DIFFERENT publishing strategies were discussed in the 7th Philippine International Literary Festival at the Quezon City Memorial Circle held on April 28 to 29.

The festival, which had the theme “Against Forgetting,” featured Thomasians authors, such as Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, director of the UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies, who gave a lecture on literary editing in print, particularly in the book and magazine industries.

Hidalgo lamented the lack of trained editors.

“The lack of literary editors has led to this situation: many authors, particularly those who already have made a name for themselves, do not readily accept editing other than copy editing,” she said.

Hidalgo said a good literary editor should be a good writer, team player and wide reader who is careful and considerate of the writer’s work, while possessing a good feel of the market. “One problem is the size of the market for literary works,” she added.

Ralph Semino Galan, Arts and Letters professor, was a panelist in a discussion on writing workshops in the country alongside Michael Coroza, a UST Graduate School professor. Poet and former Varsitarian editor in chief Vim Nadera and Artlets professor Ferdinand Lopez served as moderators in a discussion on sex and sexuality.

In the same session, Mayette Bayuga, author of such erotic novels as Halinghing sa Hatinggabi and Sa Templo ni Tamillah, pointed out the difference between erotic literature and pornography, saying that the erotic becomes pornographic when it loses its story element.

In a session titled, “Letters to a Young Poet,” veteran Filipino writers Benilda Santos and Edel Garcellano and exiled Chinese writer Bei Ling addressed emerging writers. They advised young writers to be wary of treating the craft as a way of getting recognition without considering the commitment that comes with it.

The festival also featured speakers on marketing, book design, copyright selling and publishing for an international audience.

Stacy Whitman, founder of Tu Books, which publishes middle-grade and young-adult literature, opened the final day with a discussion on publication in the international market, stating that social media are “the great equalizer in publishing.”

She drew from her own experience in publishing books of various genres, particularly children’s books and young adult novels. “For writers, once you’ve perfected your craft, you have to look at who is selling the kinds of books or the kinds of stories that you’re writing, and if nobody is selling it, you might still be avant-garde,” she said in an interview.

Whitman was joined by dramatist Nicholas Pichay; Frankfurt Book Fair senior manager Claudia Kaiser; author Kate Evangelista; book designer, food writer and visual artist Guillermo Ramos; and others in plenary sessions on topics ranging from negotiating publishing contracts to breakthroughs in digital publishing in the Philippines.

Some of the highlights included lawyer Nicholas Pichay, who contended that the author must not only be aware of the technicalities involved in getting into a publishing contract but must also exercise caution in allowing one’s own work or the work of others to be copied or used.

Head Organizer of Filipino Readercon Honey de Peralta noted that digital publishing had seen a fair amount of disruption in the conventional forms of publishing, which she likened to startup companies. She argued that publishers should learn to assimilate this phenomenon in order to establish themselves in this new market.

“I think it’s highly advantageous to know these things, other things that have been happening in the industry, how start-ups think, because if you’re going to be disrupted, might as well disrupt yourself,” she said.

Leading the discussion on publishers in the international sphere was Frankfurt book fair senior manager Klaudia Kaiser who encouraged local publishers to extend their reach into well-established and multi-national book fairs.

Book designing sessions were led by Singapore-based comic artist and illustrator Sonny Liew.

He later spoke alongside author of young adult novels Sophia Lee in a session regarding writing for an international and diverse audience.

The festival also featured book sales that showcased translated versions of notable foreign authors such as Kafka and Tolstoy.

It also highlighted the works of local authors and artists such as F. Sionil Jose, Manix Abrera and Eros Atalia.

The festival was a project of the National Book Development Board and served as the highlight of Philippine Book Development Month. Cedric Allen P. Sta. Cruz


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