Thursday, April 2, 2020

Access Magazine | Tax & Royalty | Sept, 2017 | Satya Wacana

What is your reason for becoming a writer? Do you think that some writers may have the same reason at the first they start this field? Why?

As long as I remember, I always have a strong inclination towards story crafting. I enjoyed the sensation of being carried away by a story, and I’d like to do the same to others. So, basically it’s been a hobby since I was a child. I guess many writers felt the same passion early on.

Back then, there were some issues regarding to the regulation of royalty payment and the tax. I believe you as one of the experienced writers, you do know exactly what the problems are. In short explanation, what is the real problem that the writers (in this case Indonesian writers) have to struggle with?

In general, it’s not that easy to be a writer as a sole profession. Only the best-selling books can generate enough significant income to provide a living, and only a handful writers can be the best-selling ones. The issue with tax is, our taxation system doesn’t reflect its full understanding yet on the productivity cycle and the income pattern of a writer. We’re in the same category with artists, while how we generate income is far different. Royalties are considered passive income, while in reality writers need to actively create and promote their works.

Based on the 2 notes that you wrote and published on your Facebook page (attached), you are aware about the dilemma of Indonesian writers. But then, as you are now, you are successful in this field and known by most of the writers in Indonesia. Had you went through the problem too (as stated in the 2nd question) or do you still struggle with it until now? How do you overcome it?

I started out my writer career by doing self-publishing. And, lucky enough, the sales of my book was very good at that time. Writing was also not my sole profession because I was already a professional singer first. I had challenges in managing self publishing, but I didn’t struggle financially. To overcome it, I decided to work together with a publisher on my second book. Therefore, I could focus on the creative aspect of my work and let others handle the business aspect. But of course, my situation may not apply to all writers. In my article, I pointed the general situations with writers in Indonesia.

Talking about the process of publishing a book, can you share your experience about it?  Was there any problem in the process? If there was, what was it? Do you have any idea how to solve similar problems in the future?

If you go to a publisher, then you need to have a strong manuscript. The story must be relatable. More polished is better, because the editor can gauge our writing ability and maturity from how we prepare our manuscript. You also need to find the right publisher. Don’t go with a nonfiction manuscript to a publisher that mostly publish fictions, for instance. So, know your own book and know which door to knock. If you’re doing self- publishing, then of course you will need capital to do it. You’ll need to do all the tasks that a publisher usually does, which include distribution planning, promotion planning, sales planning, etc. Both has its own advantage and challenge.

If the government still ignores the unsolved problem, do you think it will impact the next generation of Indonesian writers? How so?

I think, writing as a profession will remain a secondary job for most. We’ll have only few dedicated writers, thus a slow growth in literacy outcomes. Eliminating the PPN from all books and giving the right tax treatments for writers will be a great stimulus for Indonesian literacy.

What about the readers? Will it (refers to previous question) brings effects to the interest in reading of Indonesian?

Eliminating PPN from all books will make books become more affordable to people. Readers may also enjoy more various themes and increasing numbers of books from more writers.

While waiting for the government to make a move and take actions to the matters of Indonesian writers problems, what do you suggest or any advises for to-be writers out there, that have plan to publish their masterpiece?

We all should be doing what we love. Tax is one thing, and there are rooms to improve on that matter. But, however the situation is, we should always keep writing our hearts out, do what we love best.

Is there any additional advice for the writers in Indonesia that might be considered as an important thing to be prepared before and after they send their manuscript to publisher?

Writing is like a muscle. You need to use it a lot to grow stronger, to know yourself better. If you want to become a professional writer, you should perceive yourself like an athlete going for a race. You need to train. Learn as much as you can about writing, from books, workshops, and most importantly, from trying it often. There’s no shortcut to writing. It’s  skill that needs a lifetime to master.