggers, you are able to make money from your blog and quit your job! Can you share with us your strategy?

I am truly an “accidental full-time blogger”. I never thought I would make a cent from my blog. And I never knew how a blogger could monetise a blog. I started blogging just because of my passion for meeting and speaking with those people I admired.

Along the way, people wrote to me and asked if I could feature them on my blog too. I was truly shocked as I didn’t even know who they were! Having done some background checks on them, and convinced that their businesses were legal, ethical and moral, I plucked a figure out of thin air and said I’d interview them for S$500. What shocked me was the “ok” that followed. That was how I got started. It was only after I quit my job that I had more time to work on my blog, and reaped the fruits of my labor thereafter.

3. What was the turning point in your blog – what caused it to be so popular?

I guess the “tipping point” was in July 2013 when I won the Best Individual Blog award at the Singapore Blog Awards, and Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) which was the organiser, had the winners’ pictures and interviews featured in many of their publications. I was also featured on TV on September 9th, and even more people got a sneak peek into the life of a blogger. I  published my book, ‘Blogging For A Living’ around that time too.

4. How do you choose what topics to write?

I started out with interviews, mainly. As I didn’t think that anyone would be interested in my life. Now, my blog has a “lifestyle” portion to it, which means I can blog about the latest movie I have watched, my recent getaway, etc. I blog only about what I feel strongly about, whether it be a new cafe with amazing dessert or a restaurant with really terrible service. I am fair that way.

I will continue conducting interviews as they give me valuable insights into the lives of people I look up to.

5. You have become an award-winning blogger in four short years, any advice for wannabe bloggers?

The first and most important piece of advice I have for wannabe bloggers is to never, ever do this for the money. If you want to get rich quick, try Internet Marketing or some multi-level marketing (MLM) business. Blogging is not it. Blogging takes time. The average blog takes about two years before gaining some decent traffic, sponsorship and advertising revenue.

The second piece of advice is to work your ass off, and keep asking of more from yourself. I love taking part in bloggers’ contests, where I get to pit my talents and creativity against other bloggers’, via a blogpost. Coming in second is never an option. I compete only to win.

6. In your experience, is it better to be colloquial or to write in proper English for blogs?

To impress people, keep to proper English. To impress a point upon your readers, you can be colloquial. Different strokes for different folks anyway. Just be yourself. Those who like you for who you are will gravitate towards you. Those who do not like you might still stalk you on your blog from time to time.

7. Why do you think your readers keep returning to your blog?

I like to think it’s because of my brutally honest reviews. If I like something, I will explain why. And if I do not like something, I do not mince my words either.

No advertiser can pay me to get a glowing review out of me. I cannot be bought. I present the facts as I see them and my readers know they can trust what I say. I am as brutally honest in person as I am online.

8. Do you ever get writer’s block and how do you get over it?

Writer’s block comes about when you are not blogging about something you are passionate about. For example, if you are a journalist and you just have to submit that piece by tomorrow morning, but the topic does not even inspire you.

If you blog, say, about the Running Man series which you are crazy about, how do you get writer’s block? Those who suffer from “verbal diarrhoea” about Running Man often also have really lengthy blogposts about the series. What writer’s block is there?

If I ever feel stuck when crafting a blogpost or taking part in a bloggers’ contest, I will either just leave it aside and go do something else, such as cleaning my hamster’s cage. Or I will look up my earlier blogposts for inspiration, or turn to the Internet.

9. What inspires you and what are some of your favourite bloggers or websites?

I’m inspired by people who are successful at what they do. I am inspired by creative people and ideas. I love anything that is colourful, quirky, imaginative and fun.

I love how Wendy Cheng, a.k.a Xiaxue, has demonstrated to us that if you persevere in doing what you like to do, you will be able to reach the peak of success. I have more vloggers I follow than bloggers anyway. I like the Blogilates channel, JennaMarbles and Michelle Phan. These ladies are incredibly talented.

10. Any funny/memorable anecdote to share about your life as a blogger?

There are so many! But what I like to share with people was how I got “known” as that blogger who interviews people. So there was once when a PR company sent me an event invite that tickled me because it was stated in bold that it was an “INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY”. I was totally uninterested in the product being launched at the event, but turned up anyway because of that email. And I did get to interview a popular male celebrity, whom I shall not name so as not to reveal the product that was featured.

My parents were initially puzzled at my strange career choice. My father, who is retired, gets really tickled by how he has to answer the door all the time as couriers would come by with products sent by PR firms and companies for me to review.

Also, I like surprising people. So when I was featured in The Sunday Times on Easter Sunday this year, I came home to find my mother reading the papers, totally not believing what her eyes were seeing. I just had to cheekily ask her: “Why? You spotted someone familiar in the papers?”

11. Last year, you published your own book and now run blogging workshops, where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I get asked this question so often that I included it in the ‘About’ section of my blog. It is an important question that I have no answer to. Being brutally honest, I have to say that I am no fortune teller and cannot possibly tell you what I’ll be doing in five years’ time. Perhaps I might be changing my baby’s diapers then.

Right now, I’d love to get a second book published though I have neither decided on a topic or timeframe. I believe that all things happen at the right time. It is like an idea which comes to you on the wind, and if you do not have the good sense to catch it and make it work, it will just get blown to the next person. And before you know it, he or she would have published that book, or written that movie script, or penned that poem, that you thought about first.

·      How To Be A Media Darling by Social Media Strategist, Jacky Tan

jacky tan.jpg

 Jacky Tan is a professional writer, brand strategist and speaker. He is also the author ofSocial M – How Your Start-Up Can Take on the Big Boys Today”. Rated by Twitterholic as one of the top 40 influential Twitterers in Singapore, Jacky currently owns one of the top marketing blogs in Singapore www.marketingstrategyexpert.wordpress.com.

1. How long have you been doing social media marketing?

I started in 2009 on a small scale with Twitter. During that time, Twitter was very new in Singapore so I managed to get a first mover advantage and leverage on Twitter. With my experience, I started doing more social media marketing and branding for companies, two years later in 2011.

2. Why is social media so crucial for authors?

For authors like me who do not have a huge budget for marketing, making use of social media to build my profile and my book is very important. Social media allows me to get targeted readers without spending a lot of money on advertising. It is much more cost effective than traditional media such as print, TV or radio. Social media also cuts across all geographical boundaries and allows me to showcase my book to a worldwide audience. It allows me to create my little “cult” of followers who like what I have written online. For example, a Facebook page for an author is like an opt-in marketing page. Prospects will like your page first and then slowly become your fans; after that, I can update them on a regular basis so as to build my brand credibility.

The last thing, and perhaps the most crucial of all, is that social media is a very strong word-of-mouth marketing tool. It is better than getting on the front page of a mainstream newspaper which only lasts for one or two days. On social media, if people like your brand, they will share it virally to their peers in a matter of seconds and your influence will continue to spread as long as your content can be found online.

3. You’ve recently launched your book, Social ‘M’, can you share what you did to promote it? 

Since most people visit social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or LinkedIn, I knew I had to create a strong presence there. One of the things that I did was to create a Facebook page for my blog. From there, I made a "Buy My Book" tab and placed it prominently on my Facebook page. For my Facebook Page content, I focused on subtle marketing. That means I educate people about simple marketing tips, showing them creative advertising and also interesting social media facts.

I also used Facebook advertising to target people living in Singapore that are interested in marketing and business entrepreneurship. This way, my Facebook followers are highly targeted prospects that will most likely buy my book. It is important that you don’t post promotions to sell your books on Facebook. It will never work. We have to create interesting content that our prospects will love to read and share. To date, my Facebook campaign that started in Oct 18 last year, has already garnered a following of 3651 likes. By consistently building good interesting content on Facebook, my little “cult” of followers will increase as well.

I also used blogging and articles contribution to business related websites to increase my brand profile as a writer and a business strategist. I have a marketing blog that has regular views on a daily basis. By contributing to online content whether in the form of blog posts or other online media, authors like me can have the chance to become thought leaders in the online world.

4. Why did you choose a traditional publisher instead of going indie (self-publishing)?

I wanted to have something tangible and see how the professional publishers work. To me, having a printed book is more credible. As I did not have a budget to self-publish a printed book, I sought the professional and traditional publisher to publish and market my book. The publisher was able to take me by the hand every step of the way, from reviewing my manuscript to getting my book to the bookstores. This is quite crucial for newbie authors who may be unfamiliar with the publishing terrain.

5. Do you know of any successful online book campaigns? What did they do?

I have heard success stories about struggling authors who started out with poor book sales at the stores then they gave away their content on Amazon Kindle for less than US$9.95, resulting in a very good income in a matter of weeks. One example is Joe Konrath who made about USD$100,000 in three weeks on Amazon Kindle. I am not as fortunate as Joe Konrath, my first Amazon Kindle book didn’t go so well. But the key is to keep on trying until it is right.

Whether you are with a traditional publisher or self-publishing, an author’s marketing efforts does not stop after his book is published and distributed in the bookstores. You need to continue to build your brand profile in the industry so that more people will get to know you and buy your books.

