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Self-publishers add new color to the literary scene

It was the pursuit to add color to one’s white canvasses that made successful authors Charissa Ong Ty and Kota Yamada take the greatest leap from sharing their pieces of art on Instagram to finally publishing their own books – sharing pieces of themselves, and turning heartbreaks into life’s biggest lessons.

Instagram, an social media site made for sharing photographs and videos, has been poetry’s revival in this digital era as poets such as Lang Leav, Rupi Kaur, and Daniel Chang are the first wave of what we know as “Instapoets,” introducing and connecting to a vast range of readers through a social media platform.

Passionate beginning

Malaysian-based author, Charissa Ong Ty is a 25-year old User Interface or User Experience (UI/UX) Designer, who works on designing screens or pages of various websites.

Ong's passion for reading and writing engaged her to venture on writing her own works. She was inspired by how these two outlets served as a bridge of connection between the audience and the writers.

“I started to write when I was 12 [and] I wrote a lot of comedic blog posts [but] nobody read them…At 18, I have been through a failed relationship and I started to write poetry to cope with my emotions,” Ong said in an interview with The Spiral Journal.

Influenced by poets like Lang Leav, Ong gave poetry a shot by using her typewriter to give her works a more thump in the heart.

She shared her initial works on Instagram, with the hopes to be part of the community that shares their beautiful outputs to the world.

“It felt… interesting. I never knew people would pay attention to anything I had to say,” Ong said.

She shared that it was a lift in the spirit when a wave of followers started noticing her works – pushing her to create more of what she offered.

Instagram was more accessible for Ong, and until now, she continues to publish her works on the platform where she thought of it as a way to get closer to her readers and be able to hear what they have to say.

Healing heart

Her love for reading and books such as “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini and “The Unwind Series” by Neil Shusterman, propeled Ong to finally publish a book.

She recalled how self-publishing was a bumpy road ahead – from printing, distribution, picking of materials, designing the book, to public relations – have been tough endeavors, but it eventually became a learning and worthy experience for her.

Ong’s very own “Midnight Monolgues,” a book containing poetry and short stories written in English, was inspired by her midnight thoughts and her own take on failed relationships, finding one’s self, and everything in between.

Reaching out to her audience who are mostly young adults, the book contains a set of poems divided into four sections: the poetry sections, Lost, Found, and Hope grasp the long journey of loving, hurting, and learning while the short stories section were her own take on the traditional nursery rhymes and fantasy stories for the young at heart.

“It's basically a timeline of when you lost your love, found a new one, and a collection of hope poems where romantic love is now secondary to self-realization,” she said.

She was able to publish her book last 2016 and mentioned how publishing her own book was not just an expression of unsaid feelings, but was more of connecting with the universe and relating to each one’s sentiments.

“It also [helps me] bring myself closer to those who are feeling the same way… It's like a really nice, close knit community where we would just break down all our walls and be truthful [to] the way we feel,” Ong said.

Her books are available in major bookstores in the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and they are also available online on Amazon.

Penwings Publishing, owned by Ong, is a Malaysian-based publishing company established in 2016 which targets to publish more works of inspiring authors.

Set to debut next year, “Daylight Dialogues,” a sequel to the Midnight Monologues will cover more poems, essays, and short stories with a more seasoned flavor as well as bigger issues in life and romantic love in general.

Flower yet to bloom

Twenty-four-year-old self-publisher Kota Yamada admitted that he was not good at writing literature when he started at the young age, but poetry came and allowed him to create his own writing style inspired by other well-known writers like Christopher Poindexter and Lang Leav.

Instagram became Yamada’s platform when his cousin suggested that he should start posting his initial works because there had been Instagram poets who have been doing it for some time now.

“[Instagram] really helped create my readership, the loyal and beautiful readers who made Lost Hearts what it is today,” he said in an interview with The Spiral Journal.

Big step forward

Yamada, who wanted to show how the world looks like in his eyes wrote his books “Lost Hearts,” a compilation of poems made from a lot of inspirations like past relationships, personal struggles, and life-changing events and “It Was Rather Short Lived,” his sophomore anthology based on the subsequent trials that he has faced in love and in life.

Yamada, who was determined to see his books out in bookstores, decided to establish his own publishing company, Yamada Publishing.

“I had to believe this could work and that I do have some magic in me,” Yamada said. “The passion-driven work made me value the purpose and it made [me] understand how it actually feels [like to be] an artist, a writer, and an entrepreneur.”



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