On being an author
UP: You get to tell stories for a living. I love telling stories. I could tell stories - well, write them that is - all day long. A lot of people have asked me about where I get all these stories, and I've always said it really just comes from anywhere and everywhere. However, so many people have asked me this that recently, I've been worried about running out of stories. It probably has to do with the fact that I have been writing a lot more in the past few months as well. Thankfully, though, when push comes to shove, my fingers just start moving, and the story gradually unfolds.
So will I ever run out of stories? No. I won't like every story I conceptualise, but I definitely won't run out of stories to tell and I look forward to telling stories my whole life.
DOWN: You have a responsibility to your readers. For some, this may be an 'up' - like if you're the type to embrace being a leader or a role model. And I agree, this is an 'up' in the sense that authors should be thankful for having the privilege to reach so many people with their work and the power to change the way people think, feel, or even live.
However, the downside in all of this is just how daunting it is. If your work promotes the wrong kind of message, you could end up influencing your readers to do something wrong or make them think that something wrong is actually right.
UP: You don't need to leave your home to work. Again, this is one of those things that could go either way but for me, it's a tremendous advantage. Having to go to an office to work doesn't just take time better spent on writing. It also requires more effort and money. Also, being able to work from home means that you don't have to dress for work, too - which (for me) is really convenient.
DOWN: You don't get to talk to a lot of people. Most of my days are spent either cooped up inside the room writing or typing away at a coffee shop. Either way, I don't have the time, inclination, or need to talk to people. Being an introvert, I find the solitary nature of my work an advantage. However, it's also made me feel more unused to being with so many people, to the point that I've become even more socially awkward.
UP: You're your own boss. This is another up/down factor. It's an advantage because it means what you says goes. You don't need to ask permission from anyone. On the other hand, this also makes you fully accountable for everything. If you're not self-motivating and self-sufficient, then you'll find it hard to stick to your deadlines and meet your writing goals.
DOWN: You are (to an extent) dependent on trends. I know it can be argued that every job is dependent on market trends and demands to a certain extent, but I also think the job of an author is more so than others. While many consider books as valuable commodities, they cannot, however, be strictly defined as a basic or necessary good the way, for instance, water, food, or even fuel is. A lot of people are able to survive - even live happily - without ever reading a book, much less buying one. It's for this reason that authors have to remember how important it is to please their readers if they want to continue selling books and making money from it. Obviously, if you don't care about making money and you're just writing for the art then this factor doesn't apply in your case. :D
On being self-published
UP: You write what you want. Just do a little digging, and you'll be able to read numerous articles on how traditionally published authors have their most precious manuscripts turned away without any offers simply because it wasn't what the editors considered "sellable". If you want to be traditionally published, you need to go through several gatekeepers: agents, editors, publishers. Granted, self-published authors face the same dilemma, too. They could end up writing something they don't like because they know what sells as well. The difference here, however, was that they chose to write those books. No one forced them to write those books the same way that nobody can stop them from writing or publishing whatever they want.
DOWN: You need to be business-minded. I've talked about this matter to death, so I'm going to keep it short this time: if you can't be business-minded about your work, then self-publishing might not be for you. Luckily for me, I've got Chinese blood and Chinese are very, very business-minded. :D
UP: More royalties! This is nothing to scoff at, especially when you see the latest surveys about authors not making as much money as most people think they do.
DOWN: Less opportunities to get your books in bookstores. Like any author, I've also dreamt of seeing my book in bookstores. I had that dream when I was in my mid-twenties (just a local publishing deal, mind you, so that book never made it outside PH). It was a fantastic experience. Would I care to experience it again? Of course. But would I trade my self-publishing career for it? Absolutely not. :D
UP: You have the flexibility and liberty to experiment. This is even more essential nowadays because with so much diversity being offered by indie authors, just about anything can be a huge hit, which would then immediately create a huge demand for similar books. Traditionally published authors are advised not to chase trends simply because by the time their books are out in the market, it's too late - the trend's no longer a trend. But it's a different situation for self-published authors. Because you're your own boss, you have the ability to cater to those markets right away.
DOWN: You need to live with the stigma that's still associated with self-publishing. I'm not really sure this will ever go away so if the thought of being looked down on by traditionally published authors and publishers greatly bothers you, then self-publishing might not be your best bet.
On being Filipino
UP: You have the potential to be unique. Most internationally and independently published books are written by native English speakers, which are mainly Americans, British, and Australians. As a Filipino, I'm definitely part of the minority but I consider this a good thing. I've always been told that my heroines are not like others and I truly believe one of the reasons for this is the fact that I'm Filipino. Being different is never a drawback - and you just have to believe it's not to turn it into your specialization.
DOWN: Your English may be considered "strange". This, by the way, is more likely to be a problem if you've lived in the PH your whole life or you haven't spent a significant amount of time in any native-English-speaking country. The good news, however, is that you can improve on this.
DOWN: People might not understand or appreciate what you're writing. This factor actually plays quite the critical role in my life. As many of you know, PH is a conservative country and one that's predominantly Catholic / Christian. Since I write steamy books, I do my best to avoid mentioning about anything regarding the genre or type of my work. I just know that if I mention the heat level of my books, a lot of people would start looking at me differently. I even hesitate to volunteer in churches because I don't care to risk embarrassing myself by being removed once they find out what I write (and decide that they hate it). Also, I don't care to risk putting them in the position of having to defend their decision for allowing "someone like me" to help out.
So there it is, the ups and downs of being a Filipino self-published author. It's just kinda sad that when I had to start thinking about the pros and cons of being a Filipino author, it's mostly disadvantages that occurred to me. Hopefully, one day, that will change.