Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Publish in Print or on the 'Net? Part 3

Just a little history of sorts.

One day I was watching my daughter using a website called Facebook and was intrigued by the thought that she could maintain contact with not just her present classmates but old ones as well. She was also regularly chatting with our relatives and friends in other provinces in the Philippines and also in the US. I decided I would try this for myself.

While exploring the features of this new trend, I found something called Notes. It was being used by a few of my friends to share quotations from famous and not-so-famous people. I didn't want to be a copycat so I thought I'd share stories instead. I decided I would write about my travels to the few countries I'd been to. I didn't really care much about whether people would enjoy them. I just wanted to write.

Several notes later, I began to have a small group of followers, people who read the stories and commented or liked them.This little band grew to 18 whom my wife jokingly referred to as my "fan club." Encouraged, I began writing in more detail. I cut the stories into little parts since I couldn't write all day or night. After writing one part, the comments would say, "Can't wait for Part 5," or something similar. It was very rewarding. Then a chance conversation at the canteen at work jolted me.

There were six of us at the table and the conversation turned to Facebook. I discovered that all five people at the table were following my stories. They had not posted any comments or even clicked the "like" button. Soon, it became evident that quite a number of people on my friends list were reading my notes and were enjoying them. A germ of an idea began to form.

I only have three international trips under my belt so when those stories ended, I started writing experiences from my local travels. One story, a ghost story, garnered the most number of comments and that germ began multiplying and infecting my entire being. When the series ended, I copied everything into a file and began rewriting. I was going to write a book version.

My first attempt at getting published was by mailing my manuscripts to print publishers. In the Philippines, the choices are very limited. Most of them only worked with text books, some specialized in Christian or Catholic books, while others only took self-help, poetry, inspirational in addition to text books. Hardly anyone wanted non-fiction which was the genre where my book  fit into. I was also spending too much money sending my 120+ pages, double-spaced, single-sided manuscripts to publishers. I tried to find solace in stories of authors who had to make 20 or more submissions before being accepted.

I also made inquiries to subsidized publishers. These are print-book publishers who will take your book and publish it but you will have to pay for the proofreading/editing, the making of the cover, and the printing. It's sort of half-way between using a regular publisher and self-publishing. The only problem was that I couldn't afford their prices the least of which would have cost me over six months salary.

So, I began considering self-publishing. I started checking around for requirements to register as a business and gathered names of printing companies as well as asking for names of budding artists who could do my cover. My English is not bad but I was seriously thinking of hiring someone to proofread my book. I was getting ready to print two copies of my manuscripts and downloaded application forms for copyright and the ISBN. In the back of my mind was the thought that I might be putting my family's meager's resources in jeopardy for a dream that might not pay for food on the table. Then, a post on Facebook changed everything.

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