6. With so many social media outlets – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc, it can be overwhelming for a newbie. In your opinion, which delivers the best results? 

Each social media outlet has its unique group of users, but we do not have use all them. You should select the channels according to who your targeted readers are. For example:

·      For young-adult fiction books, you can consider using Twitter and Instagram. This is where most teenagers are hanging out.

·      If you are targeting readers who are in the corporate or business world, then LinkedIn or Facebook is good. 

·      If you write about fashion and beauty, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram are great avenues to share your content.

It is important to test the market. Sometimes what works for one author, may not work for the other. Moreover, some social media outlets can work in one country but may not work in another country. So always test it out. If the strategy does not work, move on to another. If the strategy works, continue to focus on your efforts and make it better! 

7. How can we promote our book without looking like we’re “selling” which will put people off after a while?

You are right. Selling on social media will put people off. Instead, give value to your prospective readers with interesting content and build their trust from there. The more content you share to educate the readers, the more they will perceive you as the expert and authority of your topic.

8. Besides traditional media, are there any online media we should target and how do we go about doing that? 

Before you do that, make sure your books are available online so that people worldwide can buy your books. Then, you can tap on Goodreads, a book recommendation website for people to review, give a rating and recommend books to their friends. This is similar to TripAdvisor which is about hotel reviews.

For children fiction authors, you can build a website around the characters of your storybook, thus making your characters come alive in the online world. Imagination is boundless; by building a content rich website about your story characters, it can help generate buzz for your book and you! Encourage book fans to build fanpages or even websites for your characters. The Harry Potter fans are a big example.

For non-fiction books, it is still all about building your brand credibility and profile so that people will get to know about you and your book. Another method for non-fiction authors is to find a niche consumer market on social media such as Facebook and then share expert opinions and put relevant and interesting visuals to interest readers. Leverage on the traffic of other business media or related media websites and direct the traffic to your book or author profile page.

9. What about presentation? Should we dress up our press release or just send a PDF copy via email?

It is pretty difficult to just send a summary of our books to the press nowadays. People in the media are always looking for newsworthy content. So, in order for traditional media outlets to write about you, you must contribute to their content. I have been a frequent contributor to Singapore Business Review because I feel that this is where my potential clients as well as readers of my books will be. This is because the majority of the people reading Singapore Business Review are my targeted consumer audience such as business executives, CEOs, PMEs and bosses. Two of my short articles were featured for the Editor’s pick at Singapore Business Review and received very good responses, views as well as sent new readers to my blog.

Instead of dressing up our press releases, I say we dress up our articles. Here are some tips:

·      Firstly, we have to leave a positive impression with the audience. The not-so-good writers will usually write articles in a condescending manner. By doing so, the reader will find it hard to connect with the author. Good writers leave a positive impression while at the same time maintaining an authoritarian tone on the topic they write about.

·      Secondly, it is about consistency. Not many people will usually read our blog in the initial stage, the important thing is to keep on writing. When I finished my 30th article, I was able to see an increase in my readership and some magazines also started to pick up my articles. When I finished my 50th article, I was invited by SMU to be a panelist speaker for one of their meetings. When I finished my 100th article, the number of companies that asked me to help them on their branding strategies increased twofold. So, just keep on writing and sharing your content!

·      Thirdly, make more friends and let them know what you are doing. You never know who will refer you to somebody that will be a huge influence in your book career path someday.


The Book Proposal Outline

“I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.”

- Mother Teresa


There’s no perfect template for a brilliant book proposal - but this one’s pretty close. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t (or don’t want to) include all of these headers and sub headers in your proposal...most people don’t, and most people don’t need to! But play with these categories. Understand the strategy behind them. See what sparks ideas you hadn’t considered before, or didn’t dare think were possible for you. Honour the system. Then break out, in whatever way you’re so moved. Do your own thing. Be genuine. And above all, aim to be memorable.

   The Cover Page

   Hook Page

   Proposal Table of Contents


   About the Author / the Co-Author / Ghostwriter / Featured Contributors

   Chapter Summaries / Abstract

   Market: Primary Audience, Secondary Audience, Special Sales

   Competition / Peers

   PR + Media: Strategy, TV & Radio, Print Media: Newspapers / Magazines, Media Contacts, Media Angles / Hooks, Multi-Media, Email Lists / Alliances, Personal Book Orders, Publicist

   Testimonials / Endorsements / Advance Praise: Client Quotes, Speaking Letters of Recommendation, Celebrity of Expert-in-Your-Field Raves, Bookstore / Special Venue Support

   Online Presence / Website: Domain names, Blog, vlog + podcast components, Services Offered, Monthly Traffic Stats, Reader Profile Stats, / Newsletters /E-Magazines, Retail Goods

   Book Specifics: Title, Cover, Design, Format

   Spin-Off Books & Products

   Delivery of the Manuscript

   Appendices / Attachments:

   Sample Chapters

   Press Clippings

   Speaking Schedules, Brochures, Promotions

   Media Reel


This is simple, not much different than that of your Primary School English essays (except it’s way more exciting).

It includes:

   Your book title + subtitle

   Non-Fiction/Fiction Book Proposal by: your name

   Your website address (optional)


   Telephone number

   Email address


After your cover page and before your Table of Contents, you might want to create a “hook page.”

This is a place for you to make a bold statement, wave your originality flag, or create some intrigue that pulls ‘em in. Editors typically do not expect a hook page, but it can be a compelling way to set the tone and grab their attention from the start. This is always one of my favourite sections of a book proposal. Even if you think you don’t want or need one, give it a try. The process of trying to create a hook page always uncorks some insight about your offering. And, if you don’t end up using your hook on its own designated page, what you come up with may be perfect to include in your Overview section.

There’s no such thing as wasted time when you’re honing your craft.

Your hook page could be:

   A gripping paragraph that sets up the problem your book is going to help people solve

   A poetic intro

   A list of stunning statistics

   A glowing testimonial page

   An endorsement letter that makes you look like a rock star

   A journalistic photo that says it all

   A provocative statement that turns a commonly-held belief on its ear

   A “this is the book we’ve all been waiting for” sound bite statement from a noted expert on your topic.


       This is the Table of Contents for your actual book proposal - not your book. It’s a simple road map to help the publisher you’re querying navigate through your plan.

       This is easy breezy. Include all of your sections with page numbers so that it’s simple to find different sections quickly. Do not list your cover page, proposal table of contents, or the hook page (if you write one) in your Table of Contents, since this page will follow those.


Book overviews can vary wildly in their style and scope. These are the key elements that every overview needs to address:

   What’s your book about?The theme, the thesis, the heart of the content.

   Why should your book be written?Its benefits. Why it’s timely, needed, on-purpose.

   Why are you the best person for the job?Your passion; your qualifications; your gift and natural talent; your unique life experience, and the story that’s brought you to this point.

   How do you plan to write it?What format and style will you use? What research will you do/have you done? Will anyone else be involved? How long will it take to create?


       Also known as: Author Bio, About Me, About [author name],  Biography

       There are no hard rules as to where the About The Author section needs to appear in your proposal. It often comes after the Overview to build instant credibility, or introduce how your personal story and journey relates to the content of your book. It can follow Marketing, Competition, and PR, as a way of affirming the platform that you’ve built for your career. Or it can go at the very end as a personal closing.

       Your About the Author section explains why you are uniquely suited to write your book. Rave about yourself... with humility. It can be done. Some writers prefer writing this in the third person. Do whatever feels right for you.

       You are romancing your editor here. If you’re an expert in your field, paint the picture. If you’ve got writing experience, say so articulately. If you’re a marketing whiz, reveal that. If you’re a saint, prove it. And, if you’ve got a co-author or ghostwriter working with you, explain why he or she is also incredibly qualified to co-create this book.

Your About The Author section could include:

1. Your formal qualifications, measurable expertise (“coached 1000+ entrepreneurs over the past 10 years”), qualify-able street cred (“regular contributor to Her World Magazine) special awards, accreditations, honours and accolades.

   Your academic degrees and book-learnedness. (Yes, “learnedness” is a real word.)

   Notable research or achievements in your industry.

   Media buzz, radio spotlights, interviews and print coverage mentions.

   Life wisdom, family DNA, extraordinary travel, challenges overcome, money raised, philanthropic miracles, the things your friends brag about on your behalf.

   Previously published titles (self-published or traditional).

   If they’re significant, include online writing, web traffic statistics and numbers for your social media audience.

                A notation to see appendices (a separate Word or scanned PDF file, or real-life clipped-together papers, if you’re submitting by snail mail) that could include: resumes, published writing samples, PR about yourself (including reviews/press for previous books) and anything else that reveals your worldly expertise (corporate brochures profiling you, speaking handouts, impressive letters of recommendation, etc.). Not necessary. Only if you’ve got it, and it feels right to include.


·      Also known as: Marketing, Who Will Buy This Book

   Your Readers

   The Audience

   Possible subsections:

   Primary Audience

   Secondary Audience

Tips on how to paint the picture of your ideal, most likely, book buyer:

   Where do they shop?

