As a writer-of-color, I do appreciate the study recently conducted by The Ripped Bodice. It puts a spotlight on the sad state of racial diversity in romance publishing. Whether it changes anything is the challenge moving forward.
Nielsen did a similar study in the past and presented the report at the Romance Writers of America’s Annual Conference in 2016. The statistics then, as shared by Publishing Perspectives, were even more dismal.
I guess we can rejoice that the 2% non-white writers previously reported has ballooned to 7.8% in 2016. But, different research bodies, different samples, different methodologies make comparisons statistically invalid.
I am happy someone is pursuing the issue. I have long complained about the dearth of representation for Asians in the novels I read. That’s why I’m writing my own. But, I’m not going to sit around waiting for some publishing house to suddenly email after six months telling me that they’ve finally unearthed my manuscript from the depths of query hell and they now need me to increase their diversity numbers.
The truth is I want to control the setting of my novels, the design of my covers, the date of my publication, and the amount of my share of the sales, no matter how minuscule. As I can’t do those things with traditional publishing, I’m going indie. I’m sure many writers of color like me have the same mindset.
That doesn’t help improve future data for The Ripped Bodice’s study, but maybe they could expand it by investigating racial diversity in self-published romance in the future. It is almost a sure thing that it would yield more positive results. Perhaps instead of harping on traditional publishers to improve their inclusion, they should embrace independents more. Just my two cents.
Here’s the full report: