“The Filipino is Worth Blogging For” and indie publishing

The Filipino is Worth Blogging For is the title of a book katrina and i are self-publishing and launching on thursday july 19, along with the main attraction, katrina’s first book: of love and other lemons, essays personal and political about being girl-woman-pinay, otherwise known as ka-women-an (hyphens mine), in this day and age in this macho-pa-rin country, the kind of essays i would have wanted to write for my generation but never had the courage to, just because my parents and sibs would have disowned me.  a must-read for all girls, young and old, and their fathers sons brothers lovers too.  the essays are illustrated with new and previous works of artists met, friends made, in the last two years.

… an honest, moving portrait of a young woman who cannot but train her critical eye on the world even as her life splinters around her and who realizes, not without cost, that “the most personal things that informed our real lives, kawomenan could not respond [to].” Where the writer breaks into a lyrical mode, the reader becomes privy to the intimate and the hidden that the persona shares with a beloved. No mere intermissions, these privacies serve as yet another act of resistance when held in counterpoint to the weight of the public and political that inform her life, small acts but no less significant. By turns brave, bewildered, unsparing, and vulnerable, the essays strive to reinvigorate kawomenan by accommodating the experiences and aspirations of a new generation of Filipinas. — from the foreword by Mabi David

while katrina was wrapping up of love…, this second book happened on the side.  the title had come first, inspired by the slogan “The Filipino Is Worth Designing For” on t-shirts of the cobonpue-layug-pineda group at the height of the naia-1 controversy.

joel remembers when it came to him, The Filipino is Worth Blogging For! that at once he bought the domain name, for a support marketing website.  then we sat on it, haha, naghintayan, until i realized that it was i who had the luxury of time while awaiting the foreword and blurbs for my edsa uno book, so i plunged in.

the hard part was going through more than a thousand blogposts over 4 years and choosing the events / issues / people that katrina and i had both blogged about (without repeating each other), and finding that with some rearranging, under new categories and in chronological order (rather than newest blogpost first), narratives are revealed of recent and current history, social and political, as it unfolds in natural time.  a leap from the computer screen into the pages of a book, and it works (if i may say so myself who shouldn’t)!

… this collection fairly crackles with inquisitive and insightful electricity, and serves as engaging, persuasive testimony regarding the merits of following the writings of these authors in venues online or otherwise.  — from blurb by blogger Jaime Oscar M. Salazar

Binabasag nila ang pagkamanhid na namamayani sa lipunan, ipinaparamdam ang samu’t saring porma ng pang-aapi at panlilinlang. Kung hindi ka man sang-ayon sa isang tindig, hindi mo naman maikakailang may punto ang kanilang pag-iisip.  — from blurb by blogger Teo Marasigan

why indie publishing

mainstream publishing houses can make it easy for you, in a sense, put out your book at little cost to you, if any, but usually you have to make pila for who-knows-how-long — unless you’re part of the canonized circle, or very well-connected — but you get only a rather small share of sales, far from commensurate to all the time and energy and creativity you poured into your work, unless of course you’re already a sikat bestseller, in which case you get a better deal, someone correct me if i’m wrong.

the alternative is to do it yourself.  you put out your own money to pay artists who will layout your book and design your cover.  meanwhile you find a printing press, preferably one that’s known to do good work for indie publishers, like benny jalbuena’s corasia, and you choose the paper you like or can afford, and you negotiate prices, and talk serious deadlines, so you can plan your launch.

of course you’ll try to keep expenses low.  you’ll make tawad the artists — helps if you know them personally, mga kindred souls ‘yan — but make sure they’re also into digital technology, because the printing press will expect a usb stick or hard drive containing all the book data.  you’ll choose cheap but presentable paper; you might even keep the number of pages down as the cost per book goes up the thicker the book, and the fewer the number of copies you want.  if you’re lucky the printing press will ask for 50 percent down lang, the rest to follow as the book sells.

you’ll get your money back naman , and possibly turn a small profit in the long run depending on how you price your book — what profit margin you’ll be happy with — and, most important, how you sell it.  you could get into the bookstores, directly or through a distributor, but they’ll want anywhere from 40 to 55 percent of sales (yes, without any puhunan on their part, at least the ones we checked out) which would mean your book gets quite expensive, unless you’re willing to forego profit and just make bawi your puhunan, then it gets just a little expensive.

the alternative is to sell it yourself, which means turning on your most shameless and yabang self — your book is worth buying and reading, you’ll even sign every copy, who knows it might become a collector’s item!  at the launch, get as many of your family and friends and friends of friends to come and buy.  it helps a lot if you give away copies to writers and columnists in the hope that one out of ten comes up with a rave review for the papers and/or the internet.  it helps a lot, too, if you have a website for your book, where you can promote it and  post contact numbers for orders.

we learned all that when we published lola concha’s book, revolutionary routeslast year.  i didn’t want to be edited by a publisher whose concerns would be different from mine, and i wanted to be sure it would look exactly as i envisioned it, which meant katrina working closely with the artists to the very end.  and i wanted to price it cheap while making a little for my work, so i did the index myself, and a cousin did the editing, gratis et amore, and i asked for and got donations from family that covered printing costs and a sosyal launch sa filipinas heritage in makati, lots of food and drinks, lola concha style.

in contrast, of love and other lemons is a katrina project — sampid lang ang the filipino is worth blogging for — all expenses ours, so we’re doing it the way katrina’s indie-publishing friends do it.  in a launch-friendly venue, chef’s bistro in q.c, which doesn’t charge for events in the hope that those who attend will order some of their good food.  katrina’s buying the first 100 or so bottles of beer to get the ball rolling. :)

the good news is, mang benny has texted, tapos na katrina’s book, and worth blogging for is almost done, delivery on wednesday, what a relief!   see you at the launch!