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How I write and publish (as of 2020)

December 23, 2020 - - No comments

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Of everything ever posted on this blog, the most popular page/s are the ones that have to do with how I write and publish.

This entire blog has been a document of how I’ve been doing that for ten years now, but I understand that it can be overwhelming if you want to just know how something can work for you. It makes sense to have an update every now and then, so I’ve made this post, updating my process as of 2020’s wild new world.

But know that while it’s easy to start, and many resources are available and free, it is definitely going to be hard work to do this right. It’s always going to be a little overwhelming.

This is how I publish, and the process hasn’t changed, though the moving parts in each stage have changed over time.

From my How I Publish talk, available in video with a copy of my script at http://gum.co/howipublishtalk

WRITING. I still write using the 3-act structure I gave to the first #RomanceClass in 2013, and that I share with every class since then (we’ve done 9-ish so far?). Even when my stories are longer like the Interim Goddess trilogy, or shorter like the Scambitious mini-series, I plot with an Act 1/2/3 in mind even when it’s not formatted that way. The #RomanceClass “textbook” with that guide is available here: gum.co/romanceclass.

EDITING. I work regularly with 2 editors: 1) a developmental editor who reads my manuscript and then comments on what the story needs, what it doesn’t need, and how to fix it in either case, and 2) a copy editor/line editor who, once the story is “fixed” in terms of message/emotion/heat/etc, proceeds to help me make sure that logic follows, timelines fit, names are consistent, things aren’t missing. Before I even send them anything, I would have first done a self-edit, consulted people as I was writing, or asked beta readers to read an entire draft or specific parts of it. I don’t know if every editor expects authors to have done this, but your relationship with your editor will be better and more productive if you do this work beforehand, so they can focus on the manuscript itself. At the end of everything, a separate proofreader will also be helpful.

Here are people I admire and trust talking about beta reading and editing:

Dawn Lanuza, KB Meniado, Layla Tanjutco

PUBLISHING. My publishing strategy right now is to “go wide” in digital and print, so each title of mine will be available on as many platforms as I can get them on: Amazon KDP, Gumroad, Ko-fi, Scribd, Apple Books, Google Play, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Overdrive, Smashwords, Bookshop, Indiebound. In the Philippines, my books can be ordered from bit.ly/mvebooks or romanceclassbooks.com.

I do my own formatting for ebook and print via Vellum.

My book covers are usually designed by Tania Arpa, using cover photography by Chi Yu Rodriguez of RomanceClassCovers.

We did a panel on cover design this year here:

We have had to become creative with cover photography and also organized our own shoots, because our Filipino characters are not properly represented in stock photo photography or romance book covers in general.

We did a panel on RomanceClassCovers cover shoots here:

In the Philippines, my books are printed by JMD Copy and Print Shop in Marikina. My international editions are printed and distributed by Amazon/formerly CreateSpace. (There are other options also.)

I have started working on audio editions and distribute through Findaway Voices.

I experiment with serializing my books on fiction apps after I publish them, on Wattpad and Radish.

Here’s a talk my friend Ansela Corsino did on writing serialized fiction (available to paid subscribers of the RomanceClass Twitch channel):

“MARKETING” BUT IS ACTUALLY COMMUNITY. There are real resources for book marketing online and in genre communities but I’m unfortunately out of touch with all of them. I’ve let this part of the process slide because I replaced it with developing the #RomanceClass community and all that it entails. So that’s why I don’t have marketing advice for anyone, and if people ask me, I instead talk about community.

I think seeing readers as more than buyers helps us write better books, but it definitely requires an investment of time/resources/emotional labor that few business experts will approve of. What ROI? LOL. But I’m going to say it’s worth it, especially when you are creating things that don’t have an established audience, or is invisible to the established audience. There is work needed to find readers, and make sure they know our books exist.

I talk about how being in a community saved my 2020 as a creator when everything else in publishing here was shut down.

BONUS TOPIC: How to write with a community, based on how #RomanceClass asks authors to do it. From my RomanceClass intro talk on Twitch in 2020:

What does “are we your audience” mean?

Do you read romance by Filipino authors?
Do you read romanceclass books?
How will you feel about being asked to revise your story based on feedback from romanceclass readers and fellow authors? *Some of our most trusted critique partners are readers.
…Do we exist to you? (LOL we should)

Here’s something that many visitors to my site/send me questions through email actually need to think about first, before publishing, because it may solve many of the problems and mysteries held in the WRITING, EDITING, PUBLISHING, AND MARKETING stages. Who is this book for?

Who is its audience? And once you’ve decided who it is, do you know where they are, what they read, who they’re reading? If you don’t know, why don’t you? How can your book address this audience’s needs if they have not existed to you until now? Is this book for them, or only for a specific subgroup within? (Don’t underestimate small groups!)

Sometimes we say we wrote the book for ourselves, and that’s fine—but we shouldn’t be surprised when readers aren’t interested.

I use romanceclass as an example but this may apply to any community really: Respect communities and see them as people always, not customers first or only. If your book doesn’t resonate with the community you say it was for, then these questions may hold a clue as to why.

OK that’s a lot of work. But as always, do your thing, do your best, open doors for people, and have fun out there!

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About Mina



Mina V. Esguerra writes contemporary romance, young adult, and new adult novellas. Through her blog Publishing in Pajamas (minavesguerra.com), she documents her experiments in publishing.
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