Just recently, I came across a blog post from one of my favorite blogs that talked about diversity in books and what each individual looked for in the race of the main character of a book. After reading through each of the bloggers thoughts on the matter, I realized we often think too locally, instead of globally.
When authors are taught how to write, we're taught a few basic tenants, one of which includes, "Write what you know." A lot of new authors take this direction too seriously and it makes them quit writing. They throw up their hands and say, BUT I'M BORING! If I write what I know, then this book will be a loser. What they are failing to see is that authors should start from a "known" quantity and then build in the "unknown" which includes research. Maybe you are a young, white, American female, so you write a young, white, American girl and then you add in the plot points and characteristics of things you don't know. You want this girl to be a fire fighter? You learn about fire fighting. Or you want her to be a cyclist in the Tour de France? You learn about cycling. But the author is starting from grounds she is already familiar with, a young, American, female.
And, you know what? Some people want that! Readers, too, have opinions about what they want, what they will adapt to, and what makes them comfortable to read. Did you read the blog post I linked to above? You'll see that the race of the person reading has just as much influence on what they want and in reverse too. Publishing is a global economy nowadays. Stories written by Americans are being devoured around the world and vice versa. I'm American and I read books written by Filipinos, Japanese, Germans, etc. Just like Japanese, Filipinos, and Germans read books by Americans. Diversity is a two-way street! And "writing what you know" does appeal to people globally.
Thinking outside of the box is a difficult task as an author. We're expected to come up with a great plot, believable characters, a hook that captures you in the first page, etc etc. Add to that diversity of characters, their races and cultures, and you've got a huge mess of stuff to deal with. So, if you're looking for diverse books, it's time to look globally!
It's even more important to support global authors working on New Adult works. Never before has an age group been so connected globally than the current NA generation. They know more about the world than the generation before them and are more likely to have friends overseas or visit overseas because staying in touch with those friends is easier than ever. Skype, Facebook, Snapchat... They make distance unimportant.
For the next year, I challenge you, the reader, to read outside of your culture. Purchase books from authors that write outside of your own culture, both as a foreigner and as a local. Take a moment to consider a book published from a different country other than your own (translated into your own language, of course, or maybe a second language you are comfortable with), and recommend books written by authors who write about cultures outside their own. If there's one thing I believe in about the publishing business, money talks louder than words or petitions. Take this time to support diversity with your wallet!
Do you read outside your own culture? Do you read books by foreign authors? Post your recommendations in the comments! Extra brownie points for making the recommendations NA :)
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