I’ve been thinking a lot about this tweet from one of my favorite pet vloggers on YouTube, Emzotic.
The waitress at this restaurant told another waitress about how she’s going to have to walk 40 minutes to and from work next week because her cat needed surgery and now she can’t afford her $120 per week in gas.
Guess what tip I’m slipping her.
You got your cat. I got you. pic.twitter.com/vHlxeEHZmf
— EMZOTIC (@emzoticofficial) April 30, 2018
She followed it up by saying I’ve also helped with that because I watch her videos and help her earn. It made me think about something I’ve also done.
I believe that I don’t owe anyone anything when it comes to writing. I write what I want to write without thinking how people will react to it, if it’s boring or entertaining or whatever. If a reader likes a story or not, it’s okay with me. Because at the end of the day, I only need to entertain myself when I write. And if I’ve entertained myself, then I’m happy with it. I have a hard drive full of stories I’ve written that I will never publish, but I was happy writing those stories down. So no, whether you read my work or not, I will always be a writer.
However, I also believe that I do owe you, the readers, for helping me become, and keep on being, published. I don’t think that my publisher would take this much risk on me, or have enough confidence in me, to approve all my 80+ submitted manuscripts if they didn’t believe that you would buy my books… (except that my publisher is really nice so they might actually be feeling sorry for me so they approve anything I write O_O Kidding! But… O_O)
This is how I see it. Ako lang naman ‘to so if you look at it differently, then this isn’t how you’re going to see it. Publishing is a business. Every published book is a small risk. Publishers have to ask will this sell? Will this writer’s next book sell? Will we lose money here? You see when I started, we didn’t have Wattpad so I submitted my first book without a built-in Wattpad audience that a lot of first-time published authors nowadays have. So my publisher really took a risk on me, a new, unnamed, unknown writer who made my first editor dizzy with all the head hopping and the bad spelling and grammar. (Thank you, editor! I know I still make you dizzy with my unedited manuscripts up to now and I’m sorry. I love you to the moon and back!)
But you bought my first book! Thank you! And my next, and my 20th, and my 32nd, and my 45th, so the publisher had enough confidence in me to keep taking that risk, to keep buying my books and to keep publishing them. For that I owe you, and for that, I will always be grateful, and I thank you with all of my heart.
So what does my dramatic proclamation have to do with the tweet I shared? Simple. Emzotic’s viewers help her earn by watching her videos. My readers help me get published over and over again by buying my books. Em made me feel special by saying I help her pay it forward. I want you to feel the same way about reading my books. So I’m going to tell you a little secret.
For most of my books (full disclosure, not for all of them), you’ve helped me donate a small (again, small lang kasi poor lang ako) amount of money to different organizations depending on the plot, story, character I liked or social issue I tackled in the book. For every Sentinel book, you’ve helped me donate to the Hero Foundation, an organization that help the families of fallen soldiers and send their orphans to school. For the Alpha Squad series, you’ve helped me donate call cards to US soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. You’ve helped me donate to the Philippine Red Cross, to Bantay Bata, and to Unicef among others. For 25th Floor Balcony, you’ve helped me donate to a fundraiser that will benefit a mental health facility. Now that I think about it, I should have donated to PAWS when my manuscripts with pets get approved. Di bale, next time.
I’m not posting this because I want you to think I’m generous or that I’m a good person. Maramot po ako talaga at may masama rin po akong ugali pramis! Kaya huwag po n’yong isipin na mabait ako. Hindi po ‘yun ang dahilan ko kung ba’t ako nagkuwento. But I also hope that you’re not thinking “kailangan mo ba talaga ‘tong i-post? Mayabang lang?” kasi hindi rin naman po ako nagyayabang. I’m posting this because Em’s post made me feel really good about supporting her, and that’s how I want you to feel about supporting my books. Hindi n’yo lang ako pinapakain at hindi lang kayo ang nagbabayad ng bills ko, nakakatulong din naman po kayo sa ibang tao na hindi lang ako dahil sinusuportahan n’yo ang mga gawa ko. Di lang naman loko-loko si Ash, akala n’yo! Mabait din ‘yan! You’ve helped him donate a lot of those Project Aral kits from National Bookstore! Tuwing bibili kasi ako ng ball pen, magpapabili din ng Project Aral kit si Ash (“‘Yung may tsinelas!”) sabay pangalan niya ang isusulat sa “Donated by”.
So there. I just really want to make you feel the way I did when I read that supporting Em’s videos meant more than learning about exotic animals and their care. Buying my books is a little bit more than having a copy. By buying my books, you tell my publisher that you like me, and that they should buy my next one. And when they buy my book, I can 1. eat, and 2. pay it forward.
I will never get tired of saying this. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for all your support. I will always be grateful that you help allow me to do what I love and be a better person than I probably would have been have I not been an author. So thank you. Thank you.