10 TYPES OF MALAYSIAN AUTHORS I ABHOR THE MOST
I HAVE YET TO FULLY RECOVER from producing a spate of horrendous books these couple of months. Yes, months of slow, mind-numbing torture. All right, let me be honest here, these are really bad books. And I am not joking. Seriously. I am calling them ‘books’ for lack of a better word. On second thought, ‘trash’ would probably be a more appropriate word to use! Worst of all is being literally forced to produce books from manuscripts that have been rejected but somehow claw their way back from the pits of Hell to scare the living daylights of Humankind. (These nine nightmarish books to end all nightmares are lethal enough to kill you!) Publishing in Malaysia is like running on a treadmill; you just go nowhere even after much exertion. Here are some of my not-so-favourite things as a book editor!
- Authors who are willing to (and actually do) pay others to write about them for them (in biographies) and praise them to high heaven. (In this age of self-absorption and self-aggrandisement, there are people who are so obsessed about seeing their names in print that they are willing to pay others to write their books for them!) Some enjoy praising themselves in their badly self-penned autobiographies!
- Authors who are ungrateful to their editors and waste their time.
- Authors who plan their book launches (and the food, of course!) without having completed writing their manuscripts or going through their final proofs. Book launches (at five-star hotels, of course, nothing less) are planned even before the ink on the pages is dried—sometimes even before the book is written! (These are dime a dozen.) It is so easy to get published in Malaysia; there is only one qualification you need: just write badly. Too many authors fall in this category.
- Psychotic authors who ‘hijack’ the whole publishing process and behave like prima donnas and divas. (Lots of these prancing around.)
- Authors who think the publishing house belongs to their father or grandfather. Believe it or not, money does buy you everything nowadays!
- Authors who are under the delusion that they write better than V.S. Naipaul and Salman Rushdie put together. (An indepth study definitely should be done to delve into this very strange malaise.)
- Authors who are supposedly graduates of some of the finest universities in the universe, and yet are unable to string proper sentences together or organise their (unintelligible) prose into paragraphs. (Who was it who said that education makes one a well-rounded person? He obviously haven’t had the misfortune of meeting such a Malaysian creature. (“If you can’t do such simple things, you might as well flush your degree down the you-know-where,” a teacher once told me in the late 1960s.)
- Authors who demand advances even though they have no manuscript to show. (Go figure this one out!) For some reason or other, they also want to know their sales figures before sitting down to write the book they say they were put on earth to write. And (this is a good one) they always want to know when their books will be available in the bookshops (when they haven’t written anything yet). (I was told this sort of behaviour is rooted in traumatic childhood experiences, psychological trauma or defective upbringing!)
- Authors who do not allow editors to edit their books (and who, for one reason or other, do not edit their own books themselves, usually due to pure laziness, pomposity or other human flaws which should make the Devil so proud of them). They also demand an assurance from the editor that as editor he will be personally responsible for reading every line or word of the atrocious manuscript to ensure that the book is perfect! They love contradicting themselves. (“Don’t you dare edit my work; you are responsible for every mistake that occurs in the book and make sure my author photograph is in colour.”) This group of authors also loves launching their masterpieces and making a public spectacle of themselves! (On the other hand, there are authors who keep amending their work, even after their books have been on bookstore shelves for months!)
- Authors who cry and wail over the phone and who won’t take no for an answer. (Somehow, they don’t seem to understand why I have rejected their unwritten manuscripts. “I’ll only write it if you want it,” they intone.)
Do you belong to any or a combination of these stereotypes? I hope not, because these are not exactly role models worth emulating!