Friday, September 30, 2011

Reviews: Love Your Frenemies

A collection of reviews of Love Your Frenemies from all over. (If I missed yours, let me know!)

PS - Some may have spoilers.


Reviews: Fairy Tale Fail

A collection of reviews of Fairy Tale Fail from all over. (If I missed yours, let me know!)

New Kindles! How excited am I

I'm happy to report that as far as indie digital publisher/authors go, I am a walker and not just a talker. Meaning, I read ebooks and own e-readers. We had to temporarily move when I had a baby this year, and that meant being separated from my paper TBR pile, but at least I had my Kindle. And Kindle for PC on my netbook. And just a few weeks ago, my Kindle for Android and Kindle Cloud Reader.

For the first time in years, majority of my reading time I've spent using a device. (33 out of 37 books read so far this year! That is a record.)

We're considering getting both the Kindle Touch (for the husband, so he'll have a dedicated reader) and the Kindle Fire for me. Why get the tablet when my other devices are just fine? Watch out, rationalization ahead: I want to see how the tablet's color, multitouch display, size and other new features affect how readers will experience my books. I formatted them with Kindle's e-ink grayscale display in mind. Maybe I should think in color now, especially as I plan for future work? Maybe I should add special features?

(Finish the book first, girl. Finish it!)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Writing fiction is real work

If you're a Filipino writer, reader and/or publisher do head on over to Charles Tan's essay "Fiction, Speculative Fiction, and the Philippines." It's a buffet of issues related to writing and publishing fiction in this country, and at some point he mentions my books. (Spoiler!)

From his essay:
"...but there's also a point where I wonder if the author and the book is getting attention locally precisely because it's not published here (the premise of the Manila International Book Fair panel after all is "Life of a Novelist: How to Get Published by the World's Largest English Language Trade Publisher"). That raises a lot of questions: Do local authors have similar opportunities? Another is how local readers are receptive to books published locally vs. those published in the US/UK, as one of the questions posed by Filipino Reader Con was whether local readers read Filipino Literature."

I attended the MIBF talk featuring Alexander Yates and Samantha Sotto, and am glad that their published novels are now examples of a) an American writing about the Philippines and b) a Filipino not writing about the Philippines (strictly speaking).

My experience as an "indie"/Kindle/Smashwords publisher is different, because my question is not "Will this be published?" Publication is a given, as long as the book is finished, and properly edited. The effect on me of not having that burden is that I can concentrate more on the story, on creating something that I myself would want to read, and that my circle of editors will think is worth working on.

If I have a concern, it's more of "Will people buy this?" Since most of my sales from the self-published books are coming from outside the Philippines, I don't just worry about being accepted by Pinoy readers, I have to think about everyone else too. And that's when I put the publisher's hat on, and tell the writer part of me to look at reviews of previous work and study what people liked and what they didn't. The process involves some analysis, some psych profiling, and lots of outlining, so it's not just me sitting by my window waiting for inspiration to come. (Although that plays a part too.)

Anyway, I guess my answer is -- yes there are opportunities for local authors. Even more so if they're looking for opportunities to be read, and not just to be published.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Post-ReaderCon 2: Bloggers make people buy, it's true

I wish I had thought of this prior to the ReaderCon, but anyway, better late than never.

I hope, in the interest of learning more about the impact of word of mouth and book bloggers on book sales, you (visitor to my website) take a minute to answer this quick survey:

1. How did you find out about me, Mina V. Esguerra author of chick lit/romance novellas?
(Was it through a blog? Amazon? A bookstore? An article in the newspaper or news site? Your friend? Who was the friend?)

2. Did you buy my book/s?

(Which ones? Ebook or paperback?)

If you haven't yet, do you plan to buy in the future?

(It's OK to say no. I'd like to know why though! I hope you share the reason.)

3. Have you told anyone else about my book/s?

(I'd appreciate any other details -- which book, why that friend, how did she/he like it.)

Please leave your responses in the comment section below, or email them to (Should I offer a prize? Maybe I will.)

I'm starting this survey because I was surprised (surprised!) to hear Chachic (of Chachic's Book Nook) say that she didn't know if her book blogging had an impact on book sales. I was all, are you kidding?! Of course your blogging has an impact! In my own experience, I know for sure that her blog and others who have reviewed my books have directly contributed to actual sales.

But of course I happen to be publishing those two books too, so I get to see the figures. I see, for example, that on the day or week of Chachic or Tina or dementedchris (to name a few) mentioning my books, I get purchase notifications from Smashwords. Some people who have emailed me to buy the paperback versions actually said that they heard about the book from these bloggers. And when I read a post from someone saying she bought my book because she has "heard so much about it" I assume that she means the blogosphere, and if she means actual word of mouth then I assume that this person got his/her info from the book blogs. (Reviews on Amazon count too, and people like Laura and Vicki Tyley are part of this too, but that is maybe another topic.)

