Recently there was a new Twitter hastag #WeNeedDiverseBooks that popped up followed closely by an article Are Authors Scared To Write Diverse Books. I was shocked to see this tag. Why, you ask? Because we already have diverse books. Below you'll find my immediate response to the post, but I also wanted to emphasize that the big publishers aren't going to publish diverse books because they want money makers. Big publishers have to feed their machine and they'll do anything to get $$$.
Indie authors write diverse books. My books feature diversity. I love control over my final product so my white gay cowboy can fall in love with the black cop, or my black male witch can love a white woman. I will continue to exercise control over what I publish instead of handing everything off to a publisher because I don't want to have to water down my story to fit a publishers demands. I've done that and I won't do it again. I've had to change story lines, been told to include more sex, or not to include sex when I've published with a publisher. I like my freedom, and if that means less sales, then so be it. I'd rather include diversity in my novels, writing about controversial topics and stretching boundaries then trying to fit in with a publisher.
Here's my post in reply to #WeNeedDiverseBooks
There are tons of diverse books with authors from diverse backgrounds. Look at Rafe Haze and The Next. Wilde City Press, MLR PRess, and Dreamspinnerall publish books that are diverse. You can’t get diverse from the top 100 on Amazon, or the top 100 in the NYT or USA Today, you have to branch out. Most people read the top 100 only, they follow what’s popular because it’s what they look like or feel like and they are comfortable with it. They read an homogenized offering of stories, dictated by someone else. If you want diversity, you have to push past the popular and move into the undiscovered.
Rafe Haze wrote an amazing book, but I bet almost everyone who is trumpeting the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag has never heard of him. Not because the book isn’t good, but it’s an small indie press that isn’t going to hit the top 100 lists. Without hitting the top 100 list, many who want diversity in books won’t see this story and will miss the diversity.
Few people have probably read books by Z Allora. Z writes diverse characters. More may have read from Rhys Ford, but not many. Rhys writes diverse characters. There are so many indie and small press authors out there who write diverse characters, and I’m not even discussing the diversity of stories I’ve written which range from IR in MF and MM, MM, FF, MF, transgender, and cross dressing stories.
For there to be diverse stories read, the readers have to look beyond their comfort zone, branch out, and try a new author or subgenre. They’ll never find diversity in Twilight copies, or fanfics of the 50 Shades variety.