Tanya is guilty of setting me off, lol, but I thought the subject was more than worth discussing.
And rather than having me step up on my soapbox, let’s stir the pot with a few questions and, as Tanya said, things that make you go “hmmm…”.
1) The issues with the cover of the book “LIAR”. I imagine there are very few authors whose covers have precisely matched the characters or details of the storyline. But a change as deliberate as this? Huh? They didn’t think anyone who read the story would notice?? And this is a book for young adults? What’s the message they’re sending here?
Yes, publishers are in the business of making money. And their claim that having African Americans on a cover means fewer sales is probably valid. It’s also self-fulfilling marketing, since so few of them DO have AA characters on covers. So who’s eventually going to be responsible for helping to change this?
Your average author has very little say in what goes on the cover.
Certain booksellers definitely make the situation worse with their policies of placing any book written by or showing a person of color in the African American section, regardless of genre (my own local Borders does this and refuses to change).
Publishers? And what are the chances they’d be eager to incite change at the cost of losing readers?
2) Let’s say you’re a big New York print publisher. And I mean B-I-G.
And let’s say you’ve had numerous complaints from AA and/or Hispanic readers about not having heroes/heroines of those persuasions in your romances.
And let’s say you decide to take a step to assuage those complaints (and garner new readers?) by establishing distinct lines for those readers.
Or just one way to make it easier for those readers to find what they’re looking for?
Or a matter of propagating the old “separate but equal” policy?
3) You’ve written a biracial romance. The reader knows it’s a biracial romance because you’ve told them so, complete with descriptions of the characters and all that good stuff.
To your delight, the manuscript is accepted for publication. Game on.
A publishing associate advises you to scrap the few instances of banter between the protagonists in which they make playful conversation about their differences, lest a reader should become uncomfortable.
Would you agree?
Would such casual conversation bother you?
Would you be content with a book in which the different races are mentioned but otherwise ignored, or is the issue of race a complication in a romance story you’d rather not have at all?