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Went to a great presentation yesterday!

Kelly Sonnack from the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency was at the National Library. At the talk itself I was impressed chiefly by:

1. How well she handled herself: she stood & talked non-stop for almost two hours in heels & looked calmly gorgeous throughout–long blonde hair & short slinky dress.

2. How well she handled  her subject: If you want to be considered seriously by international publishers a literary agent with know-how & contacts makes a big difference; literary agents do the dirty work like contracts/negotiations/deadline bargaining for you; literary agents & agencies specialise in certain areas so figure out where/who you should be going before you mail them your life’s work; literary agents want to help you to make lots of money so they can make lots of money. When you think about that it makes sense right?

3. How well she handled us. She was bombarded with questions like ‘how do I know the literary agency won’t say no to me then steal my idea’ to ‘why don’t you handle science fiction when you handle fantasy’ but she was pleasant & clear; informative & detailed without being condescending. Then after the ‘official’ talk she stayed (still standing) to answer the questions of the mass of people, some of them trying to hand her manuscripts though she had said she wasn’t accepting any yesterday.

She asked me ‘Do you have a question?’ because I was hanging around & eavesdropping on the Q & A. Sadly no, I didn’t have a question to ask. I know what I want to do, I just have to decide whether I’m going to do it.

Problem is: I feel I should keep publishing in Singapore because I want to support stuff here that’s supported me up to now. But what if I get a Singapore publisher–it’s the distribution that’s a problem isn’t it? I can be a bestseller here & that doesn’t add up to very much.

I was just ‘impressed’ by the presentation then I came home & looked up the agency & found…

It’s not just any agency, it handles Diane Mott Davidson, Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni, Lillian Faderman (so I know they’re prob not anti-gay characters), Maxine Hong Kingston, Anchee Min and omg omg omg Amy Tan.

Their client list alone makes me drool. I mean, these are books I own. In some bizarre (& yes, totally irrational) way I feel connected already.

Today I started to rewrite/rework/re-edit the next rough in my pile: ‘Falling From Clean Windows’ & I’ll see if I can turn it into something they might take on–Monsoon hasn’t rejected ‘Dead Wrongs’ yet so I’ll keep my fingers & toes crossed there too…

If I get a rejection from Sandra Dijkstra even that would be a step ahead won’t it?

Okay, I’m babbling. I did some serious walking today, a 15 min breathing meditation & a 20 minute practice. It’s coming back but slowly. I didn’t try to do jumpbacks & upward dog still hurts my lower back. It may take a while more… but at least I’m walking again. 12,000 steps today!


4 Responses

  1. Being published outside SIngapore would also be a way of helping local writers. For one thing, hopefully the next time we do a search for “Singapore authors” on Amazon.com, we get someone else besides Catherine Lim. For a while, when people mention Iceland, we only think of Vikings and Bjork. So, go be the cultural export of Singapore.

    Regretfully there is still a prevailing snobbery against our local talents. Sometimes Singaporeans have to venture out, make a name internationally, before the due and proper respect will be accorded.

    So, I say, go for it. It’s okay to be rejected the first time. The second time. A hundred times. I guess it’s helpful to remember you are not doing this for the money – because there are many easier ways of making money than writing. (Still, good to be paid for writing)

    Most importantly, venturing outside of Singapore hopefully will allow you access to a higher standard of editorial support to grow as a writer. A fish in a tiny bowl is not going to be as healthy or robust as a fish in a gigantic pond.

    Slightly off tangent – but I get your point about supporting our local literary scene. I am amused that Singaporeans would pay money to read about a foreigner’s – probably Caucasian – experience of Singapore – yet they remain indifferent to local literature.

    My personal issues is coming into this comment, so I shall shut up now.

  2. I’m glad too Kirsten!,
    Thanks Tym–great talk wasn’t it? Are you going to submit something to them too? Wouldn’t it be great if their largest out-of-USA author base becomes Singapore? (ok, I should be writing fantasy…)

  3. I was at the same talk and found it really insightful too. Good luck with your submission to the agency!

  4. Walking is great exercise — so glad you’re able to do so again!

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