Seeing a reader smell through the pages of a book with deep appreciation was inspiring for me as one of the indie publishers who showcased books at The Indie Publishers Collab PH (TIPCPH) booth of the 2022 Manila International Book Fair.
The connection with a book is not just intellectual. The act of absorbing a book’s aroma and feeling through the texture of its pages is also emotionally gratifying for a book lover, even if this experience takes only a few seconds.
Behind this scene, however, is a series of scenes that takes creative people months and even years to write, edit, illustrate and design the book. Then, once it is sent to a printing press, it takes days put together by workers of the print industry so that, once it’s out there, a book worm gets to appreciate the physicality of it and swim or fly in the imaginary world it offers.
Self-published authors and indie publishers are concerned with the physical quality of the book they publish as well as the quality of their writing, of course. And always, rushing through the printing process of book production spells disaster for the output — a waste of time, money and effort because coming out with a quality book requires care and attention, and concern for the workers sweating it out behind the scenes.
Some books may be produced digitally, but the current costs for publishing a book digitally are quite prohibitive these days. So we put this out — the process of producing a book using an OFFSET machine — for self-published authors and indie publishers, to help our clients plan a good and realistic timeline for each book project.
The infographic below shows the various process of producing a book and how much time should normally be given to the printing of a book.
So how long exactly do it take us to print a book from start to finish? Our production supervisor says, as per experience, it takes an average of ten (10) days. On a stretch, books may be rushed to finish over 8 days, but note that this costs, especially in terms of overtime energy on the part of workers who need to work beyond the regular 8 hours a day on your book project. The following work process timeframe is considered for SVPP’s offset-machine produced book:
In many of our experiences, clients provide little time for the book production timeline, sometimes causing problems in the quality of the final output. As in almost all cases, rush jobs mean a more expensive process, and quality issues arise. Allocating more than ten (10) days in the print production process ensures that we avoid any of these issues. ###sfp
Perhaps, if I had read Supreme Quotes as an undergrad, I might have ended up a lawyer. Alas, while initially convinced that the legal profession was perhaps suited for me as I marked significantly (methinks) in the entrance exam to the UP College of Law, the calling was not sufficiently strong. I left after only a semester.
Supreme Quotes makes reading of Philippine law fun and interesting. What this book does is surface the literary and culture-lens in decisions of the Supreme Court on almost all issues of the law. Only someone like the author, Atty. Victor Y. Eleazar, who I would suppose, has read more than everybody else’s share of SCRA decisions, and instead of falling asleep sat upright, smiled, laughed and deeply appreciated the literary genius behind a ponencia, can come up with an equally literary genius as this book. And only someone, who has a wife like Yolly, can publish a book with such a witty title as Supreme Quotes.
Take for example the breadth of literary references collected in this book — from the varied versions of the Bible, to Children’s Fairytales, Proverbs, Idioms, and even to the slapstick humor of the Three Stooges. It goes without saying that many times, our Supreme Court justices do not want to bore us with plain legal stuff. They try to bridge the law to readers by making use of literature to make their decisions more accessible to every Juan and Juana.
Browsing through its extensive Table of Contents, I came upon a phrase, Lagaring Hapon, for the first time in my life. It was defined using the Filipino Cultural Dictionary as having either a positive connotation (one who works diligently or is employed in various menial jobs in order to earn substantially) or a negative one (a deceitful person, or one who received a bribe from both sides). The phrase was used in a decision regarding a case, Per Curiam, Magarang v. Jardin, Sr., A.M. No. RTJ-99-1448, April 6, 2000, 330 SCRA 79, 89-90. It read:
Respondent judge miserably failed to measure up to stringent judicial standards. Complainant has sufficiently established the corrupt acts of respondent judge in connection with Sp. Civil Case No. 887. He received a bribe from both sides, “lagaring hapon.” He has no place in the judiciary. He dishonored the judicial robe he wore. His acts could even be criminal in nature. We have unhesitatingly removed from office judges and court employees for less serious transgressions. We removed a deputy sheriff from office for asking a bribe of only P1,500.00. We have no reason to depart from this ruling. Respondent judge’s acts of corruption clearly show his unfitness to remain any minute longer in his judicial robe.
Alas, the book also reflects the literary dispositions of our Supreme Court justices. There is very scant reference to Filipino literary works. You will read many references to works by Shakespeare or foreign historical figures and famous people such as Kafka, Machiavelli, and Martin Luther King, Jr. There are almost none by Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio or Philippine national artists on literature. Me-wishes the collection can also help ignite appreciation of Philippine literature among its readers.