   What else do they read?

   What’s their age range?

   What do they believe in?

   What do they struggle with?

   What motivates them?

   What do they do for a living?

   Are they on Facebook? Twitter? MySpace?

   Do they drive SUVs, take the bus, or ride a bicycle?

   How do they celebrate?

   What do they think is cool, repulsive, progressive, backwards?

   What scares the bejesus out of them?

   Who are they aspiring to be like?

   What are they secretly (or not-so-secretly) praying your book will provide an answer to?

   Will they willingly buy your book for themselves, or will it be a loving gift, from someone who cares?

As for your secondary audience:

   Who will buy your book after a few friends have told them about it?

   Who are the smaller interest groups likely to pick up on your message?

   Who are the fringe folks who hang out at your lectures and subscribe to your site?

   Special Groups: Are there associations or special interest groups that might purchase your book in bulk?

A few ideas to give your Market section high value:

   Include interesting facts and research findings/figures to justify the need for your book.

   Back up your claims with statistics. For your magnum opus on eco-farming, cite the number of diseases caused by eating pesticides, etc.

   Create lists and bullet points. Concise, digestible, to the point. “Ladies, how many times have you looked in the mirror - or down at the scale - and felt: Fat. Unlovable. Like a failure.” What if you could feel: Gorgeous. Powerful. Worthy of greatness.”

   Highlight the most fascinating, but little-known thing about your topic. “The fact is, XX percent of newmothers have no idea how to nurse their infants, without professional guidance.”

   Visualise your thesis. Hire an illustrator.

   Include graphics, charts, or diagrams to indicate the number of people suffering from the ailment your book provides a possible cure for.

   List any organisations, associations, schools, colleges, societies, etc. who might find your book a “must read.”  

   Outline your primary and secondary markets - the people most likely to buy your book... and then other people (subgroups) - including ideas you have for helping them find it!

   If this book is ONLY for a particular demographic—women, or teenagers, or people with IQs over 150, say so.

4 Marketing-related Ideas + Proof of Your PR Prowess That You Could Include in Your Book Proposal

   Write your media release in advance.

   Suggested radio and TV interview questions that would go into your future press kit.

   Profile of who’s on your PR team: an in-house or freelance publicist, crackerjack copywriter, social media consultant, Facebook Ad specialist.

   List of print media - magazines and newspapers who you think would be ideal to pitch your book to.

   A one-sheet of media hooks and angles.

   List of media contacts that you have in place. This can include friends (or friends of friends) you’ll contact who have already promised you support, or fellow bloggers who are sure to interview you.

   Email list alliances - the bigger the numbers, the better. Who will share their list with you, or send a blast to their subscribers announcing your book?

   Ideas for special sales to special interest groups and associations, charities, specialty retail stores (on and offline).

   Theme schedule of blog posts that you’ll be posting to your site leading up to the book launch.

   Details of your Twitter, Facebook, (and LinkedIn, Google+...all social media platforms that fit with you and your audience), campaign and growth strategy.

   Corporate sponsorship targets

   Contest ideas to sell your title.

   List of secured and ideal book endorsers.


Also known as: Advance Praise, Praise, Raves, Accolades, Endorsements

You could include:

   Client Quotes

   Speaking Letters of Recommendation

   Celebrity of Expert-in-Your-Field Raves

Testimonials are a quick way to grab your editor’s attention - insta’ credibility!

Tried-n-True Methods for Getting Endorsements

       Start in your backyard - with friends and family. We often overlook those closest to us when thinking of gaining support for our dreams. It’s true that business and friendship can get tricky, and you don’t want to share your precious dreams with negative Nancy the Naysayer. But praise from family and friends can go a long way in terms of motivation and straight-up endorsements to use in your promo copy. Open your address book. Who do you have access to? Who do they have access to? Who wants to see you succeed? Decide on five people you’re going to contact for words of praise. Send theman email or just pick up the phone and ask! Let them know how you’re going to be using their quotes (in your book proposal only, on your website). If they say “Yes!” on the spot, and start rambling off ideas, scribble down every word you can. Send them an email right away to ask for confirmation that you’ve quoted them correctly (which gives you written proof so there’s no confusion later). Keep track of your requests or it can get confusing.

       Make your testimonial “wish list.” If you could have access to anyone, who would those people be? Who knows them, or knows someone who knows them? Often, your publisher can help you get to higher profile people. Start local. Reach out to local journalists and newspapers and magazines and organisations in your area. It’s far easier to make a name for yourself and align with people who can help spread your message where you already live and have relationships. Then, once you’re covered in the local press, you can pull quotes from those clips and use them on your website and in your press materials.

       Write the blurbs ahead of time. Most likely, the people you want to get to (VIPs in your field or to the world) are busy, busy, busy. Let them know, even in your first email, that you’d be more than happy to ink a few quotes in their voice for them to choose from. Have four or five samples ready to show at a moment’s notice and make it easy for someone to say yes to you.

       Go to book signings. Is your favorite author coming to a bookstore near you? No matter how successful an author is, they still appreciate when you show up in person and buy their books. Wait in line - preferably at the end of the line, with multiple copies - and make your pitch. Ask them if you can send them your book in the hopes that they’ll love it enough to endorse you. Get the contact details for their assistant and make it happen.

       Send something charming or fun that captures people’s attention. Write creative emails. Virtually everyone’s reachable by email. Call the business number, if you can find it. Ask the assistant if you can send him/her an email to forward onto their boss. Keep it short and sweet. And, if your pitch is powerful, you just might hear back.

       When someone compliments you or your work directly, ask if it’s okay to quote them in the moment! The biggest mistake we see people make with quote gathering is that they don’t want to appear pushy, so they get shy or stall the asking. Seize the moment. If a client tells you they love something you’ve done, say: “Thank you so much. I really appreciate your feedback. Would it be okay if I quote you on that?” If someone reads your book and says, “I love what you’ve written here,” say: “It would help me so much if I could quote you on that. Would that be okay?” In-the-moment quotes are so simple to give, but you have to ask before you both forget what was said. Nail it.

       Be specific! Never, ever expect someone to figure out how they can best help your career. Make it easy on them by making specific requests. You’ll get better results.


Also known as: Website, Social media, Online products

This is where you invite editors and publishers into your online universe, and give them a tour. Your own marketing plan, and the publicity campaign that the publisher carries out for your book, will be tied in to your online presence. You and your publisher will want to harness the immense power of digital and social media. That begins long before your book is off the press. Ideally, it begins before you start looking for a book deal.

If you’re really truly rocking the World Wide Web, then pour on the statistics of proof and popularity. If you’re just emerging as a blogger or an online writer, then map out the plan for how you intend to grow your web-based audience. If you have no idea what a domain name is, then take some time to get up to speed and hash out a plan for how you’ll be playing on-line. Hire someone to help you with, it if need be. And be honest about your online ambitions in your proposal. If you have no intention of blogging regularly, that’s cool. But be clear and direct about how you will be growing your audience via the Internet.

Data points + plans you can include in your book proposal:

• Your website:

   Screen shot of the home page and or masthead/logo

   Traffic stats:

-       How many people are on your list? Number of email subscribers + RSS subscribers. You could also mention your unsubscribe rate, if it’s low.

-       Visitors per month + per year (if applicable). You can get most of this data through Google Analytics or through your web hosting company.

-       Reader profile stats: you could conduct a survey to profile your web-based readers. Or, even if it’s anecdotal information, describe who’s showing up in your online space to subscribe, comment, ask questions and make requests of you.

   List the titles of your most popular posts, especially if they relate to the topic of your book. You may want to include full versions of your most book-appropriate posts in the Appendix/Attachments section of the book proposal.

   Screen shots of your best vlog entries, with a description of what you talked about.

   Design + function: are there new functionalities, bells and whistles that you’ll be adding to your website?

   Awards: has your site been nominated for, or won, any awards?

   Social Media stats: Twitter followers, how many times are you “listed” on Twitter (Twitter Lists), Facebook Friends + Fans, Linked In, Google +. If they’re creative and on-brand, you could include screenshots of your Facebook Fan page or your Twitter wall.

   Online events and appearances:

-       Have you conducted, or do you plan to do teleseminar events?

-       Where have you guest-posted or been interviewed?

   Retail goods: list what you’re selling on your site, and include sales data if it’s solid.

   Guest bloggers + interviews:

-       Who else contributes to your site?

-       Have you interviewed any notable people for your blog or newsletter?

-       Who do you have access to interviewing in the future?

   Your team:

-       Have you got a crackerjack social media strategist on retainer?

-       Are you going to be working with a Google Ad Sense or SEO consultant to drive traffic to your site?

-       Is your VA a Facebook ninja?

Not having an online presence and wanting to play in the publishing world is like showing up at a networking event without a business card. Suit up and show up.


Also known as: Comparative Analysis, Peers

This is where you scan your genre for similar ideas, audience, and most importantly, outstanding success. Editors and publishers need to know what other books are similar to what you’re writing, and flat out don’t have the time to do the initial research. That’s your job. This is one occasion where comparison is a good thing. It helps establish a market for your book, and gives you deeper insight as to how to make your information fresh and distinctive.