So yes yes, definitely yes -- if you're not a household-name author like me, book blogs count, and are probably responsible for a significant chunk of sales. If you answer the survey, maybe we get to find out just how much.

Post-ReaderCon 1: Where I talk about being a reader and a Slayer

In 2001, I co-founded the online email group for Philippine fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (PinoySlayer). It was an active fan group for years, and even though the show has ended, the core group still gets together for other things. Prior to that I had been watching the show for years, participating in international forums and fannish stuff like that.

One of my longest posts ever in a Goodreads forum was on the topic of readers in the Philippines. I wanted to provide a counterpoint to the view that some readers seem to have, that they feel they are alone as readers because they can't talk about their books to friends or family, and don't see people reading in public.

Short version of that post: I am not a social reader. My extended family has at least one regular fiction reader per family, but we don't talk about books when we meet. My husband and I don't read in public transport. He doesn't read in a coffee shop too because he considers his books precious and will not take them out and place them in close proximity to that many beverages. We both don't blog about books. He doesn't even have a Goodreads account.

So, to casual observers, we probably won't look like readers. But there is a difference between, say, the person who watches and enjoys Buffy the Vampire Slayer if it happens to be on TV, and the person who loves it so much that she starts an online fan group (and buys merchandise, and reviews episodes, and buys DVD boxed sets even if she has taped all the episodes on VHS, and invites strangers to her house to watch the series finale... you get the point).

Some people aren't as ready to be social about their hobby as others are. Does that mean they love it less? They buy books too, but don't necessarily go on shopping sprees. How many books do you have to buy a year to be considered a "real" reader? What if you only borrow?

This by no means dimishes what the book bloggers and book clubs do -- in fact, I think that non-social readers rely on what the more social readers are doing. They also want to know they're not alone, but sometimes would prefer to lurk and privately agree or disagree in discussions, instead of participate.

The Filipino ReaderCon is a great first step though to get these readers to de-lurk, come forward, and participate in a non-intimidating way. And if you're this kind of reader you may have to step up at some point, like I did when I wrote that post, so your own issues are heard too.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Paperback shipping delays - and my apologies

If you ever emailed, tweeted, messaged, and asked me in person about the paperback editions of Fairy Tale Fail and Love Your Frenemies lately:

1. HUG. Thank you.

2. This is the story: I ordered a big batch, I did. In June. But this time, I sent it to family in the United States, hoping for it to be sent here along with a box of other things on its way here. It is not here yet. (Sorry!)

3. Update: I ordered a new, smaller batch of Fairy Tale Fail and Love Your Frenemies this week. It will be shipped directly to the Philippines. It will now be a race between the big box and the little box, but I hope this means that within a month you will get your copies.

So that's the story. I feel like I owe everyone hot fudge sundaes...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

ReaderCon Filipino Friday Week 5: What I expect from ReaderCon

The 1st Filipino ReaderCon is coming up!

My reading has not been a social activity lately. It was, back in high school, when I would actively promote (push) books to friends. In college, I told the entire story of Carl Sagan's Contact -- with difference-between-book-and-film commentary -- to a friend who preferred that to actually reading the thing. (That was a very long lunch.) Now, even though I read new books, I rarely discuss them or write reviews. But maybe a session or two at the ReaderCon will get me to "make it social" again.

I'm also expecting to learn more about what Filipino readers want, which I'm very curious about (as an author and publisher).

See you on September 14!

Friday, September 2, 2011

ReaderCon Filipino Friday Week 4: Philippine Lit

"Reading" to me means mostly novels and novellas, and these are the Filipino authors/novelists I've read since 2004 (when I started my book list).

Arlene J. Chai
F. Sionil Jose
Abi Aquino
Tweet Sering
Carla M. Pacis
Tara FT Sering
Bob Ong
Maya Burgos Cruzada
M.D. Balangue
Zara Irigo
Anna Ishikawa
Katrina Ramos Atienza
Abi Malonzo
Faye Ilogon
Jose Rizal
Miriam Delos Santos
Marla Miniano
Melissa dela Cruz
Vince O. Teves
Miguel Syjuco
Andrea Pasion
Maya Calica
Claire Betita
Marian Pinera
Martha Cecilia
David Hontiveros
Samantha Sotto

Graphic novels: Budjette Tan, Carlo Vergara

Not all of them were published in the Philippines, and not all of them have written specifically about the Philippines. My goal however has been to read more novels by Filipinos, and this list will keep growing.

My rather biased recommendation though is my husband, Michael AR Co. He hasn't (finished) a novel yet, but I'm a genuine fan of his work.

Visit the Filipino ReaderCon site!