Lioness Literature: The Beginning of a Journey
My name is Stacy Ooi and I am the Founder of Lioness Literature.
As a child who loved reading, I grew up under the shelter of stories, myths, parallel universes, enchanted forests and mythical creatures. Literature taught me that words have the power to inspire, challenge, heal, and more. Knowing this, I have decided to create Lioness Literature, a start-up that promotes local literature in Singapore.
The literary scene in Singapore is small and thriving. Local independent bookstore,BooksActually, has managed to pull off the impressive feat of running a brick-and-mortar store for several years — difficult in any industry, but especially so for creative industries. Local organisation, SingLit Station, has managed to create a warm, cosy community space at 22 Dickson Road, where writers and intellectuals can gather for workshops and events.
What is Lioness Literature about?
Lioness Literature aims to bring writers and readers together in the online, not just offline space. We are an online platform where local writers can be paid to publish their work, and where readers can leave feedback on the pieces they read. Our publishing arm, Dissonant Press, focuses on printing hard copy products such as zines and poem-trinkets.
As Lioness Literature is still in the early stages of development, I do not yet know about all the hurdles I will be facing. However, one common critique that I come across is this: “How will you get readers to pay to access your platform?”
The difficulty of monetising creative work is something that all creatives face, regardless of the industry we are in. In Singapore, especially, many people would not pay to read literature that is not written by an already-famous author. As my platform would focus on publishing work by emerging, unknown local authors, I would have my work cut out for me in trying to market these pieces to a local audience. It will not be an easy road ahead, and I will have to explore different revenue streams in order to find a stable source of income for my business.
However, interest in local literature is definitely still there and growing. While Singaporeans may not have a literary culture comparable to those of European countries, our country has still come a long way compared to a few decades ago. My exposure to literature is much greater than anything my parents had, and my children’s and grandchildren’s exposure will be even greater. I do feel that we are on an upward trend when it comes to increasing awareness and appreciation of the arts.
While many people have skeptical attitudes towards the possibility of making money from literature, I believe that most people do not have anything against literature itself. In my experience, many people are curious, even in awe, of literary work — some perceive it to be “atas” and inaccessible. My goal is to take away that element of fear and hesitance and to encourage greater curiosity and adventurousness in Singaporeans’ attitudes towards literature.
A Supportive Local Ecosystem for Start-Ups
Upon seeing the *SCAPE Creative Fellowship application call on social media, I decided to apply as I wanted to learn the fundamentals of running a start-up. Gratefully, I did not regret my decision. Through the four weeks of *SCAPE Creative Fellowship masterclasses, I had the opportunity to meet like-minded, creative individuals. I greatly enjoyed the spirit of enterprise and the possibility that I encountered in the people I met, and it has definitely given me an additional spur of energy in the pursuit of my goals. The programme has furnished me with insightful tips that I will be using to refine and develop my business plans. While the masterclasses have made me more sober about the financial reality I will be facing, they have also given me the confidence to take the next step, knowing that I am now better equipped than I was one month ago.
As I am still a beginning entrepreneur myself, I would not have much to teach other creative entrepreneurs. As a word of encouragement, however, I would advise everyone to have faith, and keep going. This is the road less traveled. There will definitely be difficulties compared to if you had taken the easy path. Don’t be deterred, however — just go in with an open mind, and unshakeable resolve. And above all, take care of your heart. All the best!