What: The Economic Impact of Non-Diverse Romance, Part I: The Quality “Problem” by Alyssa Cole
From: Author Alyssa Cole
Author Alyssa Cole whipped out her wooden ruler at took us all to school this week, and I loved every, single moment of it. Cole penned a post that is the first of a series she plans on writing regarding diversity in romance fiction. This first installment was well thought out and I can’t fully do it justice with a few quotes so I encourage you to visit Ms. Cole’s website to read the full post.
No one is asking for crappy books to be published solely because the author is from a marginalized group. But, and here is where I take a deep breath because I’m going to say something not so nice: in the weeks since that series of tweets, I’ve read a lot of traditionally published books, most of them by white authors, the group that is presented (intentionally or not!) as the group most capable of producing quality romance literature. Were these all amazing paragons of high-quality literature? No. A couple were wonderful and moving and gave me all the great romance feels. Most were okay. A few were straight-up terrible. I’m not saying this to shit on other authors. I hate having to even type this! Basically:
- Quality is subjective. Perhaps an editor read the books that I thought were terrible and thought they were great, simply because our tastes differ. BUT
- I’ve read SO MANY self-published books by marginalized romance authors that were leaps and bounds better than many of the books I read, or could have been with the nurturing a publisher and editor provide. Even the self-pubbed books by marginalized authors that I thought were terrible were on par or better than the trad-published books that I thought were terrible.
So, I have to ask: just what do people mean when they say marginalized authors are not producing quality books? I mean, the statement is ridiculous to begin with. I’m sure that crappy white authors outnumber marginalized authors by manifold in the slush piles of agents and editors, but I’ve never heard anyone make sweeping generalizations about the quality of work of white authors.
As with most posts or articles that attempt to have an open discussion regarding difficult subjects, the comments section is the most enlightening. It gives you insight into what people unaffected by the issue think, and their perception of not only the issue, but the people who bring it it up.
This particular comment stood out to me:
There are so many things I found disturbing by the comment. I’ve had a stressful last few weeks and wasn’t about to get into a commenting war, especially not on someone elses public page. some other commenter took care of that for me with a very detailed response, addressing the original commenter points. So why did I post this person’s particular comment?
Furthermore, if you, as an author, see an area of the marketplace that isn’t developed, the logical thing to do would be to write stories to fill that niche, not complain about it so it gets flooded and you lose out.
Anyone of any ethnicity can publish anything about characters of any ethnicity. How then can one honestly claim that anyone could be marginalized in the modern system?
I’m sharing it because I’ve seen comments similar to the one above by other people who just don’t get it. These people are not just authors, but readers, reviewers and publishing professionals. That is the most disturbing aspect of this. It is a backhanded slap to marginalized authors coupled with a “there, there”, condescending pat on the head, by people who are our peers, and people who can help fix the problem.
This specifically, was not the only comment from the post. There were a lot of great positive feedback from other readers, authors and publishing professionals. The purpose of me highlighting this specific comment, wasn’t to be all doom and gloomy, but to shine light on exactly why posts and articles like Alyssa’s are important, why they should be written, why these topics need to be discussed outside of closed groups and private pages. If we don’t dicuss them, we miss out on the opportunity to change someone’s mindset or discover where the true barriers may lie.
You can read the full article and its comments here.