Again, there are no rules regarding the actual order placement of this section in your proposal, but this is one of those sections that’s almost always included. The rare times it might be omitted would be in the case of well-known personalities in a league of their own (with popularity that nearly guarantees sales), or bestselling authors likely to get a big deal based on stellar track records. Even so, they’ll often reference similar books in their Overview sections.

Although it’s an editor’s worst nightmare to spend money on a title, only to find out that it’s been done before (and bombed), this isn’t so much about pointing out literal “competition,” as it is about defining your niche, your market. This is where you help them help you. By outlining what’s already out there - preferably titles that rocked the charts, from large publishers - you plant the seeds for your editor to come up with creative comparison metaphors from which they can better pitch your book. Like: “This is, Eat Pray Love meets Bridget Jones Diary”. “He’s Tony Robbins meets Deepak Chopra.” You get the idea.

Profile four to six of the most popular and credible titles in your genre. A good place to start your research is to think: if my book were never written, what already-published books are serving my readers? What titles can I get lost in to immerse myself in my topic? Being seeped in your industry and long-time passionate about your message, it’s most likely that you’re already familiar with the leading authors in your field. Even so, visit bookstores and trawl through Amazon to ferret out similar books (Psssst, here’s a cheat tip: Treasure hunt via search categories on Amazon.com and read the Customer Review comments where a surprising number of thoughtful, intelligent folks take time out of their lives to write lengthy, detailed reviews of many books).

Include the following information for each book you profile:

       The title and subtitle

       Author’s name(s)

       Publisher and year of publication

       Hard cover or paper back

       Page numbers

       Retail list price (often included)

       Bestseller rankings and awards (if you know of them)

Important: When you describe your “competition,” do so without trashing them. Don’t talk about why your book is like, so much better than theirs. For starters, it’s bad karma. The best tactic is to talk about how your book is similar to the most successful aspects of the book you’re comparing it to, and where perhaps yours delves more deeply into the topic, or carries on from the other books’ premise. What you want to convey is how your book adds to the conversation, even if that means respectfully refuting outdated ideas. As you explain what worked with the other titles why they were popular, critically sound, innovative - and what your book brings to the genre, you further establish your market, and sing your praises as you praise others. But when it’s time to sell your work, you need to know what’s happening with your peers and contemporaries. Not understanding what’s current and successful in your category could sabotage your big, beautiful book plan. Get informed.


Also known as: Follow-Up Books, Related Products, Series

Most proposals don’t include a Spin-Offs section, simply because related products aren’t obvious for most books. Publishers will want to secure the success of one title, and it’s rare that they’ll want to risk producing ancillary products to accompany the book publication. This section can go anywhere in the book proposal, or can just be mentioned in your media section.

Have you got a spin-off in you?

Like a…

-       Another title in your genre

-       Prequel, sequel, trilogy or series

-       Documentary film

-       Stationery

-       Speaking series

-       Web TV series

-       Live events

-       Movie rights or screenplay

-       Board game

-       Advice column

-       Call-in radio show

-       Smartphone apps


-       These sections are not imperative, and some people choose to include these details in the body of the proposal, usually as a sentence or two about delivery timing, or word count, or format in the Overview.

-       As for delivery of your manuscript... the publisher will want to know how long it will take you to finish the manuscript from the date of signing the contract... six months, or two years? Don’t underestimate the time you need to complete the book, and keep in mind that your publisher will be gauging your delivery commitment with the best season to launch your title, with an eye on the market and on where they see you fit with others already in their line-up. And...pub dates change all of the time in this industry. Your book may get rushed to press because it’s in sync with current events, or it could get bumped a year because the publisher deems another author’s book more fitting for their publishing calendar.

Lights. Camera. Autographs...


This section can also be called Attachments.

It could include:

-       Your résumé or CV

-       Published Writing Samples

-       Reviews, media clippings, buzz about previous work or published books

-       Brochures

-       Speaking Schedules

-       Letters of Recommendation 

Checklist: Top 8 Must-dos For Aspiring Authors

1. Write a great book (duh!).

2. Be passionate (and knowledgeable) about your topic.

3. Have a growing platform on social media or on your blog.

4. Possess star quality – take a Toastmasters course if you have to!

5. Be clear about your goal and plan, plan, plan!

6. Ask influential people for testimonials.

7. Have a winning title, it’s the first thing that sells your book!

8. A mission and clear purpose – which will translate into desire, energy and resources.

The How-tos of Creating a Brilliant Book Proposal

“Putting together [my] book proposal was almost like examining my own thoughts and organizing them. I thought that even if the book didn’t get published, it was a useful exercise.”

- Timothy Ferriss

 The Query Letter / Email

Also known as the one pager that gets you in the door...

A query letter is about capturing an editor’s initial attention and it can be in the form of an email. The object of writing a query is to introduce you and your project to the powers that be, and get them intrigued enough to take the next step - to agree to review your actual proposal.

A query is typically one page long. This is one rule you should never break. If you can’t get your message across in under a thousand words, you’re not clear enough on what it is. This is your first impression, possibly your one shot - it’s got to be concise, sincere, engaging, and grammatically perfect. It should sound like your natural voice. And it should vibe with your book. A dry proposal for a comedic book, for example, is no can-do.

In the following guidelines, you’ll see my best advice to consider when crafting your query. That said, not all of the following points are representative of every book. The lesson? Learn the “rules,” and then “follow” and interpret them with your own sense of style.

Guidelines to keep in mind:

·      The writing needs to kick ass. Period. From beginning to end. ‘Nuff said.

·      Address your query to a specific person, and do your research - know what they like, what they don’t. If they have no interest in cookbooks, children’s books, or mysteries, don’t waste your time.

·      Hook ‘em. Start with a teaser. Something so riveting, shocking, or entertaining that they simply have to keep reading. Consider mentioning startling stats or facts; an explanation of the problem that you’re about to magically but-pragmatically solve, or revealing new ideas or research that makes your reader say, “Ah-ha!”

·      What’s your title and estimated manuscript length (word count)? Is your book fiction (and completed—which should be the case), non-fiction (and halfway cooked, but thoroughly summarised), or a photography book about France in the springtime that will be finished upon your return from your trip next May? Whatever it is, be specific.

·      Who yearns to know more about your subject? What’s your market? If millions of people every year become obsessed by your topic, spell it out. What does your book bring to the conversation that’s fresh and compelling? What successful titles (preferably via large publishing houses) can you compare yours to?

·      Who are you? Why you? If 2,000 people have already written on the topic (for books on romantic relationships, that would be an annual number), what’s special about your take? Credentials. Past writing gigs. Awards. Life experience as it pertains to your subject. Just enough to pique the readers’ interest to want more...

·      Polish, Polish, Polish. Stay clear of common rookie moves: Typos. Redundancy. Rambling. Ignorance. Vagueness. Assumptions (“You’re going to love this!”), and dryness (snore-inducing text). This is your chance for your VIP reader (your connector to many others) to fall in love with you and your work. Or at the very least, to start a crush. 

Creativity - Pornography For A Writer

“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

- Stephen King

Esteemed writing expert, Natalie Goldberg says, “Our senses by themselves are dumb. They take in experiences, but they need the richness of sifting for a while through our consciousness and through our whole bodies. I call this ‘composting’.”

Don’t sit down and think, “Today I am going to write a bestselling book.” That thought alone will freeze you up. Don’t have expectations, just think, “Today I am going to write whatever is on my mind”…and just go at it. Let go of all your hang-ups when you write. Try a simple beginning with simple words to express what you have inside. It won’t begin smoothly and you have to allow yourself to be awkward in the beginning. Just let it flow.

Let me share with you a few tricks I have done in the past to nudge myself along:

1. I schedule a nice meal at the end of the day as a reward. I’m a foodie and this motivates me to sit at my desk and work hard so that I can fully enjoy my sumptuous dinner, knowing that I truly deserved it.

2. I wake up in the morning, go for a class of invigorating yoga and return recharged and ready to hammer at my keyboard. In fact, writing is similar to meditation. The more you are in touch with your mind - your main writing tool, the better you will be in your writing. Writing gives you confidence and trains you to wake up.

3. I tell everyone that I am busy writing this week so that no one calls or distracts me from the task at hand. Yup, major hibernation mode activated!

4. I read all the books I can find about the topic I’m supposed to write about. Usually, I’ll get inspired and then be on the roll.

5. I use my social media to practice my writing. Whether it is posting on Instagram or Facebook, I try to write something witty to caption my photos, update my status or post comments. I also read and follow people who write well. Two Instagrammers I like are foodie Joycelyn Shu (@joycelynshu) whose lush food descriptions and photos always send me to the kitchen looking for snacks as well as radio DJ Rosalyn Lee (@heyrozz) who put thought into each post and marry self-deprecating wit with poignant messages.

