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Friday, March 18, 2016

Major publisher doesn't believe black love exists

We need diverse romance. But Pocket Books didn't think so last year. 
Here's the details:
During the Spotlight on Pocket at the 2015 RWA Conference, an attendee asked Executive Editor Lauren McKenna, “Are you working at all on diversifying your author list?” When McKenna requested clarification, the attendee observed that it seemed most of Pocket’s authors were white. McKenna then responded:
“Right now, we [Pocket] don’t have an African-American line. Our sister imprint—because we are all Simon & Schuster—we are just two different imprints that we spoke about today within Simon & Schuster.
“Our sister imprint, Atria, has an entire two lines dedicated to African-American titles, and they really do corner that market. We find doing just one in a larger list, it tends to lose its focus and it really doesn't get the attention and time it deserves, so it also requires a different marketing and publicity plan.
“So we leave that, whenever we get something strong like that in, in a multicultural topic or author, we can defer to our sister imprint who really does focus on publicizing those titles, marketing those titles, getting placement in stores.
“So no. I hear you. We also have a Latino line as well, with Atria. So we do do it, just not within Pocket and Gallery.”
Now, let's look at the lines where Pocket said readers could find black romance. Atria.
Atria is a very diverse line. Zane's imprint Strebor Books is published under this line. You can find women's fiction, erotic, urban fiction, urban fantasy and non fiction under Atria. But I'm still looking for romance.

Romance, especially African American and Multicultural Romance, is never given the respect it deserves.
 4 hours ago4 hours ago that's why the Pocket spotlight was distressing for many. Not knocking Atria, but they are litfic and urban fic, not romance
 Why is it that publishers have a problem with black people, hell brown people, or people who don't have blue eyes and blond hair, falling in love? The door has been opened for a few black romance writers. A small number.
And when a major publisher says we don't have the need to publish diverse romance, how are writers of romance novels that reflect America supposed to respond?
Do we white wash our characters, just to get a deal? Do we fight for spots on the publishing calendar of the few publishers who buy our work but fail to market it?

Pocket Books offered an open letter to RWA:
We write to clarify a misunderstanding that has arisen out of the Spotlight on Pocket Books panel at the 2015 RWA Conference. Unfortunately the panel, and subsequent communications between Pocket and RWA leadership, may have left RWA members with an incorrect impression regarding our commitment to publishing diverse authors.
Let us be clear: at Pocket Books we are, and always have been, committed to publishing diverse authors. Our publishing list, which includes both established and rising authors of diverse background, reflects this commitment, and we are proud of our efforts-to-date in this field.  We would like to reassure you that all our editors and staff, to a person, embraces our important role in encouraging diversity in publishing: we understand that our acquisitions and publishing must continue to give voice to multi-cultural authors and satisfy the needs of an increasingly diverse and changing readership.
We regret any confusion that may have arisen out of the panel last summer.  Pocket Books has for decades enjoyed and valued our relationship with the Romance Writers of America, and we fully support RWA’s Code of Ethics and efforts to encourage diversity in publishing in the romance field.  We look forward to more dialogue with RWA on this important issue, and to continuing to publish great books by romance writers of all backgrounds.
Louise Burke (on behalf of the staff of Pocket Books)
 What I'd like to know is, has Pocket Books offered a contract to a POC.

1 comment:

Kwana said...

Thanks for this Cheris. The proof as always is in the publishing lists.