The Minister of Information, Communication and Culture, Datuk Seri Rais Yatim, raised the issue of why writers in Malaysia could not earn their living out of writing, while sales of books reached RM2.1 billion. The Minister raised the issue during the launching of the book, Najib Razak, A Sense of Mission on March 31, 2010.
I could not believe myself when the Minister said that there are 8,184 publishing companies and 5150 writers in Malaysia, which means that there are more publishing companies
Looking at the sales of books amounting to RM2.1 billion, the publishing companies are making a lot of money. We do not know the numbers of printing companies and I believe they too are making a lot of money.
The procedures of publishing books, a writer or an author normally submit his or her manuscript to a publisher. The publisher will review the manuscript in terms of market potential. If the potential markets is lucrative, an agreement will normally be made between the publisher and the writer. In the agreement are usually prescribes royalty, the number of copies to be published and others as in accordance to the Copy Right Act. This is merely a formality only.
Those of you who want to publish books your are at the mercy of the publishers and printers. The publishers and printers are some times in cahoots to publish more copies than those specified in the agreement. Usually, the publisher will sell all the these copies in normal or informal market. The number of copies as specified in agreement usually are not sold but kept in the store. Because the copies are not sold, the writer or author does not get full royalties. After a couple of years, these books will be sold at cheaper prices.