Are Small Presses the Secret to Injecting Diversity into Romance?
"Free at last!" she recounts. "These words hung over my head in a thought bubble as I happily packed up my desk and left my tiny corporate cubicle for the last time." Inspired by the tidal wave unleashed by E.L. James, she set off to live her dream and make a splash of her own.
A year later, Angel had written a new adult novel and began querying choice agents with the hopes of getting signed. When the agent that topped her list of must-haves requested the manuscript, she was over the moon. In her enthusiasm, she delved in, learning as much as she could about this dream agent.
But what she found, she wished she had not.
"NO AFRICAN AMERICAN was listed in bold lettering under works to never, under any circumstances send. But that's exactly who I am, and it was what I wrote," she says. She had committed the mortal sin of writing romance starring non-white characters. The unexpected find knocked her off her equilibrium. Angel admits, it was a time of deep reflection and self-doubt. It came as no surprise, when she received the decisive no.
THE DAY SHE MADE A CHOICE
(A phrase she admits she now gives too much thought to thanks to Kanye's Infamous Slavery Blunder)
The looming possibility of failure forced her to have to make a choice. But that implies having knowledge of her options and the means to exercise them. At the time, she had neither. So, what's a girl to do?
She researched nonstop and found interesting tidbits that put a fire in her belly to act. Sisters Bea and Leah Koch, owners of The Ripped Bodice, best summed up the state of affairs in their annual The State of Racial Diversity in Romance Publishing Report. "For every 100 books published by the leading romance publishers in 2017, only 6.2 were written by people of color. Down from 7.8 in 2016." And this is in spite of the fact that 60% of the 2017 Ripped Bodice's bestsellers were written by authors of color.
Somehow the industry isn't catching on to this trend. A Publishers Weekly article, "Why Publishing Is So White," shed light on the sad fact that 79% of the industry is indeed, white. It appears diversity isn't getting the priority it deserves.
Armed with this unsavory news, she felt she could now choose a different outcome. Never be a slave to statistics. The gatekeepers in the publishing industry may view black romance writers as radioactive, but Angel wants to do something about it. At this pivotal moment, she details "I chose to go out, slash and burn and forge my own path in this uncharted territory of diversity in romance. I founded a small press, Writers' Raven Publishing, with the purpose of tipping the scale, starting with ELECTRIC IMPULSE."
Journalist Jamie Green had it right in her exploration of the role of today's romance in a Buzzfeed article, saying romance is a sharing of perspective. And "That sharing of perspective is a kind of literary whisper network from woman to woman…While men weren't looking, women built a genre that tackles love, sex, pleasure, class, money, feminism, masculinity and equality." <
Angel wants the same opportunity to share her perspective. "It's time to stop wanting and waiting for the slow-moving, grey-bearded giant that is traditional publishing to open its eyes to this new dawn. While it sleeps, I'll nimbly slip past the gate and unlock the back door. One small press at a time, one author of color at a time and one book at a time, is how I contribute to the solution. How will you?" she asks.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Aria Davenport, the fictional protagonist from the contemporary romance, ELECTRIC IMPULSE, is getting ready to graduate from college. Eager to snag her diploma and make her mark on the world, she's looking forward to adulthood bliss with her beau. But unbeknownst to her, he has different plans. She's blindsided when, the day before graduation, he dumps her in front of everyone at his family gathering. The traumatic breakup reignites her once forgotten childhood issues of abandonment. She graduates with a dismal outlook on life. How can she recover from such a stunning blow?
In walks Phoenix Prescott, a Forbes-celebrated real estate mogul. The moment he sets eyes on Aria, he wants her. Being a wealthy playboy comes with its share of perks. Even though the attraction between them is undeniable, Aria isn't one to play by his rules. Will she let down her walls long enough to take another chance on love? Will his secrets or her insecurities end it all before it's begun?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Angel Hilson is a lover of the written word, smitten with crafting Contemporary Romances that aim for the heart, taking readers on an emotional journey. Her experience includes earning degrees in English Language and Literature and African American Studies along with a minor in Spanish Language and Culture from Marquette University. She also worked as a Digital Copywriter for a Fortune 500 company and occasionally wrote freelance articles for a local publication.
To receive an editorial review copy, reporters, bloggers, podcasters and book reviewers can send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ELECTRIC IMPULSE is available for presale purchase on Amazon with a June 19th Release Date.
Ebook $2.99 ISBN: 978-0-692-12123-8, Amazon ASIN: B07D1KWJRD