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.