About RomanceClass (2020 Update)
Script and slides of an About RomanceClass presentation updated in 2020. Video version embedded above.
Hello! My name is Mina V. Esguerra and I will be talking about romanceclass, a community of Filipino authors of romance in English.
About Me: I live in Metro Manila in the Philippines, and I write and publish English-language romance books mostly with Filipino characters in the Philippines. I was first published in 2009, and this year released my 25th book.
I started the #romanceclass community when I offered a free contemporary romance class online in 2013. Since then we have helped over 80 Filipino authors write and publish over 100 contemporary romance books. In my country there is a huge audience for international romance in English and also a huge and separate audience for romance in Tagalog. For Filipino authors writing in English, not so much. Yet. For many Filipinos, English is a first language, it is the medium of instruction, we have our own English because of our colonial history. We’ve imported so much romance in English and we love it but don’t see ourselves as lead characters in it. It’s been the challenge of my author career to have audiences accept and love Filipinos as main characters of an English language romance book. I had to come to terms with that myself, and then with the community that formed after the class, work with them to create books that help us define our place in the genre.
The short version of how we do it is this: Over several years we developed guidelines, representing what the community stands for, and should be a consistent experience across different authors and different books, because most of us will be self-publishing. Once we decide that our book’s characters will be Filipino and the setting will be the Philippines, we know that we very likely will be self-publishing. Those main guidelines are: requiring the HEA/HFN, consent, agency for their Filipino characters, and that they work with romanceclass readers in their beta reading or editing stage. Authors are encouraged to identify gaps in the growing catalogue of our books and write what’s missing. Over the years we’ve provided support for authors to write, for example: higher heat levels, older characters, settings within the Philippines but outside of Manila the capital, and more queer romance.
Apart from this, we’ve stepped up our support for the authors and books with more…fun stuff. We’ve invited experts to talk about querying, marketing, bookstagramming, as a group we’ve sold our books at fairs, organized performances and our own events. We’ve even done our own cover shoots.
In 2020 quarantine has meant we don’t get to do in-person workshops and events, but we continue to provide support online in writing, editorial, design, promotion. Right now I’d say we’re at a new level of just providing emotional support and reminding Filipino authors that there is still an audience for their romance book because writing is a struggle for many right now.
Information about our books and everything else we’re doing can be found on romanceclassbooks.com.