Basically, if you want to be a good writer, you need to do three things: Read a lot, listen well and deeply, and write a lot. And don’t think too much. If you read good books, good books will come out of you when you write. Maybe it won’t be that easy, but usually, if you want something, go to the source. That’s why I have rounded up experts in their field, to share their writing tips. Start taking notes now…

 The Fiction Writer: Begin Inside

Low Kay Hwa.JPG

Low Kay Hwa has written twelve novels and is currently pursuing his English & Literature degree on a part-time basis. His books have been listed in various bookstores bestsellers lists and also in The Sunday Times list. His title I is the runner-up for POPULAR Readers' Choice Awards 2013.

1. How did you get into writing?

I have always known that I wanted to be a writer since I was a boy; and when I turned thirteen, I told myself that I was “old” enough to be a “real” writer. I sent a manuscript to all the publishers in Singapore and was rejected by all of them. Although I was demoralised, I continued to write, and I blamed myself for writing stories that were not good enough. As mIRC was popular then, I made a few friends on the Internet and sent them the stories I had written. One of my Internet friends was very interested; so much so that she insisted on reading a chapter a day. That was when I acquired my first “serious” reader, and set a period to write on a daily basis.

2. Did you always know that you were going to write? What were the signs?

I have always been fascinated with creating stories since I was young. When I was seven, I wrote short stories for my brother to read, but I did not know whether he read them even when he said so. One of the days, he praised me for using the word “dash” instead of “run”, and in retrospect that was the first compliment I received that motivated me.

As I started school, my teachers would often pin my compositions on the notice board. A few times, my teachers even read my compositions to the class. While I appeared indifferent, I was proud of what I had achieved.

By fourteen, I had about five to six Internet friends who looked forward to my new chapter every week. During one of my secondary three projects, I wrote a 40,000-word novel and submitted it in a floppy disk. My form teacher was so impressed that she told me she would submit my story to a publisher friend of hers (but I did not hear from her again as she was posted out).

3. Describe how you felt when you had your first book out.

I was speechless. Literally. I merely stared at the title and my name - after all, I had written countless stories and this was the first time it was professionally printed.

4. Why do you choose to go set up a Goody Books, your publishing company?

When I was seventeen, I tried sending another manuscript to the publishers in Singapore. I was approached by a vanity publisher and he said that I had to pay in order to get published. As I could not afford the fees but was still determined to see my story in print, I agreed on an installment plan.
After I had paid half of the total amount, I received the books and they were ready for sale. I was told that I could sell 1,000 copies in a year; to my surprise, when I got back the first sales report six months later, I sold less than ten books.

During the six months when I was waiting for the sales report (it doesn’t take that long now), I had written another story. Seeing that print was not going to work, I uploaded every single chapter of my new story online, and went to online forums to get people to read it.
Surprisingly, people read the entire story and apparently still requested to buy the book (when there was no print version yet then). Seeing the demand spiking up, I got a few friends to help me with the cover design and improve the website, and printed twenty copies at $10.00 per copy and sell them at $10.90 per copy. I would go to MRT stations to meet up with my customers. Essentially, it was a loss since I had to travel, but it did not matter because it is a writer’s dream is to be read and appreciated.

When the first twenty books were sold within a few days (due to the backlog of interest), I printed another twenty copies, then another twenty copies until one day, I decided to print at a larger quantity on a lower price (offset printing). However, without the funds to do so, I decided to look for printers and ask them whether I could pay later. I had no company and was only seventeen then. To my surprise, a printer agreed to print for me and I had to pay only after thirty days upon receipt of the books (which, of course, now I know is merely the basic business term of Net 30). I agreed, and during that thirty days, I was meeting more than four customers a day.

When I broke even, I realised that print book did work; and so, I started Goody Books. Every new book is now profitable. Currently, my books are distributed widely in bookstores and are no longer sold direct.

5. Any advice for budding authors?

Never give up; there will always be many setbacks. The major obstacle is usually the lack of real readers (friends and family members don’t count!); that demoralises a writer greatly. To overcome that, just set a period to write every day. It is going to be a marathon, but like any marathon, pain is temporary and pride is forever. It is the intangible achievement that is sweet.

6. Why do you choose to write fiction?

An actor acts. A painter paints. I like creating stories, so I write fiction. 

7. How does one write fiction? Any advice?

While I do not know how others write, mine is a long process: I have to plan the plot, do primary research to ensure that my plot works, develop the characters, fuse the characters into the plot, write the story, revise, do secondary research and revise a lot more times.
If there were universal advice for any aspiring fiction writer, it would be this: Be obsessed with the characters. My characters are so alive to me that I know exactly how they will react to almost anything.

8. Do you ever get writer’s block and how do you get over it?

Yes, of course. Usually, I stop writing and take a rest, but I tell myself that I will go back to writing within ten minutes. If not, I will skip that scene. If a certain amount of time is allocated to writing, I will ensure that I do nothing except writing or resting.

9. What inspires you and what are some of your favourite books and authors?

As I aim to be better every day, the thing that inspires me is my mirror; for I can see, every passing day, that today has been better than yesterday for all the effort I have made. Seizing the day is one of my main values in life.

I like Jodi Picoult and Nicolas Sparks. However, my favourite books are The Time Traveler's Wife, My Sister's Keeper and Veronika Decides to Die. Amazingly simple premises with deep, complicated plots; and of course, great characters.

10. What is a day in the life of a fiction author like?

Usually solitary; depending on what stage of writing I am at, I am always just in front of the computer. The sounds I hear are merely loud music to bring me closer to the story.

During research stage, however, I get to interact with many people. For example, during the secondary research stage for For That Day, I was going to National University Hospital almost every day for one month to speak to the people there.

11. Why did you choose to e-publish and do you have any tips?

It is not exactly a “choice”; to me, it is simply something that occurs in the industry, and I have to adapt to market changes. My research shows that the market share for e-books in genre fiction is way higher than the overall e-book industry. Therefore, like any business adapting to market change, my books are now available in both print and e-version.

My tip is that it does not matter what platform your content is, be it in print or in digital format: every single author or publisher is selling content, and not selling sheets of paper with ink. If your content is not good enough, it does not matter what or where the platform is.

12. You even scored a bestseller on Kobo Books, an e-retailer of books, can you share with us how you did that?

Well, it just occurred. It is just like getting into the bestsellers list in national newspaper and bookstores; you merely hope you get in, and once you get in, you take a picture, tell your friends who do not care about it and life goes on.

13. Have you ever done a book proposal for a publisher. If yes, do you mind sharing it?

Yes, when I was thirteen and seventeen - and that meant it was more than ten years ago! Now, everything should be different. Back then, it was the traditional way of sending via snail mail with a self-addressed stamped envelope.

The Non-Fiction Writer: Tell Stories


Gerrie Lim is the author of seven books which reflect his ongoing interests in various aspects of modern sociology and popular culture, though he remains best known for his books on the sex industry, best exemplified by Invisible Trade, In Lust We Trust, and Singapore Rebel: Searching for Annabel Chong. He also writes for magazines about wine and spirits as well as architecture and design, and was previously based in Los Angeles but now lives in Hong Kong.

1. How did you get into writing?

I’ve been asked this question a million times and I always say it’s a long story. The short version is this: I started out as a newspaper reporter for a lark, just to see if I could do it, and realized I liked the idea of writing for a living and learned I was actually good at it.

2. Did you always know that you were going to write? What were the signs?

No, I did not, it just sort of happened after I finished my undergrad studies and was wondering what to do next, which turned out to be grad school in 1984 at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where I did a Master’s in Print Journalism. We all had to serve internships with magazines and I saw that I had a knack for feature writing. The only signs were that I started receiving more and more work, which I took as meaning I was on the right path, but I have to add that I was fortunate in that I had very good editors who served as mentors to me.

3. Describe how you got your first book deal.

My first book was somewhat unusual – it was a collection of my magazine work called Inside the Outsider and it was essentially my pop culture writing anthology with an emphasis on my interviews with rock stars, culled from my years as a rock critic in Los Angeles. BigO magazine was starting a book imprint and they wanted this to be the first book they would publish under the BigO Books label, and that’s how it basically happened.  I didn’t have to write a proposal or anything, it was like a done deal, which did not prepare me for the future years and how much harder it was going to be to secure a publishing contract!

4. Why do you choose to go with a traditional publisher? What are your thoughts on self-publishing?

Self-publishing is for losers who can’t get a “real” deal with an actual publishing house. I never recommend that route to people who ask about this. I realise some do this because it’s the only way they can get published but, even if they really are good writers and merely victims of unfortunate circumstance, the public perception will be that nobody else wants them so they had to do it on their own.  

5. Why do you choose to write non-fiction, in particular, stories about the sex industry?

Quite honestly, because I have tried writing fiction and I am just unable to do it well. I just don’t have the skills sets for it. The late Warren Zevon, one of my musical heroes, said to me once when I asked him about whether he would ever write a novel: “No. Graham Greene writes novels. I don’t.” And he also told me: “The thing is, you can’t just be enthusiastic. You have to actually be good.” That pretty much summarises it for me, too.

