In keeping with its theme 'What Do Readers Want?', ReaderCon provided con-goers an opportunity to share their thoughts by placing huge boards on-site. I was excited to read what people had to say and how I could use this to gauge my own place in the industry.
One of the things that delighted me was seeing these posts asking for books set in other regions. My novella Cover (Story) Girl is set in Aklan, so this was good news for me. Don't get me wrong; I love romances set in Manila! It's the heart of all the action. It's crazy and cosmopolitan but it can also be quirky and quaint. But there's always room for romances set elsewhere. I believe it's a sign of a healthy publishing environment when we can offer reader diverse choices. And not just in romance, of course.
One of the suggestions here actually touches on one of my upcoming projects. :) I wish I could claim it so that I know I won't back out of it! But I've got so many things lined up that it's better for me to take it one day at a time -- I get writing ADHD. Even if I don't end up writing it, I will be very happy if someone else will.
Another interesting aspect about browsing through the replies is that you really get a range of responses. You'll have people clamoring for one thing, and then see someone ask for something totally different. More evidence that the Filipino audience is eager for more. The challenge is up to writers to answer these demands as quickly and as substantially as possible.
Then you find the most unexpected requests. What else can I say? To each his own!
Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren's How to Read a Book has this advice to dispense to readers: Your first judgment will naturally be one of taste. You will say not only that you like or dislike a book, but also why [...] The better you can reflectively discern the causes of your pleasure in reading fiction or poetry, the nearer you will come to knowing the artistic values in the literary work itself. I think that ReaderCon constantly reminds Filipino readers to speak up and be heard, to voice their opinions, to identify what works for them and what doesn't, and to allow them a forum where they can interact with authors and publishers. It's another way to aid all of us discover the artistic values within the works we read and demand whatever our reading needs require.
Congratulations to the organizers of Filipino ReaderCon and to all Filipino readers, because really, this is all about you. Us. See you again next year!
BONUS: One of the other boards asked who your favorite author was.
Someone wrote down EL James of Fifty Shades of Grey fame. Someone else couldn't resist adding, 'Tigang ka daw po ba?' (Tigang means dry or barren soil, but is also used to refer to someone who hasn't had sex in a while). No judgment, but it definitely made me smile.