Monday, September 29, 2014

What's next for #romanceclass: Ayala Museum workshops!

We had the free online version, the textbook, and the monthly talks...and then we tried this:

I worked with Ayala Museum this year to come up with a three-session version of #romanceclass. We had our final class on September 23 (not the 19th because we got typhooned out). Here's my quick evaluation of it:

As the facilitator, this format works for me. It doesn't take up too much of my time. I had participants read their work aloud, and I think it was good for the authors to hear their fellow authors react to their work. (A giggle here, a kilig squee there.) I also feel that the direction and advice for one usually applied to more than one author in the room, and at least everyone got to learn from each other, even if they weren't necessarily writing the same story.

The museum charged a fee (P3,800) for the workshop, so the group was smaller (free online #romanceclass had 100 participants!) and I really got to know them and their work. I didn't even realize this until I felt a bit sad at the end of the last class, haha.

One new addition to #romanceclass that I thought worked well was an idea borrowed from Steamy Reads: the "alpha male" guest speaker. Kelvin Yu, bass player for the band Itchyworms (and also a friend from college), was a good sport and talked to our author participants about love, relationships, dating, and what it's like to be in a band these days. I invited him in particular because more than one author had a "part-time rock star" character. :) I loved the authors' questions!

We're doing this again next year. Looking forward to it already!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Once Upon A Player Blog Tour: Interview with Agay Llanera

Welcome to my stop on the Once Upon A Player blog tour! This is Agay Llanera's second contemporary romance and I'm glad I got the chance to ask her a few questions about her new book.

Interview with Agay Llanera

1. Congrats on finishing your new book! How did you find the time to do it?
Thanks, Mina! Though I do work from home, I also have an active toddler so it's really a challenge to carve out time to write a book. So what I'd do is write for 1-2 hours a day, during my son's nap time. I'd try not to doze off along with him so I could squeeze in some writing time. In about five months, I finished the book!

2. How did you get around to deciding what your next story would be about? Was it something you had always intended to do?
Since I'm new at this novella-writing thing, I'm basing my first, few books on my interests and/or what I know. I really love watching the UAAP volleyball games and while I was watching one, I suddenly had this epiphany of writing a book about a popular volleyball player and her quest for romance.

3. What challenges did you go through, focusing on a main character that wasn't exactly the nicest person there?
I actually had fun writing about a bitchy character. My first novella's main character (Crissy from Vintage Love) was your typical all-around nice girl so I wanted my second MC to be different. I loved reading about antiheroes/heroines so I was inspired to create my own. All I had to do was channel my inner bitchiness. I also followed some popular volleyball players on Twitter just to get a sense of what they're busy with in real life.

4. You posted chapters on Wattpad before publishing. How did that change the way you write, if at all?
It changed EVERYTHING. I purposedly posted each chapter after I finished it so I'd feel inspired to continue the story. If people were reading it and voting on it, I knew I'd write much faster, knowing that people were actually waiting for me to finish and upload the next part. I was surprised at the amount of reads it got--even all the way from Brazil! I guess I'm not the only one interested in volleyball.

5. What's the next book about? :) 
I started two novellas, but I honestly don't feel compelled to finish either ASAP. Who knows? I might start a new one about a young woman traveling to Europe in search of love. Whatever the book's about, I hope to publish it this coming year!

Gorgeous college senior Val Fabian is a player in every sense of the word. She's the star spiker of her university's volleyball team, and she never runs out of dates. But it seems that this year, she has finally been bitten by the commitment bug. She sets her sights on an unexpected target--the unassuming yet ultra-cute Jake Clementia. Val is used to getting what she wants, and is sure she'll snag him before graduation. But in the process of winning his heart, she is sideswiped by a surprise move that sends her tumbling from her pedestal.

Add to your Goodreads

Purchase links: Amazon | Smashwords

About Agay Llanera

Agay Llanera is a freelance writer for television and a published writer of children’s books. She is a member of KUTING, a private, non-stock, non-profit organization, which aims to be the Philippines’ foremost writers’ organization for children.

Her first romance novella, Vintage Love is available on e-bookstores (Amazon, Kobo, Buqo, Smashwords).


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Monday, September 22, 2014

MIBF 2014

Another MIBF! Happy for the event-filled weekend and the weather that seemed to cooperate. Going to MIBF always gives me a good idea of what I want to do the following year, moving forward as an author and publisher. Thankful that I was given the opportunity to share how I do things, with other people. I hope they find themselves encouraged maybe? And less intimidated by the whole publishing thing.

