Yesterday on Facebook I was randomly tagged in the comments of a post by a stranger. This doesn't happen often, so I went to the comment and eventually wound up reading the post and other comments. The initial post was as long as one of my works and decrying the validity of the Amazon African American (AA) Romance Top 100 books and those on the list. It was a direct attack at the urban books that overrun the AA romance charts on Amazon. She made (...and belabored) a point about what she feels the romance genre is and what sorts of characters should be housed within and...essentially qualified Harlequin and Dafina as where all AA romance is made and...
*hard, heavy ass sigh*
(Sidebar: I abhor the term AA, but for succinctness and clarity I'll use it in this post)
I'm new here, y'all. I just released my lil books and hoped people read them. I wrote about AA folks who were regular AF, acted like me and my friends and were here for a good time. This blog and what I'm about to say about my initial reactions may not win me any new friends. And…I'm okay with that bc sometimes I just don't know how to be quiet when something sparks a response from me.
I don't know shit about the mainstream publishing industry because that is not my lane. I do know, however, that many of those books follow a very distinct template of construction and can all eventually read like the same book after a while. That’s a HUGE reason why I personally don’t buy or consume a lot of traditionally published AA romance. There are only so many rich heroes and virginal heroines and “darlings” a girl can take. I know I’m not alone in this feeling. As such, their presence not being reflected on the charts could have a wee bit o’ something to do with that fact in addition to another point I’ll raise.
Fun fact: I too am annoyed by the fact that books that I perceive not to be romance often clogging up those charts. So the OPs critique is not without merit. However, I am also really super fucking annoyed when interracial books are classified as AA romance because no. One possibly AA person does not an AA romance make. I’ve often wondered, why is there not a multicultural/interracial cate...oh wait, THERE IS. And therein lies the problem with both of these situations. You see, I'm not sure if the OP realizes this, but whoever uploads the books chooses under which category they'll be "shelved". So...it isn't Amazon's algorithm randomly selecting these books bc they're written by AA people. It's people purposefully choosing to drop themselves in a category bc they know a) it's popular and 2) they'll do numbers that keep them at the top of those charts.
I'm a chart watcher on release week. Yeah I'm only two books in, but it's now a ritual. I compare how many I've sold vs. where I land on the charts to try to make some sense of the algorithm. Idk why I bother bc "words not numbers" should really be my middle name seeing as though I don't know much about aljebuh. BUT I DIGRESS. My point is...charting is a wonky ass numbers game. Smitten hit a personal high for me (within the top 20) and I only found out bc I woke up at 3am one day during release week and obsessively checked my ranking. I only have my screenshot to prove it as it quickly went back to the mid-30s and slowly descended as the day went on.
The tone of the OPs fb post sounded very MAGA...except trade America for romance and...honestly? If we're gonna draw this hard and fast line about what qualifies as AA romance, then we also need to kick all the BWWM secret baby billionaire jungle fever muhfuckas out of our house too. I agree that Amazon is culpable in some right, but if they can’t stop people from stealing KU page views with front end matter links, do you really think this is something high on their radar? I’ma guess ISSA NO.
And I get being fed up. Truly, I do. But this is a fight for which I’d never take up mantle. Instead I’ma just stay over here not writing these words in a document and responding to Facebook posts with lengthy blogs instead. ;)