Racism In Romance - Eugenia O'Neal Has Her Say...
When did you first get published?
What genre do you write in?
What race/colour are the majority of your characters?
Where are your books generally shelved?
Where would you prefer your books to be shelved?
African-American section and general romance or mainstream section
Have you been subjected to direct/indirect racism from editors, publishers etc in your publishing career.
Not sure – none of my other manuscripts have been picked up but it could just be my writing.;:)
How do you feel about Oprah Winfrey’s book club- Do you think she could do more to promote AA authors?
Yes, particularly since the big-name book clubs like Doubleday, don’t promote us in their general catalog but in a segregated – African-American interest cataloge for a separate African-American club. This means people in the larger book club – both black and white – don’t get exposed to black authors.
Do you believe that publishers are more ambivalent when it comes to marketing AA books?
Yes. I think they are more cautious. My historical romances won’t sell because they say blacks aren’t buying historicals, but a lot of readers say they want to read more of those, and contest judges I’ve sent the first few pages or the first chapter too say they’d like to read more too and they’re not black.
Publishers also appear to assume that while black readers will read books by whites about whites, that whites aren’t interested in reading about blacks. To the extent that that is true, I think it is because of the stereotypes about black authors – that the books they write will be urban/ghetto and feature bling and cuss-words.
Which race groups would you say bought the majority of your books?
What do you think needs to change in order for more white people to read African American books?
More marketing to the general readership. Placement among the general shelves not just in the ethnic sections.
Have you ever been snubbed by white readers/white authors during a signing?
Never did a signing.
Have you ever been overlooked by an editor in favour of a white author?
Not that I know of.
Have you ever been asked to tone down, or increase the ethnicity within your books?
No but my first and only romance was with a black publisher – Genesis. (And there have been problems enough with them!)
Are you familiar with Millennia Black’s lawsuit against Penguin? If so, what do you think her chances of winning are?
I’ve read about it. Even if she doesn’t win, she’s raised awareness about the issue which is a start.
How do you think her victory will affect the way AA authors are treated within the industry?
I think they’ll have to respect them more and allow them more lattitude. James Patterson writes a major black character and no-one has a problem why should there be a problem if a black author does that in reverse?
What are your thoughts on niche marketing? What do you think the limitations are if any?
I think it can help a beginning author launch her career but that she shouldn’t allow it to limit her in the long-run.
Have you been personally involved in trying to bring about changes within the publishing industry, with regards to how African American authors are treated? If so can you tell me about your efforts?
I sent an email to the President of the Doubleday Book Club since my aunt is a member of the Club and I always see her catalogues and I never saw any black authors featured in them. She never wrote back.
Do you think this will still be a controversial subject in five years time, or do you think major changes would have been made by then?
I think a lot more authors would have to make a lot more noise before things change. I think until they do, newbie authors, will continue to get scammed by smaller niche publishers who take advantage of the position of the bigger publishers with respect to not publishing as many books by black authors as they could or as varied as they could.
Thanks for taking the time out to participate in this survey Eugenia, much appreciated.
If you want to learn more about Eugenia’s writing, you can find her book, Just An Affair here.
Coming up tomorrow, Marcia King-Gamble.
Labels: racism in romance Eugenia O'Neal