DIVERSITY IN ROMANCE PUBLISHING!
DIVERSITY IN ROMANCE PUBLISHING!
EPIC SIDE EYE.
I'm going to be frank, blunt and upfront. I'm tired of this campaign. This campaign to coax skittish mainstream readers to read a romance where the couple falling for one another DOES NOT MIRROR the relationships in the other romance books they usually BUY and READ and DISCUSS. So over this campaign to nowhere. The only romance books with "diverse" couples that are doing booming business are m/m romances. Blog after blog, Review after review. Mainstreamers seem to adore reading about two ripped, hot men going at it. Make it as cliched as possible and it flies off the virtual shelves. Good for the writers. Follow your dream! Make that bank!
Now the 800 lb. elephant in the room is the still stagnate sales of "diverse" romance penned by non-White authors, that feature a HEROINE who DOES NOT possess the characteristics of the average, mainstream reader. And you know what characteristics I'm talking about and you know what the mainstream looks like. And this is where the conditioning creeps in. Take a breath. Stay with me. Buckle that seat belt. Might get bumpy but it's gotta be said.
Non-White romance book heroines are tolerated if they skew Caucasian. Let me say that again. Non-White romance heroines are tolerated and sell a little better if the writer "writes" her Caucasian. Also if the writer writes this chick in the vaguest terms possible. Meaning? If a writer leaves out any, or all references, to experiences or things that would place the heroine firmly in the camp of the "other." That colorblind bull shyte that is anything but. Supposedly a reader needs to identify with the heroine, use her as a placeholder when immersed in the book. Really? So the mention of a twist-out or a samosa or a phrase from someone else's mother tongue takes you out of the story? In this age of Google? Get away from me with that lie. I'm not tryin' to hear that. With the success of m/m romance, you ladies must be leading double lives or got big secrets because the booming m/m romance genre features DUDES getting it on! You can relate to that greatly because the cash register ain't never lied!
So what I'm picking up from industry insiders is, a "diverse" heroine sells more if she isn't perceived as "diverse." And if she's a dude, all the better! As for the differently-abled of any hue or sexual orientation, depictions of those characters do well too.
It's just those pesky Marias and Whitneys, and Jades and Priyankas with all their "foreign" features, getting the guy, or girl, or both, in the end who fall flat specifically those written by writers who resemble them. That kills me too because books with dinos and T-Rexs and inanimate objects as love interests sell like hotcakes. Anything but the non-White female, written by the non-White author, as someone's object of affection, sells? Is reading about the non-White chick, written by a non-White author, getting her HEA so abhorrent? So unbelievable?
AND I'M NOT TALKING THAT WHITE SLAVEMASTER/SLAVE, WHITE CONQUEROR/CONCUBINE, WHITE MERCENARY/SEXWORKER STUFF EITHER!
So either the mainstream reader is plain just not interested? Or biased? Or both? And/or the industry is lying on their readers. I think it's all of the above.
So the utter failure of any breakout new authors of the diverse from the diverse is...sad. Why? Because the traditional romance publishing industry is doing what all good businesses do when demands are made of them. 1) present a facade featuring a handful of authors as shining examples of writing "diversely." Attention! Some of those writers are non-White; most are White. Read the label. 2) string along the outsiders railing against these businesses' hallowed halls by paying lip service to the issue with a flurry of "diversity panels or workshops."
Yeah. A panel will fix it 'cuz we are all a monolith. *facepalm*
Please. And these workshops are for whom? They are not for my benefit or anyone who looks like me. They are for the benefit of writers who live in a plastic bubble who never come in contact with the "other" and therefore need some generic blueprint or shorthand on how to scribble a character not like them. My advice: Get a diverse life.
My remedy? For the mainstream reader who truly is looking for solid romance heroines who aren't all slim, flaxen-haired, green-eyed, eighteen and lily-white of skin presented by writers who possess none of those traits either, I'm dropping a list of non-White romance writers below.
Pardon me if I exclude Octavia Butler and Beverly Jenkins. Most mainstream readers know of these terrific women. In fact, they are probably the ONLY ones they know. The following list encompasses all genres: paranormal, historical, erotic romance, erotica, contemporary, SF/F, etc. The list below should fill all your romance needs. The aforementioned areas are genres.
Let me elucidate: MULTICULTURAL IS NOT A GENRE! IT IS A CONVENIENT GHETTO/DUMPING GROUND/CLASSIFICATION FOR ANYTHING NOT STRAIGHT, NOT WHITE, NOT OF THIS EARTH, OR NOT PERCEIVED AS AMERICAN! Especially on Amazon.
And that's why I'm sooooo over the little diversity campaign that couldn't. I write romance. Period. It's got a mix of people caring for, loving, hating and pining for one another. Like people in any other romance book. You looking for what I have to offer? You know where to find me. And not in the wasteland of multicultural. Remember an author's name. You can do that, can't you? If their style speaks to you, you'll like all their other stuff. You'll find some of what you are searching for on the following list. And remember Regency England wasn't all dukes and earls. Somebody had to clean the manse and polish the silver. And the help wasn't all White either. Just sayin.
That's just a partial list. More coming.