It all started when our colleague, a.k.a. Ginoong Makata, blurted out with his familiar head tilt gesture, “Tara, publish tayo ng libro.” We could have taken it as an old one-liner of an academic if we hadn’t observed his burning literary passion and his growing publications. Yes, he’s also got several literary books on his desk and been bragging a little about his affinity with renowned local mainstream writers.
Soon after, about twenty teachers across three academic departments expressed their interest in the proposal to publish an anthology of literary works for millennial readers. Convinced enough, I, too, accepted the offer being a contributor and coeditor. We were joined then by another editor, a language teacher who also runs LanguageStratagem.com, together with her psychology-graduate husband. All of us editors, except Ginoong Makata, have no prior experience publishing a book, but at least exceptional literary and linguistic skills.
Interestingly, almost everybody wants to publish at least a book in his lifetime, however discouraged by the daunting and complicated process which mostly requires a dedicated time writing the manuscript, a huge fund to cover costs of book layout and mass printing, a network of prospective readers, and collaboration with a literary agent and a publishing company. Unless the writer opted for self-publishing, there is no need for such a collaboration but rather raising a huge fund for printing costs.
Self-publishing, as opposed to the traditional system, is the publication of any material without the involvement of a registered publishing company. Driven by technological innovations in the last few decades, it has given writers full control over their publications from content to distribution and marketing.
While self-publishing can be found advantageous, still traditional system finds superiority in terms of quality management and bigger marketing capability. In addition, getting an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) from the National Library of the Philippines to publish a book can be quite impossible without an accredited publisher.
Since November last year, we have been working on with the manuscript of our anthology. It took us over three months before all literary pieces from poems to essays and short stories were reviewed and edited. It was a struggle though on our part being editors given that not all contributors are into creative writing. Sometimes we just had to shake a head and make a long sigh of exasperation.
In a traditional publishing system, when an author wishes to publish and inks a contract with a publishing house, the manuscript is assigned to professional editors, proofreaders, formatters, graphic designers, and even marketers. We did self-publishing, but still in partnership with a registered publisher.
While the editing of our manuscript was in progress, promotional blurbs were also solicited from mainstream literary writers. Well, it was not a big problem. Ginoong Makata has his huge network.
A blurb is a short promotional statement that accompanies the meat of the book. It is usually written by other mainstream writers to express their seal of approval and support to the project, hence promoting the book to the readers.
We were able to gather at least ten promotional blurbs after sending our working manuscript. While these blurbs helped us a lot build assurance that we would have readers, we believed that we’re getting nearer to publishing it, and hence, no more reason to procrastinate.
Early February, we visited the National Library of the Philippines in Ermita, Manila for ISBN application. Since we had the project in collaboration with Southern Voices Printing Press, a registered publisher as well, we expected a smooth application that in the first place, should have taken less than an hour if not because of the mistyped publisher’s name (‘voice’ was printed instead) and the letter of authorization the library required.
International Standard Book Number (ISBN)
International Standard Book Number, abbreviated as ISBN, is an internationally recognized system whereby code numbers are assigned to books for easy identification and speedy exchange of information among publishers and all segments of the book industry and allied sectors. Specifically, it is a unique and unchangeable code number assigned to one title, one binding or edition of a published work (source: National Library of the Philippines).
As per the National Library of the Philippines, a publishing business registration, copy of the official title page, copyright page, completed ISBN Factsheet and Information Sheet, and a registration fee of PHP 120.00 per title shall be submitted by first time applicants. However, succeeding applications no longer require the publishing business registration (as it has already been encoded in their system). Required sheets can be downloaded here.
After our ISBN application, we also dropped by the Copyright Registration Office. It was an anthology so we were a bit confused about the registration process. As explained and what we did, we completed the form and had the publication registered to the editors while all contributors still have all the copyright on their individual literary pieces. It should as well be clearly stated on the copyright page of the manuscript as instructed.
Copyright is defined as a form of intellectual property which protects the rights of authors and creators of literary and artistic works. It refers to the main act in which, in respect of literary and artistic creation, may be made only by the author or with his authorization. Works are protected by the sole fact of their creation, irrespective of their mode or form of expression, as well as their content, quality and purpose (source: National Library of the Philippines).
Yehey! Our anthology finally had its registration. In less than four months, we had already spent around PHP 5,000.00 for editing sessions, printing, ISBN and Copyright registrations, and book layout and design. Most of it, around PHP 3,000.00, was paid to the graphic artist for her services.
Book Layout and Design
We were introduced by our colleague to her niece, a graphic artist who specializes in book layout and design. It’s a technical aspect, and we couldn’t ask help from our IT colleagues because of their hectic work schedules.
After providing her the title and description of the project, she sent us back right away her design suggestions. We invested much in the appearance of our first publication. If not mistaken, she had to tweak the design patiently for over five or six times until we were totally visually satisfied. With the amount paid, we had a package of front and back cover designs and inside page numbering and layout.
And then came the biggest challenge – raising a fund for printing costs. In January, we already requested a quotation from Southern Voices, and we had an idea how much it costs to publish hundreds to a thousand of copies. However, with around PHP 20,000.00 shelled out by contributors and editors combined, we still had more paychecks to wait for us to publish. Soon, we had to tap iMillennial Publishers to cover the rest of the funds needed.
Actual Printing Cost
Based on the quotation from Southern Voices, we had to settle half of the PHP 63,500.00 (total printing cost) for the 500 copies of our 6” x 9” 194-page book anthology. Specs of the offset printing also included foldcote cal 12 and plastic lamination for cover pages, and full-colored cover and black 60-lb paper inside pages. Hence, a copy costs PHP 127.00.
We were also presented a 60-gsm lightweight cream paper dummy, but it’s too expensive at around PHP 200.00 a copy. We could have even save more on the printing cost if we had availed a package of 1000 copies.
Publication expenses do not end up with the settlement of printing cost though it eats up a lot of the budget. Next week, copies of our anthology will be delivered, and we’re already planning for our book launch which we don’t know yet where to get a fund. Anyway, it’s always an investment on our end.
PUSUAN MO: An Anthology of Literary Works for Millennials serves as a compendium of literary works categorized into essays, short stories and flash fiction, and poems – all written and edited by millennial school teachers for millennial readers. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for your copy reservations.