Final submissions are in, and 38 made it to the deadline. Not all who submitted their first draft were able to submit their final draft in time for the 30 January 2016 meetup at Third Cup Cafe in Katipunan, but there were also some who finished their manuscript even though they missed the first draft deadline. While most of the submissions are short stories in English, there are also 4 poetry submissions.
For many of the participants, the regular prompts and structured deadlines helped them finish their story, as well as knowing that other people were also working on the same project. We were able to track the progress of some participants on Twitter through #bayongngkuting but there were probably a lot of other conversations happening in other spaces that we weren’t part of, like on Facebook or on Tumblr or in real time, with coffee and cake.
The meetup was valuable for another reason, in that it gave us an opportunity to pick each other’s brains. Some had already self-published before, and shared their experiences. Some were intimately familiar with the process of traditional publishing and let the others know what traditional publishers are looking for, and that it can take about 1 year to 1.5 years to produce one illustrated children’s book. Some also shared their journey in translating their Wattpad stories into print, and how they negotiated–or could have negotiated–their publishing contracts. We also talked about how new distribution channels are being created or are now available, and how we can avail of them. One thing we agreed on was that self-published authors need to be more involved in the marketing and distribution of their own books, and the creation of their own brand, in addition to writing, layout, and publishing.
The next few weeks will be spent reading the final submissions and choosing some that may be the best fit for what we’re thinking of doing next. Since authors own copyright to their story, they may also have their own plans for their work. We’re all excited for what happens next.