Monday, September 7, 2015

welcome to the official online launch of the 100 WRITERS project, let’s make this happen

Yes, I disappeared from this blog for a while. Again. It’s been close to a month since my last post. I spent this time working on the new Sherlock Hong international edition, four books that Marshall Cavendish will release as paperbacks and ebooks later this year. And also putting together the sequel to our recent book Lion City Adventures. This coming release will feature a really cool mystery story, with thrilling episodes that continue from chapter to chapter throughout the book. So it feels like you’re travelling all over Singapore as you help the Lion City Adventuring Club investigate the XXX XXX XXXX XX [NOTE: This bit has been removed to avoid spoilers. Sorry. We’ll share more details when it’s appropriate! — Editor]


Right from the time Super Cool Books started, perhaps because I was hanging out so much with the Maker community in Singapore, we’ve always encouraged fellow writers to create their own books and share their original stories. Go DIY! I started our StoryMakers lab to promote this, gave talks, worked with partners to deliver workshops, and created lots of learning materials for educators. But recently, after our Sherlock Hong series was acquired by Marshall Cavendish, and Lion City Adventures was shortlisted for the BookFest Singapore 2015 / Popular Readers' Choice Award, there’s been a sudden surge in queries and requests regarding the self-publishing process. It seems like people are getting inspired and motivated on a whole new level. And that’s so awesome. Join the party.

If you write cool stories and you want to experience what it’s like publishing and promoting your own book, guess what, here's a little something to get you going. Welcome to our 100 WRITERS project. My aim is to use Super Cool Books to encourage 100 writers (or more) to publish your own stories, using the same resources and hacks that have worked for us. No strings attached. Everything you write belongs to you. Every dollar you make selling your stories also belongs to you. Who knows, just like us, your books could eventually be picked up by one or more major publishers too. You just need to start somewhere. All I hope is that if this project actually makes a difference, you’ll recommend it to another writer you know, and also share any insights or suggestions you might have, so that others can benefit too. Because generosity is the new cool.

So consider this the official online launch of 100 WRITERS. I’ve been confirmed as a speaker or workshop leader for a few creative writing events in the weeks ahead, and these will be great opportunities to meet more of you and find out how you’re getting along. I’ll post proper details soon, but for now:

— Join us at the coming Matchbox Mayhem - Geeks and Freaks! (Literary Arts Mayhem) networking session organised by the National Arts Council

— Turn up for the regular meetups by StoryCode Singapore, a local transmedia community that I’ve been collaborating with for some time

— I’ll be speaking at a Meet-the-Author session at the Bishan Public Library this November, as part of their Read! Singapore — SG Author Series, will post details soon

— Watch out for my special story coaching session at the end of this year, co-organised with my friend Kamil Haque from the Haque Centre of Acting and Creativity

— If you're ready, join my short story writing masterclass at the All In! Young Writers Media Festival 2016, organised by the National Book Development Council of Singapore


For now, here’s a simple starter pack you can use to launch your story publishing adventure. Welcome to 100 WRITERS. Or did I say that already? The first rule of 100 WRITERS is: let’s make this happen.

_____ RESOURCE #1
by Don Bosco

This is a handy fiction writing workbook for developing your own stories. It takes you through a simple guided process where you use your imagination in fun and clever ways. Sit with this at a coffee shop, or on a train, or at the beach, and experience the unfolding of your creative vision. Suitable for both beginners as well as experienced story writers, in any format or medium. Thanks to community partner StoryCode Singapore.

Free download (PDF) here:

_____ RESOURCE #2
A First-Timer’s Guide to DIY E-book Publishing
by Don Bosco

You write stories. You want to publish your own e-books. Well, okay, let’s do it. Here’s a fun and easy guide to get you started. We’ll break down the whole e-book publishing process into manageable steps; introduce some of the more popular tools for writing, publishing, designing, and promoting your e-book; explain the challenges that may pop up; teach you when to hire freelancers to help with some of the trickier tasks; and share tips on receiving payments from your e-book sales. If you already have a story to share, and you’re just eager to get people reading it, this should be enough to get you going. Originally compiled for the Asian Festival of Children's Content 2015.

