A self-published book author fulfills her dream

Dreaming of becoming a published book author but don’t know where to start? Try self-publishing whatever you’ve written, be it fiction or nonfiction. That’s what J.Kat Magadia, a 36-year-old consultant in the development sector, did and she’s now working on her second book.

“Ever since naman mahilig ako magsulat (I have always loved to write),” she tells DAILY TRIBUNE in an interview. “Sa school, excited ako pag essay writing.” She learned more on creative writing as her elective subjects at the University of the Philippines, where she majored in Communications Research.

Magadia continued writing, but just on the side, after she earned her degree and went on working as a media planner at an advertising agency for two years. She then took up her master’s degree in International Relations under the Eramus Mundus Scholarship program in Warsaw, Poland. When she returned home, she began her consultancy work, which now includes a collaboration with the Asian Development Bank.

In 2019, she decided to give more time and attention to her writing because “I’ve always dreamt of ma-publish, pero di napu-push through.” Then the Covid-19 pandemic happened, and she got to write continuously until she came up with a manuscript she named DeMistyfied.

“Nag-start s’ya na story-story lang,” the admirer of author David Sedaris’ works says on her own writing process. “I felt na baka ’yun lang ang kaya ko kasi hindi ko alam kung kaya ko na buo kasi sobrang commitment s’ya. So, feeling ko, short story muna.”

“Itong book,” she adds, now referring to her published work. “Chapter 4 s’ya dapat ng short story, pero na-realize ko na ang haba-haba niya for a short story. So, ni-lift ko s’ya. Ginawa ko na full-length.”

Set in an advertising company, DeMistyfied is a “slice-of-life workplace novel that offers insights for introspection about finding one’s place and features everyday scenarios familiar to any working professional.” The central character is Misty Perez, a fresh graduate tackling her first job as a media planner, but the story also touches on the people around her.

“May love element, but it’s not the focus of the story,” she points out. “It’s more of finding meaning sa work, kung saan ka belong. More of a slice-of-life approach. In some chapters, hindi sa bida ang focus, like sa ka-work niya. Parang shedding light on the other characters. Parang episodic.”

Magadia remembers submitting her manuscript to six publishing companies for consideration but didn’t have any expectations to be accepted. She waited for six months for feedback and got one that formally turned her down.

“Doon ako nag-decide na i-self publish na lang,” she says. “Ipa-park ko muna ang traditional publishing dreams. Baka eventually i-pursue ko ulit. Ang naging goal ko na lang is to just get the story out there.”
While browsing Reddit, a social aggregation, content rating and discussion website, she learned about self-publishing a book from a fellow visitor who had already successfully tried it. She then visited tech company Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing website kdp.amazon.com, created an account there and simply followed the directions.

That was early April 2023. A week or two later, in the same month and year, she had her book published without edits from Amazon, first online and then on print.

“Open talaga for everybody, as in all over the world,” she exclaims. “Sila pa ang magpi-print for you. Parang by-demand, I think. Parang kung may nag-order, at saka pa lang sila magpi-print. Kung may nag-cancel ng order, kung ano ang na-print na nila, kung ano ang stock, mapupunta doon sa bagong order.”

Magadia surmises that Amazon’s massive network allows printing of her book from different parts of the United States and some other countries. “Siguro kung saan napunta ang order mo or kung saan malapit. Kunwari, may friend ako na taga-New Zealand, so doon ang printing. Kung saan may Amazon facility, I think.”

As for financial compensation, the first-time book author says she gets a royalty for each copy of her book sold after subtracting the printing cost. The best part, though, is keeping the copyright to her book.

She happily reports that she’s working on a follow-up to her first novel. Fingers crossed it will get accepted by a traditional publishing company as she really looks forward seeing her book displayed in a bookstore. If not, she will again turn to self-publishing and still be fulfilled with her new accomplishment.

Tips for aspiring authors
Magadia has a few pieces of advice for those who also have aspirations of writing a book:
•Find a writing routine that works for you and commit to it.

“It is often said by established writers that you need to write every day. This is true since this is how you will be able to really hone your craft. And as they say, the writing you do today is not the same writing you’ll do tomorrow.

“But realistically speaking, writing every day is difficult and not exactly sustainable. If you cannot do it daily, just make it a point to do it regularly — maybe write three hours thrice a week or dedicate your weekends to writing. Whatever it is, just stick to it. Consistency is key.

•Just write and write

“It doesn’t have to be perfect right away. Edit later.”

•Write what you feel like writing at the moment

“You do not have to write linearly. If you’re at Chapter 4 of your manuscript, but an idea for the ending suddenly comes to you, go ahead and write that one down instead. It is far easier to write when the ideas are rushing in to you and more often than not, these are the ones that sound more genuine and creative.”