Children here adore her books but few know her story.
Her first book, Prince Bear & Pauper Bear, is about a teddy bear who cannot speak as his toymaker forgot to sew a mouth on him.
What many don’t know is that the book is really about its writer, Ms Emily Lim, 45.
In 1999, Ms Lim developed spasmodic dysphonia, a rare voice disorder that left her unable to speak. She has since recovered.
She says: “It was only after I had finished writing (the book) that I realised I had written my own story. It was very subconscious. I didn’t see it until it was completed.”
That book launched a successful career – her writings have been commissioned by both private and government agencies.
Ms Lim has written about 30 children’s books in about 10 years. Her books, which include The Tale Of Rusty Horse, Just Teddy and Bunny Finds The Right Stuff, have sold about 45,000 copies so far.
She is also the first person outside North America to win three Independent Publisher Book (IPPY) Awards – a book competition that sees the largest number of entries from around the world – in the children’s picture book category.
Ms Lim’s foray into self-publishing started after she won a writing competition, First-Time Writers and Illustrator’s Publishing Initiative, in 2007.
With the $8,000 grant she won, she published her winning manuscript, Prince Bear & Pauper Bear.
She then went on to self-publish another three more books using her own money and another grant.
The former business development executive says: “I wasn’t working at the time, so I thought I might as well do it myself.
“I spent some time researching, attended writing conferences, and spoke to publishers and printers.”
She cobbled together a project team comprising an illustrator, graphic designer, printer and distributor to get her book published.
Ms Lim also did her own marketing and would push trolleys of books to schools.
Her books are now published overseas, in countries such as China, South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Her five-year-old son, Caleb, inspired her second series of books, the Tibby series. The third book in the series, Tibby And Scaredy Snout, will be out in bookstores next month.
However, making a living by self-publishing your own books is not easy.
Ms Lim says she doesn’t earn much from her own books – it costs her about $10,000 to $12,000 on average and 6 months to publish one book, which retails for around $15.
“I do it because I’m passionate about it. It is not a money-making thing. It won’t make us rich.” she says, adding that she earns more from clients who commission her work.
A version of this article first appeared in The New Paper
(Photo: The New Paper)