The sex industry has always intrigued me, from my impressionable teenage years -- starting from the mere fact that even softcore pornography isn’t legally allowed in Singapore, which later enabled me to gloat when I started writing for Playboy magazine in 1987 and later Penthouse in 1999 – but, more acutely, I have the ability to address issues pertaining to the sex industry that most people can’t, especially men who usually hide behind a façade of machismo. I have also been told I am able to somehow gain the trust of people, so they’ll tell me things they don’t usually reveal to other people. That is still the strongest gift I have as an interviewer – empathy and compassion are crucial tools to have, especially with people who are intuitively distrustful of strangers -- and it all works like a charm when you’re dealing with sex workers, porn directors, escort agency madams, and the like. I could tell you stories you wouldn’t believe.

6. How does one choose a topic to write and go about doing it? Any tips?

They say you should write from what you know, which I think is true, but I also tell people to heed the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald who said: “You don’t write because you want to say something. You write because you have something to say.” Meaning, many people want to say things but most are unable to articulate their thoughts in writing and also don’t really have anything substantial to say. When someone comes to me with a writing topic or story idea, the first question to always ask is: “Who cares?”

7. What is your worst mistake as a writer and how did you get over it?

I can’t tell you that one because I am saving it for my next book. ;-)

8. Do you ever get writer’s block and how do you get over it?

Yes, of course, but not often. When it happens, the worst thing you can do is keep obsessing about it. Just put the work aside and go do something else and come back to it later. A clear mind is conducive to good work.

9. What inspires you and what are some of your favourite books and authors?

As Ann Herold, who was one of the editors at the Los Angeles Times and one of my journalism professors, once told me: “I am entertained by good writing.” That remains the case. I think what inspires me is when someone has a unique point of view and can express it well and isn’t afraid to be contrarian and funny or ironic in the process.

The list of authors is long and varied but I did my Master’s thesis at USC on Joan Didion’s essay writing, and her book The White Album was what first made me want to be a writer. I even gave her a copy of the dissertation later, in person, but I have no clue whether she ever read it or not.

10. What is a day in the life of a non-fiction author like?

It depends on the day. And on how much magazine writing I have to do, the stuff to pay the bills, which is also good for self-discipline since I actually like having to write to deadline. I work from home and enjoy it immensely, mainly because I find it easy to stay focused when most people would see themselves being distracted. I don’t ingest anything when I am writing, despite all the legends about Hemingway drinking when he wrote, because that itself is a distraction. My approach is austere and Zen, and I drink and get drunk later. I'll have music going in the background if I'm just line-editing or proof-reading. My best work hours are from mid-afternoon till late into the night - there's a "sweet spot" I hit between 10 pm and 2 am, and I have no idea why.

The Poet: Dig Deep


Cyril Wong is the author of twelve volumes of poetry, one volume of short-stories, and a novel. His last book was a collection of love poems about coming to terms with the end of a relationship, After You (Math Paper Press 2013).

1. Did you always know that you were going to write? What were the signs? 

Only during my National Service did I realise that I had the urge to write; I was writing short pieces in a notebook about my family and regarding personal relationships in general. It was the first sign that I had begun to compose poetry.

2. Describe how you got your first book deal.

Through submission to various publishers, many of whom rejected my manuscript, I was able to find acceptance with just one publisher to begin with.

3. Why do you choose to go with a traditional publisher? What are your thoughts on self-publishing?

Self-publishing: It's just too much work and I was, and still am, a rather lazy person in publicising or pushing out my own work. As such, self-publishing had never occurred to me.

4. What are the key factors of to your success and has the success of your books changed your life in any way?

Success is relative: success to me has meant being read by the right audience, so "commercial success" or success linked to a mass appeal has never appealed to me. Only when I found that I was appealing to other poets and readers of poetry did I realise I had achieved success of some sort. In any case, any kind of success never affected my life in a profound way; the only change I found was that I was invited to literary and arts festivals across the world to read and perform my poetry, which could be exhausting but also provided interesting learning experiences, especially when I got to meet other like-minded poets.

5. What is the best piece of writing advice you received from someone or read somewhere?

Avoid fitting in with the establishment (I created this advice all on my own; various other friends have said the same thing in numerous ways to me, confirming my own private belief that the norm is often oppressive and hegemonic and detrimental to one's meaningful construction of self-identity.)

 6. Why do you choose to write erotica?

I don't really write erotica as a norm. Some of my poems are erotic, but that's really about it.

7. How does one write erotica? Any tips?

Be truthful. That's just it.

8. Do you ever get writer’s block and how do you get over it?

I just don't let myself get frustrated because of it. There is always something else to do if one is unable to write.

9. What inspires you and what are some of your favourite books and authors?

Music inspires me. Anger inspires me. Poets like Lewis Warsh and Dennis Cooper inspire me. Any philosophical text by Jiddu Krishnamurti inspires me.

 10. What is a typical work/writing day for you?

I don't have one. When a poem or story comes to me on any particular day, I just wait till night time when I will bang it out on my laptop for an hour or more before I go to bed.

11. Have you ever done a book proposal for a publisher. If yes, do you mind sharing it?

No, I have never done so. I don't even know what that entails. Usually publishers are the ones who suggest ideas to me (e.g., Transit Lounge in Australia once suggested that I put together an anthology of adult fairy-tales for them - and I simply wrote the book for this publisher.)

Back when I was researching for my first book, Boss Of Me, I followed Timothy Ferriss’ advice of interviewing experts to create my book. At least if no one knew who I was, they would read my book because of the prolific people inside! Even then, I still had the seemingly Herculean task of hunting down and interviewing 20 top (and busy) movers and shakers in Singapore. Luckily, thanks to Google and some diligent sleuthing, I was able to contact my choice interviewees. To be honest, not everyone that I approached said yes, however the ones that did were generous enough to refer some of their own luminary friends to me. All in all, it was a soul-affirming experience – I got to meet many of my idols, boosted the networth of my network by a gazillion times and the icing on top of the cake – my book written by Pearlin ‘Nobody’ Siow, became a bestseller!

Postscript: Here are Erica Jong’s (one of my fave authors!) Twenty One Rules For Writers:

1. Have faith – not cynicism.

2. Dare to dream.

3. Take your mind off publication.

4. Write for joy.

5. Get the reader to turn the page.

6. Forget politics (let your real politics shine through).

7. Forget intellect.

8. Forget ego.

9. Be a beginner.

10. Accept change.

11. Don’t think your mind needs altering.

12. Don’t expect approval for telling the truth.

13. Use everything.

14. Remember that writing is dangerous if it’s any good.

15. Let sex (the body, the physical world) in!

16. Forget critics.

17. Tell your truth, not the world’s.

18. Remember to be earthbound.

19. Remember to be wild!

20. Write for the child (in yourself and others).

21. There are no rules.

Do they resonate with you?

Traditional vs Self-publishing

“I’m an author. We don’t want to lead. We don’t need to follow. We stay home and make stuff up and write it down and send it out into the world, and get inside people’s heads. Perhaps we change the world and perhaps we don’t. We never know. We just make stuff up.”

- Neil Gaiman


Before we roll out the step-by-step strategies of creating a winning book proposal, let us explore the two primary areas that will guide your trajectory in the publishing world: self-publishing vs. traditional publishing. If you’re thinking about going digital first, and then getting a print deal, read on. If you’re wondering why you even need a publisher in these tech-empowering times, pay close attention.

To publish or self-publish? That is THE question.

Creating a book is an intimate experience. You give shape to your innermost thoughts and feelings, and share them with critics and other lovers of ideas and stories. And then you pimp that baby until the cows come home. How you do this is a very personal decision.

When we talk about publishing, we have to break it down into two categories: self-publishing and traditional publishing. If you want to manage the entire production and distribution process yourself - that’s self-publishing. Or, a publisher will do it for you - that’s referred to as a traditional deal. There’s also a middle ground between these two where a publisher will assist you with publishing your book for a service fee and production costs – that’s called contract publishing (or vanity press in America).

And then there’s digital publishing, on the Internet, in the form of E-books. Obviously you can self-publish digital material, and, after you get a deal with a traditional publisher, they may choose to take your printed product and release a digital version.

So, to self-publish or to sign with a publishing house? Well, your answer also depends on more than just what your motivation is. Profit or creative gratification aside, it matters how talented you are and how timely your material is. In other words, are you really crazy, or just a little bit crazy? The best way I’ve found to walk through this landscape is on two paths, according to your top priorities. Here they are: The pros and cons...

The Pros + The Cons


Let’s start with the most important aspect of making a commercially successful book. Forget content and design, forget marketing and PR - for just a moment. Getting your product into the hands of booksellers and book buyers should be your A-1, paramount, TOP priority. We want people to buy and read your work.

Self-Pub: If you choose to self-publish, distribution will be your greatest hurdle. In the eyes of major book chain buyers, you’re likely a nobody. The head buyer at Books Kinokuniya has established relationships with sales reps from publishing houses. They schmooze at book shows and order dozens and dozens of titles at a time for the upcoming season. Problem is: these people won’t even take your call. You will have to hire an independent distributor to pitch your title.

