Open Discussion: Where are all the good stock photos?

Happy Saturday, y’all! I pray the week has been good to you and I want to thank you for stopping by this weekend.

If you’re new to our blog, I’d like to welcome you. Saturday’s we take the time to have an open discussion on various issues that authors of diverse Christian fiction face. Today’s topic: Where are all the good stock photos for minorities?

Have you ever done a search for minorities on a stock photo site? If I type “black women” in the search box, I won’t get many good options. In fact, I’m more likely to get a Caucasian female dressed in black. I’ve found the best thing to do is use the phrase “African American” when I’m looking for certain images.

Even then, I’m disheartened by some of the images that come back from the search. Are African-American women only seen as sexual objects? Some of the photos look like they were taken during a music video production.

And for some reason, many photographers seem to believe the consumers only want urban images. You know the kind where the person is posed in a thuggish style, looking like all they’re missing is a gun.

As a writer of contemporary romance, I’m constantly frustrated by the selection of stock photos. I want the romantic hugged-up pose. Or the soft smiles between two couples. Or *gasp* a beautiful wedding dress picture. But I literally have to weed through thousands of photos in order to find what I’m looking for. And when I’m done, I’m left with a limited amount to choose from. If I want to pick a photo that has never been used on a book cover, my selection is drastically limited. Because, all of us who do write diverse Christian fiction, are searching for the same-style that fits our genre.

I read an article in Madam Noire that talked of the subject. Here is a list of sites that have diverse images available:

Please share what sites you use! Also, do you have any suggestions on how we can improve the amount of diverse images available?

Written by Toni Shiloh

Open Discussion: Who/what should be on the cover?

Happy Saturday, my friends!

Thanks for stopping by Diversity Between the Pages. I’m excited to jump start today’s open discussion. My co-contributor, Alexis, and I were discussing this and voila, a discussion post was created.

Today’s question is “who/what should be on the cover” of an ethnically diverse book? Sure it seems like the obvious answer would be an ethnically diverse character, but is it?

What if a cover such as this one (yes I used my own) prevents a non-minority reader from picking up the book because she thinks she won’t be able to relate to the characters?

Sure, it’s nice looking, but does it scare away readers who are not African American? Would some publishers even considering putting people on the cover or would they automatically use one without in the hopes that it’ll reach more readers?

Cecelia Dowdy is an Indie (independent) publisher. She chose to use silhouettes on the cover of her Bakery Romance series. Her characters are ethnically diverse, but will a reader realize that? Sure, she’ll describe the characters in the books, but will a reader pick up on that or automatically assume they’re Caucasian?

Indie authors have the choice to choose what goes on the cover, but they still have to look at the marketing aspect. Google romance covers and you’ll see the majority of them have people on the covers. Some readers want the picture to clue them in how the character(s) look(s).

But are covers without people bad? Ms. Raney doesn’t have a couple on her cover. In fact, this book features an interracial couple. However, it is important to note that none of her covers in the Chicory Inn series have people and that is the main reason they went without people. In fact, the Dutch versions all have the female lead. But I’m curious, would a publisher get backlash from readers if they used an interracial couple on the cover? After all, in some parts of the United States, interracial relationships are still frowned upon. Just a couple of years ago, there was a huge uproar when a commercial for Honey Nut Cheerios featured an interracial family. Are publishers (Indie or traditional) not being “honest” when they choose to not depict the faces?

So what is an author to do, if she has a choice? What is a publisher supposed to do? Put ethnically diverse people on the covers or not? If they chose not to, are they hurting the opportunity for minorities to see more books that feature people like them?

What say you? Who or what should be on the cover of ethnically diverse books?

Post written by Toni Shiloh

Open Discussion: Where can you get diverse fiction published?

Happy Saturday, y’all!

Thanks for joining me as we settle down for another open discussion. One common question I’ve seen across social media is where can you get ethnically diverse Christian fiction published?