Saturday morning. Not apocalyptic!

A quick pic with co-panelist Alyssa Urbano during our Readers Who Write forum. Not in pic is Kate Evangelista, who had the floor at the time, and facilitator Gabriela Lee. A great recap of our session is here, by Liana Smith Bautista.

While grabbing a quick bite to eat, this happened. There was also an anime con at the same time. I should have taken more pics!

My second session for the day was a quick talk on Marketing for authors. Author Bebang Siy also shared how she does her marketing/branding...and you can see she does make an impression when you see her in person at these things! Sadly I was underdressed for this.

Had a few hours in between my talks and my scheduled book signing at the Summit Media booth, so I jumped right back into the book fair and explored.

I said I'd give prizes! Katrina and Ana were at all of my MIBF events and got first pick.

Michelle chose this international edition of Fairy Tale Fail (which is pretty much the same as the local edition, except it has a different cover, and a glossary explaining the Filipino terms).

Violet picked the international edition of Icon of the Indecisive. Yay! Louie got the international edition Love Your Frenemies, but I wasn't able to take a pic of her with it. :(

I was back to MIBF the next day to attend the Wattpad forum (thank you for the shirt!) and tried to get my Jennifer E. Smith and Lissa Price books signed. Didn't actually get to have them do it because we left before my number came up...but I got to watch them sign! And I saw the readers lining up for them! Still get a kick out of that, watching readers and authors appreciate each other.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

September 20 is a work day! (MIBF)

If you're going to the Manila International Book Fair at SMX MOA on September 20, hope you can check out the various events I'm participating in!

Readers Who Write is a panel organized by Filipino ReaderCon and the National Book Development Board of the Philippines. I'll be at this with authors Kate Evangelista and Alyssa Urbano, and we'll be kept in line (haha) by Gabriela Lee. Look for us in Meeting Room 7 (that's the venue based on the NBDB posting). The event is free but there's a pre-registration form online to reserve seats.

Marketing 101 for Authors is an NBDB event and I'll be talking about how I do marketing. The awesome Bebang Siy will be doing here thing in it too. This is free for authors registered with NBDB. If you're not yet an NBDB member author, this would be a good time to sign up! Look for us at Meeting Room 7.

At 4 PM, I will be at the Summit Media booth with author Chinggay Labrador to sign books and stuff! You're not required to buy anything new as far as I know so please bring anything you want me to sign. :)

And if you happen to be at all 3 events that day? I have a gift for you. For up to five of you at least. Special gifts. Not-available-in-Philippine-bookstores kind of gifts. And a you-will-have-the-first-copy-of-this gift. Please approach me at the end of the event you attend, so I can give you something, and so I know you were there. Yay see you! 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How I do author marketing

How I "market" myself as an author, as of September 2014:

1. I call myself an author. I used to introduce myself as whatever job position I had at the time, and then do an "oh I write too." Now it's the other way around.

2. I keep in touch with readers. I prioritize the communication channel based on how close and personal it gets, not how many the "followers" are. So for me right now, in order of importance:


3. I reach out to new readers by giving away lots of free stuff. Because I write a lot and often. One free book once in a while serves to introduce me to people who might be willing to read or buy the other ten. This is super easy to do, now that I've focused on digital.

4. I don't just say "buy my book." I am routinely invited to speak about several things, because I've publicly given my position on them: Indie publishing, digital reading, copyright, romance, new adult as a category. If I sat down and planned my author career beforehand, I would have thought about this more carefully, but I don't mind this mix of topics. They're all things that I'm passionate about. It's important, I think, that as an author you be associated with something more than your book. (Otherwise you have the problem of people liking your book, but not necessarily you, and what happens when you have a new one?)

I'm speaking about this at the NBDB session at the Manila International Book Fair (1:30 PM, Sept 20, SMX MOA). Drop by! Ask questions. :)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How I sell paperback and print editions

Though I've focused on ebooks, I still have print editions made of nearly all of my books. The difference is that I do it through print on demand. As an indie author/publisher, this is how I'm able to provide print editions of my books with the least amount of expense and effort.

For buyers worldwide:

CreateSpace, Amazon, Book Depository. Those who have no problem buying books online can get print editions any time through Amazon, CreateSpace, and The Book Depository. I'd recommend The Book Depository for Philippine buyers because they offer free shipping to the Philippines.

