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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday Spotlight: Charisma Knight


Interracial Books

Whenever shopping at Wal-Mart and Target, I always drift over to the book section. I’m pleased to see African American books are displayed proudly, and of course, there are books from many of my favorite NY best selling authors! Wahoo. Now, my heart is heavy because I see no interracial books on these shelves! I understand perfectly well that erotica and erotic romances won’t be displayed because of children. 

There are sensually sweet interracial romances out there, and I’m curious to know when they will be proudly displayed on these shelves. What I want to know is how can we in the interracial community influence this? If anyone, especially publishers who are reading this post, I’d love to hear your opinions.

15 comments:

Hales said...

That's a great question. I don't have an answer. IMHO I do know that the local A.A. radio shows have had discussions on same race marriages in the A.A. community and how it's less the 3 %. How many women wish to marry into their own race and for whatever reason are unable to or not finding that life partner to be with. Maybe the media is playing on that instead of pushing HEA's across the board.
That and Interracial relationships are still not widely accepted across the board. I hope one day they are since I'm the product of one:)

Serenity King said...

What a great question. I would love to see more interracial romance novels on more bookshelves. I do believe that IR romance novels are making progress. I remember reading a post that a famous author saw one of her novels on a bookshelf in the airport. Again, a great question and I can't wait to see how people respond.

Hugs!

Leni said...

I believe that this is a case where everyone in support of this genre can help by showing support for authors that write interracial romances. Then when the numbers show that there is a demand we will see more books on the shelves.
I'm hoping that once they see how lucrative this market is they won't be able to overlook it.

lenikaye@yahoo.com

Nevea Lane said...

I agree with all of you. Leni, yes, we for sure need to help promote/support our fellow authors who write in this genre. Maybe if we just leave a few postcards of our works in the book section at Walmart that people who are looking for the same will stumble upon and discover a new author. I think a lot of the reason that no one is writing about interracial relationships is because no one is talking about interracial relationships...

Charisma Knight said...

Hales ~ Yes, this sounds likely. Media has a lot of power when it comes to things of this nature. I know when my boyfriend and I went to MotoGP in Indianapolis, we saw maybe 4 or 5 other IR couples there, and you know how damned crowded those places can be. Maybe there were more. Bottom line is, it still seems rare, even with in large crowds. I don't see IR couples on a daily basis...that's depressing..

Hey SE ~ It would do my heart well to see IR books on the shelves of Walmar & Targe. LOL I'm always looking, even though I know nothing is there, same goes for CVS & riteaid. LOL

We are making progress, indeed. We've come a long way, baby! ; )

Leni~ I totally agree with you on this. There is such a demand.

Nevea ~ I agree with that. I have some postcards. I love supporting my fellow authors, IR or not. Epublishing is very popular, but I know there are soooo many people out there who aren't aware of ebooks. Seriously, I stumbled onto this 3 1/2 yrs ago. So imagine how many IR readers are in the mix of that group? I think press releases would be great, and advertising in local papers like City Paper & other popular places. Press releases is something we authors should start looking into as well to get the word out.

Stacy-Deanne said...

Hi Charisma,

I feel you but I stopped shopping at bookstores years ago because they never had what I wanted in bookstores. Not just IR books but a lot of books. I've been ordering from Amazon for years and now I only read ebooks so I don't like reading print anymore.

I think being on bookstores shelves was more important back in the day but ebooks are such a force now that I don't think it really matters. I also think that it's all racial and always will be. Look how black books are placed in particular. A lot of black authors aren't stocked in bookstores and when they are they are stashed in the black section and not by their genre. No.I'd rather them not stock them in stores if they are gonna disrespect the books.

The truth is IR is a big market and to me I'm just glad to see that whether it's through ebooks or whatever. Ebooks are the future and every year we see proof of that. So back in the day, I was like you, concerned about this. I even would try to order books at the store in hopes they'd stock more IR titles. Never worked.

Somethings we can't control but overall I am just happy that IR is selling. I don't care if it's selling off shelves, online or as ebooks. For years you couldn't even find IR books and now they are a force to be reckoned with and I am just happy about that. I've also come to realize most IR readers are ebook lovers anyway. For instance the only question I've gotten about my book is. "Is it gonna be am ebook?" No one's said zip about paperback, LOL! My how things have changed.

Best Wishes!

Stacy-Deanne: Crime/Mystery & IR Novelist
http://www.stacy-deanne.net

Stacy-Deanne said...

