A while back Nora Roberts posted over at the Dear Author blog that she pays little attention to reader reviews or comments. I thought that was shocking at the time, but now I understand perfectly. They’re simply too contradictory and the author would be ridiculously confined to very narrow set of parameters. This is especially true of black authors and particularly magnified when one writes IR. I get the distinct impression that rather than simply being able to produce a well-written book that entertains, black authors are held to a higher standard that is impossible to adhere to.
- Our heroines have to be a certain color. (Readers won’t buy it if the heroine is light-skinned even though the author has no control over that and most are using stock photography.)
- Books have to be steamy, but not erotic. (Of course, everyone’s definition of erotic differs, so who’s to say?)
- Heroine can’t be too freaky, God help her if she talks about her arousal and her genitalia that’s nasty! (Makes me wonder why someone is reading romance at all if they find female arousal nasty.)
- Heroines have to be strong, but not too strong. But God help you if you write one who is not a SBW.
- Heroines can’t have given up on black men (Well that’s a Genesis thing, but you get my point.)
- Books have to portray black people in a positive light (That’s a Kimani thing, but same point as Genesis.)
- White heroes are preferred, but they must be white, white, white. (But remember the heroine must be black, black, black, but for the love of all things chocolate NOT AFRICAN) If you do an Arab he must be Christian. Actually anyone who is not a Christian is persona non grata. And a Muslim? Oy vey!
- If you ever write an IR book you can never write an AA book. Your IR fans WILL NOT buy the AA book. (This has probably been one of my greatest disappointments as an author. Do they love my books, or do they just want IR validation?)
- E-books aren’t acceptable, even though most publishers won’t publish IR unless they ARE e-books. (Talk about making bricks without straw).
And the list goes on. Sorry kids, I refuse to write in a box. If that means I’ll sell fewer books, I’m so okay with that. I’m so glad I read that comment Nora made so long ago, I definitely understand where she’s coming from now.