Because this story has been shared to our friends/fellow authors at #RomanceClass10thAnniv, I guess I can blog about it too.
In 2018 I decided to produce an audio edition of Iris After the Incident. Audio editions are not standard with releases here in the Philippines, and I wanted to try it, so I had to pay for it myself. You have to pay for a narrator in “finished hours,” and also studio time and post-production. It was expensive but did not take too long to make. According to Audible, it was released on August 8, 2018. I have not yet earned back what producing this has cost me.
Three months later (I checked my inbox talaga), I got an email from a Filipino-American talent manager based in LA, who was looking for books by Filipino authors to develop, and had found Iris while searching Audible. That started a series of meetings, in LA, then Manila, and then a whole lot of Zoom, and then a formal partnership for Anna Liza Recto-Ruth and Michael Kaleda of Bold MP to represent my books and RomanceClass Books for film/tv/media.
Another part of this story: I was asked by Honey de Peralta at an event in 2019 why don’t I just transition RomanceClass into a publisher and that was the first time I said out loud that I didn’t want to, because publishers (every single one I know and worked with, and all the publishers people talk about having worked with) will eventually favor the titles and authors that sell. When we sell books at our events I do get to see the numbers, but at the next event everyone still gets to sell their books, can be part of the program, is still part of the community.
So what I tried to do next instead, once the partnership with Bold MP was signed off on by RomanceClass authors, was to champion our books in all these meetings and presentations. It’s challenging work but I prefer it because each meeting and situation is different, because people are looking for different things. Good thing RomanceClass has a catalogue of over 100 stories, and I care about each of them enough to champion them when the opportunity comes. I have talking points. I have Canva decks. I have comps. Someone can tell me what mood they want and I will pull out at least three books they can consider.
This month (February 2023) I’ve spent more time in meetings than the past year but it’s worth it to spend time with someone and really see how they feel about things. Are they going to be the people for this thing, and that thing? When I’m about to get overwhelmed I remind myself that we publish our own books and set up our own publishing resources system. That requires the right people, and this requires the right people too.
Text of my speech at #RomanceClass10thAnniv, February 24, at Magdamag Market Cafe:
Hello and good evening, everyone. My name is Mina V. Esguerra, I’m a romance author, and I founded RomanceClass.
I do a speech like this every single event so please bear with me as many of you have heard this before. There will be a couple of new things, don’t worry.
RomanceClass is a community of Filipino authors of romance in English, the readers of the books, and all the people who help us make the books. We started as a free online class in 2013. By now, in 2023, we have done the class 10 times, and helped over 100 authors write and publish their books. When I say that our community includes people who help us make the books, what I mean is that for each complete and published book that you see, that needed an author, two or three beta readers, an editor, a cover designer, a layout artist, a photographer, a cover model or two or three, a stylist, a makeup artist, a printer, an audio narrator, an audio editor. Supporting one book supports many creatives and artists, in many related industries.
If you’ve been following our book releases over the past decade you may notice how we change things and challenge ourselves to come up with better books. Ten years ago, when we started, we just wanted more contemporary romance books to read, and people stepped up to be the authors who would write those books. Because we write in English and it became easier to publish to the world on Amazon and online, more and more people in this country and the world began to discover our books.
Today we have readers in at least 23 countries, because love of the romance genre is global. It is an exciting and humbling honor to be contributing our voices to a genre that is about love, acceptance, and all the challenges we face just to find the love we deserve.
If you’re curious, a RomanceClass book follows several editorial guidelines. The most important ones are:
- the happy ending (yes they end up together and that’s not a spoiler, because the journey is the point)
- agency and consent (our characters must have the freedom to choose and must consent to all aspects of the romance)
- celebrate being Filipino
As we’ve seen in the past ten years, these guidelines result in over a hundred wonderful stories by Filipino authors, with empowered Filipino characters, supported by a talented Filipino creative community, enjoyed by a global romance readership.
I think the next step for us is to see these stories come to life, right? On screens all over the world.
I’m so happy to be able to share with you all that our community has delightfully expanded in that direction. In 2020 we started working with Bold Management and Production, to develop our stories as movies and series. In 2022 we welcomed Cornerstone Entertainment as a partner for talent, production—the many exciting things that adapting our books will require.
As a fan of romance movies and series I can’t wait to see our books, our kilig, become part of the landscape of global film and TV.
Thank you to everyone supporting every RomanceClass book and we’ll have more news about our projects with Bold MP and Cornerstone Entertainment soon!
Tags: producer life, romanceclass