I of course agree with all that's been said about supporting other IR writers. Everyone knows I love helping other authors and networking with other IR writers is especially a pleasure. It is important that we rely on each other to get the word out about our titles whether it's in print or not.

Beautiful Trouble Publishing said...

Hi Charisma,
This is a provocative question and I feel it has an equally provocative answer. Before I share my response let me make this notation. I am a black woman married to a black man. Most of my sibings are biracial (white mother and black father). While I am not biracial, I grew up with a white mom and a black dad. Hi Mom!
As an author I write IR but only black women paired with men of various races. NB: as an author I make every effort to honor the race, religion, culture of characters I write because they deserve it. While I have not written a white woman lead, if and when I do, she'll be equally badazz as the black females I write. She will also be one of the few non black female leads I write. I write black women because that is what I am...that is the story I want to tell.

As a publisher we publish many types of stories however the IR stories we publish tend to feature women of color paired with men of various races. Why? Because it sells. IR featuring white women with men of color does not sell well with our reader base. Note, I'm not saying that it does not sell at all...I'm saying it does not sell with OUR reader base. Are there great stories featuring white women with black/latin men. Absolutely. Do women of color want to read these stories. Maybe. Do white women want to read these stories. Probably.

And therein lie/lays (sorry it's early, I just got off of work and I have class in a few hours) the problem.

While the IR market is expanding, the books that get on the shelves tend to be from large traditional print publishers (ie harlequin). While they do publish IR how many feature women of color with white men vs white women with men of color? And if they did feature a woman of color with a white male would the cover art reflect that the heroine is black..or would they show the heroine at all. Consider the big uproar lately over book covers that do not accurately portray the heroine if they bother to show her at all.

People DO judge books by their covers. And also by their description so when readers see an IR tag or view a cover with a dark-skinned heroine that book often gets passed over. To test my theory I uploaded a few books on a third party distributor...some I purposely did not tag as IR, just to see if sales would differ from other books that were tagged IR. One has a cover where the heroine is not obviously of color. One does. Which book do you think sold more?

For IR books featuring a white heroine and a hero who is black/latin/asian...how do you think white males would react to seeing those books on the shelves? I pose that question because I recall the many times my white mom sat by herself at events, social functions because other white women would not befriend her publicly because many of their white husbands didn't want their wives associating with my mom. Why? Possibly because they didn't want their wives, daughters other female relations getting any ideas that THAT would be socially acceptable.

At a funeral of a friend where most of our colleagues attended, one of the white males (a really nice guy actually) noted one of the other white guys brought his black girlfriend. He commented that he couldn't believe the man would bring that black woman around his white son (from a previous relationship)...that it just wasn't right.

This is a man who'd give you the shirt off of his back...a nice guy from most aspects...but a man who clearly does not believe in IR dating.

I'm not saying all or even most white males believe the same thing...I'm simply sharing what I've experienced.

Harlequin has IR books...whether they make it to the shelves of Target and Walmart are a different story...As a storeowner, you select items you think will sell. I'm sure a supermarket in the deep south might not pick up as many IR books as say a supermarket in Miami, LA, or NY.

Beautiful Trouble Publishing said...

Harlequin: Heart and Soul (BW/WM) by Eva Rutland

Kimani Romance (an imprint of Harlequin): Hot to Touch (BW/WM) by Kimberly Kaye Terry

CHeck out what author Maisey Yates says about IR...read the first paragraph in her blog post:
http://www.maiseyyates.com/?p=13

So yes, Harlequin not only prints IR...but about half their books are IR...few however are IR featuring a black or dark skinned heroine with a white male.

**
It can be frustrating but it wasn't that long ago that there weren't any black heroines/black heroes in romance books.

and bam...we have many books.
we have books featuring latina heroines, asian heroines now also.

**
the eBook indy has totally changed the game...and traditional print pubs will have to catch up...b/c now readers are accustomed to getting their IR books...and not just any IR book but a GOOD IR book featuring smart, sassy heroines and the men who love them. That's my two cents. Jayha

Charisma Knight said...

Hi Stacey D, thanks for your comment. I understand what you are saying, but still, seeing those IR books on the shelves would mean so much to me, but that's just my personal opinion. ; ) LOL

Nevea, I must agree with you. No one is talking about interracial relationships. Here is an interview with Tobi Mann,creator of the group on FB, Black Women are Beautiful! White Guys Love you. He had some interesting points. I just haven't seen a lot of comments over there. That's the thing we write, we read about IR relationships, but no one is talking about it, just like you said. Here is the link:

http://simplysexystories.blogspot.com/2010/11/interracial-dating-one-man-shares-his.html?zx=f0e58b1d3ce91e5c

Jayha, I loved your comment. God Bless your mother, she is a very strong woman. I know it's out there, but still, just can't believe how cruel people can be. That's totally uncalled for!