The book’s main content is 698 pages long! Not exactly your everyday, novel-by-the-beach reading fare. For interested non-lawyers, this is more than a handy book to keep, not just on your coffee table for more awesome-ness projection, but on your bedside table for actual bedtime reading. For researchers and students of the law, it is an important library tool. It would therefore be very helpful if the indexing of the book could be supported by the National Library of the Philippines.
All said, as a non-lawyer, I am grateful Supreme Quotes was published by the UP Law Center. It gives us a new lens with which to view our Supreme Court justices. That they are not just boring people in heavy robes. That sometimes, their ponencias can also be fun and interesting. (Interested in a copy? Buy yours from the UP Law Center.###sfp
Next only to the Bible, Antoine de St. Exupery’s The Little Prince is the most translated classic literature in the universe. As of April 2017, when the book came out in Hassanya, a north African Arabic language, translation versions were pegged at 300 languages. A relatively comprehensive list compiled by Patrick Tourreau of foreign editions in various languages from Earth to Asteroid B-612 so far counts 674 editions! This list however, is not exhaustive as the Philippine editions are not comprehensively covered.
A cursory browsing of Philippine translations of The Little Prince reveals the original Filipino translation was spearheaded by Dr. Lilia Antonio, while she was still studying at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. She based her first translation on Katherine Woods’ original English translation of the book. This was first published by the now defunct Alemar’s-Phoenix Press in 1969.
It was followed by another translation to Filipino with the same title by Desiderio Ching, published in 1981 by Claretian Publications.
Yet, the well-loved book has been translated to other Philippine languages as well. In 2011, Fr. Wilmer Joseph Tria self-published a Bicolano translation, An Sadit na Prinsipe. Then in 2018, Jerome Herrera self-published El Diutay Principe in Chavacano, a Spanish creole-based language spoken in Zamboanga City in Mindanao. Within the same year, another Chavacano translation, El Principe Niño, written by professor Dr. Robin delos Reyes, was also published. In 2020, Dr. Lilia Antonia rewrote her original manuscript by basing a new translation to Filipino on the 2000 work of Richard Howard. This now stands as the foremost translation to Filipino, published by Southern Voices Printing Press as a Limited Edition version. In 2022, Southern Voices Printing Press released the Student Edition version of the same translation by Dr. Lilia Antonio.
We begin 2023 with the Hiligaynon version translated by Stephen Matti, Ang Gamay nga Prinsipe freshly off the press (launch date to be announced by Mr. Matti in the next few days). That makes for a total of eight editions published in the Filipino, Bicolano, Waray, Chavacano and Hiligaynon languages! And soon, perhaps in February of 2023, Jerry Gracio might come out with his Waray translation, entitled An Guti nga Prinsipe. Then we find out there is also an Ilokano and Cebuano version in the works!
photos by Southern Voices Printing Press
If only the burgeoning of translation editions in the Philippines could reflect the increase in readership in the various local languages, one could say there is hope that perhaps, it is not exactly true that Filipinos do not read. ###
Note: The author welcomes corrections or addendums to the various translation works and editions of The Little Prince in the Philippines.
It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations — something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out to towards people whose lives are quite different from their own.
Well said, Katherine. A Chinese-born American writer best known for children’s novels including Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine has won two Newbery Medals and two National Book Awards.
Making her words true is one Filipino teacher of preschool and kindergarten learners, who did stretch her learners’ imaginations in this January 2022 winning entry to the literacy campaign spearheaded by Southern Voices Printing Press (SVPP).
The contest rules were simple enough. Anyone who posts on FB or IG a selfie role-playing a character in one of the books published by SVPP, tags at least 3 friends and the SVPP fb or IG accounts, and uses the following hashtags — #akoangbida, #cosplaysvpp, and #OdettePH — is a potential winner of a 2022 Ang Munting Prinsipe Planner, a book voucher, and a PhP500 donation to Odette Relief efforts in her/his name.
Teacher Lita went way beyond a selfie post. Her class topic for the day was on ‘parts of the body’, particularly the HANDS. She encouraged her young learners to imagine how their hands could be used to help others and do good. She ended the short class period with a story reading session of JAMIN, Ang Batang Manggagawa (JAMIN, The Child Laborer).
