CBx Daily

Happily Ever After Doesn't Exist In The Diversity Challenged Romance Novel Industry

Apr 6

By CultureBanx Team

  • In 2019 major publishers only put out 5% and 6% of books written by Black and Latinx authors respectively
  • College educated Black women are the most likely to read a book of any genre

The romance genre is a billion-dollar industry that outperforms all other book genres. It’s been slow to accept Black romance fiction into the fold, and the industry as a whole only published 5% and 6% of books in 2019 by Black and Latinx people. How can the industry engage more Black romance authors and readers?

Why This Matters: Publishing is not a level playing field even though romantic fiction is remarkably innovative, with a strong tradition of independent and self-publishing. For some traditional romance readers the resistance to new narratives that have non-white, not-straight, or disabled protagonists can manifest in odd ways. A Pew Research survey found the person most likely to read a book of any genre is a college-educated Black woman. Even the Romance Writers of America have acknowledged that in its 36-year history, no Black author has ever won the the top honor for romance writers.

Survey trends show from the executive level to marketing and even reviewers are majority white. The disconnect between creators, characters, readers, and industry recognition is stark. LA-based romance bookstore the Ripped Bodice put out its annual racial diversity audit of mainstream romance publishing, which showed for every 100 romance books published by leading houses, only 6.2% were written by people of color.

Situational Awareness: There's certainly not a shortage of readership when it comes to the Black romantic book genre. It’s very vast and actually encompasses everyone. Therefore it is extremely important for publishers to serve readers with books that match their lives.

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