Monday, October 31, 2016

Aklat Awards 2016: Most Favorite Writer (Lampara Books)

Vote for your favorite writer!
This is a shameless plug and campaign for votes!

I am nominated as one of ten writers for the Most Favorite Writer award in the Aklat Awards 2016 of Lampara Books. Go to the Aklat Awards 2016 Survey Form to vote for me, or for your favorite writer of picture books and story books for children. The survey closes on November 8, 2016. I wouldn't really mind if you vote for another writer, but I am campaigning not just for me but for my friends who are in the list too.

Over in Facebook, the reception I received on the Aklat Awards 2016 Most Favorite Writer has been mixed. Many agree and are game on this ala-beauty pageant cum popularity contest approach to recognising writers and their body works. There are those who find it inappropriate for writers to be pitted against each other in such a fashion. Those who have fans and who are actively visible in social media have the edge over the ones whose works can only speak for themselves. While this is true and may seem unbalanced and yes, not a very good measure of a writer's works, a past experience taught me that writers are brands too.

I was told by a top sales manager of one of the international distributor of children's books in the country that I am a hard sell. I am small, dusky, unfashionable and, at the time, I was FAT. My surname is non-commercial.  On face value, the sales manager did not find anything interesting to sell about me or on the work that I do. That was in 2010. I have published academic papers already; done workshops abroad; was the PBBY president; consultant to a number of NGOs on literacy training and school library development; and one of the few school librarian bloggers in the Philippines with a blog that has a strong readership. And yet, this sales manager was outright in saying that I am not "sellable". As a writer and public speaker, the sales manager did not think that he could market my expertise as a brand that people will buy.

Of course, I was offended. To this day, I have nothing to offer but my genuine love for books, reading and telling stories. I have lost weight because of a medical and health issue, but I remain small, dusky and unfashionable.

My body of work as a writer reflect my own personal struggles and issues as a daughter, sister, wife and mother. My first book, Tales From the 7,000: Filipino Folk Stories (Libraries Unlimited, 2011), co-written with Dianne de Las Casas is my homage to my mother land. It won us an award in 2015 as a World Storytelling Resource in Tennessee, USA. Big Sister, my book with Ruben Totet de Jesus as a top ten Kids Choice Finalist in the National Children's Book Award of 2016. It's been a good run, really!

I think I pretty much know where my heart is and where my head should be.

But this popularity contest is something I am taking a bite out of the marketing game of book selling. I still want to know if that sales manager, coming from a very commercial context, is still right about me.

I may not win here, and that's alright. I will go on doing what I love and what I know I do best.

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