Monday Musings: We’re Losing Authors Y’all…

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And when I say “we”, I’m referring specifically to authors who write interracial romance, and this disheartens and angers me on a level you couldn’t possibly imagine (Maybe you can…)

In the last few months, I’ve spoken with a few authors who are well-known in this genre who are just fed up for a myriad of reasons:

  1. Sales are down or non-existent because let’s keep it real, IR romance featuring women of color don’t get the exposure and recognition that a mainstream or even gay romance does. You can do all the promoting and takeovers and blog tours in the world, but if nobody is actually buying your book, what’s the point?
  2. Readers aren’t leaving reviews. Yes, I know this is a heated topic among authors and readers about whether or not a reader should leave a review, but I’ve recently discovered that reviews not only provide feedback to an author, but they actually help the author’s book get seen on the e-tailer’s site. There’s actually some special algorithm where if an author has a certain number of reviews, then their book gets listed in the “Readers also purchased…” category underneath a similar listing. This is huge exposure for an author.
  3. Internal bullshit. By this, I mean that anyone who is deep in these IR romance community streets knows that this genre is very clique-y. If you’re not a part of the cool crowd, then your book won’t get mentioned or recommended or shared. Petty? Yes. But the truth of the matter is, it really does happen.

Some of my favorite authors are telling me that they’re going to be writing fewer IR titles. This could mean we’ll literally get only one or two IR titles a year, they’re going to go mainstream, or it will be a combination of the two. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not angry with these authors for doing what they need to do to further their writing careers. I’m just pissed at the reasoning behind it. I love my IR authors, and I admit that I’m selfish (lol) and don’t want to share them with the general public. Will I still read and support them though? Hell yeah…

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47 thoughts on “Monday Musings: We’re Losing Authors Y’all…

  1. All of this… *applauds*

    I so love reading your musings Patrice!

    Is any of this surprising? No. Not at all and truth be told, I can’t say that I blame authors for throwing their hands up in frustration.

    It has come to the point where authors kindly requesting readers leave reviews comes across as begging, or hounding, which in turn backfires and puts a reader off from an author entirely. I don’t understand that one, but it’s commentary I’ve seen posted.

    Some readers figure, “Hey, I did my part I bought the book! Stop bugging me!” That’s cool, but let me offer another perspective. You purchase a book, GREAT, but reviews ALSO help sell books. It’s a cycle. I don’t do this as a full-time gig. I feel for the authors that do because your livelihood is dependent on how many books you sell. That’s scary as hell.

    The units an author moves compared to the reviews that are left is sad. I know I’m not the only one. I briefly had this discussion with Twyla Turner. All three of Twyla’s books were top sellers in the Interracial Erotica genre for weeks. WEEKS. For Twyla, it took over a year for her to reach 100 reviews. The Sweetest Taboo has been out almost a year, and I’m seven reviews away from 100. When you know you’ve moved a hell of a lot of units, it’s a bit hurtful that you can’t even get people to say, loved it, hated it, don’t buy, etc. You don’t need to be lengthy. A star rating, I loved it, I hated it, pass, etc. that’s all.

    The “if you don’t have anything nice to say” mentality doesn’t work the way a lot of readers think it does. Even negative reviews factor into the algorithm and get your book seen. Crazy, right? LOL. It helps sales. Reviews, in general, help sales. I see it in mainstream contemporary romance as well as gay romance. People will write some awful reviews but in the grand scheme of things, if you just released a book, but 234 people left a review, and some of them are negative, who cares? The author is happy as hell they have 234 reviews!!! They’re now on the Amazon algorithm!

    About internal bullshit… I don’t participate in groups for that specific reason. I can count on one hand the reader groups I actively post in. Why? Because a clique mentality is very prevalent and it extends across multiple genres, but I have to say it’s particularly bad in the IR genre.

    We wonder why our genre can’t compete with the big dogs. Well, when you prefer to tear down other authors or throw shade as opposed to lifting them up and showing support, we can’t be mad that it’s a genre that doesn’t get taken seriously. There are enough readers for everyone, enough authors writing all different kinds of stories.

