"More Than True", A Declaration
Come the 28th, two things happen: first – despite whatever odd jobs I may need to pull to keep from having to mooch off my wife - my primary vocation, my primary occupation will be that of a writer. I have an urban fantasy novel that needs finishing.
Second, I set about trying to establish a publishing house. A digital publishing house, with a special place for novel length Philippine Speculative Fiction.
The other week I attended a seminar on Publishing in Cyberspace, sponsored by the National Book Development Board (NBDB), in partnership with the Book Development Association Of The Philippines (which I heard of at Philippine Genre Stories). The publishers in attendance were affable, intelligent sorts, but many of the representatives seemed to be at a loss with regards to the full potential of the Internet (with the exception of those who sent younger representatives). This shouldn’t come as a surprise – many big US publishers seem to flounder a bit in the ebook realm.
Yet, the ebook market is here, and it's steadily growing. Lots of people all over the world already read reams of stories online, on their computers - just look at how popular fanfic is. Mobile devices that can read ebooks will only become more prevalent: the iPhone has apps like Stanza – which is free – which can read most ebook formats (though there are some formatting issues) and can receive files via wifi. The Kindle 2 has just been released, and late this year/early next year, the plastic logic reader might finally come out. In a year where traditional publishing struggled, Ebook sales increased - by quite a bit.
Back at the local level, at the Publishing in Cyberspace conference, a representative from yehey revealed some telling numbers: around 27 million internet users in the country, 83% of whom were part of a social network (1st in the world); 90% of whom have perused blogs. Even just limiting ourselves to the Philippines, there are a lot of eyes on the internet, a lot of people before whom we can display our works. I think there’s an audience here for genre fiction: look at the number of people who flock to the SFF section of Fully Booked – the people from all social classes who splurge on complete collections of the works of Rowling and Meyer; the number of fans drawn by Neil Gaiman whenever he’s in town; the droves who descend upon Komikon; even the popularity of story-intensive RPGs.
There’s room for growth in this market I think. As I said last post, I think there would be a market for homegrown SFF novels and serials… These are the type of stories I’ve always loved to read. These are the type of books that create not only readers, but FANS. Let’s go make some. There’s a lot of work to be done yet: a business plan to make, investors to convince, bandwidth to purchase, editors and codemonkeys to hire, marketing strategies to figure out. It will be hard work. It may fail horribly – but if it does, I hope others will learn from my errors and push forward.
But for now, I am throwing my hat in the ring. I am 29 years old and from now on I’m setting out to cross out quite a few things from my list of potential mid-life regrets. If I don’t end up contributing anything to the development of Philippine Speculative Fiction… well, at least no one will be able to tell me I didn’t try.
I’m betting on us – us as readers, us as writers. If you like the odds – or, hell, if you don’t like them but want to spite them anyway, then welcome aboard.
Let’s do this.
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Hey, hey, hey! Good luck, More Than True! I really hope you make this (and given my past posts, I'm thinking of the same for PGS).
More Than True is Paolo Chikiamco, author of "Homer's Child" from PGS3.