What if there are not enough doors for you as a writer, what would you do? Would you keep on submitting and pray that one day, your work would be selected? Well, the word ‘one day’ just won’t do for me. I have tried submitting my stories to different publications but not a single soul replied.
Being a stubborn person that I am, I did not believe that my stories are not that good. I showed my work to my friends, family, and even strangers who have enjoyed reading it. If my works are good, then why the hell won’t I get published? Is it because my stories are not good enough for the “market” that they won’t invest in my work?
I have also heard of how little the publishing companies would pay you and how they get to keep your stories forever. This, too, won’t do for me. How do you change a system then? There are very few companies in the Philippines and I thought, if a path can’t work for you, the best thing you have to do is pave the road yourself. And so, we did.
I don’t recall how I met Marigold. We were friends on Facebook and I saw how she’s calling for submissions which led to us working together in an anthology. What if you found a creative person who is as passionate as you are? One who does more walking than talking? I knew I found the right partner when the idea of 8Letters (this was not the name at that time), came up. From what I learned from past experiences, having the right partner brings you a long way, but first, we need to have the same goal.
Our goal was simple: first, to get our stories from our wildest imagination to be told. Second, we need readers that will turn into a creative community nurturing each other. We wanted to create an online hub that can sustain itself. We were thrilled to start the business however, it wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows. The reason why no one has done it yet, was because it is difficult. There were no manuals so we had to keep on trying and testing our theories.
We built a shelf that’s a shape of a basket where we could fill with books, and place it in cafes so people who enjoy the ambiance can also read the books and hopefully, they would be enticed with the idea and buy the book. Long story short, it did not work because people go to a cafe to eat and relax. Perhaps they would read the book. But only a very small percentage bought it.
The next test was joining bazaars where we can sell our books. Sometimes, it works, 50% of the time, it doesn’t because the event itself was not as exposed to our target customers. We decided to be more careful in choosing which bazaars to join so we also don’t waste our time and efforts also considering the very bad traffic in Metro Manila. We realized we can’t simply keep on saying yes to every opportunity, and that we have to be smarter in choosing which bazaar to join. Those are just two lessons to name a few. I hope it does not discourage you from entering the creative industry.
Well, I am also proud to say that we got our successes too. Every year, we ensure that we get to join the biggest book fair in the country every year – the Manila International Book Fair. And you know what it means? Our works are getting exposed to hundreds of audiences out there. More readers are learning about indie publishing – the underground and non-traditional way.
There have been so many times when we thought, okay, this is enough. We surrender to failure and we’ll just lead our normal lives of going to school and work. Let’s forget about 8Letters. But then last February, we started a prompt called #28Letters where one needs to write every day for a month. We had thousands of stories submitted in our 8Circles group and seeing the works of these passionate writers fueled up our motivation even more. It feeds our soul and by doing this, we feel alive. We can’t give up on our dreams yet.
When we first launched our Indie Publishing the Write Way course, we never thought we would be running it again and again. Three years later, we have seen the progress and achievements of the indie writers who joined us. This November, we’re running it for the eighth time but this time, we’ll be focusing on coaching a few students so we can allocate the quality time it needs.
A new batch of Indie Publishing the Write Way Online Course starts on November 2019. Sign up here and begin your self-publishing journey.
There will be more projects to come under 8Letters and although we know that pursuing our goal is not going to be a smooth ride, pretty sure, we’ll still be here for a long time. Anyway, the number ‘8’ in 8Letters means infinity, and infinite words lead to infinite stories. In times like this, stories are a necessity in making us more human. It builds a community. It builds a better world.