Indie Publishing in the time of COVID-19

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

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 that your 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! ###

*Additional references to learn from:

https://fitsmallbusiness.com/author/adizonfitsmallbusiness-com/page/8/

https://blog.reedsy.com/indie-publishing/

https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/arts-and-culture/2020/06/29/2024190/publishing-during-lockdown

https://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/self-publish-in-3-easy-steps

https://www.authormariantee.com/for-writers/filipino-writers-whod-like-to-self-publish

**Southern Voices Printing Press is a member of The Indie Publishers Collab o TIPC (https://www.facebook.com/TheIndiePubCollabPH).

Reading Books Can Help Keep Us Mentally Healthy

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:

  1. Covid 19 Journals: Women Writing Women. Published by Women Writing Women and Gantala Press, Inc. ©2021, Labiste, Serafica, Mendoza and Vallido, eds. An anthology of articles about surviving and living the pandemic from the perspective of various women, it has a chapter on Self-Care and Compassion with four good articles in it.
  2. Snow White (Les Chubby Princessesie Series) written and published by Vanessa ©2019. We can never have enough of good laughs. Mandie Lee, author of My Genie Lover, describes the book as “an incredibly fun, engaging, and witty retelling of the story of Snow White… it is a story of hope, self-love and empowerment.”
  3. Ugh (Vol. 1) written and illustrated by Julienne Dadivas, published by Haliya Publishing ©2021. A light reading sattire comic book, each page speaks to a whole new GenZ generation.
  4. My Paths to Happy by Charlotte Reed, published by Andrews McMeel Publishing ©2021. Very limited copies available at Fully Booked stores. In the book, Charlotte Reed shares her own experience of depression as well as the practices that ultimately helped her through the darkest time of her life.

Other links to reading and mental health, or simply articles on mental health you might be interested in:

http://www.penguinteen.com/10-books-to-read-during-mental-health-awareness-month/

https://www.sane.org/information-stories/the-sane-blog/wellbeing/nine-great-books-about-living-with-mental-illness

https://www.rappler.com/moveph/list-groups-providing-free-online-counseling-during-the-pandemic

https://www.cnnphilippines.com/news/2021/6/30/Filipino-workforce-mental-health-pandemic.html

https://www.yadukaru.com/2018/08/breaking-mental-health-stigma-in.html

References:

  1. GMS. The Mental Health Benefits of Reading (https://www.gms.ca/living-well/the-mental-health-benefits-of-reading). Sept 7, 2020
  2. Martinez, Katie. Reading Books Can Benefit Your Mental Health (https://www.stepupformentalhealth.org/reading-books-can-benefit-hour-mental-health/). November 2, 2020

Expand your book’s reach!

August 27, 2021 is your last day to have your book nominated to the 39th National Book Awards. Awards are to be given out to the following categories — Literary, Non-literary, Design or Language Studies.

A books that wins an award gets a reader’s attention twice, thrice or as many times as needed for her or him to decide to bring home your book and display it on their bookshelf. Two books may be similar in content and form, but THE ONE that has won an award will convince a reader to bring yours to the check out counter.

Once nominated, you can market your book as having been “nominated to the National Book Awards,” which is so true, right? Garnering a book award however, opens doors of new opportunities for publicity and sales for you and your book. It will even invite readers to look up your other works.

In the end, submitting your book for nomination helps raise the standards and informs on the breadth of the Philippine book industry, especially as books really do help readers in this time of the pandemic. Books help locked down Filipinos fly into the farthest limits of their imagination and reach destinations without having to spend for a plane ticket!

Ready to nominate a book? Read the 39th National Book Awards general guidelines by clicking on the image above and clicking on the shown link, or copy and paste to the browser the link below:

https://booksphilippines.gov.ph/2021-national-book-awards-nomination-selection-criteria/?fbclid=IwAR2lILPdNyFNjdj5NJgYQxRwtl_-J4FnUM0-9tz1rBEOKaWftww3eHugl6U

Locked Down yet Gifted

The pandemic situation is not getting any better. The overwhelming economic impact of another ECQ in Metro Manila and its environs is felt by so many.

We assert however that the lock down need not curtail our cultural growth. In a bid to gift readers in this period of the ECQ lockdown, Southern Voices Printing Press offers an AUGUST 14 to 20, 2021 LOCKDOWN INVENTORY SALE!! Residents of Quezon City, Mandaluyong, San Juan, Manila City and Marikina City (up to Bayan area only) benefit from a FREE DELIVERY service for orders above PhP500.

Happy reading! Happy gifting!!

Ang Pagluto ng Libro

o pansit ba ang Libro?

Kung ikaw ay magluluto ng pansit, ilang minuto lang ang igugugol dito kung instant pancit canton ang lulutuin. Kung maraming rekados at ‘totoong’ miki naman ang balak iluto, mas matagal ang proseso nito. Mula sa pamamalengke ng mga sangkap, paggayat ng mga ito, paggisa at mismong pagluluto hanggang sa paghain sa mesa. Ilang oras mo itong iluluto, pagkatapos ay kakainin lamang ito ng ilang minuto.

credit to Lindsay Moe @ unsplash.com

Ganito rin ang pagluluto ng libro.

Para sa pinakamamahal naming mga kliyente na madalas magtanong kung maaari bang i-deliver agad ang kanilang pinagawang libro o anupamang produkto pagkatapos ng 1 o dalawang araw, nais po naming ibahagi ang kumplikadong recipe ng paglilimbag o pag-iimprenta, depende sa kung ano ang inyong pinaiimprenta. 

Photo by Quinton Coetzee on Unsplash

May nauna nang kahawig na artikulo kaming naisulat at maaari ninyong basahin kaugnay ng iba’t ibang proseso na dinadaanan hanggang sa maging libro ang inyong pinagawa.

Mababasa niyo ito sa… https://southernvoicesbooks.shop/2019/09/02/kuwento-ng-mga-kuwento-paano-gumawa-ng-isang-libro/

Nauunawaan naming maliban sa MAGKANO, ang tanong na GAANO KATAGAL ay mahalaga sa inyo dahil mga datos ito na makakapagpahusay ng inyong plano, laluna kung may hinahabol kayong LAUNCH EVENT, o iba pang activitiy na paggagamitan ng inyong pinalimbag.

Sakali man pong hindi pa rin ganoon kalinaw ang usapin kung gaano katagal ang production timeline, unang unang konsiderasyon ay kung may naunang potahe bang niluluto sa kalan at kung anong potahe ito. Kung ang naunang potahe ay sobrang komplikado at matagal ilaga, pwede naman itong tanggalin muna sa kalan at isingit ang inyong pinagagawa kung may URGENCY, at tipong brochure o poster o newsletter na iilang pahina lamang at wala pang dalawang araw ay tapos nang itakbo sa OFFSET PRINTING MACHINE.

Una, ang inyong final digital layout file ay dadaan muna sa computer na ipiprint ang images sa isang aluminum plate. Kasama ng plantsa ay isang 4-color progressive proofing na gabay ng operator sa mga kulay na hahabulin. Progressive ang tawag nito dahil pinapakita nito ang lapat ng tinta mula sa 1 color muna (cyan), madadagdanan ng ikalawang kulay (magenta), ikatlo (yellow) at sa kahulihulihan ay black.

Ang plate o plantsa ay isasakay ng operator sa OFFSET machine at aayus-ayusin ang mga alignment, pahid ng tinta at iba pang kemikal para makuha ang tamang lapat ng kulay sa papel batay sa progressive proof.  

Ang tawag ng mga operator dito ay “sine-setting” ang makina. Kung mamadaliin kasi ang pagse-“setting”, lalabas na parang blurred at hindi crisp ang inyong images at pati na rin ang mga text. Ang pagsesetting ang isa sa pinakamatagal na proseso sa pag-iimprenta.

Kapag ayos na ang setting, patatakbuhin na lang ng tuloy tuloy ang makina hanggang sa maubos ang papel na nakalaan. Kaya dito mauunawaan ninyo kung bakit cost-effective ang long-run o higit 1,000 na kopya ng libro o brochure, dahil pagkatapos ng inisyal na setting, mabilis na ang paggigisa ng kulay sa papel na pinili niyo.

Matapos malimbag ang inyong libro o newsletter o anupamang publikasyon, dadaan ito sa post-press na ang tagal o bilis ay depende sa kumplikasyon ng pinagagawa at disenyo.

Kung pansit o humba o kare-kare (matagala palambutin ang tuwalya ng baka) ang lulutuin, nasa ibaba ang tantiyang panahon na igugugol sa paglilimbag ng inyong mga materyales:

Ipinagpapalagay na malinis na malinis na layout file ang naipasa sa imprenta at wala nang mga koreksyon o editing na gagawin pa. Ang mga ito ay mga karaniwang timeline at hindi kinokonsidera ang mga posibilidad ng brownouts, o ECQ policies at iba pang di pangkaraniwang mga kaganapan.

Kung meron kayong katanungan na hindi nasagot sa artikulong ito o iba pang artikulong nakalimbag dito sa aming website, mangyari lang pong pasahan kami ng mensahe sa aming inbox sa facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SouthernVoicesPrintingPress/inbox. Maraming salamat sa pagbabasa!

How to get an ISBN

o kailangan ko ba ng ISBN para sa aking libro?

Ang International Standard Book Number o ISBN ay isang katangi-tanging numerong nagmamarka sa isang publikasyon. Kahit magkatulad ang pamagat at nilalaman ng dalawang uri ng aklat, halimbawa, nagkakaiba lamang sa edisyon o porma ng paglilimbag — e-book, paperback o hardcover na mga kopya ay magkakaroon ng magkakaibang ISBN.

halimbawa ng ISBN barcode ng librong inilathala sa US

Iba-iba ang paraan ng pagkuha ng ISBN sa bawat bansa, batay sa laki ng industriya ng paglalathala. Sa Pilipinas, ang Bibiolographic Services Division sa ilalim ng Pambansang Aklatan o National Library ang namamahala sa pagtatalaga ng ISBN. Para sa hakbang-hakbang na paraan sa pag-apply ng ISBN, bisitahin ang website na ito: http://web.nlp.gov.ph/nlp/?q=node/645.

Kung ikaw naman ay isang indie publisher (pinaikli ng salitang “independent”, ibig sabihin ay ang author na rin ang publisher), huwag mag-alala, dahil ang paghingi ng ISBN para sa iyong libro ay libre batay sa Public Advisory No. JET-02 dated March 22, 2021. Maliban dito, online ang buong proseso at mabilis silang tumugon.

Kung ang copyright page ng iyong libro ay isinulat sa Filipino, tandaan lamang na ang ‘publisher’ ay TAGAPAG-LATHALA, samantalang ang ‘printer’ ay TAGALIMBAG. Kaya kung isinulat ninyo sa copyright page na ang libro ay “Inilimbag ng ___” (printed by ___), hindi kayo mabibigyan ng ISBN at sa halip papayuhan kayong palitan ito ng “Inilathala ng (o ni) ____” (published by ____).

Kasabay ng pagsumite ng application form bilang bagong publisher, at application form para sa ISBN ng isang libro, ang pangangailangang i-attach ang cover page, title page, at copyright page ng aklat.

Matapos makakuha ng ISBN, maaari nang gumawa ng barcode gamit ang itinalagang ISBN gamit ang mga libreng app tulad ng free barcode generator na ito: https://www.free-barcode-generator.net/isbn/. Ang barcode ay isinasama sa back cover design ng iyong publikasyon. Kung meron pa kayong mga katanungan, maaari kayong makipag-ugnayan sa ISBN agency sa email: isbn@nlp.gov.ph.

Hindi kasing kumlikado ng ISBN ng librong nilathala sa US ang ISBN ng librong nilathala sa Pilipinas. Ito ay halimbawa ng ISBN barcode ng ANG MUNTING PRINSIPE, na nilathala ng Southern Voices Printing Press.

Maligayang paglalathala at makabuluhang pag-apak sa mundo ng indie publishing* sa bansa.

*Ang Southern Voices Printing Press ay isa ring indie publisher na miyembro ng The Indie Publishers Collab o TIPC (https://www.facebook.com/TheIndiePubCollabPH).

Kuwento ng mga Kuwento: Paano Gumawa ng Isang Libro

Tulad ng isang kuwento, bago dumating ang mga libro sa iyong palad, bago masilayan ng iyong mga mata ang makukulay na salaysay sa loob ng bawat pahina, ay dumadaan ito sa iba’t ibang mga tauhan bago pa mabili nina nanay at tatay o mairegalo sa iyo ng malapit mong kaibigan. Mula sa proseso ng pagkakasulat hanggang sa paglilimbag ay dumadanas ang libro ng sarili nitong pakikipagsapalaran. Ito ang ibabahagi namin sa iyo ngayon, aming mambabasa, ang kuwento ng mga kuwento.

Mula kay Ginang Manunulat, na siyang gumagawa ng mga karakter at daloy ng banghay, nabubuo ang nilalaman ng ating munting libro. Siya ang iskultor ng mga salita upang magkaroon ito ng hugis, kulay at saysay. Hinuhulma niya ang kuwento sa kaniyang imahinasyon. Kapag masaya na si Ginang Manunulat sa kaniyang akda at handa na siyang mabasa ito ng mas maraming tao ay ipapasa niya ito kay  Ginang Tagalapat.

Si Ginoong Tagalapat / Tagadisenyo naman ang mahusay na bubuo sa kaniyang isip kung ano ang magiging itsura ng akda ni Ginang Manunulat. Siya ang maglalapat nito sa papel, pahina kada pahina, sa font at kaanyuan na mapagkasusunduan nila ni Ginang Manunulat. Lalagyan niya ito ng pabalat na naaayon sa sukat na nais. Kapag naisalibro na ni Ginoong Tagadisenyo ang akda sa kaniyang kompyuter, ay tatawagan na niya ang Hepe ng Imprenta.

Ang Hepe ng Imprenta naman ang sasapul sa aabuting presyo ng paglilimbag ng libro. Isasagawa niya ang kaniyang super power na ang tawag ay “quotation”. Dito malalaman nina Ginoong Manunulat at Ginang Tagalapat ang karampatang gastusin ng plate printing at offset printing, kung may kulay o wala ang libro, anong uri ng papel ang gagamitin na nais nilang ilimbag, at ilang kopya ang kanilang nais ipagawa. Kapag nagkasunduan na ang tatlo ay pasisimulan na ni Hepe ang paglilimbag kay Maestro.

Unang darating sa kamay ng Maestro ng Makina ang mga plate sheets  na bakal. Dumadaan ito sa proseso na ang tawag ay CTP o computer to plate printing. Kapag nasa kaniya na ang mga bakal na katulad ng nasa layout ni Ginang Tagalapat, ipapakain niya ito sa kaniyang alagang makina upang magluwal ito ng maraming maraming kopya sa papel, tulad ng nasa disenyo ng plate sheet. Mula unang pahina hanggang sa katapusang pahina ay ililimbag ito ni Maestro. Mahusay niyang hahabulin ang mga kulay na nais nina Ginoo at Ginang upang maianak ng mabuti ang librong inaasam.

Pagkatapos kay Maestro ay dadalin ang libu-libong pahina sa Mga Bantay ng Bigkisan.

Dito isasalansan ang mga pahina at tutupiin ang mga papel. Kung kakaunting kopya lamang ito ay dadaan ito sa kettle stitch binding o saddle stitch. Dalawang uri ito ng manwal na pagtatahi ng gulugod. Para naman sa maramihang kopya, ang ginagawa dito ay perfect bind. Saka ito ididikit sa cover  ng libro na maaaring soft o hard bound.

Kapag natapos na ang libro ay ibabalik itong lahat kay Hepe upang ipa-revise kina Ginang at Ginoo at ipatingin ang natapos na produkto. Kung sa huli’y magkakatugma na ang lahat ng kanilang hiling ay saka pa lamang maibebenta ang mga librong nailimbag. Mula sa imprenta hanggang sa pagbebenta ay marami pang paglalakbay ang gagawin ng mga libro. Ilang bersyon pa ng kuwento ang maaaring ikuwento sa mga kabanatang ito.

Isa sa mga nais naming ibahagi sa iyo ngayon, aming mambabasa, ay ang katotohanan na ang libro ay hindi lamang gawa ng iisang tao. Nabubuhay sa maraming maraming kuwentuhan  ang lahat ng kuwentong iyong nababasa’t  nahahawakan sa iyong mga palad.