I was introduced to the Manila International Book Fair or MIBF last year, 2015, when Buqo, the online platform sponsor for the resulting bundles for two of our writing seminars, encouraged us writers to participate in their “Donate a Book and Get ebooks Free” drive. We had the Buqo booth to hang out in, met other participating authors and managed to help collect hundreds of donated books for libraries.
Fast forward to this year, and I have branched out from ebook bundles publishing in Buqo, to stand-alone publishing on Kindle and on print. This year, #romanceclass managed to land an agreement with BDAP to share an indie booth to sell print books! At first, when the call to sell books was launched by Mina V. Esguerra, I was a bit hesitant, as I have never been an official part of #romanceclass-meaning I have never had an honest-to-goodness romance book published. I have published books from Mina’s other classes, namely #StrangeLit and #HeistClub, but never a romance novel. So when she announced that #StrangeLit and #HeistClub books were included, I was ecstatic. My books were in! But that left me with a dilemma, as my first published book was not included in those classes, but another class, #JustWritePH, which Mina didn’t really hold, although she was involved as a speaker and mentor. So I just included that book as well, crossing my fingers.
When the teasers started coming out, I was in heaven, as I saw my book covers alongside others in marketing materials. I felt like I belonged already. Mina actually included my #JustWritePH book under the #romanceclass banner (Thank you, Mina!). And when the MIBF started on a Wednesday (September 14), and I saw the constant feeds and updates through posts on social media, I was dying to go to the venue (MOA SMX Convention Center), but work and other stuff got in the way. I was only able to schedule a visit on Sunday afternoon, September 18. But before then, I got notifications that books were selling like crazy and that some of mine needed to be replenished. That “problem” was one of the best problems I’ve ever had. People were actually buying our books! People were actually buying my books!
Oh, and my book, The Retreat, was the “buena mano” sales on the first day, courtesy of my US-based cousin, Rolando Mendoza, who went to the fair and bought my book
Fast forward to Sunday, I set out to go to MIBF 2016 and I brought a few copies of my books with me, to replenish again. I arrived at 1:03PM for the live readings and as always, it was a kilig-fest. There were new readers, and old well-loved ones. It was great hearing the books being read. It gave me something to aspire for. One day, my book will be read live. My preference would be a section in my up-and-coming #romanceclass book, “Kate, Finally,” to be read by Gio and Jeff. Yes, a scene with my two LIs, read by a lot of the writers’ LI pegs. I’m not sure how soon that dream could be a reality, and how feasible, but that’s the dream.
I was able to visit the booth at 4PM after the live readings. I replenished my books and I just hung around up until closing time of 9PM. Five hours. In those five hours, I met and hung out with fellow authors, and friends. And what do you know, I even met people who chose to buy my books and have them signed by me personally! I had a book signing slot from 5-6PM and I was afraid no one would show up. But they did. These are people who don’t know me personally. Some, just selected my book from the many books either by the cover or the blurb. Maybe they’ve heard of me, maybe my book was just a random choice. The important thing is, my books were chosen, they were paid for, and they will be read. After they are read once, they can be lent out to someone else to read.
That is the ultimate high. A writer writes because he/she has a story in his/her mind he/she wants to share. I normally start out just writing for myself. But as I go through the process of editing, beta reading, and copy editing, and finding the best book cover, and marketing, the ultimate dream really is for someone to read my story, and be touched by it, one way or the other.
During MIBF 2016, at least 30 of my books (over three titles—Turning Points, In My Dreams and The Retreat) were sold. That means 30 people reading something I wrote, at the very least. That two copies each of my books, as well as the other authors’ books have been reserved for the UP Library (and I heard one of my books got purchased for the US Library of Congress), is just mind-blowing. More venues for my stories to be read.
It has been two weeks since MIBF 2016 ended, and it took me two weeks to put into words everything that I felt. Looking forward to MIBF 2017!