Chain and indie bookstores. Yes, it's possible for my books to appear in brick-and-mortar bookstores anywhere in the world. I've signed up for a CreateSpace service called Expanded Distribution, and my titles are available to bookstores that are already using CreateSpace to purchase books. However, they still have to make the order. I haven't yet explored getting word out to the book buyers of these stores, but it's available as an option.

For Philippine buyers:

Direct from me. I try to keep a few copies (not more than five) of each title in stock, for people who for one reason or another can't find it or buy it online. (

Trusted online sellers. Like Celina's Books and Magazines.

Book fairs. I've participated in a few reader fairs and gatherings, selling books during the event.

Independent booksellers. So far only indie bookstore/bar Uno Morato in Quezon City carries my indie print editions.

Chain bookstores. You can get into the large chain bookstores in the Philippines through consignment agreements or working with distributors. I don't currently do this because working with a large bookstore will require me printing hundreds if not thousands of copies per title to provide stock for each of its branches, not to mention dealing with the logistics of sending those copies over, monitoring sales, and getting back unsold copies. I've decided not to pursue this for now. But it is possible, all the channels are there if this is what you want to do.

This kind of minimum-effort print distribution system means I don't sell thousands of copies by the way. My bookstore presence is mainly due to my Philippine publisher, Summit Books, and not my own work. So if print distribution is something you want to do for your book, you'll need to figure out what you want to get out of it. If you want to earn a lot, be ready to spend and work for it too.

Monday, September 1, 2014

How I format my ebooks

The tools I use for writing have changed, depending really on what's practical at the time. As of right now, I'm using Google Docs for web and mobile, and finalizing everything on Microsoft Word. (I even caved and pay P250 a month for fully functional Word.) 

Whatever I use though, I make it a point to write in such a way that my manuscript itself is already ebook-friendly. Not that difficult to do, since I write straightforward text with no fancy extras. Here are a few of my settings from the draft stage on:

- Single column text (absolutely no text boxes anywhere)
- Justified
- Indented paragraphs, one carriage return/"Enter" to start next paragraph
- Single spaced, no space between paragraphs
- One font throughout, if I can help it. Usually Georgia or Palatino Linotype.
- Chapter headings to the left, and styled as Heading 1 (anything I want to appear on a table of contents page is Heading 1)
- No footnotes, strikethroughs, subscript, superscript, special characters, inserted objects. (If I can help it.)

Formatting rules of course vary per book, but I try to stick to these even as I write, so it's less of a headache later on when I'm actually publishing it.

Love is the Answer (#romanceclass bundle 3)

FREE from September 1 to 3
$0.99 until end September
$2.49 regular price until end February 2015
FREE to read for Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited

Sweet, contemporary romance by Filipino authors. Enjoy three new adult/chick lit novellas in one bundle! 

FINDING X by Miles Tan 

Is there a science to falling in love? 

Carlisle Santiago is through with men. After the devastating end of a seven-year relationship, she's trying to put her life back together. What she doesn't know is that she is the subject of the patient and methodical observations of blue-haired scientist Matteo Villegas, who just wants to find love himself. She must decide whether she's ready to give love another shot or if this is doomed to be one failed experiment. 

THE REAL SCORE by Kesh Tanglao 

Caitlin's friendship with Marcus, the de facto frontman of the world's biggest boy band Gezellig, has long been an object of scrutiny by almost everyone--their friends and families, the media, and his fans--ever since they "went public" a couple of years back. Who wouldn't be interested? She was a nobody, catapulted into the limelight of his fame when he struck an unusual friendship with her. 

To both Caitlin and Marcus, what they have is a "perfect little thing." But then something comes along and threatens it. 

In a no-holds-barred interview, will they finally be forced to settle the score? 

FORGET ME NOT by Addie Lynn Co 

Rianne has lost her memory of the past two years due to an accident, but letters from a mysterious "Sparks" -- found in a pile of unread mail at home -- have been helping her cope. The letters tell her of a couple's love story, making her hope to find the same unconditional love someday. 

Rebuilding her life has been a mess though: her guy best friend is claiming to have been her boyfriend that time, but she seems more at ease with a mysterious stranger. Does she trust the past she can't remember, or take a chance with a more uncertain future? 

Cover designed by Tania Arpa, featuring Rhea Bue.