BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Book publishers are seeking more Bruneian content from aspiring writers to bridge the gap between creation and consumption of local stories.

Khairul Anwar, co-founder of AD Comics, said Brunei does not have a thriving industry with local books becoming international bestsellers even though Bruneians have many stories to tell.

“There’s a glaring gap in what’s being produced and what’s being consumed, and we want to reduce that gap,” he said in an interview.

His AD Comics co-founder Adi Farhan Othman said, “Ultimately, we want to see more local content”.

Along with Qasrun Nafis Publishing House and M Content Creations, AD Comics listened to budding writers pitch their story ideas during a Tiny Lit Fest micro-event last weekend.

Rozan Yunos, founder of Qasrun Nafis Publishing House, said he has always been looking for Bruneian narratives to publish.

“It really doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s about Brunei, a legend or even how a street gets its name.

The author of Monsters, Dragons & Fairies said sales of local books are good in the country as there are not a lot of stories with Brunei as the setting.

Apart from content, he said a piece of written work must be engaging.

“Anybody can write, but not everybody can write well. If it is not readable, then people will lose interest,” he said.

‘Stop making excuses for not writing’

Khairul, who is also author of The Chronicles of Tebuanman, said the Publishers’ Pitch event was organised to demystify the publishing process.

“Publishing is seen as an act that not anyone can do [and we want to change] it to something that is attainable.

“I think by having these kinds of events, you remove the factor of doubt and fear from people,” he added.

Adi said the event aims to give a nudge to all creators brave enough to take the first step and pitch their ideas to the publishers.

“One of the main obstacles for creators to submit [their work] is the fear of failure, so keep going and don’t give up.

“If you’re really passionate about what you’re doing, if you believe in your story, your product,  your idea, you should not need anybody else to tell you that you can and cannot do it. You should know that you can do it,” said Adi, illustrator of The Chronicles of Tebuanman.

Khairul said his top advice for writers is to stop making excuses and finish their work.

“In a year when you’re not allowed to travel, [or] get out of your house, I don’t see how anything else can stop you from creating,” said the comics writer.

He further said that it is important for writers to know what they are trying to convey, and to write with purpose.

“You need to overcome the fear. The fear of creating, the fear of putting yourself out there. The most that can happen is nobody will like it, and once you accept that fact, I don’t think there’s a bigger fear,” Khairul continued.

Rozan urged aspiring writers to take the first step and submit their work to publishers, without worrying about the quality of the piece.

He said publishers will be able to guide writers with the editing and proofreading process.

“My advice is if you want to write, write. Continue writing.”