Out on a limb

MANILA, Philippines - It used to be that self-publishing was thought of as the last resort of the writer.

Unable to find a traditional publishing house that would publish one's work, one could turn to vanity publishers to put their book out into the world. Whether bookstores or critics would take their books seriously would be another thing entirely.

But recent years have seen the stigma of self-publishing slowly being eroded, as more and more success stories are emerging from the pile.

There is J. A. Konrath, a mystery writer who achieved modest success with traditional publishing but became a best-selling writer of self-published e-books.

There is also the tremendous success story of Amanda Hocking, who started self-publishing her books in 2010 and in the space of a year sold over a million books and earned US$2 million from sales. This caught the attention of St. Martin's Press, who signed her up and is set to publish her next four books.

Hoping to emulate at least a fraction of that success is Christian Emmanuel Marbella Fontanilla, an 18-year-old incoming University of the Philippines College of Medicine student. Fontanilla is the author of "Gray", a novel that revolves around a boy who has fallen from the sky and is seen as a savior by a population suffering from chronic mental illnesses.

Fontanilla is self-publishing "Gray" through Central Books Supply's Publish On Demand (POD) service. The book can be bought in any Central Books store in the country, as well as online through www.central.com.ph.

RUNS IN THE FAMILY

Deciding to opt for POD may have been a non-traditional choice, but Fontanilla is certainly continuing a family tradition of writing.

On his mother's side of the family are grandfather Jose Domingo Karasig, an editor of Liwayway and a novelist who published under the pen name Rafael D'Alarcon; grandmother Cornelia Antonio Santiago, a poet who published under the name Corazon Amor-Seco; and his grand aunt Nelia Santiago Karasig, who has had her work published in Catholic journals in New Jersey.

Fontanilla's first foray into writing came through comics.

"I wasn't really a comic book reader when I was a kid - the only ones I had being those from my uncle - but I guess I enjoyed making comics because it combined my interests in literature and art," he recalls. "My first works were kind of embarrassing. I was a typical kid amazed by heroics and powers, so I wrote a series of short stories which combined these two themes."

Fontanilla continued to pursue his interest in writing even while studying at the main campus of the Philippine Science High School (PSHS), signing up for an elective in creative writing and becoming the Poetry editor of the literary school paper.

It was also in PSHS that he would first get the idea for "Gray", during a classroom discussion about allegories.

"The concept of allegories was discussed to us in class and since I was intrigued by it, I decided to try it out. At first, I intended Gray to teach about values and show a path to self-improvement like how most allegories are but as I wrote it, my interests changed and I decided to use it as an experimentation with story elements," he shares.

"I wanted to be unorthodox in my writing style. Instead of parting a moral lesson, I wanted my novel to be an experience of reality, of how it's seemingly distorted and incomplete due to the limitations of one's perspective in a world filled with multiple and varying perspectives," he continues.

HIS OWN EDITOR

While Fontanilla was able to finish "Gray" in high school, finally deciding to publish it took some time.

"What made me reluctant to have it published was how my theme interests and preferred writing style were changing as I was entering puberty, causing me to feel unsatisfied with my work each time I read through it," he explains. "It was when I had finally decided to stop constantly editing and simply remained contented with leaving some parts in my younger writing style that I then moved on to having my novel published."

Frustration at the lengthy process of getting "Gray" published through more traditional publishing houses made Fontanilla opt for self-publishing, but he says he didn't go into it without being aware of some of the disadvantages.

"It indeed was convenient and they did assist me a lot in the technical aspects of publishing such as trying out the printing styles, designing the book cover, and distributing the copies," he says. "But it can't be helped to feel a certain degree of uncertainty with your novel because you won't receive a professional assessment of your work before the publication. You are your own editor and you are completely in charge of how your novel will turn out."

Nevertheless, Fontanilla says that self-publication is something that aspiring authors should consider.

"If you're confident with your work and have a very solid plan for how your novel should turn out or even if you're simply really eager to become a published author, self-publication is practical and suitable," he says.

