Dear Amazon: Please stop lumping all AA Books in the same category

Last night I came across a really great post on Facebook from author Zuri Day

In the post, she talks about how, for some unknown and unfair reason, Amazon has decided to lump ALL African-American Fiction/Auhtors into the “Hood/Street” Fiction category. You can click on her name above to read exactly what she wrote. I feel she is speaking what many African-American authors who don’t read or write “Hood Fiction” have been saying and thinking for a very long time. Listen, we all are allowed to have a preference of what genre of books we enjoy writing or reading. I don’t knock any author who writes Street Lit (THOTS-such a stupid word, king/queenpins, etc) nor do I judge the many readers who obviously enjoy these types of books. However, I don’t write hood/street lit because it’s not me- I’m not about that life. I don’t associate myself with drug dealers, or women who take pride in being side-chicks, or dope boy chasers, or whatever on a daily basis. Now, that’s not to say I have never read and/or enjoyed Urban authors/books. The Coldest Winter Ever has always and probably will always be one of my favorite Urban books. When I’m in the mood for something different, I have several Ashley & JaQuavis books on the Kindle and in Paperback. But I don’t write Urban fiction. I write Women’s Fiction/Romance that deals with everyday life. I can always see myself in my characters, even when they do something stupid, because we ALL do dumb things sometimes. So, it’s very frustrating to me that when I go to Amazon, my books are always lumped into the street lit categories. The problem there is, I’m ignored by readers who are fans of this genre, because more than likely they want to read about a hood chick who’s starting or engaging in drama or trying to land a dope boy, and they won’t find that when they click on my name. So, I’m just there…stuck in a category where people who would enjoy my books can’t/won’t find me, because a lot of people automatically bypass the Urban/Hood genre, altogether.

Authors decide which genre to place  our books when we publish them, and I think that a big part of the problem is that some Urban/Street/Hood Lit authors are placing their books in the wrong genre, such as the AA Romance/Women’s Fiction categories, thus unfairly taking attention away from the authors who truly are writing Romance novels. What Zuri was saying made a lot of sense- the Top 100 in AA Romance was filled with Urban/Street Lit, and very few books in the Top 100 were actual romance books/authors. I went over to Amazon to see what she meant and when I went to the Top 100 books in AA Romance, I counted 4 books that were actual romance novels…the rest of them were about side-chicks, THOT’S, thugs, gangsters, baby mama’s, etc. I can definitely see how this would frustrate real romance authors. Part of this is Amazon’s fault, because they are very biased towards AA authors, regardless of which genre we write in.But  a big part of it is again, authors placing their books in the wrong categories when they upload them to Amazon to be published. Sure, it get’s them plenty of recognition on the Top 100 lists, but it always takes away from the authors who truly deserve to be there. I’m never going to write a male character who’s a drug dealer. I’ll never write a female character who’s goal is to become the dope boy’s main chick. So, I get really upset when my books are placed alongside others with this M.O. I’m not saying that my books are better than their’s. However, the target audience that I’m trying to reach is not the Hood/Street Fiction readers, nor do I categorize my books as such when they’re being published. What happens is, my women’s fiction or romance books get lost in the sauce of side-chicks, thugs, and bitches.

I don’t know what needs to happen. Maybe a petition is what will make Amazon realize that not all AA authors should be lumped into the same categories/genres. Maybe since there is such a huge market for ‘Hood Romance’, they need to add that category to the list so that those authors can market their books in the correct genre. Because I do find it odd that real romance authors, such as Christina C. Jones, for instance, was far down the Top 100 list almost at the very bottom. This issue has gone on long enough, and if enough authors light a fire under the powers that be over at Amazon’s butt’s, maybe (hopefully) something will be done about it. I won’t hold my breath, though.

12 thoughts on “Dear Amazon: Please stop lumping all AA Books in the same category”

  1. I love this article. Absolutely love it. It’s such a huge discussion and would be great in a forum to see how many thoughts would come about. I have gone onto Amazon to “study” what is listed and to see what works and was surprised when I checked about a week ago and found that it was predominantly urban books that were dominating the AA Romance charts. I was confused but didn’t stop to question it because I just figured that’s the way it was. But now, with this post and with Zuri’s commentary, it does raise questions. For me, I’m somewhere in the middle because I write what I consider multicultural romance where my heroin is . . . will always be . . . a black woman. But I was curious and was very surprised at what I found. I think that Amazon does have an obligation to split these titles out so that readers who are looking for a certain type of read, can readily locate them. And likewise, the authors who are definitely falling w/i the romance category can share in their rightful rankings as well. Like I said, this, IMO is a huge topic and I could go on all day, but I won’t take over your comment section. Very good post though and one that is very thought-provoking.

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  2. What an amazing post! I’m an aspiring writer working on my 1st woman’s fiction/romance and never realized that “urban” stories were so popular. Even if a petition was started with Amazon for that to be a specific category, it would not necessarily deter these authors from still publishing under romance, right?

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    1. Yes, you’re right. It probably won’t stop anything, but lot’s of authors have felt this way for a while and with enough of us speaking out about it, maybe it will prompt Amazon to add Urban/Street Romance to it’s genres, or put more effort into not allowing those types of books to be grouped with other romance. All I’m saying is there needs to be more categories for Urban Lit, so those authors will have the proper place to market their books. I think many choose to place their work in AA Romance or Women’s Fiction because there’s not many other genres on Amazon for them to choose from. Good luck with your writing career.

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  3. I definitely agree with this. I write AA Romance also. My books get lost in the oven of Urban Street/Lit books. I remember talking to an author that told me he writes Romance. I (tried to) read a couple of his books. I quickly realized that there was no romance in it at all but yet he identifies it as Romance. He actually writes Urban Street/Lit, which isn’t my preference.

    I’ve also noticed that there isn’t a Contemporary category for AA Romance which is really what I write. I end up publishing under Contemporary Romance or Urban AA Romance (not my preference). I may need to start publishing under Women’s Lit for AA Romance.

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  4. A great post. I don’t write romance narratives but happily never after stories. My books are hard to categorize because they are crime, hoaxes and deceit types of stories. I first had my stories listed under crime, hoaxes and deception genre but decided to move them to urban fiction to see if it would increase sales. My stories are not “Hood Fiction.” There is no gang banging, drug, or the degradation of women. I have nothing against these types of tales, but I choose not to go that route. Nevertheless, thank you for a well thought-provoking article.

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    1. Thank you. My books fall into the same category as yours. Most of mine are about deception, revenge, but also have romance elements. I listed a few of mine in the Urban genre but they don’t fit, because it’s not like you said.. No thugs, gangster’s and all that.

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