The third annual Ripped Bodice Diversity Study was released recently, and the news is grim. Simply put, nothing has changed in the past three years with only 7% of romance books in the study being by authors of colour.
All three studies can be found on their website.
To create a simple baseline, I compared The Ripped Bodice results to the USA Census Data (2010). Note; the next USA Census will be in 2020.
This graph demonstrates the White Advantage. The USA Census data of 2010 found that 63.7% of their population is white. If romance publishing was equal – approximately 60% of books published would be by white authors. The White Advantage becomes starkly clear when you look at these results. How many books in 2018 were by white authors? 92.3%
If you are a white author (like me), then you have a massive advantage in the romance publishing world. It’s a fact, and it’s not up for debate.
This isn’t just a romance problem. The initial Lee & Low Diversity Study in the Publishing Industry was completed in 2016. It will be repeated in 2019.
Here are the results from the first study (across all USA publishing, not just romance). Once again, I’ve used the 2010 USA Census data here as a baseline.
The circles on this graph demonstrate the advantage or disadvantage for each racial group in America. If publishers want to participate, the link for the 2019 study is here.
Having The Ripped Bodice put together this study is hugely important, and I’d like to thank them for their work. Currently, I’m not aware of any similar studies out of the UK, or Australia. Observation shows that the results wouldn’t be any different, and other romance markets have plenty of work to do.
In August 2019, I will be on a panel discussing general issues around diversity and inclusion in romance at the annual Romance Writers Australia conference, alongside fellow authors Tess LeSue, MV Ellis, and Jessica White. We will be discussing race, sexuality, disability, and how all the different types of diversity are affected by intersectionalism in romance writing.