As for other aspiring young authors like himself, Fontanilla gives some well-worn advice.

"As cliche as it sounds, they should follow their dreams. They should not lose confidence in their talent but they must also not be too proud to listen to others' opinions. They should continually challenge themselves and not fear sharing their ideas with the world," he declares.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Sandigan OKs hospital stay for GMA co-accused
    Sandigan OKs hospital stay for GMA co-accused

    The Sandiganbayan has allowed a government official, accused with plunder along with former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to undergo a medical procedure at a hospital tomorrow. The anti-graft court permitted former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) board member Benigno Aguas to undergo a cardiopulmonary/endocrine clearance at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City. …

  • Appeal for convicted Pinay in Indonesia continues – Palace

    The Aquino government is doing everything possible to save a Filipina facing execution in Indonesia for drug smuggling, a Palace official said yesterday.Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the government was moving within Indonesia’s legal framework to spare Mary Jane Veloso from death.Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario continues to exhaust all legal avenues to save Veloso from execution, Valte said.The Indonesian Supreme Court on Wednesday denied the government’s …

  • Sandigan recommends executive clemency for ex-envoy
    Sandigan recommends executive clemency for ex-envoy

    The Sandiganbayan has recommended executive clemency for a former Philippine ambassador to Nigeria who was sentenced to 52 years for malversation of public funds. The Sandiganbayan First Division found Masaranga Umpa guilty of misusing the Assistance-To-Nationals Stand-by Funds totaling $80,478.80 in 2007, but the anti-graft court said the former assemblyman from Lanao del Norte should be pardoned. …

  • Bulacan, Bataan are top Lenten destinations

    MALOLOS, Bulacan – With the expected Holy Week exodus of Catholic devotees to various pilgrimage sites in Bulacan, Bataan and other provinces near Metro Manila, local and provincial officials have coordinated with security and emergency response teams to address the influx of visitors.Among the pilgrimage sites in Bulacan that are often visited by travelers are the Divine Mercy Shrine in the town of Marilao; the procession of saints in Baliwag; the Banal na Bundok with the Stations of the Cross …

  • Stargazing at the mall highlights Earth Hour
    Stargazing at the mall highlights Earth Hour

    It was a night of stargazing in 58 SM Supermalls all over the country last night as these establishments participated in Earth Hour, an annual worldwide movement encouraging communities and establishments to switch off lights for one hour to raise global awareness of overuse of non-renewable resources. The Philippines has been an active participant of Earth Hour since 2008. Last night, in the province of Bulacan, for instance, all parishes, diocesan institutions, schools and household …

  • Payanig privatization hit
    Payanig privatization hit

    BLEMP Commercial of the Philippines, Inc. (BLEMP) denounced the recent announcement of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to privatize the 18.4-hectare “Payanig sa Pasig” property. In a statement sent to The STAR , BLEMP lawyer Dennis Manalo said the PCGG has no right to auction the property because it has no valid title and is not in possession. The PCGG has not paid a single centavo in real property taxes for the property, he said. He narrated that it was in the early …

  • New species of tarantula found
    New species of tarantula found

    Scientists from the Museum of Natural History (MNH) of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños have discovered a new species of cave-dwelling tarantula on an island off the coast of Quezon. The new species of the spider, Phlogiellus kwebaburdeos, was described in the recent issue of the Philippine Journal of Systematic Biology by MNH curators for spiders Aimee Lynn Dupo and Alberto Barrion along with their former student Joseph Rasalan. The tarantula was discovered by Rasalan during …

  • Palm Sunday: Do not add to suffering of others
    Palm Sunday: Do not add to suffering of others

    As Christendom enters Holy Week today, Palm Sunday, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday called on the faithful not to add to the sufferings of their fellowmen. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs (ECPA), said that while Palm Sunday is oftentimes remembered as the glorious arrival of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, it also signals the start of the Holy Week that tells of His suffering, death and …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options