I had a chance to talk with author-CIO, Jane Vergara. A self-published author, she was very vocal about the challenges of being an independent author, such as the lack of a marketing arm and the need for a substantial amount of money to fund activities, including book printing.
Using a pseudonym
Jane used to write under a pen name, thinking it would attract more readers but is converting them all to her name. She originally published everything on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).
Now that she has focused on the local market, she prefers to use her real name, which she is proud of.
She used to write on Wattpad, but the most frequent comment was, “sana Tagalog na lang (wish it was in Tagalog instead).” She said that since her books were written in English, it would mean translating the trilogy, which is a very challenging undertaking because it’s like writing the book itself.
Breaking the Scroll is a fantasy trilogy about a world where everybody has a power or ability except one boy, Kino.
Every morning, on the way to work, she would bounce ideas off her brother. She would read to him what she had written the night before, and he’d give her feedback and ideas. There are some characters, like the swordless swordsman, that came from her brother.
The good thing about being self-published is you control everything. At one point, when she finished writing the initial version of Book 1, Breaking the Scroll, she killed a character that she later felt would be essential to the trilogy. She said, “That was hard for me to rewrite because I wanted to have that impact in the scene, but I didn’t want to lose the character. So how would I bring her back without making it too scripted?”
The hardest part of writing the book
A confessed pantser, she doesn’t like using outlines, which made it difficult to close the loop in Return to Akea, the final book of the Breaking the Scroll Trilogy. She couldn’t just let the characters move according to the characteristics she had set for them as usual.
The biggest challenge that she realized in writing fantasy novels was, in a world with no telephones, how to get everyone to the same location without making it sound like a lie. The characters get separated in Book 2, Dark Unveiling, and have to be brought back together in Book 3. She shared, “How to do it without making it too stilted was the challenge”.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
“It energizes me. I write faster if I smoke,” she laughed. “Now that I’ve quit, it’s more difficult to write.“
“Previously, I would wake up at 4 AM to write because I have a full-time job and write until 6 AM. I would then convert what I wrote to epub and read what I wrote while smoking over a cup of coffee. That was my habit,” she shared.
“I once had to take a leave because my creative juices were flowing, and I was able to write 20,000 words. It was crappy. The scenes were good, but there were errors – punctuation, grammar, tenses – you name it, it was there. It wasn’t great, but I just had to get all the ideas onto paper before I lost it. And I was able to complete a very significant part of Book 1. That’s when I knew the story had potential.”
Currently working with fellow fantasy authors to expand her world in a collaboration. Together, they’ve put together Tales from Akea (an anthology), which will be launched at the Manila International Book Fair (MIBF).
Advice to aspiring authors
- First, keep writing; even if it’s hard, make time to write.
- Second, when you finish your book, don’t quit your day job.
Advice to future self-published authors
Join the Book Development Association of the Philippines (BDAP). They get in touch with the National Book Development Board. They can also request some grants. If there are fairs or events in the future, you may be able to request a slot.
Readers can keep in touch with Jane through the following:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeinauthor/
- Instagram: @jainsedai
- TikTok: @jeinsedai
- YouTube: @jeinsedai
- Website: https://www.javergara.com/
Jane will be participating in the MIBF to be held on September 14-17,2023 at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City. You can visit her at booth 252 to buy her books.