I REFER to the report “Malaysians love reading, but fewer local books sold” on June 23 (The Star; online at bit.ly/star_local).
Local books published in English tend to contain a good number of grammar, syntax, and vocabulary mistakes. Sometimes, even the information is incorrect. It seems local authors and publishers do not make use of editorial services. It is a fact that even the best writer needs an editor.
Secondly, there is little or no promotion. The author, the publisher, and the bookshop need to promote the book by organising reading and meet-the-author sessions.
Engaging with the public and the relevant readership makes an author known and creates a faithful following for him/her. Letting people know what you are doing and why they should buy your books is essential for success.
Thirdly, good reading habits and profitable books sales require a common language. It is time the country considers adopting an official language so that everyone can become proficient in reading, speaking, and writing that language – and in this day and age, the official language must be English.
While local authors do have good ideas and I know they are willing to work hard, they lack the support system that makes a book a financial success. Malaysian authors who are serious about their craft and want to be full-time writers have no choice but to publish their work overseas. This is a loss for the local scene, as well as for the development of good local talent.
What is needed for local writers to do better is a more structured and professional approach to writing, together with an official language that will support and increase readership on a regular basis.