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When will IR romance stories become more mainstream? | The Divas Pen
The Divas Pen: Author of Sensual and Dark Romance writing as Sienna Mynx and T.A. Ford

577367_517452108305355_960964148_n Why is the IR Romance genre invisible to mainstream media, and potential readers? Today I read some very disheartening news from a fellow author who was given a chance to interview with a New York Times reporter. This reporter claimed to have never heard of IR books or authors and was surprised the genre thrived.

Sadly this is not the norm. Recently with the publishing of the Battaglia Series my books and my name has risen in popularity. Still the climb is at a snails pace when trying to make the National Best Sellers list. I attended a ‘black’ book conference and readers who never read this genre were not only shocked by the amount of work I offered but really supportive and open to giving my books a try. I don’t buy into the myth that ‘black’ women won’t read IR or that ‘white’ women won’t enjoy a story about black romance. Bullshit! However, I can’t help but notice how far down the readers list IR books are.

What are we authors in this genre missing? Don’t get me wrong. I love my core fans. But to be honest I’d like to someday do this for a living. I often times fantasize about sitting at home and churning out story after story. But alas this writing business still doesn’t pay the bills. I have to think of ways to reach a wider audience. I price my books lower in hopes to get readers to take a chance on my work. I offer free stuff, in hopes to encourage readers.

What am I missing?

I’m not complaining or whining, I’m seriously asking for ideas. I remember when I attempted to be a featured author on a national black radio personality book club. I was a new writer. I had written Zoe and I was really proud of it. I sent her copies wrote her letters, even tried to get in touch with the publicist for the show. *crickets* I then moved on to another equally popular radio personality and supporter of indie-authors because it’s where he got his start. At least this time I received a nice email of thanks and keeping trying but not what we’re looking for. I know readers are open to multiculutral romance. Look at Scandal. We are living in a time where we are pushing toward accepting gay marriage etc. There is definitely an audience. But what is that IR authors are doing that keeps us behind the gates peeking in? Any thoughts?


17 comments to “When will IR romance stories become more mainstream?”

  1. T. Alexa
    Comment
    1
    · March 20th, 2013 at 3:42 am · Link

    Sienna,
    First, you rock! Your stories are compelling and I fall in love with your characters, so no matter the struggle I sincerely hope you continue to share your talent with the world.

    My two cents regarding your post is this – I believe, like many other aspects in life, it could be the categorization. If the stories featuring bwwm or other combinations of coupling weren’t labeled IR, people who aren’t as open to reading them may give the books a try. Most of your books don’t really focus on the color of the characters, although you know without a doubt who the characters are. However, the main topic – as presented in your books – is not that. Instead the focus is the story and the drama surrounding the characters. However, when you label the books IR, someone who isn’t familiar with the genre may believe the topic itself is solely about the woman being one “race” and the man being another. This could be a deterrent. I wouldn’t necessarily want to read story after story that centered around race (e.g. a white woman and a native american man that focused on being white and being native american). I may read one to gain a certain perspective, to become aware of issues or gain a deeper understanding, but I wouldn’t continue to read stories that centered mainly on that. Labeling books IR MAY signal to some people that the story centers on race when actually they don’t. They are romance, paranormal, historical, etc just like other stories. I don’t think people would have a problem reading a great story where the heroine happens to be african american and the hero happens to be causasian. The example you present, Scandal, is a good one (and a great show!). Scandal is on mainstream TV (a major network) and is a great drama. The story is fast-paced, the drama is exciting, and the story lines are great. Plus there is great chemistry between all of the characters. The main characters just happen to be an african-american woman and a white male. The mix makes it more compelling in my book, but it’s not what sells the show, in my opinion. If the show was labeled based on the “race” of the characters and placed on, let’s say, Centric or TV1, the viewership wouldn’t be as strong. Some people just will never tune in to those channels. And for the same reason, some people will never purchase a book labeled IR. I hope this is a helpful point of view and I hope people join into this conversation and put their thoughts out there. It’s a great question and deserves good discussion. I read several authors in this genre and enjoy most. You all are talented women (and men) and I would hate to no longer have an option to read your work because of low demand. Let us know what we can do!

    All the Best!