      1. I really hope that readers who have never left a review will consider leaving one for the authors they read regularly. This isn’t about me. This is about people wanting to give up on something they love because they’re not seeing the benefit. That’s so damn disheartening. 😦

      2. Exactly! I admittedly used to be team idgaf about whether or not you review, but once I was schooled on the importance of them and that they go beyond just hyping your fave, I make a more conscious effort to do them. BTW, I owe you one on Amazon😉

      3. LOL, that wasn’t shameless promo, but thank you. You know I appreciate all that you do for me. ❤

  2. Thank you for writing this Patrice! It is a hard road and there are times that I consider going mainstream, but it hurts my heart to even think about it. My dream is to be the Shonda Rhimes of the literary world, crossing over to all races. I’ve read plenty of WW/WM novels and was able to relate. Why can’t they? And I’ve had some white women and Latina women read my novels and love them. It’s not hard, but people have to be open-minded, which is hard.

    As far as the cattiness in the genre…I try to ignore it. I’m glad that I’ve found some truly genuine and lovely authors like Miss Harper Miller! The only way for us be successful is to share and spread the love. Why do comedians to so well? Because they help each other. They put each other in their movies, so their friends can be seen. It doesn’t hurt, it helps. Our readers, read voraciously and love many authors. So everyone gets their time in the spotlight.

    And as far as reviews… Sigh… That’s all I have to say about that. *in Forrest Gump voice*

  3. #Church All of this and then some. I’ve been having this very same conversation with a few others, and contemplating what will happen for me in 2016. I don’t understand why cross over from WW/WM to WM/BW is possible, but the other way around is rare. I hope to see some change in 2016. Truth be told, It gets hard to keep your head up when you face these things over and over. It’s refreshing to see this out in the open and being actively discussed.

    1. Thank you! Nothing will change if we don’t talk about it and make a conscious effort to do better. There’s enough room for everybody. These stories aren’t so foreign that you can’t “relate” to them because the woman doesn’t look like you. That excuse is so tired and played and just downright racist.

  4. I love this genre so much, but I’ve pretty much given up for many of the same reasons. Most of my books have fewer than twenty reviews and for the life of me I can’t figure out why. People will write ME and tell me they love it. Other authors tell me I inspired them, but reviews? Nope.

    1. We need to change that, but it’s like pulling teeth. It doesn’t take much to write a review, good, bad, or indifferent. I think some people are intimidated by the process or basically just too lazy to even bother.

  5. I will keep writing my stories. I may not be making oodles of money, but I will keep writing and hoping that people will find my stories and enjoy them. And I will keep writing the sort of stories that I like reading and writing, even if it means I am not following some pre-ordained rules.

  6. Thanks for this post. I’m not sure what’s going on with the lack of support via reviews. Maybe readers just don’t realize how VERY VERY important reviews are. I hope things change in the near future. I hope people share this blog post. The major online ebook retailers are overlooking the Interracial and Multicultural genre. Strength is in numbers. Reviews are numbers.

  7. Thank you so much for taking up this topic! It is so sad that we are losing so many great story tellers. I agree that there are some many factors that go into a decision to switch. I write IR romance because that is where my characters want me to take them, but it won’t always be a BW/WM pairing and I know that.

    Creatively, I think it’s important for authors to write what their muses inspire. However, I also believe the IR genre needs to thrive because frankly, publishing shouldn’t reflect the social landscape of the 1950s. Diversity in characters is important, and when a genre loses talented authors, it makes it harder to promote the fact that their are great, well written stories with diverse characters to be read.

    I can’t add much more to the reviews topic, that hasn’t already been said in your post and the above comments. In today’s digital age they’ve taken on the equivalent of word of mouth advertising. Hell, an entire website, Goodreads, was founded on the idea because it works so well at promoting authors’ works. I admit to being tired of hearing some people bemoan the lack of good stories in IR, yet the same people will tag a dino porn book on Facebook AND leave a review. So horrible stories get promotes, reviewed AND huge sales, yet an author who spent months working on a story has to beg and plead for feedback. Unfortunately as authors we have to make difficult financial decisions. If a book or series doesn’t do well or gain the right traction, sometimes we’re forced to abandon those characters in order to focus on other books that have garnered attention.

    I think this is why we see some authors suddenly including crazy erotic scenes in their books now that seem out of place. Or throwing a shifter or vampire around just because and with no respect to the plot or story line they’ve set up. It’s a “throw something at the walls and see if it sticks” approach. It’s sad, but what is even worse is that for many, this actually works. Five star reviews roll in for some very poorly written books, and the algorithm cycle begins, while other authors and readers are left shaking their heads in confusion over bad books making it to best seller lists…But I digress LOL.

