FilBookFest Prep

I’ve got quite a bit of backlog. Two movie reviews should be up on this blog within the week, I’m hammering out an essay I owe TJ Dimacali of gmanews.tv. And as part of my work in the real world, I’m trying to conjure up sales for the UP Press’s ebooks. It’s generally uncharted territory and here I am, diving in without caution and dragging them in with me. This is a pretty substantial challenge. Despite Amazon figures showing digital outselling print, the local publishing industry is still extremely conservative about it and wants to hold onto their cards and wait for someone else to play. My own view, unconservative, maverick,and some might think crazy, is that we should jump at every opportunity to be read, and releasing books in the digital formats is the surest way to worldwide distribution. Ok, so enough of my attempts at digital evangelization. I do enough of that in my day job. And  I will be doing a fair amount of it on the UP Press blog and during my upcoming trip.

The Literacy Initiative International Foundation, the Asia Foundation, and the Book Development Association  of the Philippines have been kind enough to send me to the States to talk about books. I’ll be one of a hundred writers (surely overshadowed by the National Artists, Palanca Hall of Famers, and famous Fil Am writers in attendance, but hey at least I’m there right) attending the FilBookFest in San Francisco Oct 1 & 2. If you’ll be around, or know people who’re in the city, please give ’em a shout out and let ’em know that it’ll be this massive event. Personally, what with my new cooking bug, I’m looking forward to the presentation of Claude Tayag and a talk on the evolution of Filipino food.

I’ll be talking on two panels, one on getting published (where I suppose I’ll be asked to talk about my experiences in e-book publishing) and another panel which is about marketing. See, marketing print books, that’s all about finding the local market for that book. Sometimes it’s scholars and what you have to do is get your author onto a panel at a major conference and set the books out there. Other times it’s general readers and you’ve got to reach out to those readers and just let them know that this book is for them. In any case, when dealing in possible F2F interactions, events, launches, and the like, I have a pretty good sense of how to go about reaching readers (with my books anyway). Oh and it helps if you’re a celebrity like Lourd de Veyra, or if you’re charming enough that people will buy your book based on that. But marketing ebooks is a totally different matter. It’s interesting that I face this challenge while I hone my teaching skills at the UP Open University, where too only online interactions happen. In any case, these things are swimming in my head and I am so excited to hear from other people, excited to talk about literature, and also excited and hopeful that I will sell a lot of UP Press books, either in print or digital formats.

I’m excited too that this trip allows me to swing by LA, the land of my youth, and reconnect with my family. I haven’t seen my mom in over two years, and it’s been longer since I’ve seen my brother. I haven’t been back in LA since I left it in ’96, and I am looking forward to how my adult eyes will see it. I’ve read so much about it, seen so many movies and TV series and all other kind of media, that I feel I never knew the city where I grew up. I hope that two weeks will allow me to get acquainted with it at the least. I will also be at the Fil-Am Expo, to be held on the 24th and 25th of September in LA, promoting UP Press and selling copies of Geek Tragedies. Wow man, I only thought of it now, two weekends in a row of hanging out at events and selling books, sounds like I’ll be exhausted. And the Saturday after I’m on a plane back to Manila.

Feeling the pinch right now financially though. I had a couple hundred dollars lying in an envelope somewhere around the apartment and now I can’t find it. I refuse to believe anyone in our home would actually steal money, so I’m still searching around the house, hoping it’ll turn up. I’ve received some funding and I’ve got some checks that I’ve been relying on so that I have money for the trip, but as it stands, none of these have come out yet. I’m freaking out a little because I leave Friday morning, the money I’m expecting hasn’t come through, and the amount in my bank account is pretty meager after the unemployment phase. Still, I’m hopeful that something will come out right and I’ll be good for the trip.

I’m pretty set when it comes to books. I received a bunch of print books for my birthday, picked something up at the MIBF, and got another after receiving a nice GC from a talk. So far coming with me on the trip for sure, Robopocalypse (thanks Charles Tan!) as I’m in the thick of this really exciting book. The definitely maybes include American Nerd (thanks Paolo J. Cruz!), Manhood for Beginners (thanks Kiko Quina!) and Reading Comics (thanks for lending Paolo Chikiamco!), as well as Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad and Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw. Funny though how I always pack books for a trip but never finish them. But hey, maybe this time! And of course I’m bringing my Kindle, which has its own hefty backlog.

And the real prep begins later or tomorrow. I have to start packing. The luggage is waiting, but the packer is lazy. Jeans, shirts, couple of jackets. That’s all I need right?

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