Throwback: publishing before email(!)

We’re counting down to the 2015 Filipino Readercon on various social media platforms, which has led to some fun posts like #shelfies (where I shared my super messy bookshelf) and book spine poetry and yesterday, #bookstash — where the lovely Marian Tee shared this stash of rarities from back in my Psicom days. And I do mean rarities: these were the last extra copies I had, and these books are extremely hard to find now. (And the publisher still won’t revert the digital rights to me to allow me to publish them as ebooks, but that is another post entirely lalalala.)

ANYWAY! That #bookstash prompted this exchange of tweets!

Throwback 1 throwback2









Gah, that takes me back…

I started thinking of getting published back in late 2003. I’d been working on the manuscript of Pink Shoes, and the first draft was being workshopped by two of my good, trusted friends, Chiqui Larosa (a huge romance novel fan and the perfect market for #romanceclass!) and Jao Bautista (former creative director of BBDO Guerrero and now at Publicis Jimenez Basic). I researched online about how to get the attention of publishers or agents, and learned about putting together a prospectus, which included:

  1. An introductory letter explaining who I was, what I wrote and a brief description (think back cover blurb) of my manuscript.
  2. The first three chapters of my manuscript.

Then, I hung out at Powerbooks Glorietta (which became Tower Records, which is now…I am not sure what it is now. It’s beside Cinderella?) Anyway this was where I’d hang out to wait for my husband to get off work in Ortigas. I got off at 4:30PM and we’d meet around 5:40ish. Oh my God I cannot believe there was a time in my life I could get off work WHILE THE SUN STILL SHONE. GAHHH.)

Anyway, I would trawl the Filipino lit shelves and copy the publisher information off the books’ copyright pages. In the notepad function of my dinky Motorola. Which someone has told me could’ve been deemed suspicious behavior by security guards and gotten me kicked out of the store. If you can believe it, in 2003 I was able to collect the publisher info of 12 publishers, including University presses (UP, UST, LaSalle and ADMU), but of the 12 only four had email addresses. Only four actually responded to email messages.

Armed with the addresses of these 12 different publishers, I mailed 12 different copies of my prospectus. I just went ahead with it, even with the University presses, because who knew, maybe they were considering publishing chick lit, right? About half of them responded, and only two showed any interest in publishing the manuscript. Then we know what happened next there…

So there you have it, how I got published before people even used email. This whole process — from collecting publisher info in Powerbooks (October ’03) to signing the publishing contract (April ’04) — took about 7 months. What a difference to the world today, when you can literally click on a button and have your work read by the world, free or paid or otherwise!

About Author: Katrina Ramos Atienza

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