Later, when asked if Jamin was a happy child, one of Teacher Lita’s learners responded: “Hindi siya masaya kasi lagi na lang siya pinatatrabaho ng kanyang boss.” (She is not happy because her boss keeps forcing her to work). When asked “Do you think Jamin also finds time to play?”, the response was “Sabi ko nga sa iyo, may boss siya. Bad. Bawal maglaro.” (I told you so, she has a boss. Bad. Playing is not allowed).
A 2011 Survey on Children of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reveals that of the 2.1 million Filipino child labourers aged 5 to 17 years old, about 95 per cent of them are in hazardous work. Imagine how much more children were forced into hazardous forms of labor during this period of the pandemic, just to help their families survive.
Teacher Lita showed us how a simple game/contest can be stretched beyond our expectations and revealed just how much learning children can get when taught to read good books, and allowed these learners to reach out to people whose lives may be different to their own.
Let’s see how the February edition* of the #AkoAngBida ng Aklat and #cosplaySVPP stretches our imaginations!###
You might not remember every detail in ‘Noli Me Tangere’, but surely Maria Clara and Ibarra are characters in the novel you know so well.
Characters in a story evoke strong emotions. Perhaps you hated Padre Damaso while reading Noli Me Tangere. Or maybe you pitied the poor school girl in Dr. Fanny Garcia’s ‘Isandaang Damit’ short story. Did your heart crunch with Bandong as he struggled in Amado V. Hernandez’s ‘Langaw sa Isang Basong Gatas’?
Unforgettable characters and good plots make up the best stories. But even the best of stories, whether mentioned in awards and top reading lists or not, will not be read by Filipino readers if readership of Filipino literary books remains dismally low.
Southern Voices Printing Press hopes to push the envelope for increased readership of its indie-published literary works by launching on socials the #AkoAngBida campaign for the whole of 2022. It hopes other similar campaigns are initiated as well by other publishers or even the National Book Development Board.
The #AkoAngBida campaign encourages readers to invite non-readers to read SVPP-published books through a #cosplay-like format.
Be Jamin, the child laborer from Sasa Port in Davao working nights for a handful of coins. She evokes the spirit of hope amid poverty when she said: “Umaga na. Uuwi na kami ni Oliver. Ang lamig ng hangin. Sisipunin pa yata ako. Nasa Bulsa ko ang perang kinita ko sa dalawang gabing puyatan. Hinihintay na ako sa amin. Kay sarap umuwi…”
Or Ka Bel, the heroic labor leader who, as a child, witnessed Japanese soldiers forcing their victims to dig graves — graves that the Filipino victims were forced to kneel in front of, graves where they would then be buried in after the Japanese samurais severed their heads.
Be Lola Bai, the Manobo woman leader, who gave strength to her fellow tribes-people in defense of their ancestral domain, and remember her words: “Ang paggamit ng pana at bangkaw laban sa mga mapanghimasok ay sagrado nating karapatang bilang mga Lumad.”
Be Lolo Cosme, a ‘barako’ and ‘macho’ grandfather, or better yet, be the storyteller’s Tatay, who is actually a Na-Tay, in ‘Barako Baraking,’ a tribute to the Tatays who are the primary caregivers of their children, and possess extraordinary powers such as cooking, doing laundry or even mending his kids’ clothes.
The social media campaign, to be launched on January 7, hopes to encourage Facebook and Instagram netizens to post their in-character selfies and sharing them widely. ###
Had Hon. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran not died from a fall while repairing the roof of their simple house on that fateful day of May 20, 2008, he would be receiving warmest greetings from all over the world on Friday, January 7, 2022, on his 88th birthday.
But he did die that day, both a patriot and an internationalist. “At the time of his death, he was the honorary chairperson of the International Coordinating Committee of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS). He died an activist of the highest order, a revolutionary, a legendary labor leader, an exemplary congressional representative and steadfast servant of the people.” Thus wrote Ina Alleco R. Silvestre, author of KA BEL: The Life and Struggle of Crispin Beltran.
Many would do well to embrace the golden lessons of Ka Bel’s legacy. It is thus fortunate that his legacy is wrapped in the clear and memory-filled words of Silverio’s book, published by Southern Voices Printing Press.
To relive Ka Bel’s life revealed in excerpts from the book is to gain a glimpse of a human being wise to the rights and wrongs of life. Early on, he knew which side he would always choose.
