What's In My Portfolio: Edmund Wee

Interview by Anton D. Javier
Photography by Chino Sardea
07 Jan 2019

Mr. Edmund Wee is the founder and publisher of Epigram Books

"A bulk of the books we publish at Epigram is fiction because I believe storytelling is important, and it's important for the soul of a nation and the soul of the people.

How Epigram started was quite accidental. We were doing publishing services for over 20 years, where we’d help people and companies with their publishing needs. Along the way, we noticed more young people were starting to write stories about Singapore, but had difficulty finding publishers.

Back then you wouldn't have any problems finding a company that would publish a cookbook, short stories, or poetry. But when it came to long form fiction, it wasn’t that easy. It was probably because novels were thicker and would cost more to produce.

When we finally got into it in 2011, there were suddenly so many people who came to us and wanted their works published. In order to help more people and encourage them to write, we started the Epigram Books Fiction Prize, where the winner would receive $25,000, while three runners-up would get $5,000 each, in addition to their novels being published. I’ve already lost count of the number of authors in our roster, but we now publish 50 titles a year, while our backlist has around 350 titles.

Beyond e-books, what is becoming more popular are audio books. People are listening more now and this is particularly popular in countries where people drive long distances. We recently signed a contract with a big audio book platform from Europe. They’ve chosen 45 of our titles and we are the first publisher here to do this. The service will be launched sometime in 2019 and I hope our books will follow soon after.

We are also looking for ways to promote our books and authors overseas, so we've recently started a London office. We have chosen eight books to be republished in London and we hope that through this, there will be some greater interest in Singapore fiction."