    • Profile photo of Sienna Mynx
      Sienna Mynx
      Comment
      1.1
      · March 21st, 2013 at 1:29 am · Link

      I’ve been thinking more and more about just categorizing my books ‘romance’. I love this genre and my book covers make it really clear what my stories feature, however, I do notice that the Amazon searches put the AA, and IR book at the bottom of the list. There is a stigma attached to this genre that I’m tired of. My books (and many others) don’t focus on race. But people are so narrow in their thinking when it comes to Romance I need to be a bit more strategic in the placement of my stories. Thanks so much for the feed back!

      Sienna



  2. Grid
    Comment
    2
    · March 21st, 2013 at 1:21 am · Link

    I think one way is to make a movie on one of your books. Tyler Perry Productions may or may not want to do it, but someone will. But it will honestly need the right actors and the right director, as well as an adaptation of the script that is as true to your writing as possible. The Battaglia series in movies? Well you would certainly have a platform to discuss IR books and the genre given the promotions process, and if it does well opening weekend and makes top dollar, that opens the door to recognition.

    Made for TV movies may make a splash (on OWN or Oxygen) but that would make a splash, while a national movie would make a wave for the IR industry.

    Just a thought…



    • Profile photo of Sienna Mynx
      Sienna Mynx
      Comment
      2.1
      · March 21st, 2013 at 1:31 am · Link

      Great idea! Or should I say ‘great minds think alike’. This year I will be attending The American Black Independent Film Festival to pitch my books to movie producers. They also offer classes for me to take on screen writing. I can’t wait!



  3. Ford
    Comment
    3
    · March 22nd, 2013 at 3:58 pm · Link

    Hi Sienna,

    This is my first time posting on your site, but I really wanted to throw my two cents in because I recently discovered your work a few months back and I definitley have something to add to this topic.

    The reason why I have only JUST recently discovered your work is simply that I didn’t know it was there – which amazes me because I have been involved/a fan of the romance book community for years now. I buy all my latest books from recommendations from blog sites. This is how most readers in the romance community choose I believe (at least those who buy ebooks!). The first book of yours I read was Destino and it was because of this link/site that I first heard about it –

    http://www.heroesandheartbreakers.com/blogs/2012/12/december-2012-blogger-recommendations-role-reversals-mafia-bosses-and-imperfect-relationships

    The synopsis alone made me purchase and it is now one of my all-time faves!.

    This was the first time that I had ever seen an IR novel advertised. And I have been reading romance blogs for YEARS. I just can’t believe it. Wonderful books that aren’t promoted? So many readers are missing out!.

    I wonder why IR romance novels and their authors aren’t advertised on these romance blog sites?. I can’t believe it has taken so long for me to read your work!. Once finishing the Battaglias, I started reading Harmony, Black Butterfly, Buttercup, etc. I intend to buy them all!.

    Honestly, IR needs to be advertised on the big book blog sites so that readers actually know that it’s there!. I simply had no idea!.

    By the way, I am a white Australian girl – race has nothing to do with a fantastic book and great characters. There are millions of readers just waiting to read your awesome books – I have started recommending them to friends who were in the same boat as me – not knowing about them!.

    You have found a new lifetime fan and I anxiously await La Sposa!



  4. Julia Vitale
    Comment
    4
    · March 25th, 2013 at 10:44 pm · Link

    I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOUR BOOKS I THINK THERE AWESOME! HAVE FAITH SOON YOU’LL BE QUITTING YOUR JOB AND WRITING FULL TIME I JUST KNOW IT. YOU’LL BE MAKING IT BIG AND ALL THAT HARD WORK WILL PAY OFF! I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO THE REST OF DAISEY”s STORY ALSO. KEEP THE FAITH THANKS JULIA



  5. Michelle
    Comment
    5
    · March 29th, 2013 at 2:19 am · Link

    Ok, I never respond to posts or anything. But, I wanted to add my two cents also. I believe one problem is that a lot of african americans don’t read. I have always been a reader mostly historical romance when I was younger. Those of us that do read cannot find IR books at their neighborhood library. I think IR authors need to contact the libraries to purchase these books. Most people can’t afford to purchase a lot of these books. I had stopped reading romance novels for several years (was reading the bible) and began again last year. I was very very surprised at the number of African American authors. I could barely find these authors before. That was because I worked at an Amazon distribution warehouse and started ordering the books from them. I would check and see if the authors could be found at the library. Over nine times out of ten these books were not available. So, more of these books need to be at the libraries. People will then know they are out there.



  6. Cris
    Comment
    6
    · March 29th, 2013 at 6:55 am · Link

    What a stereotypical implied racist remark. I am an African American, and I do read.