    Again thanks for posting this today. I’m usually a lurker on your blog, but this pulled me out of the shadows 🙂

    1. YAAAAAASSSS! I forgot to also mention poorly-written books that flood the genre is also drowning out the “good” ones. I sift through so much crap just to find a decent IR story. The trolls are in full force because they know this genre is popular and makes money. They make it difficult for legit authors to be seen and read, and I am beginning to see more non-IR books tagged as IR/MC when they clearly are not. It’s a sad state of affairs…

  8. Honestly I love this genre but the quality of these books have declined dramatically I am over these knockoff stories and these stories with interesting side eye descriptions of a black woman that I know a few in my book club have lost interest all together. I hope that it can turn around soon…..

  9. Hi everyone,

    Well, you can add me to the IR author ranks. My debut novella Calling Her Bluff comes out Nov 16 (yes, shameless plug, sorry not sorry smile). My current network leans contains more AA authors than IR, but I’m working to balance that out. Definitely seeking ways to collaborate.

    I shied away from posting reviews in general since Amazon had that “delete reviews written by another author” tantrum. Now that I have separate reader and author accounts now, I’m hoping that will no longer be a problem.

  10. I usually only leave reviews when i really enjoyed a book. I understand a little more reviews are important but I REALLY have a hard time leaving a not so good review. Im the type of person where I refuse to speak negatively about someone who does something I cannot (or can) do. Because you were brave enough to try. I’ve read a couple books this past week that I didn’t care for and left no review. I feel like Im shiting on a dream and its not a good feeling. I support my sista’s and will continue to do so IR or not. Im going to ATTEMPT to leave reviews, maybe just one sentence but I’ll do it. My kudos to you sistas…WRITE&ROCKON!!!

  11. Interesting. It’s so good to have someone shine the flashlight on these things. So true about the reviews–it’s like pulling teeth! From what I know about business, there really has to be a demand there first. Maybe there was at one point, but then the genre got oversupplied with writers. I think we need to create more readers. Hopefully it turns around again soon, like Nic (comment above) says. I really don’t know what I’d do with myself if I wasn’t writing 🙂

  12. Insight and truthful article. One my favorite writer Sharon Cullars has stop writing interracial romance due to ebook theft and lack of reviews. What I find amusing is that people will make poor excuses for the reason for not buying or leaving reviews. I remember at one time you could not find romance novels about Black women. As for the mean girls group such behavior is display on sites like the valant chamber. A couple of times in the past I call out their behavior regarding the support for authors who decided to published. I left a nice rant regarding their lack of support. What many of these individuals fail to understand once these writers become weary of the silliness they will leave and pulled their stories. The same thing is occurring on Amazon right now. A lot of rubbish is floating around under the guised of interracial romance and many readers are not using discernment in researching these would be authors/hacks. Thank you for allowing me to speak on this subject.

    1. Nooooo!!! I love Sharon Cullars! I also forgot to mention theft being a factor too. That’s happening a lot more often than not sadly. This pisses me off even more now. She’s an excellent storyteller and I hope she reconsiders at some point. And you are so on point with everything else✊👏✊👏

  13. It’s so funny because I guess I’m not seeing this drop in IR romances BUT I don’t deny what you’re saying it. I feel like we live in a world, on a globe and romance between people of different colors will happen. WHy shouldn’t they? As far as reviews, people will leave reviews if they hate something a lot faster than if they like it. That’s just the truth. The interesting comments I’ve received is that my stories aren’t typical. I get the odd “I don’t believe in the black and white thing” but they still wind up liking the story anyway most of time. Rising up is tough but I enjoy writing and will continue to do it without much expectation of reviews. I’ll keep telling the stories because it’s what I do. I gladly welcome ANYONE in the IR community who wishes to review one of my stories. Maybe this is the opportunity to start a movement…

  14. Hola another IR author here,

    It’s unfortunate that good books aren’t being read or reviewed and that some authors/groups can be clannish and cliquish.

    My observation is that the IR authors (authors with black audiences period) seem to sell really well when they cultivate their mailing list and collaborate with other writers to do this.

    The books dominating the top of the charts probably have large mailing lists that are shared by a few different writers. I also noticed that the authors who sell the most publish frequently.

    I think we can all sell more if we collaborate by sharing each other’s books via our mailing lists… If you don’t have one get one ASAP!

    1. You make some really good points! I think if IR authors do come together and be more supportive of one another, the genre would really thrive. There’s enough room fr everybody. Also maintaining a strong, social media presence also helps. Engaging with your readers in between books is just as important as when you’re pimping your book on release day. I am signed up for several mailing lists, and yes, they really do help!