ON BEING A COURIER FOR THE HUKBALAHAP
“As a child living during the Japanese occupation, Pin’s life was irrevocably changed. School was suspended, and all children were forced to forego their formal education for three-and-a-half-years. Pin was then two months shy from finishing grade four….
By then, Pin’s own parents were guerrilla sympathizers, giving shelter and protection to the fighters, and serving as militia. Pin decided to do the same and volunteered his services.
It was the assessment of the guerrilla leadership that Pin was a sturdy and steady boy, and because of his smallness, he would be considered a harmless, ordinary boy even as he went around town and the surrounding region as a courier.
He learned from the guerrillas and his teachers about what the Japanese aimed to achieve by invading the Philippines. His young mind did not understand why another nation had to invade and take over another, when on its own, the invading nation was already rich and developed.
In his heart, however, it was easy to determine right and wrong — it was wrong to take over, torture and massacre a defenseless people. The one time that Pin saw the Japanese behead a group of suspected guerrillas behind the Bacacay school house was more than enough to cement his anger against the occupying forces. The experience also planted the seed of patriotism in Pin; it was then that he first understood what love of country meant.”
ON BEING A STUDENT FROM THE BARRIO
“Like most of the neighborhood children, Pin attended Tanagan Baggio School, but Pin needed more learning than the school could provide. Upon the strong recommendation of his fourth grade teachers, Pin was able to transfer to a bigger school in Bacacay when he reached fifth grade….
…To get to Bacacay from Tanagan, Pin had to take a banca ride. Not having any extra money for the fare, he volunteered to be the boat’s ‘crew’. The old sailor, Tata Fulgencio Bertiz, a cousin some degrees removed, was kind to Pin and let him onboard for free, but Pin insisted on working for his ride.
He took his position at the other end of the boat and acted as a balancing weight. Sometimes the waves were particularly strong, hitting the boat’s sides with force and there was a threat of the boat falling on its side. Pin would rush to the side of the boat that was tilting, tighten the ropes securing the boat’s sails and pull, bearing down with all his weight to steady the boat’s center of gravity.”
To learn more of his growing up years and blossoming as a legendary labor leader, read Silverio’s book ‘KA BEL: The Life and Struggle of Crispin Beltran’.###
The pandemic was… is… a game-changer for almost all aspects of our lives, including how we consume books. Being locked down, being on self-quarantine, and all the time living by the rules of social distancing, shifted most of our former activities to online platforms. There is much less foot traffic to previously-visited book stores or book cafes, and we could say that the current situation drastically pushed reading, hence publishing, to be mostly online. This huge shift from the print industry to an all-of-sudden digitalization of literature greatly affects all types of publishers, but most importantly, indie publishers.
These are authors preferring to market their own books instead of having some outfit gobble up at least 40% of the price of each book, or even higher. They are authors who prefer to be in touch with at least 80% of their readers. They are indie publishers trying out their first publishing project, hoping that the first 200- to 300-copies print run is rapidly gobbled up, allowing them to do a second run for a bigger volume.
We are authors or publishers who own a voice, a unique lens with which we view things, and want these shared with a wider audience outside of a few family members and friends. Southern Voices Printing Press is one such indie publisher. Though not extensive, it wishes to share its experiences and lessons with indie publishing and marketing to encourage more voices out there to be heard through publishing.
The first lesson on the list is this: Make sure you have a good original material thatyour readers will love, and write in a language your readers understand. You are bound for failure coming up with a material which you hope will be at par with a Dan Brown novel when you’re forte is comedy or sattire! On this we will not say much because you’re the one who will be writing in your favorite genre, in the voice you are comfortable with, and to an audience who know and love you well.
We next proceed to the biggest hurdle in indie publishing — funding. Unless you’re the son or daughter of a business tycoon, the odds are you will need a whole community of supporters who will help you through this difficult part of your indie publishing project.
There are at least three ways to go about raising funds: crowdfunding, pre-orders or publishing grants.
There are quite a number of crowdfunding platforms online – gofundme, spark project, gava, indiegogo, gogetfunding, airfunding, and lots more. Spend at least three days reading through their rules and methods so you can choose one that’s exactly right for you. A number of these platforms do not operate in the Philippines, but if you have good friends in countries where they do operate, you can have them sponsor your crowdfunding campaign. You only have to ensure that you still control the fund management aspect of it all.