As a teen, when I started reading romance books, I visualized the hero/heroine as bw/wm, or me & the cute dude, something I can identify with, as I'm sure all of us have. IR books have definitely come along way. I tell you, 3 1/2 yrs ago when I saw there were IR books, I was like a kid in a candy store! I had no bloody idea they existed. See, that's my point, for all the folks out there who prefer print books; like my cousin or auntie for example have no clue that the ebook industry exists. And, I'm sure there are a lot of people who just don't know, like myself 3 1/2 yrs ago!

Thanks for commenting Jayha, it really means a lot!

Hugs

Classy n Sassy said...

I hate to repeat, but this is a darn good question. Unfortunately I don't have the perfect answer but I agree with a lot of the previous comments. Readers have to make their desires known with the stores. Eventually they have to listen, right? VON

Dréa riley said...

HEY GOOD THINKING....i say when we push and start putting it on the shelves it will be there...until then know...ny has seen the movement...but they haven't embraced it. but i sorta feel like they go "well hell we have one brenda jackson, what else do they want" Not that i don't love BRENDA JACKSON, but i often feel like Harlequin treats her like the token black friend. And yes i know they have kimani press and others but um...do the market those like they do their other lines? and even still if you want to read IR featuring black women you have to dig. AND DIG DEEP. even harder to find is IR featuring a WW and a BM.(i do have a gun and a knife so don't start with it...*eyeing the folks who got their mouths crooked to say something to me about not reading ww/bm). Indi and e publishing has been a haven for authors who write such stories...and for readers who are seeking such stories.

I also had to leave a lengthy note over at that one blog jayha mentioned. http://www.maiseyyates.com/?p=13&cpage=1#comment-2337
she probably didn't mean to...and i hope i didn't come off to hostile but she riled me. I really felt that she was dissing a particular subgenre of books. JUST b/c books fall into ir and in particular bw/wm doesn't mean the center of the story is about the color of their skin...the book is about love just like anything you pull of a shelf in walmart...it just so happens that the book is written by/for/and about women who are looking to see themselves in a story! ok let me stop before i pop a blood vessel in my eye.

Marteeka Karland said...

I've often wondered the same thing. I don't go looking for IR romance much, just because I'm looking for a good story line and not a specific genre, but there does seem to be a conspicuous absence of IR books "on the shelves." Obviously, the ebook community has taken the lead in that area. As always. I'm SO glad to be an ebook author!!!

Proof Reader Novellette said...

There is a noticeable lack of BW/WM IR books in every bookstore, supermarket, department store and library that I have checked. I have spotted a few now and then in Chapters.Indigo here in Toronto (Canada), but not enough to express a comfort level for the bookstore displaying them.
My take is that merchants are not comfortable displaying those books because they are afraid the books won't sell and they will be stuck with them, but if those merchants would only check the e-book stores and look at the rate of downloads on this particular genre they would change their minds quickly.
I think they need to be made aware that they are losing sales to e-books stores that also sells print copies. For print book buyers, I'm sure it's much easier to walk into a bookstore and pick up a copy instead of ordering it online and waiting for it to arrive.
Book sellers really need to have that point driven home. There is a vast market for these books and we readers are not having our needs met through our bookstores because they have decided to make up our minds for us concerning our choice of reading materials.

Proof Reader Novellette said...

There is a noticeable lack of BW/WM IR books in every bookstore, supermarket, department store and library that I have checked. I have spotted a few now and then in Chapters.Indigo here in Toronto (Canada), but not enough to express a comfort level for the bookstore displaying them.
My take is that merchants are not comfortable displaying those books because they are afraid the books won't sell and they will be stuck with them, but if those merchants would only check the e-book stores and look at the rate of downloads on this particular genre they would change their minds quickly.
I think they need to be made aware that they are losing sales to e-books stores that also sells print copies. For print book buyers, I'm sure it's much easier to walk into a bookstore and pick up a copy instead of ordering it online and waiting for it to arrive.
Book sellers really need to have that point driven home. There is a vast market for these books and we readers are not having our needs met through our bookstores because they have decided to make up our minds for us concerning our choice of reading materials.