IN A moment of epiphany, Jasemin Sibo put on paper her Dear-Diary moments about past relationships that hadn’t worked out. It was 10 years later that this diary became Epiphany, an international novel, written by Ipoh-born Sibo.
Not to be mistaken for another placid and staid written book of self-pitying gripes about life, Sibo uses her inimitable humour and wit to make her writing engaging and relatable to young readers.
Her choice to become an author put her with the the likes JK Rowling, Agatha Christie and others before her.
But as we’ll find out — Sibo is a rebel with a good cause.
“Epiphany was accidental because what started out as a therapeutic means to cast out nagging memories of ex-boyfriends, morphed into a collaborative effort involving women from all walks of life, creed and religion around the world,” said Sibo who alternates her time between Australia and Malaysia.
As her reputation grew in the literary world, contributors around the world shared their stories in the book about the broken hearted.
Though each story is different, the common theme is precious lessons learnt and how each contributor triumphed over these setbacks.
Sibo sees herself as a “global citizen” who lives in a borderless world where cultures, business practices, social norms and consumer behaviour have been blurred. She grew up in Perak and pursued her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in International Business and Commerce in Perth and Sydney respectively.
The former banker with American Express Australia understands that authorship is a rather unconventional business, but it’s been done before and is still being done. After all, she’s not one to conform.
“My passion is in merging the old with the new. I value the foundations from old business models, but also understand that businesses must adapt and be relevant in the digital age,” she says.
But this business embodies the same requirements as any other business.
“A book is like a product, where I create the concept, design, target audience, PR and marketing strategies, value proposition, pricing, beta product, project manage the entire production process, right to sales and post-sales. I am now focusing on understanding the various distribution channels better to optimise future sales results,” she explains.
In tandem, she’s also studying the different customer behaviours in her target markets and crafting customised marketing campaigns to get the best traction.
As with most start-ups, it was not easy in the beginning. Sibo sent out her manuscript to several publishing houses five years ago with not much success. She continued to modify her manuscript and waited for the right time when opportunity would knock on my door.
“Opportunity finally came in July last year when Penguin Randomhouse asked whether I was interested in self-publishing my book and I said yes!
But I was overwhelmed with emotions, especially fear. Thankfully, my consultants walked with me all the way to the end. My family and friends gave me moral support and it helped to allay my fears,” she recalls.
Now, this self-professed “game changer” is realising her love for disrupting the status quo and experiments with wild and crazy creative campaigns.
She believes it’s important for business owners to humanise their products and services and she’s doing just that in her “Sisterhood of the Traveling Book” movement, launched in October last year.
“I will select a dozen ladies from all over the world whenever I publish a new book and they will receive a book. They’ll be given different challenges - something like a mini Amazing Race. The common theme is out of the box thinking, creativity, radical mindset and being true to themselves. Prizes will be given to the top three winners,” she said.
There’ll be no way that you’ll see Epiphany or any of Sibo’s books just sitting at bookstores, waiting for customers to trickle in.
She believes this is a suicidal and passive way of marketing, so she’s going the extra mile to push her book into the global marketplace.
She’s currently working on her upcoming book, Zhu, which is a bilingual novel set in 1927 and written in English and Mandarin for Asian readers.
“Zhu is very personal to me as the inspiration behind it is from my late maternal grandmother and nanny. They were a huge influence in my formative years and Zhu is an ode to them and countless Chinese women who have left their motherland in search of a better life,” she explained.
From a business perspective, Epiphany was a blanket approach where it catered to the general female readers. Zhu will be market specific from China, India and even South Africa to highlight the uniqueness of each culture and the common thread that binds them. Sibo’s Epiphany group on Facebook can be found on www.facebook.com/groups/epiphanyglobal.