Pre-orders work if you have a large digital network of friends, colleagues, relatives and supporters or fans who trust you, believe in your work, have read some of your works online, and are willing to spread the word. It’s a more direct form of crowdfunding as you don’t have another platform working for and with you. You own and control your content, your reach and your preferred social media platforms. Pre-orders are more successful if communicated through more than one social media platform.
Publishing grants in the Philippines are hard to come by but keep this in mind and keep searching for opportunities.
After you’ve hurdled your basic funding requirements, the next step would be working on your manuscript to make it print-ready. Find a good editor, preferably someone you trust and esteem professionally, and someone you can afford. Better yet, find an editor who’s also a friend, willing to support you by editing your book for free!
Then, find a graphic artist who can design a powerful cover concept for you. It’s not true that people do not judge a book by its cover. Whether on a bookshelf or an online carousel of books, you would want your title and cover to stand out and catch your intended readers’ eye.
Next, find yourself a printer who is willing to do short runs, normally at a minimum of 200 or 300 copies, and who understands your needs as an indie author. In Southern Voices Printing Press, we encourage connection, collaboration and communication. At this point, make sure you get an ISBN for your book ( http://web.nlp.gov.ph/nlp/?q=node/645).
Lastly, the most challenging aspect of your journey — market and sell your book online. So many media and blog articles have shared the sales experiences of booksellers during the 2020 pandemic. Their sales diminished from 50% to 80% of their 2019 averages. Many were forced to close. The ones who survived are those who were quick to pivot their sales and marketing strategies to online platforms. All recommend putting up a blog linked to various social media handles. These are not just Philippine experiences. Book sellers and lovers from India, Europe, US and Asia all share the same stories.
The successful ones give out similar tips — be patient and consistent in building your online audience from a few to a thousand or more, know what your audience need and want, be creative in reaching out to a wider audience and thank each one in supporting you and your book. Most importantly, welcome feedback from your readers.
We do not own the definitive guide to successful online marketing and selling. There are so many tips and guides online*. Read them!
And finally, believe in yourself. May the tribe of indie publishers increase! Good luck! ###
Photos like these could be go-to photos when news of the pandemic are turning for the worse. The recently imposed ECQ or strictest lockdown protocols which started August 6, 2021 for Metro Manila, for example, the spiking cases, the inadequate public health services for affected Filipinos, and the increasing cases for the fear-invoked Delta or even Lambda variant, are just some of these.
In varying degrees, lockdowns and social distancing are contrary to the very nature of people as social beings. Perhaps Filipinos even more so, where our concept of self often includes the extensive family circles. We know that in practical terms, lockdowns and social distancing thins out our normal support systems, whether from families or friends. We have to develop alternative means to keep these connections alive — through kamustahan phone calls, chats, emails, or other similar means.
The fear, worry and stresses that are normal under past situations now become spiked too in this pandemic where a lot of things, especially government support, are so uncertain.
It is important that we look after our mental, not just our physical health. Ensuring our mental health is more important now, especially if other members of the family are also dependent on us to care for them (young kids, older relatives).
One of the easiest ways to take charge of your wellness can be done by picking up a book. Not only is reading a great way to stay entertained while you are socially distancing, but it has been shown to improve overall mental health. Some benefits of reading are mentioned here:
Stress reduction. An article in The Telegraph reports a study (2009) that reveal stress was reduced among participants who read by almost 70%, and it is said to be more effective than listening to music. Even as little as 6 minutes can help, but reading for 30 minutes (half of your lunch break!) has a similar stress reduction effect as yoga exercises for the same duration.
Night time winding down. Routinely reading a real, physical book for even a few minutes each night also helps our sleeping pattern. Take note a good night’s rest is best for our mental state. Make sure your book genre is not of the horror or mystery-adventure series type as stories like these keep our mind racing and stimulated instead of helping us relax.
Books build Knowledge. It can never be said enough that what you don’t learn from school, you can discover via a book. Reading also improves our vocabulary and helps us travel the world and cross time boundaries.
Empathy Books. There are special books, especially fiction books, where characters speak to each other and express their opinions, desires and beliefs. These books may help enhance our empathy or our ability to understand or share the feeling/s of another person.
Mental self-help books, and fiction as therapy. Reading ‘self-help’ books and fiction can help you feel more connected and can help people who may be dealing with depression or anxiety. It allows your imagination to become more engaged and you connect emotionally to characters and reflect your own feelings, problems and desires as you read.
While not comprehensive, here are some new and good books to read, published by Filipinos: