This is an opinion piece. I normally don’t publish more than reviews on my blog, but I felt this needed to be said. In the last few years I’ve seen a large push for more diverse books and authors in the market and yet, we still don’t have a lot. In this post, I will be addressing the romance genre, but know what I say here I feel can be applied to all genres.
First off, check out this report from the women who run The Ripped Bodice, a bookstore in LA, compiled and wrote. Link to their report here. If you don’t feel like reading the entire report, I’ll paraphrase. Romance publishers are barely publishing titles with diverse characters or books written by people of color, in fact some of them published even less in 2017 than the year before.
Here are two infographics from their report (photo credit to The Ripped Bodice).
It is astonishing to me that we are still in such low numbers!!!
What I want to address now is what YOU as a consumer can do to change this.
1) Publishers are a business, they publish what they think will SELL. It is our responsibility as the customer and the consumer to purchase books with diverse characters or written by people of color in order to show that yes, this is a profitable endeavor. BUY THE DANG BOOK! In my opinion, this is the BEST strategy to show those in charge that these are the stories we want to hear and the ones that matter to us! Create a demand for this product!
2) If you’ve read and loved a book with diverse characters or written by a person of color, LEAVE A REVIEW. The book world in general always talks about the importance of reviews for book sales (but more in context of authors making sales). So why not take advantage and make it public that you enjoyed what you read and you want more of the same? This creates even more proof on top of sales that there is a demand for these books and these stories.
3) If you don’t have a lot of spare change to buy these books or are on a budget, go to your public library and suggest a purchase! Many public libraries have this option already available on their website. If they know that you, the patron, wants to read these materials, they will most likely purchase them, leading back to my first point!
4) The power of social media: share on the social media pages of publishers and authors you want these books! Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, and more! In fact, email the publisher yourself and tell them what you want to see more of. This way they know directly from the source what readers want.
I’m not saying that this is the one true answer or solution to getting books with more diverse characters or more authors of color published in the future. In fact, I personally need to buy more of these books and broaden what I’m reading. I’m just offering up a suggestion of what you can do to contribute if you really want to see change. I also believe that it is our responsibility as readers and customers to buy and share these books and stories with others.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, unless we demand these stories, I fear they will not just be given to us by the publishing gods. We need to ask for them, purchase them, and share them with the world. That’s the only way I can see change happening in the publishing world, and not just with romance publishers.
Thanks for reading my opinion! And thanks to The Ripped Bodice for their research and report that influenced this post.