Taking Matters into Your Own Hands: Self-Publishing

For writers, having one’s work be published is the ultimate reward. The thrill of letting the public read the product of conceptualization, research, composing original content and impeccable editing is incomparable, and it is what keeps all wordsmiths going. Writing hits two birds in one stone: it lets readers in on what needs to be said, and it gets a writer’s byline out there for everyone to see.

However, what is worthy of publication is relative. The downside of the writing/editing process concerns varying opinions: not everyone will think that your work is worth the ink and paper. You may hold your latest work in high regard, but your editors or advisors may think otherwise: they may ask you to make changes ranging from minor revisions to total revamps, consider other points of view, put in additional information and/or better cater to a specific audience. Revisions and rejections are necessary evils in the writing/publishing business; they weed out substandard work and make sure that the output is presentable and can stand on its own.

For those who don’t want to make any compromises whatsoever or ensure that they wield complete control over their work, there’s another way to have your stuff published: self-publishing. Blogging and desktop publishing are two of its most popular forms, but since The Reading Spree is all about books, we’ll stick to book publishing and print-on-demand services/vanity publishing.

Patricia May Jurilla, PhD, discussed this type of publishing in the Philippines in a 2007 essay, with her first paragraph tackling the negative opinion associated with self-publishing:

By personally taking on the task and expense of printing, distributing, and promoting his/her own work, the author invites suspicion — be it of mediocrity (the work must have been rejected by professional publishers); hubris (how proud is the author of the work to go so far as spending for its printing and distribution); vanity (how conceited is he/she to think that anyone else would be interested not only in reading but even buying his/her work); unexplained, possibly ill-gotten, wealth (particularly for literary authors who are generally known or expected to have limited financial resources, where did he/she get the money?); or all of the above. There is the tendency then to regard self-publishing, which is also commonly referred to or scoffed at as ‘vanity publishing,’ as less credible or legitimate than the activity of professional, commercial, and institutional producers of books or the real publishers.

This may be the norm for some print and publishing veterans, and I do agree with all the points that Dr. Jurilla raised, but I don’t think it fits today’s new breed of writers. The free-for-all that has ensued in both print and online media shows, if the traits mentioned in the above quotation are to be followed, that many writers and pseudo-writers are proud, conceited, and judged primarily on financial status. I’m proud, conceited and broke, so I’ve no complaints, haha!

I wholeheartedly espouse self-publishing, and if people think that they need to facilitate and finance the publication of their stories, thoughts and the like, then they should do what is necessary to get it done. We are a generation of opportunists, and we will take whatever comes our way; publishers and literary agents don’t hold the key to printed bliss anymore. (Of course, quality of work is another issue, and a separate entry is needed for that one.) As long as the aspiring authors can cover the printing cost, then they’re set for publication and prospective sales.

In my last full-time job as an account executive, I had to handle a myriad of concerns and requests from various clients. One project called for me to contact several printing houses in Metro Manila and gather quotations for printing and distribution costs. It is a lifelong dream of mine to pen a book, and when I finally do manage to write that book, at least I now have several companies to choose from. This list has both Philippine and international publishing firms:

[Edited 3/4/13: Here’s the updated list of self-publishing companies!]

  1. CentralBooks. While this Quezon City, Philippines-based company is more known for its legal publications, its publish-on-demand service is very enticing. A basic payment of PhP 9,500 for the Classic Package would give self-publishers an ISBN number, Philippine copyright registration, marketing/promotion posters and reprinting services, among others. There are additional costs for extra services such as layout and encoding assistance. Information on packages and print rates can be found here, and inquiries on other publication concerns and custom sizes can be forwarded to CentralBooks’ head office via landline or e-mail. Look for Marie Villanueva.
  2. Armvet Printing Company Inc. I thought that this company only did business with media firms and huge corporations, but apparently it also has a print-on-demand service. Call (632) 804-0676 and look for Ricky Junio. He’s very accommodating, and gave me a quotation for my client only 24 hours after I made a rush request (blame my ex-boss for that one). Inquiries can also be sent via e-mail to sales@armvet.com.
  3. LexMedia Digital Corporation. I used to work for a Philippine IT magazine that publishes issues once a month, and our art director and graphic artist would usually allot one day in a month for a press check, wherein they’d go to the printing facility down South and oversee the transformation of our pages from proofs to printed-and-bound magazines. Two years after I left that magazine, I was looking for a printing press for the aforementioned ex-client, and the art director forwarded me to LexMedia. The company is more known for magazine printing/production, but it also has print-on-demand services. Despite a number of requests placed to two accounts persons, I never received a quotation from them up until I resigned from my last job (ignoring potential clients is a huge no-no!!!), but maybe you’ll get lucky. For inquiries, call (632) 793-8888 or send an e-mail to sales@lexmediadigital.ph. A more detailed contact list can also be found on the corporate website.
  4. Platypus Publishing. Having well-known Filipino print and publishing personalities such as Clinton Palanca, Manuel Quezon III and JV Rufino as some of its founders provides this publishing house with both credibility and prestige, and its editorial/production/distribution services will help self-publishers from all backgrounds. More information can be found here, and the company’s contact details are provided on this page. Note: “…we do have a preference for works on Philippine history and culture as well as for self-help and how-to books targeted towards making the lives of modern urban Filipinos easier.
  5. Xlibris. With a variety of publishing services, international distribution capabilities and detailed information on pricing and royalties, this company is a contender for self-publishers with a bigger budget and who transact in US dollars. Contact list can be found here.
  6. Blurb. Mixing desktop publishing (via its BookSmart software) and professional book-printing services, Blurb is another publishing option for authors, photographers, creatives and people in other fields. Check out the following pages for their rates and shipping estimates. Keep in mind that you can pay only in US dollars, UK pounds, euros or AUS dollars, and that there are additional costs for tax and shipping.

Know of any Philippine/international companies that have print-on-demand services? E-mail thereadingspree (at) gmail (dot) com!

[Edited 3/4/13: Here’s the updated list of self-publishing companies!]