  15. I’ve said about as much in my blog rant of a couple weeks ago. I am active in very few groups. The favoritism, backbiting and sheer unprofessionalism is offputting. Being in a clique is so very grade school. I left elementary school years ago. I write paranormal and historical romance with characters who are not given story time in the mainstream. I have no intention of stopping to write a story with a White chick at the center. Why? There are tons of them out there already. Why should I add to it? I don’t make my living from writing so I can afford to keep writing. I publish with a publisher and am putting out another historical in the spring. Crappy writing is killing this subgenre. Some is just plain bad writing and a lot is the work of assembly line outfits. The “writers” are hacks; many from out of the country. You know those write a book in 30 days people. And they make money because sadly the audience who buys them is VERY UNDISCERNING. It only has to have a hot to trot Black chick on the cover and a muscled White guy and they toss their ducats at it. It is dragging the subgenre down as we are seen as only pushing junk.

    I adore Sharon Cullars and she should be as big as Beverly Jenkins. But you know, once one of us is seen as making it, the door seldom opens for others. I refuse to beg for entrance to an institution that does not want me. I’ll continue to write and put stuff out but go to a conference? I doubt that greatly.

    We really need our own publishing house/imprints that put out quality work. Between shoddy writing, piracy (by folks who want to read what they feel is inferior but don’t want to pay for it) and White authors flooding the field, we are doomed unless we wake the eff up.

  16. Thank you for this Patrice.

    Writing because we love it, is wonderful. Writing to earn a living is another thing entirely.
    I would continue to write, even if the pennies became, well pennies, but I keep a balance. I fell into IR romance, via my characters. I didn’t actively wake up and say I’m going to start writing in the IR category and to me that makes a difference.

    Here in the UK, I don’t particularly market myself as anything other than a writer of Contemporary Romance Fiction. The label of MC and IR comes later and mainly for the USA.

    A very popular IR writer once told me and this is where I dither. ‘As a writer, do you want to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond?’
    Hmm…
    My answer? I just want to write and be read and for my work to be enjoyed by everyone. For the moment, I’m enjoying romancing the different cultures. Next year? Who knows…

    As for reviews? mine are dismal, yet my sales are nice and steady. I get more ‘I love your book’ directly to me via email or on social network sites. I don’t actively request reviews, although I am aware they help tremendously.

    Oh, the bitchiness. I run the MC/IR Book Showcase on Facebook. One author reported the page, saying it broke the rules. I went to her directly asking in what way and she said, ‘Well I spoke to the admin and they agreed that some authors are breaking the group rules by posting promos etc.’ I’m the ONLY admin and told her so. She became very quiet for a few weeks. I could have blocked her, but to me, you’ve shown your face.
    Needless to say, I then got a bad review and it was later pointed out that it had the undertones of that author. Hmm…

    Patrice we love and respect what you do. We write at a time when there are:-
    * Too many poorly-written books.
    * Isn’t enough quality full length novels.
    * Authors undervaluing their work for a sale.

    It’s hard to get noticed, but you fly the flag.

    Many thanks. x

  17. Great blog, Patrice. As a writer who has been writing BWWM romance since before it was as popular, the main reason a lot of the veterans are leaving or are fed up is because they no longer see support from readers. I don’t know what changed but there are a lot of bandwagon BWWM writers now who jumped on because the genre is hot and since then the genre has been going downhill. It seems like many readers have stopped supporting the BWWM authors who have always been around and only buying those who write the same thing in BWWM over and over. Yes, this genre has always been cliquish but I only deal with readers and writers who support and I support those back. I don’t care about those not supporting. I do me regardless. I love writing BWWM and I love writing books I enjoy writing. I don’t write something just because it’s hot.

    So there are a lot of issues here. I also think that so many people read BWWM books now and the newer readers gravitate toward the same old stuff it seems. If you look on Amazon most of these newer BWWM books have about three plots. It’s frustrating as a writer and as a reader. I am limited with the BWWM books I can read because I can’t stand some of the stuff some BWWM writers are writing. Many readers complain about the lack of quality in these books but it sure is funny that these books always top the lists so someone has to be buying them, which makes me believe that the majority of readers no longer care about quality. I can only go for what I see. I try to read some of these books and they are worst than a first draft! No editing at all yet these same authors stay in the Top 5 while others struggle for visibility when their work might be of more quality.

