Every writer’s dream is to have his or her own manuscript published in hardcopy. Yes, you have it right: IN HARD COPY. It might be easy to circulate one’s own work by simply uploading it in websites or any social media and it will nonetheless still be considered as published.
But having a hard copy and seeing your own book in bookstores’ shelves authenticate your claim as a legitimate book author ―whether self-published or not. It separates professionalism from a mere hobby. It gives you that gratifying feeling that indeed you can finally and officially call yourself an author.
Not all of us are given the opportunity to be discovered by publishing companies and be offered with a signing contract. Arguably, most publishing houses in the Philippines scout for what sells the most to the masa. We all have our own genre and as of this writing romance and chic lit stories are still the “it” thing among the local readers, most of which are young adults.
For a legal suspense writer like me, it is difficult to find a local publishing company that caters my type of writing. With that, I came up with the idea of publishing my own novel, all equipped with nothing but guts.
Write a good story that will sell
It doesn’t matter what your genre is as long as you have a good product that will sell. After finishing your manuscript be sure to have a good editor to have it checked no matter how good you think your story is.
There are independent editors who are willing to offer their services on a per project basis. All you have to do is to scout for reliable contacts and maintain good working and professional relationship with them for future projects.
Edit, edit, edit!
It takes at least five times for you to detect grammatical and typo errors. After you finished rewriting and editing your product, be prepared that your editor might still consider overhauling your entire manuscript.
Be patient and humble enough to listen even if it means changing your entire story 360 degrees. If your editor can detect something that is not worth appearing in your manuscript then that means the public will more likely see the defect as well.
Once your editor gives you the go signal the next step is to find a good and affordable printing press company.
Be sure to have your own book cover design because it’s either the printing press doesn’t have an in-house graphic artist or, in case that they do, they charge extra for the design which might cost you much.
There are other things to consider after you have your finished product such as registering your book for copyright, applying for ISBN, depositing a copy to the National Library, barcode and the likes.
Now you see that we are in serious business here. It’s not the same as having it printed and selling it automatically to the public. Formalities, such as what was mentioned above, must be taken into account.
On my part, I find it more convenient to have a publishing/printing company that offers complete package such as printing posters for the book, designing book cover, registration for copyright, ISBN, depositing a copy to the National Library, barcode and free printing of the draft. They might come expensive but the quality of the book and convenience they offer are satisfying.
Negotiating with Bookstores
As soon as I had the draft (which the publishing/printing company released to me in advance) I went to National Bookstore’s main office in Pioneer, Mandaluyong to negotiate and offer the book.
I was able to get an appointment with the person in charge for fiction and submitted my novel. Their team is termed as the “buyer” because they decide if they will allow your book to be sold in their outlets. Another meeting was set after 2 days to know if it passed their quality and standard.
Two days after and I got the news that Beyond Reasonable Doubt passed their review and scrutiny. Another meeting was set to discuss the contract with them as well as the number of copies I will be distributing. They also offered list of branches where I can drop copies. Since my novel is legal suspense, they suggested branches where there are professionals (my target readers) who frequent the areas.
They also give insights on what must be added or removed in the book using the draft I submitted to them as basis. This is the main reason why the printing press released only the draft before printing the whole number of copies so that revisions can be noted and changed before the final printing.
We also discussed the possibility of having a book launch. On a side note, NBS requires that there must be a display of minimum 100 copies to be sold on site during the event. This does not include the copies which will be distributed to the different branches.
Ideally for a kick-off, 300 copies will do. 200 will be distributed to different branches nationwide while the remaining 100 copies serve as stand-by books during the event.
Don’t expect that the first book will sell as pancakes. In my case, I was able to sell a good number of my novel because it only has a limited copy (300). Still, not bad for a first timer, don’t you think? Consider it more as a promotion in order for you to be known and established a name.
As you can see, I didn’t view writing as a source of income but rather as passion. One of these days, when I already established my name, my own circle of readers will do the promotion by themselves.
Consider your book as a tool of your good work. Word of mouth will soon follow and will serve as your own PR team.