diversity tips

More about race in queries

If you follow the blog, you know I support the We Need Diverse Books movement. All-white, all-straight, male-dominant casts are boring and unrealistic.

But while diversity is important, doing it wrong can do even more harm than yet another white male hero.

It’s hard to know whether you portrayed minorities the right way just from your query. I must rely on assumptions. One thing I assume: if you’re part of that community, you’ll get it right. If you’re not, there’s a 50-50 chance your writing is (purposefully or accidentally) racist.

Which means I submit your query to laser-point scrutiny.

One writer had a Sioux protagonist. But after the first sentence, they called her Native American. As far as I know, most Native people prefer others call them by their nation. “Native American” is as nondescript as “white.” Thousands of heritages exist within the label.

I assumed the author was neither part of, nor well-acquainted with, the Native community. I could be wrong. But I only know what you give me.

Some authors will state in their bio that they are from that community. “I am a queer woman with Japanese roots…”

If you aren’t from the community, that’s okay, but I’d appreciate an explanation. Tell me why you wrote a character of that culture, race, or background. One author wrote after their comps: “This novel contains a diverse cast because I believe in representing the world as it is, without whitewashing.”

That was good enough for me.

I still check for accuracy in the sample pages, of course. But knowing your “why” gives me a better idea what to expect.

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