Or... you can go to local, independent bookstores (like Books Actually) and pitch your book yourself. But you’ll need to put your armour on and your best smile. Be prepared to schlep books in your car trunk for weeks, months even. The novelty could wear out fast.

Pub House: Distribution is done for you. It’s that simple. This is the single most important reason to try to get yourself a book deal. Publishing houses have tentacles that reach far into book shows and bookstores across the planet. This is the essence of their power. You want that.


Self-Pub: Guess what? You’re now a book designer, copy editor, colour expert, typography and paper specialist - and you thought you were just someone with something important to say. Even if you hire out your book to a graphic designer (and you probably should, for anywhere from $500 to $10,000 in design fees depending on the type of book you’re producing), the aesthetics of the book relies on your approval. Do you know what cover will appeal to consumers next season? Do you have access to the recycled paper printer you want? For better or for worse, you will have total creative control. Could be a painful learning curve. Could be a beautiful thing.

Pub House: You may have zero say in how your baby is dressed. Could be a disaster. Could be a breeze. Fortunately, the end result is often far better than you’d imagined, or could have created on your own (remember, they’ve been doing this a while and know a thing or two about not making you—or them—look bad).

Time to Market + Time to Live

Self-Pub: The turnaround time with a self-published book can be as fast as you can drive the process. Once it’s written and edited, you can have a print book in your hands in as little as two months. Zoom. Digital books, even more zoom.

Pub House: Prepare to wait for at least six months before you see your book in stores. Unless you’re writing about a time-sensitive topic of major cultural relevance (like, a nuclear plant explodes and you happen to be working on a book about How to Survive a Nuclear Plant Explosion), then you’re likely looking at six months up to two years from the time you sign your publishing contract to the day your book smiles down at you from the bookstore shelf. That’s a long time, even in dog years. You might be a different person by then with a different business model, partner. So, make sure your book’s message feels universal and timeless.

Even if your book gets done quickly, there’s this thing called the publishing calendar - whereby the publisher determines which season your book will be released. (War exposés don’t sell well at Christmas time, and every love author wants to ride the trajectory of Cupid’s arrow in February - with only so many slots.)

Traditional publishing is a lot like the fashion industry. There are a lot of players involved and they each need time to do their job: the editing department, the designer, the printer, the marketing team selling to stores two seasons in advance, the publicity team pitching to media with up to nine months of lead time (and believe us, media coverage is your BFF), and the warehouse who needs time to ship to stores.

Creative Control

Self-Pub: You own your copyright. This means that you’re free to re-purpose your stuff in any way you feel moved. Publish it on other sites, repeatedly publish excerpts from your book on your own website, and put it in any print form you want. You can make improvements. When you self-publish, you’re at full liberty to create a 2.0, new-and-improved version of whatever you do, as quickly as possible.

Pub House: When you get a traditional publishing deal with a publishing house, typically a contract will state that you only have the right to re-purpose, to re-use approximately 20 percent of the material from that book for yourself. This makes sense in terms of the publisher wanting to drive people to purchase your book, but it stinks in terms of future product development and raising your visibility online. With the exception of going from hard cover to paperback and making minor editorial additions, traditional publishing is a one-shot deal.

That being said, the intellectual strength that your publishing team could offer might take your book from good to amazing. If you’re blessed with a thoughtful editor, he or she will take your work to the next level and in doing so, not just make your work more lucid and rich, but may very well influence the quality of your writing for the rest of your career. The power of this cannot be understated. Nor can the potential agony of getting an editor who’s a dud. Your relationship with your editor can feel like a magical marriage, or it can feel like prison torture.

The Money

Self-Pub: You make 30-40 percent of the profit. Woohoo! No split with the publisher. Where did the other 60-70% go? The distributor who gets your books to the bookstores takes about 60-70% of your book sales. Unless you're shlepping the books to indie bookstores yourself, then you get to keep 100% (after expense). If you do it right, you can be earning as much as $10 bucks on a print book, perhaps more, and certainly much more profit per unit on a digital product. Hopefully that’ll be enough to re-coup the capital you put in to fund the book – ghostwriter, freelance editor, graphic design, printing costs, administrative support. It could all add up to thousands of dollars - easily.

You can invest your revenue into future publishing projects, you can put food on the table, or you can take the time you need to go find yourself a traditional publisher, which will likely take many months.

Pub House: A book advance is an incredibly civilised concept. You get paid in advance to writeyour book. How very renaissance. Unfortunately, this does not happen in Singapore. You typically get no money when you sign your contract so don’t quit your job yet. Boohoo.

Reality Check #1: The vast majority of authors never make enough for them to quit their day jobs, simply because Singapore is too small to sell many copies. Even if you sell thousands of copies, your publisher takes a huge chunk of your book profits (90% to be specific - essentially paying them back for their investment) – so what you end up with is usually in the lower range of a whopping $2 per book.

Reality Check #2: The credibility and cachet of being a published author, especially with a publishing house (as opposed to self-published), increases your earning potential all the way around. It’s a badge of honour that can bring in speaking gigs, higher consulting fees, and media exposure for a very long time.

Publicity + Marketing

Self-Pub: Got contacts? You better have. Facebook friends may not get you on the bestseller list. You need editors’ emails and TV connections. It’s time consuming but so critical to your success. Not your thing? You’re looking at a minimum of $5,000 to hire a publicist to run a decent campaign for you.

Pub House: They’ve got contacts - oodles of them. Media editors and producers are accustomed to being pitched by publishing house staffers and PR firms - not directly by authors themselves. Most publishing companies have a scope of contacts that very few of us have. They will have a marketing team who will help develop and execute the overall strategy of how you and your book are going to be pitched to the media. You’re going to get a marketing expert who works with major retailers and unique outlets to get your book sold in those venues.

That said; don’t think for a minute that your publisher will take your book to the moon and tout it long term. Nope. It’s a rare exception that any book is nurtured beyond a very concentrated, one-time push to the media that lasts about, oh three weeks - if you’re lucky.

You have to stay in the driver’s seat of your campaign. Whether you self-publish or land a book deal - long-term publicity and marketing will ultimately be fueled by the strength of you and your team, and your combined stamina.

So, how are you going to get your work out into the world?

It takes a village to raise a book. Ask yourself if you want to be a writer, or if you want to be a publisher. They’re very different businesses. Getting your work published - in print or in digital form is a huge logistical/administrational operation. It’s easier to pull off with all of the technology we have - blogging platforms, social media, and the numerous companies that can help with both physical and online distribution.

We’re sure you’re multi-talented. But, like most of us, your expertise and your passion, which ideally work hand-in-hand, are probably top-loaded in the area of creativity. You either need a publisher, or a very savvy dream team.

Publishing success takes more than pure talent. You need a remarkable combination of tough-as-nails stamina and romantic idealism. Either direction you take - self-publishing or landing a book deal - you will need to be steely, you will need to embody passion, and you will need to take your show on the road - virtually or otherwise.

Who’s What for Writers

Agent: Your literary agent (or book or publishing agent) is the advocate who’ll help you sell your manuscript to a publisher. They’ll act as your talent rep, and negotiate your book deal—generally keeping a 15-20 percent commission fee, in return. We don’t have agents in Singapore unfortunately. YOU are your own agent! Boohoo x 2.

Publisher: Your publisher (or publishing house) is the institution that accepts your manuscript for printing and distribution. Publishers can be large and looming (Marshall Cavendish, Flame Of The Forest) or small and boutique (Math Paper Press, Write Publishing). Many publishers have a niche slant or focus — for example, Armour Publishing favours books with a Christian slant, while Epigram likes comics.

Editor: Editors are most often the players who actually “buy” books for the publishing house. While there are a number of people involved in deciding if a publisher is going to take on a particular book/author, the editor heavily influences the decision. They will likely be the first point of contact you will make. Your book proposal is written with them foremost in mind. Some editors act as a project manager and every aspect of your book project is funneled through and guided by them - from cover design to foreign rights sales. Your editor will run through your manuscript with a wide-toothed comb (identifying confusing arguments or hazy prose), but mostly with a lens to improving structure and sensibility. The right editor can make great writing even greater. Shower them with gratitude (or chocolates!).

Copy editor: After your content editor has massaged your manuscript into a mellifluously-flowing thing of beauty, your copy editor (either in-house at the publishing house, or someone they hire for you outside of the company), will take a fine-toothed comb to the text, teasing out typos, wonky punctuation, and fact checking like a crazed detective. (That doesn’t mean they always get it right, however. Always be sure to read your edited work several times before your pub date. You know your work better than anyone, and will thankfully have time to catch the one-liners they didn’t get or a transplanted comma that inaccurately alters the meaning of your sentence.)

