Day four of INDIEPUBCON 2021, in collaboration with the National Book Development Board, saw numerous publishers and creatives share their thoughts on the process of creating anthologies and the entrance of the digital space (and the digital humanities) into the field.
With the necessary foray into digital media due to changing cultural sensibilities and market conditions, INDIEPUBCON 2021’s selection of speakers for the fourth day provided various perspectives on what it means to publish in this age. The discussions were led by Cindy Wong (8Letters), Faye Cura (Gantala Press), Rey Manlapaz Tamayo, Jr. S (7Eyes), and Joti Tabula (Librong LIRA). The fourth day of INDIEPUBCON 2021 also saw the successful run of Lipad Saranggola: Abutin ang mga Pangarap para sa Batang Mambabasa. In addition, Kristian Sendon Cordero of Savage Minds also shared his insights on the changing field and how these changes affect the effort of writing and publishing.
Lipad Saranggola: Children’s Writing as Resistance
Children’s literature and writing for children has always been a contentious area in the discipline, and literary production becomes even more challenging in a country like the Philippines. Several publishers came together on this day in INDIEPUBCON 2021 to talk about their experiences in publishing children’s literature.
The discussion kicked off with John Romeo Venturero, the Promotions & Research Head of Aklat Alamid. Romeo discussed several aspects of Aklat Alamid’s process for creating children’s literature.
”Allow me to give you a sneak peek of our experiences [in Aklat Alamid] and the processes that we go through when publishing books for children. I’m also excited to share our plans for the future. Aklat Alamid began with the objective of publishing children’s books in different languages in the Philippines. We also wanted to give representation to each region. We also want to be able to help in giving representation to the communities that use these books,” Romeo said.
Following Romeo’s foray was Noel Galon from Kasingkasing Press, who began his talk by emphasizing that their launch into independent press was a form of protest.
“The question of language is central to the founding of Kasingkasing Press. During that time establishing presses were only beginning to accept works from the regions.”
The next presentation was from Southern Voices Printing Press, who highlighted “authentic and genuine stories of people who live and walk on paths unacknowledged by popular media.” Sophia Perez from SVPP also presented Nay’Tay, Itim Po ang Dagat, which tackled the central issue of development aggression. One of the highlights toward the end of the discussion was the question of access to the intended readers – children. Noel Galon from Kasingkasing Press emphasized that even if publishers made the materials available online, there is still no guarantee that the intended readers would ever have full and ready access to them.
The Art of Anthologies
Anthologizing as Curation
According to Dr. Joti Tabula (Alubat Publishing and Librong LIRA), bringing an anthology to life can be likened to the curation process done in museums. The first process, according to Tabula, is conceptualizing the anthology.
“What does the anthology wish to say? Is it saying anything? What does the anthology wish the readers to experience? How will it succeed in allowing readers to gain the experience? An anthology is not merely a bundle of works, or a bunch of spinach tied with a rubber band,” said Dr. Tabula.
Dr. Tabula continues to describe in fine detail the various steps in selecting works to ‘open’ and ‘close’ a collection, as well as other critical-theoretical dimensions, as well as aesthetic considerations.
Coming Together in an Anthology
Cindy Wong of 8Letters began her discussion of the “Art of Anthologizing” by providing the etymology of the word before proceeding to how anthologies are eventually created and marketed. According to her discussion, anthologies are budget-friendly, provide potential readers with easy access to a wide range of literary works within a specific theme, are a flexible medium, and are ultimately easier to sell.
“Why create anthologies? First, to build creative and supportive relationships with other authors. If this is your first time as an author and you’re unsure and don’t have an audience, you can contribute to an anthology. What happens is that other authors can help market your work, you know, writing is already a solitary activity, so if you work with 19 other writers in that anthology, you’ll be able to help out each other.”
Anthologizing As a Feminist Small Press
Faye Cura of Gantala Press provided crucial and critical insights on publishing as praxis and cultural work. Faye focused on the ideological-critical dimensions of anthologizing and also provided guideposts on how to create anthologies.
“You have to be able to articulate what you want your anthology to tackle because this will guide you in the actual book production. Think of it as the main idea or position of your book. A specific or comprehensive topic would be nice, but be open to surprises, as well. Next, you have to identify the purpose of your anthology. Putting together an anthology takes time, energy and commitment, so having a clear purpose will make it easier to complete the task. Having a clear purpose will also help us manage the project in setting timelines and budgets.”
Faye continued her fruitful talk regarding other dimensions of anthologizing, and her points are accessible and usable for those who wish to create anthologies explicating and articulating various aspects of the people’s struggle.
Anthologizing as a Step-by-Step Process
Rey Manlapaz Tamayo, Jr. of 7Eyes also provided some tips on how their anthologies come to be. According to Rey, they are inspired by sociopolitical conditions and real-life events, essentially creating anthologies as a reaction to social realities.
One of the critical points of anthologizing is organizing writers to produce works and submit them on time. Calls for submissions are defined by factors like form (what type of literary work is required), topic or theme (ex. fantasy, politics, etc.) and physical parameters like word count, page count, typography and required references. Rey further encouraged writers to submit to anthologies as joining anthologies helped him when he was just starting out.
Indie on the Cutting Edge: Attempting to Fill the Gaps
Kristian Sendon Cordero joined INDIEPUBCON 2021 to answer crucial questions regarding indie publishing and how it relates to his work as an author, among other things. One of the highlights of the live Q&A was his perspective on ‘how do we know that indie publishing (in the Philippines) is on the ‘cutting edge?’’
“The history of publications and technology is expansive. Technology, publications and art are always connected. So in every era, there is a particular definition for what constitutes ‘cutting edge.’ And what is the determining factor. Usually, this is a condition brought about by other areas or aspects of technology and what is happening to society [as a whole.] So, we need segmentation for that question.
“But so far, what we can consider influential not just in the kind of works that we consume or the kind of works that we produce or even in the ways that we think and how we live, is the advent of social media (not just the internet). Social media and social media applications have changed how we view what can be considered as literature,” said Kristian.
Kristian also affirmed that there are always gaps in the interstices between the educational system and indie publishing. According to Kristian, as the Deputy Director of the Ateneo de Naga Press he often encounters people who think that his place of work is “the establishment” and Savage Minds is “pa-indie” which he both denies, as he says, both are actually just struggling at the moment. He emphasizes that the university press has a different role within the larger system of Ateneo and access to financial resources remains a huge challenge, still. Furthermore, while there are already many engagements with the educational system, there should still be more financial allocation for publishing in the foreseeable future.