Sunday, February 26, 2012

The traveling twentysomething

Source: via Mina on Pinterest

As much as I claim that I am not much like my novellas' characters, I did, like Ellie Manuel of Fairy Tale Fail, spend much of my money on travel. And the rest of my time thinking about it. Like her, I had to save up for these trips too, on a junior employee's salary at that. It's why my early trips were all on a budget, but those can be super satisfying, especially if the feeling of independence is what you're going for.

Eventually the trips got nicer as my career upgraded. I don't think I'm alone in this -- the traveling twentysomething sees the trip as a reward, and each one is a milestone.

My most memorable trips as a twentysomething traveler:

1. New York
Am I crazy, or did years of braving public transport in Manila make me feel so at home in New York City? It was overwhelming, but I just switched to EDSA mode and did just fine.

2. Bangkok
This city makes an appearance in Fairy Tale Fail. What I didn't mention in the book: the orange juice they sell on the street? It's got salt. Salt! You have been warned.

3. Palawan
Totally lives up to its reputation as, well, paradise. Have been there twice, and always feel that there's never enough time to see and do everything.

Another milestone? Finding someone to travel with, even though you've gotten used to going solo.

Monday, February 20, 2012

What I worry about

Last week, I met a friend of book blogger Chachic. Let's call him O. O and I talked about books for one of his school projects. He was kind enough to send me the draft of what he plans to submit to his teacher, and I found a bit there that I'd like to share.

Here it is, with some editing on my part.

When I was starting out, I would ask myself, how can I write something that a publisher would want to read? But now, because publishing is so easy, I don't have to think about that anymore. What I think about is how to write something "good," something that a reader would want to pick up or buy.

I don't know how this affects other writers, but knowing that the reader (and not the publisher) is my main audience has made it easier for me to write. I don't have to worry so much about publishing. Instead I worry about its entertainment value. Will I want to read it? I write now to entertain myself and certain people.

Thanks for letting me talk, O. :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I spend more money on milk tea than publishing

In January, I was invited by a group of writers to speak about my experience with digital publishing. It was a great afternoon, one that I should recap in more detail here. But first, I wanted to write this post because I have to apologize -- I gave an inaccurate answer to one of the questions asked during the session.

The talk I gave covered my "experiment" publishing Fairy Tale Fail, from putting it up on the Amazon Kindle Store, to ordering a print version via CreateSpace's print on demand service, and how it did in its first year. 

I was asked, a number of times, how much money I spent to get this done. I said, "under P3,000." I felt that I may have been too vague, because that question (and variations of it) was asked several times soon after, and I started to doubt my own figures. Or maybe I just didn't make myself clear. I guess it's safe to assume that people there were asking me how much, to compare to their own experience self-publishing in the Philippines via printers or self-pub services. 

So I checked my records, and apparently this is how much I really spent: $11.49. (Or 489 pesos.) For the entire experiment of having Fairy Tale Fail published both digitally, and in print. That is pretty much just the cost of shipping the proof from South Carolina to Manila (via USPS economy).

What could I have spent on but didn't?

- Editing and cover photography. Instead of paying upfront for these services, I asked friends to do it for free and rewarded them with a royalty percentage later.
- Copies of the book. Although many printers require a minimum order, CreateSpace does not. As soon as I received the proof and approved it for distribution, I didn't have to pay them anything, or order more copies. In fact, I only ordered copies to match my pre-orders, ensuring that I never had to spend more.
- ISBN. I got free ones from CreateSpace and Smashwords.
- Amazon publishing is free.
- Smashwords publishing is free.
- Did not take out ads or pay for publicity. (Not that I'm against this, but I was overwhelmed with everything and decided not to take the plunge for now.)

Since then I've partnered up with a local print on demand service that is just as flexible, and now I don't need to worry about shipping costs and the time it takes for books to get here. I haven't placed my independently-published books in local bookstores, but I have offered them through my Multiply store or direct order, shipped anywhere in the Philippines via Xend. Multiply hasn't started charging fees for their ecommerce platform yet, so buyers actually get the books for slightly cheaper. It's all so convenient that I've been able to process orders and ship books in pajamas. 

So that's the story. My books are available digitally and in print and I spent less than 500 pesos on the entire process. That is less than the dinner I had on Valentine's day. Or the dress I bought from Bayo two weeks ago. I probably spent more on milk tea last week, actually. Fairy Tale Fail sold more than 5,000 copies in its first year (print and digital), and since I only spent P489, I consider the experiment a success on so many levels.

I hope this answer clears it all up for the people who asked. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

No Strings Attached, now on Amazon!

Guess which one of my books now has a shiny new Kindle edition?

OK, you don't actually have to guess. No Strings Attached, about Carla and Dante and their lack of strings, is now available on Amazon for $3.99 US, $5.99 Asia-Pacific. 

Off to update the Where to Find My Books page...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Interim Goddess of Love - updates!

If you live in the Philippines and prefer paperback books, look here! Interim Goddess of Love the paperback (Philippine edition) is now available via my Multiply store. It's about the size of a Summit Book (4.25 x 6.75 inches) and is P300. (Add about P50-P100 for shipping.)

Last week, I experimented with making IGoL free on Amazon for two days, thanks to an Amazon promo. I announced it only to the mysterious mailing list, but eventually word got around, and more people were able to try out this little YA/romance/fantasy/Filipino novella.

How did it do? Amazing. It peaked at #5 in the Top Free Downloads for the Romance/Fantasy genre. Its 2-day download rate beat Fairy Tale Fail's best month. (And FTF is my achiever!) I'm still figuring out the lessons learned from this new experiment, but here are a few things:

1. The potential is huge for Filipino writers out there (in the Amazon jungle).
2. Free is another way to get noticed and "bought." Whether it leads to anything, will have to wait and see.
3. I will probably do this again.

PS. I'm writing IGoL #2: QotC now. Right now. There will be more.