Free download (PDF) here:

_____ RESOURCE #3
I posted this series of story writing lessons for this year’s Budding Writers Project, organised by Marshall Cavendish Education. The tips here really help you use your imagination in fun and clever ways. And spend some time on the short creative exercises, these should give you hours and hours of writing pleasure.

Lesson #1: How to create an awesome character for your story
Lesson #2: How to write a truly Singaporean bestseller (or any other country)
Lesson #3: How to excite readers and keep them hooked
Lesson #4: How to boost your imagination and get really creative

_____ RESOURCE #4
by Don Bosco

In 2010, a former Silicon Valley software developer named Peter Armstrong popularised the phrase “lean publishing”. He has distilled his idea into one quotable nugget: “Lean Publishing is the act of publishing an in-progress book using lightweight tools and many iterations to get reader feedback, pivot until you have the right book and build traction once you do.” This article explains how we used lean publishing to grow Super Cool Books, and how we developed our GHOSTLY story from idea to a full paperback now available in bookstores and libraries.

Read online:


This is also a great opportunity to introduce a fellow writer, one of the first to step up and make a contribution to this project. Melvin Yong is an old journalist friend and fellow comic book geek who downloaded Keep Calm and Upload E-books some months back. When he finished reading it, he created and shared with me a helpful resource: a short cheat sheet that summarises the self-publishing steps covered in the guide. Here it is, as a graphic that you can download and carry with you on your smartphone or tablet. Or have it printed and stick this in your notebook. Thank you, Melvin!

Download this image

100 WRITERS. At the rate that things are developing, I expect this platform to grow pretty quickly. And I look forward to seeing all of you do amazing stuff. Perhaps we could collaborate on some books too.

Happy writing. Have faith in what you love.

— D


* Introduction, please?
Hi there, I’m Melvin Yong and I’m a copywriter by trade as well as an entertainment reporter before that. I have written a local comic strip and a comic book or two back in the 1990s. The comic strip ran in The Sunday Times for nine months and was based on the cyberpunk adventures of a bounty hunter called the Huntsman. The comic stories were part of an anthology and was about the modern adventures of the Monkey King. As a DC and Marvel comic book fan since the age of six, it was like a dream come true.

After that, I did most of my fulltime writing in the world of advertising and media. Even though I stopped writing for leisure, I continued reading almost everything I could get my hands on, from more comics to magazines to novels. You just got to keep reading, that’s where you get all your new story ideas.

* What were some of the more exciting story projects that you worked on in Singapore?
Frankly after entering advertising, I wouldn’t exactly call the copywriting I did as “exciting”. I guess it became more of a daily grind to pay the bills although there definitely were numerous fun and memorable moments.

A couple years ago, I did self-publish a book showcasing my Dad’s wildlife photography. He’s 83-years old and only started using a digital camera about three years ago after my Mom passed away. Everyone I showed his shots to thought they were pretty good especially for someone his age.

Now I knew it was highly unlikely that any publisher here would publish a book on local wildlife photography so I did a little research and decided to print it myself through an online self-publishing platform called Blurb. I did my own editing and layouts. It took a lot of time and it wasn’t cheap either. But I wanted something that I could show and give to family and friends. I only printed about a dozen copies.

It’s a little 33-page book called Nestlings and it features little birds in their nests, all across the island. I hope to do another one soon as I have enough material to do at least half a dozen more books! Yes, my Dad takes hundreds of photos every single day.

* Tell us about your own 100 WRITERS project. 
Right now, I’m writing a series of short supernatural stories. They may be set locally but they aren’t your typical Asian horror or supernatural tales. I have incorporated Lovecraftian elements to several of them and hope that readers out there would appreciate them. I don’t want to say too much about the stories as I’m still writing them except to say that some of them are written from a personal perspective. Friends of mine would know that I have recently come into possession of my old family home and some of the things I have uncovered are from as far back as the 1900s, and are rather bizarre as well as macabre. So I’m using several of them as kind of inspiration for a couple of my stories.

Now I could be wrong here but I realized that there’s a bigger market for science-fiction and fantasy than there is for horror. Once again I don’t know if local publishers here are ready for something like this, a non-pontianak kind of ghost story. And I suppose that’s one of the reasons why I’m self-publishing them. I can imagine sending the stories out and getting rejected can be quite demoralizing so maybe I’ll skip that whole phase and just publish it myself.