Thursday, February 09, 2006
I'm sure someone will be offended but I'm really curious...
I was surfing blogs this morning and ended up going to the blog of author Monica Jackson. In the post for Feb 8, she talks a little about the issues black romance authors face in the industry, including the fact that black readership is simply smaller than non-black readership as a whole and what seems to be a segregation issue in anthologies and such.

After sitting and thinking about this for a while, then looking through my TBR pile, I wonder if I am even weirder than I thought.

I have books that contain all sorts of characters - white, black, asian, latino, american indian, middle eastern, etc. Heck, even aliens, werewolves and other paranormals. Honestly, it's not something I use as a factor in whether or not I purchase a book.

To me it's one of those non-issues. If the book is well written, shouldn't it pull me into the head of whoever the character is? I hear from some of the authors that people won't buy 'x' book because the author isn't a white, middle-class woman. Or people won't buy 'y' book because the couple is interracial.

I just don't get it and I keep wondering why my reality seems so different from what I hear is the reality of the majority of the market. What's the deal? LOL

I consider myself a pretty darned average person. I did grow up in science fiction fandom so I had a lot of very early exposure to a wide variety of people and interests. I grew up in a small southern California town where there was a large latino population. I work in the software industry which is highly diverse and in a hugely diverse company even in that industry. I'm a pagan, the community of which is also highly diverse. And I live in Seattle which is also very diverse. My boss at work (until I got this new job) is black, if that matters, my peer is Phillipino.

But what about other people? Do you have issues with romances written or staring people of ethnic origins different from your own? Does it play a role in whether you buy a book? If so, why? What about interracials?

Go Anon if you don't want names, that's okay. I'm honestly curious here.

6 Comments

  1. You've raised some mighty interesting questions Maura.

    For me, I love a book that has interesting and diverse characters, it doesn't worry me what color, creed or sexuality they are, if it grabs my attention I'll read it.

    Reading is about entering another reality and reading what the characters do and say, sometimes you love the characters and other times you hate them.

    I can understand why some people won't buy a certain authors book but that's just their opinion and everyone is entitled to their opinions.

    I just love reading and I'll try anything once.....reading that is!

    Hugs,
    Sheryl


  2. Hi Maura,

    I think it is probably a bigger issue among print book authors than ebook authors.

    Ebook authors reach a widely diverse group and I believe people who search out authors on the internet tend to look at the authors' work as opposed to their race, etc. Let's face it - we tend to be a widely read bunch. LOL

    Print books to tend to be placed in specific areas in retail bookstores and libraries as I can attest to having worked in both fields. If the book was placed in numerous areas instead of segregating it in one specific area then a larger group of people might be reached.

    And while I don't pretend to know what a black author has to face, I'm absolutely positive that it is a great deal more involved than what a white author faces!!

    Moving on--I'm in agreement with what Sheryl said. I buy books based on the plotline, written word, and passion. This is the stuff that draws me to the story. If the plotline's a dud, I'm unable to identify with the characters, and the romance and/or sex isn't compelling, you can count me out.

    I love a good paranormal romance with multiple sub-genre elements. But then...I also like romantic suspense, fantasy, sci-fi, humor, erotica, and horror elements. My very favorites--werewolves, vamps, shapeshifters, magic stories, multi-cultural, space stuff. LOL

    For myself...I adore Camille Anthony, Jet Mykles and Eve Vaughn. I've recently become a fan of Stephanie Burke. As far as knowing about their background or race, with the exception of Eve, I didn't know anything about the rest of these ladies until I started doing the Writing Divas scavenger hunt, which I'm happy to say allowed for an introduction to several lovely ladies whom I was unfamiliar with, all of whom have some very interesting books, which I am adding to my purchase list. LOL

    Anyway, enough said. I think many will be like us - interested in the story while others will be exactly as Monica states. To each their own as the saying goes...

    Until later,


  3. I answered your question in a comment. I don't know if you saw it, so I'll repeat it here.

    I really don’t think people give that much of a damn in general about race when they buy a book.

    I think separating books by blacks out is more a marketing phenom, engineered by publishers to foster and preserve the AA niche.

    I don’t think most whites are going to seek out books with black characters, but then I’m not breaking my butt or even walking across the bookstore to seek out books with feisty Celtic wenches either.

    Particularly in romance, everybody most often likes to read characters they can identify with.

    So I think lit segregation is about money and the reason they get away with it is more of a reflection of our society’s culture and mores than anything any sort of readers (yes, I mean white readers) avoid in particular.

    I think most white readers would read characters of a different race as readily as anybody else, if there was buzz about the book , it was easily available (that means they don’t have to search for it, order it, stand on their heads and wiggle their feet to get hold of it).


  4. Love crosses racial lines all the time. I know plenty of mixed couples. I can't wait to see the Harmony (TM) line at NCP.


  5. To me, it just has to be a good book. I like characters of all races, and don't even really think of it in that regard. I've written black, hispanic, etc. characters in my books, but since I have no personal insight on what kinds of things these real life people face, and I don't have the right "voice" for it, my characters have been in fantasy worlds where I have more freedom. One book Castaways is one of my most recent releases, and is a contemporary, and one of the males in the threesome is black, but he's from England, so I don't delve into areas that I have no experience in. Does that make sense? L.A. Banks writes a fabulous series about a Vampire Hunteress who is black. I love it--I didn't even think about her race until this discussion. I have piles of TBR books with characters of all races.

    So, dammit, it just needs to be a good book!


  6. Maura I agree with Annalee and Chey. I agree that love crosses color line. Especially an outstanding story. Doesn't matter who wrote it or what color they are. It just has to be a good book. Draw me in. Of course as a woman of color I am totally aware of some of the biases we face. But I also know that I am very particular in my reading, I don't care what color you are! If I want to read a romance, I want a strong plot. I want it sexy as hell,and I want emotion! mmmm. Think I'm greedy Maura? I don't care if the couple are yellow with black and white polka dots!

    love peace and hairgrease
    Kim


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