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First-Time Writers and Illustrators Publishing Initiative

Dated: 8 December 2006

The First-Time Writers &Illustrators Publishing Initiative enters its second edition with an expanded scope following the success of its launch last year. Opening up more opportunities for aspiring writers and illustrators to get their works published, a new category, Comics and Graphic Novels, has been included in addition to Children’s Books.

The announcement of the Initiative’s second edition was made this morning at the grand opening of the Page One Flagship Store by Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, and Second Minister for Information, Communication and the Arts, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.

Organised by the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS) and the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA), the Initiative awards S$8,000 to each successful recipient for the publication of their first book. Furthermore, selected applicants in the Comics and Graphic Novels category will also be able to see their works published in a six-issue anthology series produced by top local comic publisher, Chuang Yi Publishing.

Explaining the decision to expand the Initiative this year, Mr Seto Lok Yin, MDA’s Director of Industry Development said: “Media companies in Singapore are now taking advantage of the increasing global demand for comics and graphic novels. For example, local companies such as Creative MediaCom, Mojeu, Illustrated Orchids, and Imaginary Friends Studios, have ventured into developing original content for the world market.”

“Graphic novels have the potential to be adapted into animation, games, and movies. This will provide opportunities for homegrown creative content to reach world audiences through a range of medium such as books, comics, movies, TV shows and mobile content. It will also open new opportunities for our local players to co-produce with international partners. For example, the published works of last year’s recipients were promoted at the recent Frankfurt Book Fair which generated interest from international publishers and editors. This is a testament to the growing global interest and we hope to achieve greater success with the upcoming round of applicants,” added Mr Seto Lok Yin.

Executive Director of the NBDCS, Mr R Ramachandran believes that increasing efforts need to be taken to discover more hidden talents in the local market. He said: “The last year has shown us that there are many aspiring writers and illustrators who have enormous potential to pursue a career in publishing. We are committed to encouraging the creation of new content from these talents and create a pipeline of potential works that can be exported internationally.”

Mr Cheng Eng Teck, Director of Chuang Yi Publishing, has high hopes for the new round of applicants. ""We are looking out for works with the potential for mass appeal;something that everybody can appreciate, be it the art form, storyline or style. As for the recipients, they will get a chance to experience first hand how it is like to work closely with a publisher, and gain a deeper understanding of the workings of the industry. This will be a good learning curve for those who are new to this field, and acts as a stepping stone for creators who wish to pursue their craft on a long term basis,” he said.

For its inaugural year, the Initiative saw the successful launch of 14 children’s books, most of which are now available at major bookstores such as Borders and Kinokuniya. The range of talent uncovered has impressed the chief judge for the Children’s Books category, Ms Serene Wee. “The response from last year has shown us that there is great interest in this area of writing and illustrating for children's books,” she said.

Ms Serene Wee, who is also President for the Society for Reading and Literacy has some advice for this year’s applicants: “While there is interest which we must encourage, it is important also for our participants to be aware of and work towards internationally recognised standards. The judging for this year will therefore be even more challenging than last year. As all good writing competitions go, this year we will only accept quality work submitted that are print ready copies.""

The Initiative is open to all Singaporeans or Permanent Residents. Applications will be assessed on originality and quality, potential for intellectual properties right optimisation, and the applicant’s ability and commitment to deliver the project.

Applications for the Initiative should reach MDA and NBDCS by 16 March 2007. More details are attached at Annex A and on the MDA website at

The First-Time Writers &Illustrators Publishing Initiative is also supported by the National Library Board (NLB), Association of Comics Artist (Singapore), Bookaburra Books, EarShot and The Society for Reading and Literacy (SRL). It is among a slate of MDA initiatives to develop fresh talents in the local publishing industry. The publishing industry is a key sector contributing *$836 million to GDP and employing more than 6,000 people in 2004.

* These figures exclude the printing sector.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Ms Sharanjit Kaur
Senior Manager
Media Development Authority
Direct Line: +65 6837 9365

Ms Alice Chia ​Assistant Manager National Book Development Council of Singapore Direct Line: +65 6848 8293 Email: