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 (

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:

**Southern Voices Printing Press is a member of The Indie Publishers Collab o TIPC (

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:

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: 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:

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 (

How to Get a Quotation

(o paano alamin ang halaga ng pagpapaimprenta ng inyong libro gamit
ang offset machine)

Photo from

There are several technical aspects we need to keep in mind when the creative aspect of writing a manuscript is done. When entering the print production stage, most clients request for a quotation for their publication by indicating just the number of copies they require or an estimate of the number of pages of their publication. Southern Voices Printing Press would like to provide these information to those who are already looking into the printing phase after much editorial and layout work has been deliberately finished. This is to guide first-timers into the details of print work.

To get a quotation for your print job, please include the following specifications:

  • Type of Publication: Ex. book, brochure, yearbook, magazine, etc.
  • Paper Stock (material of cover and inside pages): Ex. C2S 80, Matt 80, Book 60, etc.
  • Page Size: Ex. 8.5″ X 11″, A4, 6″ X 9″, 7″ X 10″etc.
  • Number of Pages: Cover pages always count to 4 pages (front cover, inside front cover, inside back cover and back cover; inside pages count from the first page after the inside front cover, such as a title page, up to the last one before the inside back cover page.
  • Number of Copies/Quantity: We print using an offset machine which is cost effective at a minimum of 300 copies. The offset printing component of the costs is the same whether you want to publish 300 copies or 1,000 copies. Therefore, the bigger the volume, the lower is your publication’s cost per copy. This is good to know especially for indie publishers who intend to sell their publications. At any rate, SVPP normally preserves your printing plates (aluminum sheets which contain the images of your pages), so if you need to have second (2nd) or third (3rd) runs of your successful publication, the cost will be lower than that of the first run.
  • Color (cover and inside pages): Your cover pages with colored photos are run in full colors, or 4 colors — magenta, cyan, yellow and black. Expect this to be. more expensive than an artfully rendered black and white cover design. Inside pages may be just in black (for novels, for example) or full colors (for annual reports, yearbooks, or presentation materials). Some designs call for 2 to 3 spot colors, carefully mixed by our operator from PANTONE color guides (
  • Binding: The cheaper binding method is called saddle-stitch binding (staplers in the middle of a spread of pages), usually for publications not more than 40 to 60 pages. Thicker than this, we recommend perfect binding. Much thicker than this, we employ smythe-sewing – -literally sewing the pages!
  • Cover Finish: For simpler designs, we recommend matte lamination. For extra effects, you may choose to have spot UV lamination or foil stamping on some elements of your cover design. You may also choose to emboss the title of your book on the cover. Covers without any lamination are, of course, prone to scratches and easily damaged.

To those who are considering their budget, SVPP would like to recommend that you choose a cheap kind of paper and print without color so the total cost will lessen. But to those who want their publications to look extra special, consider the design of the layout, the quality of paper, print in full color and hardbound with emboss cover.

Please note we are not a photocopying service. We cannot produce just 1 or 20 copies of your book. Since we use offset printing, the higher the number of copies, the lower the price of the product per piece. The total cost will be higher but if you look into the price per piece, it is much practical to print a lot so you can sell your product at a lower price.

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.