In the latest installment of our frank and honest #IndiePubDiary, editor Brittany Borshell talks about the sadness she felt when she encountered cover prejudice.
I’m constantly surprised at how vast Romancelandia is. I can never seem to keep on top of all the various issues which crop up, the challenges faced by different authors, even the many obscure sub genres I know nothing about.
I do try, but there is still so much to learn.
When creating the cover for Hearth and Home, book 2 in the Gold Sky Series, there was no question at least one of the main characters would be on the cover. My choice was the absolutely gorgeous Julian Baptiste, a wealthy man who splits his time between New York Society and the Montana frontier.
The reception of the cover was incredible at its reveal. It IS an incredible cover, so I wasn’t surprised. What did surprise me however was this excitement didn’t seem to translate into sales.
You can never predict how a book will perform, and I’m always a nervous wreck in the weeks leading up to a release. The thought of a book one of my authors put their heart and soul into disappearing quietly into the void, terrifies me. But I had a really good feeling about this one. It’s sweet, achingly romantic, with a gorgeous cinnamon roll of a hero who just adores the bones of the woman he falls for. I get goose bumps just looking at the cover and Heart and Hand was so well received; I knew people would be jumping at the chance to read more about life in Gold Sky.
When scrolling Twitter one day I came across a thread by Piper Huguley about black heroes on romance covers, and suddenly some of our difficulties in gaining momentum sales-wise started to click into place. I felt a wave of sadness that hasn’t quite gone away. I have always said the romance community is filled with the very best people in the world. And I truly do believe that. But there is still so much work to be done in this industry. So much bias and rot that is insidious and that I have been too privileged and ignorant to understand the depth of.
To try to counteract this we have been running sales and promotions on the first book in the series since even the normal marketing we do has been falling flat in comparison to previous books.
My hope is that readers will fall in love with Gold Sky, a town where diversity reigns and love in every form is accepted. And Julian’s story will be a natural step for them to take. My heart hurts that I don’t talk about him as much as I want to, that I can’t focus all attention on him. But marketing a book that has a black romance hero appears to require more careful and thoughtful marketing to get close to the same results as other releases.
If I knew all of this when we were first planning Hearth and Home’s cover would I have done anything different? I honestly don’t believe I would have. This is his story, and he deserves to be the representation of that.
As much as Violet Gaze Press is a business, it’s also an outlet for my passion for romance and desire to bring diverse voices into the genre by signing authors and putting out books that represent the world as it is, and also as it should be.
You can find out more information about Violet Gaze Press at VioletGazePress.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And Brittany can be found on Twitter and Instagram.
Have you encountered cover prejudice? How did you overcome it? What advice would you give to someone else feeling the same sadness that this prejudice exists? Let us know in the comments or on social media using #IndiePubDiary