I’m a proud romance reader. Have been since the olden days when Fabio was all over the place and consent wasn’t always as...consent-y as we’d like it to be. (OK, I wasn’t as proud of reading those novels as I am of the novels that are out today, but you get my point.) And romance novels have come sooooooo far since then. There are so many great examples of empowering romance reads that I could talk all day on the subject and never run out of material. So imagine my surprise when I read a study showing that in 2017, the romance genre actually got LESS diverse than it was in prior years.
The Ripped Bodice, a specialty romance book store, conducted their first ever study into racial diversity in the romance genre and found that for every 100 books published in 2017, only 6.2 were written by people of color. That’s a decrease of more than a percent from 2016.
And as if that news wasn’t troubling enough, romance author Cole McCade came forward this month and admitted that Riptide editor Sarah Lyons told him, ““We don’t mind POC But I will warn you – and you have NO idea how much I hate having to say this – we won’t put them on the cover, because we like the book to, you know, sell :-(.”
Needless to say, Lyons resigned in the wake of the resulting backlash from other authors who came out in support of McCade (and the need for diversity in romance, of course). But despite Lyons’ assertion that books featuring people of color don’t sell, The Ripped Bodice further reported that 6 of their top 10 bestselling books of 2017 were by authors of color. That fact would seem to suggest there is a market of readers who are hungry for more racially diverse romance novels.
So why are publishers under the mistaken impression that romance readers only want read about white people?
I won’t presume to speak for the entire romance reading community, but I know I’d certainly be excited to see more diversity in the books I love.
What about y’all? We want to know what YOU think!