Readers are clamoring for fiction that fits their lives. Not everyone around them looks like they do, experiences the same life issues they do, etc. Yet, their fiction usually focuses on the same theme, a Caucasian who lives in a small-town.

A lot of ethnic authors are Indie (independently/self-publishing) publishing their works. Each has their own reason, but some Indie publish, because no one will take their ethnically diverse characters.

So, if you know of an agent or publishing company (small press, big press, etc.) who wants diversity, leave a comment and help an author out. 🙂

But, before you go, since this is an open discussion, tell me, what do you think publishers should do to change the market to be open to everyone regardless of race?

Open Discussion: Who can write it better?

letstalkA couple of weeks ago, we started the discussion, Who should write ethnic characters? If you missed it, you can find it here. We started the discussion based off this article.

There’s a section in this article where a person states their opinion on minority writers becoming marginalized due to the rise of non-minority writers writing ethnic characters.

It’s an interesting perspective and one that speaks to centuries of hurt. After all, there was a time when minorities could not be published unless they established their own printing press.

Even today, there are authors who believe they can’t/won’t be published because of the color of the skin of their characters. So this begs the question: What is the difference in non-ethnic portrayal of ethnic characters and portrayals by ethnic ones?

Do you believe a non-minority writer can portray an ethnic character just as well as an ethnic writer can?

We’d love to hear your thoughts in this open discussion forum. Let’s talk!

Open Discussion: Who should write ethnic characters?

letstalkOne of my fellow bloggers pointed out a great article, in which they discussed who should be allowed to write ethnic characters. Of course, I immediately began to think about having an open discussion here, hence this post. 🙂

Y’all, my talk-it-out self is practically dancing in my seat waiting to start this discussion. However, the above article has A LOT of topic points. So this week we’re only going to focus on one. (But please read the article in its entirety, it has a lot of great points.)

Some people believe that you can only write what you know (aka are). They want white authors to write white characters and minority authors to stick to their own ethnic group. They believe to do otherwise is shutting out the minority authors as well as stealing from that culture and receiving acclaim for the majority race. Of course, not everyone feels this way, which is where you come in and why we have this open discussion.

To be honest, this is a hot-button topic, but one I think the Christian writing community should have. After all, shouldn’t we be the ones striving for racial reconciliation? Shouldn’t we want the body to come together and celebrate the aspects that make us unique? I can’t wait to hear (read) your thoughts and discuss this more in depth. But first, some ground rules.

  1. This is a safe place and people will be treated with respect no matter their opinion.
  2. Please stay within the purviews of this topic. It’s easy to get distracted and bring up other issues, but like we stated in our welcome posts, our main concern is ethnically diverse Christian fiction.
  3. Have fun, learn something, and discuss and listen with an open heart.

Now for the question this week.

  1. Do you believe that an author should only write what they know, when it comes to race (i.e., white authors write white characters only, Black authors write black characters only)? Why or why not?

Pull up a chair and let’s talk!

Post written by Toni Shiloh

Open Discussion: What is Christian Fiction?

Happy Saturday, Reader Friends!

First, I want to say thanks for making the first week of Diversity Between the Pages such a success! We’re so excited to share the diverse books that these wonderful authors have taken the time to write. Today, I wanted to take the time to have an open discussion about Christian fiction, more specifically: what is it?

Some people may think that if the story is set around a church and the main character is a pastor, then it’s Christian fiction. However, that’s not enough for the publishing industry. Publishers want a novel that illustrates a Christian world view in its plot, characters, or both.

*Note: When I talk about publishers, I would like to point out that this could mean traditional publishers all the way to authors who Independently publish their own works.

Some publishers require the novels to contain no curse words, while others may allow ones by case by case basis (i.e., villain says it, or a non-Christian working towards salvation).

Christian fiction deals with issues in all sorts of fashions. You have redemptive story lines, where the character comes to Jesus. You have books where all the characters are believers and life is idyllic. Whatever your preference, there are bound to be books that fit that preference.

So tell me, what is it about Christian fiction that keeps you reading?

Post written by Toni Shiloh