MIBF 2022 Thoughts and Feelings

September 25, 2022 - - No comments


Yes I was there for two of the four days of the Manila International Book Fair, but no our RomanceClass x Komiket Kilig anthology did not get printed in time to be launched there. I’m glad I was able to meet fellow authors and the Kilig contributors at least — we’ll have our launch and signing soon (hint: FeelsFest2022).

This year our books were there because I’ve consigned with Komiket. I’m glad that Visprint (then), Edushop, and Komiket (now) opened up this option so that self-published books like ours can be part of not just MIBF but other fairs. All RomanceClass authors are individual self-publishers and in the past three years I had tested out the role of being the centralized seller for everyone, and it’s work! I’m also doing more work on other aspects of RomanceClass media so consigning with Komiket was a solution for us. It’s still somewhat centralized as I remain the contact and delivery person but at least I’m not packing/selling/shipping all the books anymore. Our hugs and thanks to Komiket’s team for doing the work!

This fair was smaller, just one floor again, and the way I described it was “not as intense” — because past book fairs did get intense. MIBF was always a reminder that there are so many Filipino readers, and reading communities, and markets, and audiences. All the ways to describe how if you create books there are Filipinos reading them. It’s a literary community refrain that Pinoys don’t read, or books don’t sell — I like seeing reminders of who should be talking when we talk about sales.

Being at a mostly-print book fair did remind me of how the industry hasn’t completely figured out how to support publishing in all its formats. This kind of book fair is (and likely will remain to be) great mainly for those who have print stock, and print by the thousands, and have excess stock at the end of the year to deeply discount. This kind of book fair is (and likely will remain to be) great for authors who have a following in the 5 to 7 digits on social media or a reading app, and have print editions backed by a corporate publisher that employs enough staff to actually have a queue system. In short, I think it’s best for traditional, corporate, print publishers. I’ve seen efforts over the years to change this but by design it seems to default to offering what’s best for print/trad/corporate.

It can be great for the self-publisher or the author who’s in a small press (for us, this is us), just in different ways. For those of us who sell mostly ebook and online, our main audience overlaps only slightly with the MIBF audience (even if a gazillion people show up at MIBF), because of the many advantages being online and digital gave us, like accessibility/control of price/worldwide availability. But these overlaps? They’re other publishers (for partnerships), other creators (for collabs), and other institutions (for education/library/business acquisitions). Still valuable for an author career, if this is the way you want to go.

The best part is really when you’re part of a community though. I’ve been at MIBF over the years as a trad pubbed author (for different publishers), then as an indie, then as an indie consigned with distributors and small presses, and the experience can vary widely — but what makes it great every single time is being with the people who show up every year with you.

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About Mina

Mina V. Esguerra writes and publishes romance novels. She founded #RomanceClass, a community of Filipino authors of romance in English.
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