Ghostwriter (aka me!): Your ghostwriter is a hired-gun who interviews you, curates story pieces, and writes sections of your manuscript - or in some cases, the whole shebang - in your voice. Some ghostwriters get cover or title-page credit for their work - others are “silent partners” (who almost always want some kind of thank you in your acknowledgment section). Celebrity ghostwriters can command upwards of $12,000 - to $25,000 for a finished book. Good ghostwriters come with publishing house connections and can help get you a book deal too! With a staggering number of books being ghostwritten these days, those who do this for a living are in demand and can pick and choose the projects that sing to them.

Freelance Editor: If you want another set of eyes and a brainstorming buddy as you go, but don’t want to bring on a co-author or hire a ghostwriter, finding a freelance editor to assist you may be your most effective option. Not to be confused with the editor at a publishing house, this is someone you hire before you approach publishers, to help up-level your work and your confidence. Fees vary wildly, but expect to pay a minimum of $50 an hour, and much more for those with the biggest resumes. The idea is that by investing in yourself (and being as good as you can be), publishers will be more likely to invest in you.

PR Firm or Publicist: Your PR Firm is responsible for getting you (and your book) into the public eye, both before and after your book has launched. They’ll help you refine your target audience, develop an elevator pitch and press release, secure media placement and interviews, and make critical industry connections.

Post Script:

Unless you have been hiding a tome of books, you would have noticed that everyone and their grandma is crowdfunding. Here is one success story. The perks of doing this: you get to keep almost all the book profits, it’s eco-friendly and most of all, looks fun! Keen to give it a try? Websites to check out:

·      www.publishizer.com

·      www.indiegogo.com

·      www.kickstarter.com

The Horizon – What You Need To Know Before You Embark On This Journey


“Writing comes more easily if you have something to say.”

- Sholem Asch


A book is always more than just a book.  Writing a book could direct the course of your career for the rest of your life. It could lead to infinitely important connections, multiple revenue streams, spin off products, breakthrough ideas, and international relations. It would definitely send more business your way. It could pay for a trip to Maldives or just pay the rent. It could change one person’s life for the better. Or it could start a revolution.

I know what it’s like to get to the finish line. I’ve done it many times – on my own and with my clients. I’ve worked with and inspired top entrepreneurs with big vision as we slam dunk deadlines to birth the books of their dreams. When you hold your printed book in your hands, or when you see it glowing in full colour on screen for the first time, it’s an incredible feeling. The smoothness of the cover, the page numbers, the accent font. Your name. On. The. Cover. It’s enchanting, mesmerising, like a unicorn. And then it seeps in. This is your work. Your life’s work. Your big idea. Your bread ‘n butter. Ten to thirty thousands words coherently strung together to somehow, some way have an effect on someone, somewhere. You did it! Pop the champagne :)

To thrive in this business, you need passion, bucket-loads of it! Otherwise, you will never get over the inertia, fear, gruelling writing, mind-numbing editing and rejections. Here’s the good news: publishers are constantly trolling for dreams and good ideas, for the next great book. Their jobs depend on it. They need you as much as you need them. So try this mindset on for size (repeat it out loud every time you pull up to your keyboard): “Publishers are praying for me to show up. My work is the answer to their prayers.” Do it…and see the difference!

Whether you’re writing a memoir you only want your children to read, outlining a breakthrough formula, or crafting a self-help book on living or working smarter, I believe you’ve got wisdom to share. The world needs what you’ve got to give.

It is a crazy, amazing time to be involved in the world of publishing. The Chinese saying, “May you live in interesting times,” is so apt for this industry. Anybody who tells you that they know where publishing is going can only be half right - some parts of the business are moving at light speed, some players are stuck in the Stone Ages. One thing is certain: everyone in the industry is hustling to keep up with the change. Few people have yet to get in front of it.

This book is not about the future of publishing. I am not here to make predictions about whether print books will be around in five years (okay, I say absolutely!), or how the publishing industry will shift. I am here to help you make a great book now and get it out tothe world. Whether your book will live on an e-reader, a shelf in the bookstore or library, you need to hatch a plan. No matter your packaging and delivery mechanism, books will always need to run on the rails of a development strategy. Form. Function. Value. Beauty.

In this blog, I’m going to flow back and forth between print books and digital books, traditional deals and web-based publishing. I’ll talk about bolstering your online presence as much as I’ll talk about crafting a book proposal that wins. And here’s why: because getting a deal and creating a revenue-generating product, depends as much on being visible to your audience as it does on the merit of your idea or your talent. Who will know about your amazing book if you can’t even be found on Google? The function and the form are inseparable. We are living in a holographic atmosphere in terms of idea production and broadcasting. Raising your platform is all part of the Plan.

Here’s the deal: I am going to walk you through every single element that makes up an entire book proposal. From the hook page to how you describe your audience. Heck, I’ll even share with you examples from my own personal clients that led to published books! I am aiming to give you more than you need, while not being exhaustive (which is exhausting to read). Armed with real-deal examples + essential insight from experts + a range of examples that will fit your situation and/or allow you to see more direct paths to your success, you’ll be good to go. For one book. Or a series.

There will be a lot of experience packed into this blog. Seven years to be precise – this is my entire publishing existence packed into a concise (and hopefully) webpage-turner. Expertise and blood, sweat and tears. Memoir and non-fiction. New talent and legends. Details and empires. My blog posts will be designed to get you thinking strategically and systemically, micro and macro, about what you’re creating and putting out into the world.


Ever since I was a tween, I have always wanted to write a book but shelved the idea to the back of my head because I was not an expert in anything. Why would anyone want to read anything written by me – a nobody? That was the nagging thought in my head constantly. One evening in 2008, I was reading The 4-Hour Workweek (if you haven’t read this book, I suggest you run out and get a copy pronto!) and the section where Timothy Ferriss’ wrote about how anyone can be a top expert in four weeks jumped out at me, precisely this sentence on page 160, “offer to interview a known expert and write the article…”. I felt a kick in my butt and literally flew off my sofa and started Googling entrepreneurs I could interview for my book. In less than an hour, I had 20 potential names and a simple book proposal, which I quickly sent out to two publishers, before I changed my mind. Within the week, I had my first publishing deal and that was how Boss Of Me was born. Thank you, Tim!

Hello, Future Author!


First of all, congratulations for coming to my website and taking the first step towards being an author. If you want to be an author because you aspire to make millions like J.K. Rowling, please exit and go to a website for Property or Stock Trading instead. If you want to write a book to share your life’s experiences, skills sets or just have a great story to share. Then, please read on.

Before I tell you how you can become an author. It’s only fair that you find out more about me. Don’t worry, I’m going to give you the SDU speed-dating version:

1990: My English compositions were highlighted and circulated around in class but I thought nothing of it back then and went back to picking my zits and checking out pre-pubescent boys playing in the school field.

1996: Graduated from RMIT with a Mass Communications degree and promptly found a job writing about lifestyle trends (well mostly eating and getting fat with food reviews of new cafes/restaurants) with The Straits Times.

 1998: Jumped ship to write about fashion for the magazine arm of the newspaper. As a journalist, I was able to churn out articles at breakneck speed, enabling me to leave work early (ok, skive!).

 2000: Quit to teach Pilates (completely irrelevant in this book I know!) but continued writing freelance for a gamut of local magazines like Her World, Shape, New Man, Maxim…

2002: Inspired by Timothy Ferriss of The 4-Hour Work Week, I churned out my first book proposal and scored a publishing deal within the week. The rest as they say, is BOOKWRITING HISTORY!

Why I Write

Just like Richard Branson, I am shy and have trouble finding words when I get excited. That is why I write. While my sentences tend to be clunky and short when I talk, they seem to flow like liquid gold when I am behind a laptop.

I have always had a love affair with words and grew up with my nose buried in between pages and my head lost in the fantasy world of make-believe. Add to that mix, a fertile imagination and a writer was born. I would say I have a gift. In university, I made up for my lack of studying with illustrative writing and scored higher than my classmates who memorised every word in the textbook. In fact, for one of my graduating projects, I did an in-depth report of lesbianism and scored an A, even without presentation (it was deemed too controversial!).

Despite this, I always took my gift for granted, waving off compliments dismissively and shrugging this seemingly-sought after ability like they were raindrops on my shoulders. It was only after I embarked on my career as an author and later, as a ghostwriter – writing biographies for successful people and helping budding writers ghostwrite their stories, did I appreciate and embrace my writing skills.

 To date, I have helped several people fulfill their dreams of becoming authors. Why do people want to write a book? We all have dreams of telling our stories, of sharing with the world what we think, feel and see, and to leave a legacy behind. Writing is a path where we delve and become intimate with ourselves. Writing is egalitarian - my clients range from millionaire businessmen to housewives - each with their own amazing story to tell. 

So why am I writing this blog and sharing my trade secrets with everyone?Truthfully, there are only so many people that my team and I can help at a time. If I had a dollar every time someone asks me how to write and publish books, I’d be rich! No kidding. Case in point: I wrote an article for Singapore Business Review on How To Publish A Book In Singapore and it has received over 30,000 views (and counting)! That is why I feel it is time to write my own blog, to share with other budding writers, my decade-long experience in the publishing industry and to help them fulfill their own dreams. Stay tuned, read on, then go write your asses off!


Aim for amazing,