Whenever I tell people that I run an indie publishing company, I am often met with different reactions.
“What is indie publishing?”
“Do people still read books?”
“That’s interesting – let’s move to the next topic.”
It is like a secret that people don’t want to know. For some, it’s a hobby. “As long as you enjoy doing it, continue to have fun.” When I started publishing my works, only a handful would read them. The majority would hit the heart button and type their congratulations. They believe in what I do, but people don’t bother to read.
At first, it bothered me until I decided to focus my time and energy on the people who are passionate about what I’m passionate about. I’m Cindy Wong, founder of 8Letters Bookstore and Publishing, and I’m passionate about writing and reading stories from the Philippines – infinite of them if possible.
Whether we like it or not, the stories we consume define our identity. Every idea we accept gets embedded into our veins – it becomes our philosophy and values. It affects our actions. It affects our future.
Stories are not just stories; may it be from whatever genre: fantasy, romance, mystery, crime, thriller, biographies, essays… We accept these stories as our truth. It is not a made-up world anymore. Besides, in this world we live in, who knows what’s real or not real?
Why Is Writing Important?
Now, more than ever, writing is a crucial way to adapt to the world around us. Let me list some of the reasons why and how writing helps. These are also the reasons why we kept on doing it.
Writing benefits mental health.
Our mental health deteriorated even more during the lockdown, as Michellan Sarile-Alagao mentioned in her previous article. During the nationwide lockdown in 2020, we started 8Letters Discourse with about ten writers who discuss stories we write almost every day. Collaborating with other writers turned out to be a sanctuary.
Recently in our Facebook live, author Julie Garcia-Nolasco LLB, MAP, talked about the Art of Journaling. Journaling is another way to cope with life’s different situations, and some studies back it up.
Writing organizes your thoughts.
Aside from writing your goals the night before to make sure your tasks get ticked the next day, there are many ways how writing can organize your thoughts.
Can’t decide? Simply write the pros and cons on a piece of paper. Want to remember what happened on your special day? Write in your diary. Too many stories in your head – write these characters down and speak to them as if they’re real!
When you write a story, you think about what’s important to the story and what isn’t.
Stories help us understand others.
Stories have always been an integral part of our culture. We communicate with others through stories. If we want to understand what’s happening in our world right now, we only need to read stories from the past.
Our history teaches us valuable lessons we can always go back to. And if it didn’t work before, it probably wouldn’t work in the present or the future.
Those people who read increase people’s empathy and compassion. We have better social cognition. We understand how people think and feel because we’re used to reading and writing them. Every time we read and write a character, we get to know them as well.
You can make a career as a writer.
Honestly, although you can make a career out of writing, it is not a lucrative career for most of us. We’re not closing our doors, but for fiction writers, it takes time to take off.
We have professionals who launched a book as a supplement for their careers. After writing a book, they gained more followers and clients.
Some of us have transitioned into writing for businesses. The skills we learned from writing have been useful in the real world. Copywriting is one in-demand skill in today’s internet-age world.
You will discover who you are.
Writing and reading stories also help us understand our place in the world. Maybe because it’s a self-reflective activity – it works like meditation.
Reading, like writing, also needs to be an integral part of producing something. We cannot be effective writers ourselves if we consume limited knowledge and wisdom. Reading and writing are like inhaling and exhaling. We need oxygen to live while our souls feed on infinite words to survive.
Meanwhile, this “little hobby” of mine became a full-fledged publishing company. In a nutshell, we write, print, and sell books. Our collection of books continues to grow from fantasy anthology to memoir. Each project, we pour our heart and soul.
People would say we’re foolish for following our passion. Over the years, however, we taught more than 250 students working on their stories and how to publish them. Last month, for the first time, our figures hit six digits in pesos. It may seem small to some especially, compared to traditional and big publishing companies out there, but it meant a lot for us. (Wow, someone’s paying us for what we love doing!)
My “passion” became my full-time job when my 9 – 5 job came to a halt. I realized how the indie publishing industry in the Philippines has been evolving, and we love that we’re in the middle of it all!