    As for reviews, the only authors who seem to get reviews now are the ones paying for them. That’s why you get a book that comes out on Tuesday and has 200 reviews on Thursday. Yeah if people think that’s just natural, it’s not. I see famous authors like Nora Roberts who release a book and don’t have 200 FIVE star reviews in one day yet many unknowns on Amazon do? That’s why people are discouraged. Honest authors are doing all they can to stay alive in this genre yet folks gaming the system are the ones who keep coming out on top. Also, many of these writers who dominate the charts seem to spend more time bribing readers with money and gifts than writing. If I got to do all that for someone to support then I don’t see the need. I want supporters who enjoy my work, not someone I had to pay or give incentives to to make a sale.

  18. I read your post, and being relatively new to the genre and writing, in general. I find it so true. your eyes get opened pretty quickly when you come face to face with negativity. the influx of bad work is something I can’t even think about, and it makes it so much harder for people like US who want to be seen to be serious about the IR/MC genre and not as a quick money maker.

    Bad quality of writing, bad grammar (where they get off doing that, I don’t know) and bad editing, make the job of serious writers, serious IR writers, so much harder. Also, readers seem to want to box us up and throw away the key! If your story isn’t a certain way, they don’t like it, but I have to ask, whose story is it anyway?

    And something else to think about, if, as an IR writer, you write something different, your IR readers won’t read it, why? I thought if you loved an author’s style, you would read anything they wrote? apparently not.

    Perhaps, crossing genres is the way to bring IR/MC out of the dark and into the light, so to speak, and let our work speak for itself, even if it takes time. IJS

    1. You made an excellent point with readers who are supposed fans who turn on an author when they even deviate a little bit from the norm. I think as readers we often forget that writers are actual people, but more importantly, creatives who are constantly evolving and that includes writing styles and concepts. I’m admittedly guilty of that, but I’m learning, and I’m changing too. Thanks for your comments.

  19. I am trying to be better about leaving short reviews. I tend to write book reports which take me forever to write. If I buy from amazon I’m now trying to take advantage of kindle.com which is a separate website. There you can follow authors and readers and share notes and highlights from the stories. But again it’s a whole seperate thing where authors and readers have to make profiles and friend each other. It would be nice if there was a hoot suite for reviews so you could drop your reviews in a bunch of different places at once. Some people seem to be all about Good Reads so a book will have a ton of reviews there, but not on Amazon because folks don’t think about copy a pasting their reviews to Amazon. At least with Amazon they let you post a review if you have not purchased from them. At allromanceebooks.com you can only review what you have purchased from them. They also limit the review length and don’t let you edit after posting.

  20. If I buy from amazon I’m now trying to take advantage of kindle.com which is a separate website. There you can follow authors and readers and share notes and highlights from the stories. But again it’s a whole seperate thing where authors and readers have to make profiles and friend each other. It would be nice if there was a hoot suite for reviews so you could drop your reviews in a bunch of different places at once. Some people seem to be all about Good Reads so a book will have a ton of reviews there, but not on Amazon because folks don’t think about copy a pasting their reviews to Amazon. At least with Amazon they let you post a review if you have not purchased from them. At allromanceebooks.com you can only review what you have purchased from them. They also limit the review length and don’t let you edit after posting.

  21. I know this post is older; it was actually the first one I found of yours when I was looking for review blogs a year ago. At that time I had just re-entered the universe of MC/IR publishing and was trying to see what had changed (both with the genre and with my writing). A year later, I’ve published four books and I think I will probably be publishing maybe 1 or 2 a year (if that) from here on out, and checking out other stories and passions more frequently in my writing life. In my case, the reason I’m stepping back–after a year long experiment–is actually a really positive one: there are so many authors in the genre that it’s okay to disappear, in my case. Not that I’m planning on vanishing completely. But back in 2011, 2012, there was one website that consistently listed new MC/IR titles. ONE! And they were almost impossible to find, even on amazon (the indie variety, anyway, with interesting heroines and new storylines). Now there are tons of young (and older 🙂 black women, particularly, writing these stories for other women in their community. That’s a beautiful thing. I started on a whim, writing a book for my best friend (for exactly the reasons stated above–she said there weren’t any heroines like her in the books she read, and if there were, they weren’t in MC/IR relationships, like her). I love the genre, but being a white woman I think my primary position in the future will be as a fan. I have one more series I’m interested in writing, but otherwise I’m just going to keep reading. Good luck to all of the authors above, and thanks to you for this great blog.

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