According to an oft cited study by the romance bookstore The Ripped Bodice, in 2022 12.3% of romances published last year were written by authors of color. For the last few years, I’ve shared AAR’s 2022 numbers for reviews of books written by non-white authors. (Note that these reviews are not limited to books published in 2022–there are the numbers for the books we reviewed in 2022.)
I used our Power Search Beta to look at our numbers. This means I relied on tags, so if a book wasn’t tagged correctly, my numbers will reflect that.
In 2022, AAR published 448 book reviews. Of these 30% were DIKS. 16% of our reviews featured books written by authors of color and 6% of our DIKs were by authors of color.
We also continued to cover non-het books robustly. 20% of our reviews featured queer leads as did 7% of our DIKs.
Books written by and/or featuring non-white and/or non-het people were well represented in our Best of 2022 book lists as well.
Impenitent social media enthusiast. Relational trend spotter. Enjoys both carpe diem and the fish of the day.
That’s a disappointingly low number published.
What number disappoints you?
As someone who reads a majority of non-het books (84% last year), I depend on AAR for reviews of queer books and authors. So obviously, I appreciate what you all do. I read and enjoy almost all the reviews, and have been convinced to give more traditional m/f books (some with diverse authors/characters, some not). Sometimes it works well (Lucy Parker) and sometimes I’m not impressed, but I still appreciate the information, and the discussions in the comments are often very enlightening.
Of course I would like to see more queer rep here, and judging solely from comments and discussion, the books seem to garner healthy amount of interest and comments. But honestly, I’ll take what I can get and the quality of the reviews are excellent.
Um… your post kinda assumes that only queer people read queer romance. I’m sure that’s not true.
I mean, I’m not a witch–oh how I wish!–but I still love reading fantasy. :)
Many straight people, including me, read queer romance for a variety of reasons. I suspect the percentage of people who read queer romance is higher than 8% of romance readers.
And if we’re quoting statistics, 25% (ish) of AAR’s readership is outside the US.
I’m not queer and I read queer romance almost exclusively. I have a very low tolerance for the gender politics of m/f romances, so most of the non-queer books I read are mysteries, not romances. As a victim of sexual and emotional abuse by a partner (and having having it happen to those close to me), I find a have a tough time with a lot of the interactions in m/f romances which don’t bother me in the same way between two men or two women. Queer romances are how I’m still able to read romance as a genre.
In fact, I would dare to say the majority of readers of m/m romances are not gay, or even queer. So the percentage of AAR’s readers who read at least an occasional queer romance is much higher than 8%, and most likely higher than 20%. Hell, my husband reads queer romantic suspense, fantasy, or steampunk books that I’ve recommended. He’s a huge fan of Charlie Adhara and C.S. Poe.
I’m happy with AAR, but I’d definitely love to see even more.
Why is it whenever you comment on this website, it is to either complain that gay people have a voice here or to wish that that romance novels were still a vehicle for forced seduction scenes?
I’m sticking up for the 92% of the USA who isn’t progressive.
I’d argue that the majority doesn’t need sticking up for – that the minority DO need it is kinda the point of this post and the reviews referenced.
Quoted for truth.
I’m not sure I agree 100% with your police work there, Lou. Especially if you’re lumping moderates and conservatives together.
very liberal=progressive=7% in that article
So you’ve made the presumption that only very liberal people are in favor of progressive politics, or at least that we avoid backsliding legislation-wise. And not people in the moderate and liberal categories. While ignoring the fact that only 19 percent of Americans think same-sex marriage is very bad for society.
As a bisexual romance reader who’s been into this genre since I was twelve or so and about cried when mainstream publishers finally started putting out F/F historicals and ménage romances that weren’t just from erotica romances treating poly lifestyles like a kink, trust me when I say I need more rep.
AAR reviewed 448 books last year. 80% (358) were about straight characters. So there are literally hundreds of recs here for readers who want to read about m/f characters. (Not to mention the thousands? tens of thousands? of backlist romances published over decades – many on any number of “Best Of” lists here and elsewhere – that have straight characters for those who want to read about them in romances.) It’s not like readers who limit their reading to straight MCs are going to run out of new (or old) books to read in any given year.
I think we can tolerate a little extra effort to rep and support diverse characters and authors for those of us who enjoy them, including me.
AAR will never please everyone which is just fine.
I agree that with the number of reviews we have, it’s hard to see why adding non-straight stories is an issue.
I learned about KJ Charles and Cat Sebastian from AAR , so a huge thank you for that.
Kudos to AAR and its wonderful staff on such an incredible number of reviews— 448 is amazing! And your commitment to diversity is much appreciated, as it brings books and authors to my attention which I would not necessarily find on my own. Thank you very, very much!!!
Half of the books on my Best of 2022 list this year were AoC/PoC. Jasmine Guillory, Farrah Rochon and Alexa Martin are among my favorite authors writing romance right now.
Mine was 5/7 aoc and a further 1 that was m/m and hardly overlapped with yours at all!