I need to rant about something. Really I should be writing my book, but whatever. It’s Sunday and it’s hot and I can’t mooch around on Twitter because of Game of Thrones spoilers. So here I go.
I maintain a little Pinterest board about diverse books covers. It goes back years to my early days as a cover designer for indie clients when both my clients and myself found it very difficult to source photographs to use on diverse covers. Not only that but I was well aware, because of an excellent piece by Kate Hart, that there was a dearth of diversity on young adult covers (there still is). So I started keeping track of as many YA covers depicting diversity as I could find. Soon I expanded that to include picture books and middle grade covers. It’s really just a tool for myself to keep track and have something to point people to if they’re looking. Happily the list has been growing steadily. But that’s beside my point.
I’ve been neglecting my board for a while, busy with writing my books and no time to do the research needed to keep things up to date, so I’ve really only been adding books as I come across them on social media, mainly Twitter and Instagram. But the other day I thought I’d try to catch up a bit by going through the current and archived covers at Netgalley.
I found a bunch of stuff, and added over a hundred covers! But here’s where I started feeling a bit ranty. So many of these covers I’d never seen before! I follow a TON of diversity positive Twitter accounts and regularly see tweeps boosting current and upcoming diverse titles. But at best, it seems only about a quarter of the diverse titles out there are even getting a look in terms of the real influencers in this area. Now I know some influencers prefer to focus on #ownvoices and marginalized authors and that’s fine. But I found several titles by marginalized authors that I’d never seen before, never heard of, even some stuff from major publishers. And a LOT of stuff from small publishers.
I think you’ll all agree with me when I say that despite some gains, there is still a lot of work to be done in the literary diversity movement. For my part, I’d like to diversify the range of diverse titles we’re all talking about beyond just the buzzy titles from big publishers. I don’t do much evangelizing on social media, apart from retweeting colleagues posts, and I don’t review at all anymore (except occasionally for friends), but in future I’m going to put a bit more effort into talking up lesser known diverse titles, rather than just raving about the same ones everyone else is raving about. I hope some of you consider doing the same.