After the Black Lives Matter protests have died down, when local law enforcement has been restructured and defunded, as June Pride Month slides over into July, we will still be holding vigil and working to create change. As writers, we have a lot of options and a lot more power than we might think.
Words seem fragile, but we know words can turn potentiality into reality. Words can build or break, tear down or repair, halt all forward motion or keep momentum going. We can help flood the culture we swim in with own voices, melanated voices, diverse stories, new perspectives and change the very words we use to describe ourselves.
So let’s get started.
- Make a conscious effort to diversify your reading.
Here are some lists, because we all love lists and clicking on lists and making more lists about lists. This is 100% a thing.
There are POC centered romances (definitely try Courtney Milan! Alyssa Cole! Talia Hibbert! I could go on and on but just message me if you want some romance recs. Or follow me on Instagram where I do most of my reviewing.)
Young Adult is doing a stellar job building a super varied selection. Seriously there are SO MANY CHOICES in YA.
If you prefer fantasy or SciFi you are covered! Or you could just follow Holly at The Grimdragon here on WordPress or on their Instagram, their book reviews are kickass.
Horror has your back as well. In fact, there’s an entire website dedicated to this with a comprehensive list at Diversity in Horror.blogspot.com. Ahh, the internet is a wonderful place.
- Read nonfiction
Yep, more lists and listy things for you.
Even if you don’t like or typically read nonfiction (IT ME) it’s important to acknowledge the truly messed up history leading up to what’s happening right now. One way to do that is to read nonfiction books about it.
Or watch a documentary. Or attend a webinar. Or listen to a podcast by someone like the wonderful Layla F. Saad, seriously she’s a fabulous teacher.
- It doesn’t begin and end at BIPOC authors. Include authors who are LGBTQ, disabled, gender fluid, and/or neurodiverse in your TBR.
Basically, take a good hard look at your bookshelf and check to see if any combination of these applies to the authors on it. No? Not one? Luckily, this is an easy fix.
There are so many wonderful options! Let me shout, shamelessly, about Mark Oshiro, Tamora Pierce, C.G. Drews, and Sarah Gailey again, because it pleases me greatly to repeat myself. READ THEM.
- Recommend your favorite reads to other bookworms.
We all know other bookworm recommendations have a lot of weight when it comes to deciding our own purchases. I’ve read entire fifteen book series recommended to me by #romancestagram readers and I REGRET NOTHING because they were RIGHT.
If friends come to you for recs, use this power to push and poke and prod them towards the melanated voices you’ve already discovered as a side effect of mindful TBR choices.
- Ask your library to purchase books by diverse authors.
Bonus: this is the zero money option.
Also, your local library will look all modern and dynamic with new releases and upcoming debuts on their shelves. Don’t leave the library lagging all dusty and forgotten in the racist past. Nudge them into bringing in new voices.
- If you blog or have a website, signal boost these authors.
Another low cost option! Yay.
You have a platform? Good. Boost other authors up onto it. Lift their voices with your tools, time, and media.
- Buy media created/written by BIPOC authors.
Yep this one is a simple command, but it’s also the most powerful. If you’re able to, put your $$ where it will make concrete changes.
Publishing is a business. Businesses exist to make money. Typically, publishers won’t take a chance on diverse authors because there is a false narrative in place that no one will buy their books. We all know this is racism, but it’s worked like that for hundreds of years.
The way to change the narrative is to prove beyond a doubt that authors who are not white, cisgendered, and typically abled can, in fact, make a publisher money. The only way to do that is to buy their books and prove there is a demand for them. Go forth, author friends, and create demand.
This is an author toolbox blog hop post. To sign up for the hop yourself and get in on all the goodies, head over to our fearless leader Raimey Gallant’s website and sign yourself up. Any and all types of writers welcome!
I wish we could have a year where the publishing world does not know about colour, sexual orientation, religion etc if authors. Similarly – reviewers, readers etc. How wonderful a world where the book and the words are important. I think we might just find that the diversity would come naturally then – because there are excellent and shabby writers of all kinds.
People are people and it is sad that these conversations are even necessary. I’m not saying we want this as a permanent thing – just long enough to prove that all authors deserve the opportunity to shine.
Then, when all is revealed, every author can proudly present themselves to the world in their full light.
Hope that makes sense.
It would be like a blind date with a book, not going into the read with any pre-conceived notions or hidden, subconscious bias about the author. I think that would be a very worthwhile experiment!
Wonderful suggestions! I’m tuning in to Juneteenth Book Fest tomorrow. I hope it’s another great resource.
Oooh, yes! That sounds like a great idea.
Exactly!!! I’m over here screaming and cheering this post on! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Yes! Honestly, it bums me out on the one hand that some of this even needs to be said… but thank you! This is great! Already retweeted on my Twitter account! BAM!
It does seem like super obvious facts…but somehow they still haven’t been grasped. It bums me out, too. I’m not on Twitter because it terrifies the snot out of me, so I applaud your bravery and thank you for the retweet 🙂
Great advice. 🙂
Anna from elements of emaginette
Excellent tips! I’ve answered the call to buy Black (romance) authors this week, and have two juicy new books in my TBR pile. I’ll post reviews and share them on social media. And I’m enjoying Kharma Kelly’s Inclusive Romance Project. We can all do our part to boost BIPOC authors.
I hadn’t heard of Kharma Kelly. I’ll go check the project out, thank you!
And I’ve got two Talia Hibberts romance books on their way to me, I can’t WAIT to get started reading her 🙂
Love Kharma Kelly. Really great post. I want those CG Drews books just for the covers. Just gorgeous.
Wonderful post! Making the changes listed are easy if one wants to put in the effort. 🙂