Interview with Mina V. Esguerra

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first story that actually had an impact on what would become my work as an author? A book called "Teacher's Pet" (Sweet Valley Twins #2). I was at a friend's house when I was eleven and I saw this book on her shelf, and asked to borrow it. It was the first book I'd read about a young person almost my age, and since then I bought, borrowed, and read as many YA books as I could. Eventually I discovered that I liked the romantic subplots of these books, so I focused on that -- and I've been writing YA, NA and adult romance ever since.
How do you approach cover design?
I work with cover artists and designers I trust, and I pretty much let them do their thing. Some of my books are published by Summit Media (a traditional publisher in the Philippines) and so far they've produced wonderful covers without having me be so involved in their process. Tania Arpa is my most frequent collaborator as an indie publisher, and I usually start off with a peg, then she just surprises me with her awesomeness.
What do you read for pleasure?
More romance (but steamier than the ones I write) and YA. When I like an author I tend to get all of their books now. Recently I decided to try books that people just love, even the ones I normally wouldn't pick up. That's worked for me! So far I've been pleasantly surprised.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Kindle Paperwhite (that I've named Joaquin), but I also read on an iPad and an Android phone. It really depends on what's most handy at the time, although I do get a lot more reading done on a dedicated device like Joaquin.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
The things I do that I feel work best: Online presence. Being accessible to readers through social media. I give away books a LOT. But the best "marketing" for me is a happy reader, really. I was invited to speak at a university where an entire class knew who I was because of one student liking my book and lending it to everyone.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up, and still live in, Metro Manila in the Philippines. The most obvious influence that it has on my writing is that the characters in most of my books are Filipino, and they're set in the Philippines. But I grew up reading international-setting (US, UK, etc) novels, and everyone I know who grew up here and reads is so used to those tropes and stories. I've made it my mission of sorts to create stories that are similar, but closer to my experience. At the same time, my family lives in Texas, and I acknowledge that it's also home, in a way. My books are starting to reflect that as well.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
At first I was just surprised that it was free and easy to publish an ebook and have the world be able to buy it. I continued at it, despite already working with a publisher, because of the control being "indie" gave me over every aspect of my book. I think that everything I'm learning about publishing, digital, marketing, and engaging readers is making me a better author.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has been so helpful! I rely on it so much since it gets me into retailers that aren't dealing directly with authors in my country. As a retailer itself, I actually like directing people to Smashwords because of the file types offered, the lack of DRM, and how relatively easier it is to pay for the books. By design it actually presents solutions to a lot of the "excuses" I've heard over time, the various reasons why people don't buy, read, or try ebooks.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Getting it right. Usually I have a point to make when I write a story, and I consider my job done when I feel I got it right, that I managed to convey it in a way that another person gets it too. That is a rush.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When not writing, I do things that are related to writing or publishing: I edit. I help people publish their books. I teach writing classes. I facilitate training programs in publishing. Somewhere in there I manage to read, and eat, and spend time with my family.
What is your writing process?
I now have a tiny notebook in my bag and a nice pen, so I can start writing things down as soon they come to me, wherever I happen to be. The serious writing is scheduled, about an hour a day, three days a week at least, and that's ideally just re-writing what's in the notebook. I find that this is a better use of the limited time I have and cuts down the staring-at-the-laptop-screen that tends to happen when I schedule writing time and have nothing pre-planned.
Published 2013-12-21.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

What Kind of Day
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 41,870. Language: English. Published: May 31, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
Ben is a (fired) senator's speechwriter. Naya is an indie tour guide. He accidentally joins her tour, a tour of his own city, and she lets him stay on because he's having a really bad day. She's hoping she won't regret it. He's hoping his luck turns around. What kind of day could it be? Maybe the best kind.
Interim Goddess of Love: The Complete Trilogy
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 90,110. Language: English. Published: January 17, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
College sophomore Hannah Maquiling doesn't know why everyone tells her their love problems. She's never even had a boyfriend, but that doesn't stop people from spilling their guts to her, and asking for advice. So maybe it shouldn't be a surprise when the cutest guy in school tells her that she's going to have to take on this responsibility -- but for all humanity.
Freshman Girl and Junior Guy (An Interim Goddess of Love short story)
Price: Free! Words: 4,880. Language: English. Published: January 17, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Coming of age, Fiction » Romance » Clean & wholesome
Hannah is super nervous about her first year at Ford River College, but guess what makes it better? Becoming the new friend of a popular junior guy named Quin. This is a short story set in the world of the Interim Goddess of Love Series.
Iris After the Incident
Series: Chic Manila. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 51,840. Language: English. Published: August 5, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit
Whether she likes it or not, Iris’s life has been divided into two: Before the Incident, and After the Incident. Something very private was made very public, and since then life has been about recovering from being shamed. Two years later, she connect with a guy again. He doesn’t know what happened. But he also won’t give her his name—which has to mean he’s got something to hide too.
Playing Autumn
Series: Spotlight New Adult. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 55,020. Language: English. Published: March 13, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Romance » New adult, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
Haley Reese is going back home to Houston and she's dreading this trip. She volunteers as a mentor to young musicians at an annual festival, and the longer she's been doing it, the more she feels like a fraud. Things start looking up when she shares a plane ride with Oliver Cabrera, music prodigy, rock star, and the reason why she picked up an instrument in the first place.
The Harder We Fall
Series: Spotlight New Adult. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 30,410. Language: English. Published: November 17, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit
Media student Daria meets rugby player Nicholas on her last weeks at college, and a fast fling is all they have time for. He's heading to Japan to play pro; she's covering his team to win an internship spot in a documentary that will start filming in Europe. Getting what they want means they don't get to stay together. But that doesn't mean they can't have fun — as long as they don't fall hard.
Never Just Friends
Series: Spotlight New Adult. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 31,800. Language: English. Published: November 17, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit
Environment consultant Lindsay Kresta and now-famous actor Jake Berkeley have loved each other (as friends) since college, but she made sure they didn’t become anything more, for her own sake. They've kept up this low-maintenance friendship for years, surviving many life changes. But now he wants more. He wants to save forests again, work in environmental research - and he wants her.
Gifted Little Creatures
Price: Free! Words: 4,300. Language: English. Published: September 13, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy, Fiction » Graphic novels & comics » Fantasy
Maya, the goddess of the moon, is in human form as a college student for now -- and she's grounded. This doesn't keep her from doing what she does well, manipulating the world and everything in it, from the home she can't leave. (An illustrated short story set in the Interim Goddess of Love universe.)
Sola Musica: Love Notes from a Festival
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 44,340. Language: English. Published: August 28, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit
A beach cove, a hot summer weekend...SOLA MUSICA is where everyone's going, to enjoy the best new music from all over. Bestselling Filipino YA/chick lit authors Mina V. Esguerra, Marla Miniano, Chinggay Labrador, and Ines Bautista-Yao each tell a story about this festival: the music, the people, the hearts that will soar (or break).
Welcome to Envy Park
Series: Chic Manila. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 40,680. Language: English. Published: October 30, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
Moira Vasquez is a doer. A planner. A get-up-and-goer. At twenty-two, she left her hometown, to satisfy a need to travel as well as give her savings account a boost. Five years later and she's back in Manila, with a shiny new apartment to her name, but no job, no career, no boyfriend. Is her constant search for the next big thing keeping her from seeing what's already there?
Fairy Tale Fail
Series: Chic Manila. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 28,730. Language: English. Published: April 20, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit
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Ellie Manuel is a hopeless romantic, stuck in a cubicle all day. She's in her twenties and should be having more fun. But instead of doing what she really wants, like traveling wherever her Philippine passport can take her, she's hung up on the guy who dumped her for not being "ambitious enough."