Q: Where are the opportunities for us to write about non-Filipinos? A: Everywhere.

August 10, 2022 - - No comments


I wrote this thread on Twitter in June 2022, and will now add it here.

Someone asked on Twitter something like, where are the opportunities for authors who happen to be Filipino but don’t write about Filipinos in their fiction? That actually is what MOST of the opportunities are in international trad pub. Since 2009 (when I started) and before that.

Just following #RomanceClass since 2013 — if you paid attention you would have seen what we were doing in 2014-2016…helping authors break into a romance market that would welcome Filipino authors, just not Filipinos as characters. Those books made money.

Some authors prefer doing that (and we helped them! It’s a great career move). Some authors tried it and then went on to do something else. It is to this day harder to sell a book in the intl romance market (direct to readers, not just to trad pub) if the characters are Filipino.

All you need to do is compare Amazon and Goodreads ratings. Even the books with buzz, authors mentioned on lists made during special months, are rated/read/ranked way less on a regular day. This is the harder path. Not trendy. You kind of have to do this because you want to.

“Where are the opportunities for Filipino authors who don’t want to write about Filipino anything?” Fortunately for that person, sadly for the rest of us and really as an entire creative community, those opportunities are everywhere.

No one is obligated to read/write/buy anything they don’t want to, and I’ve told Filipino creators who are conflicted about this that what matters is the check they got or the seat at the table or the door you’ve opened–that’s an individual’s journey. I’ve already chosen mine.

One need not feel sad about this–every day on this app I boost the work of creators and communities who are doing their thing for us. We are helping create an environment that’s more welcoming to all of us (and future creators) by supporting those doing the work now.

PS There is no significant audience conversion that we’ve seen btw for an author who writes not-Filipino characters and then eventually writes only Filipinos. The audiences are fundamentally different (but for a precious overlap of readers who genuinely read diversely).

PS Adding to the thread that yes writing books featuring characters Not Filipino “made money” (and will). To decide not to do that, when you already know how much money can be made and already have a foot in the door — that involves privilege.

If people can’t/won’t walk away from an easier path/bigger audience/better payday, I understand it. But the doors there open very rarely (or very narrowly if that’s a thing) or not at all. Choices lang.
Choices made. RomanceClass books at the 2019 Manila International Book Fair.

I don’t know what the circumstances are for people who think they need to perform their Filipino-ness to get published, but many of us are out here just writing Filipinos and are already considered skippable/invisible/worth mentioning only on special days and months. It’s not yet close to fair or crowded. If a Filipino author can release three or more books and is still the only Filipino author in that subgenre or imprint or panel or author group or room, that wasn’t about opening doors probably. The doors are still closed.


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About Mina

Mina V. Esguerra writes and publishes romance novels. She founded #RomanceClass, a community of Filipino authors of romance in English.
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