    Solution: Expand your world, teach others and educate yourself in regards to Black American Culture and their contributions to Society.

    “Black America” is an intelligent diverse culture that consist of various ethnicities, tongues, and tribes of people.

    To be a “Black American” does not signify ignorance and stupidity. These negative characterizations are usually perceived when are taught to hate ourselves and others.



  7. Cris
    Comment
    7
    · March 29th, 2013 at 2:46 pm · Link

    Hi Sienna,

    You are a talented Author. And although I can’t support or read paranormal books in that it contradicts my faith in Jesus; I believe when you decide not to compromise in any area of your life; you will gain the promotion that you seek (KJV/Psalm 75:6&7).

    A Grain of Salt… Professionalism is everything. When wanting your talent to be taken seriously; don’t show up “fashionably late” or just “plain late”.

    To Be Gifted And Black… Is to be Exceptional



  8. Michelle
    Comment
    8
    · March 30th, 2013 at 12:23 am · Link

    I AM African American also. In comparison too many European american authors who are able to quit their jobs and make a living solely from writing most African American authors cannot. Now why do you think that is? Could it be the fact that they (caucasian authors) have more readers, mmm. Common sense would tell you that. That is why I read a variety of books that are written by african american authors. I write a good review in an attempt to get more people to support these authors. What about the other suggestions that I wrote. Why jump on the negative which was not a negative but a fact. This is the last time that I will respond to ANY replies too my comments. I will be more mature and not get into a back and forth debate.



  9. Profile photo of Sienna Mynx
    Sienna Mynx
    Comment
    9
    · March 30th, 2013 at 12:49 am · Link

    I’m confused. What do you mean by don’t show up fashionably late? Can you explain? And Cris and Michelle we can all keep it civil. So I appreciate you both doing so. As to your comment about paranormal books are you implyng that the reason I don’t get the promotion I seek is because I published paranormal books and I’m late with a book release?

    Am I too release any ole thing and collect a pay check to make sure to make the date, or am I to hold myself to a standard of quality that means that I take the time make sure my product is the best I can put forward when advised to do so? Curious as to what exactly you are saying.



  10. Cris
    Comment
    10
    · March 30th, 2013 at 3:15 am · Link

    Hi Michelle,

    The stereotypical racist comment was referencing a “racist society”.

    The comment was referencing the fact that”Black Americans” are given biased information about their culture through various media outlets and propaganda literature, whereby these alleged statistics are then quoted as facts within the black community.

    As a Researcher, I can tell you these so called “factual statistics” are biased and are targeted at “black America” with the sole intent to make people feel inferior about their race and culture.

    Please note the above propaganda war tactics were utilized by Hitler against the Jews.

    And lastly, I do apologize if my comment personally offended you.



  11. Cris
    Comment
    11
    · March 30th, 2013 at 5:06 am · Link

    Hi Sienna,

    I agree with your standards of quality in regards to publishing your work. Professionalism is everything, when wanting your talent to be taken seriously.

    In referencing the comment: dont show up “fashionably late” or just “plain late”;when wanting to achieve your stated desires and goals of:
    1. “increasing your targetted pooled audience”;
    2. “to be taken seriously in mainstream media” and/or
    3. “being listed on The New York Time’s Best Sellers List” …

    I was alluding to the fact of maintaining your stated deadlines and/or release dates without compromising the integrity or the quality of your work.

    In reference to Bible (KJV) Psalms 75:6-7; I was quoting the stated scipture, “that God gives promotion”.

    Noting also, that Christians are discouraged from compromising their belief sytem in that it hinders their progress in life (i.e. promotions, etc.). Good vs Evil.



  12. Profile photo of Sienna Mynx
    Sienna Mynx
    Comment
    12
    · March 30th, 2013 at 7:45 am · Link

    Thanks for Cris.
    It still amazes me that many keep referencing a missed release date. One release date out of the 31 books I’ve published changed and this means I’m less than professional? Really? I gave a release date for La Famiglia with every intent to publish a book on that date. I did publish the other two earlier than the promised date. So it proves I was committed to the series. When I was advised by a professional that the manuscript was subpar I had a choice to make. Release the book as is, and disappoint fans, suffer a huge number of returns and lose interest in my series or change the date and do the necessary work to fix the ‘story’. I owed it to my craft, my readers, and to my story to do the latter. I told my readers before the release date (not after) of this choice, and still I got a slew of complaints and nasty comments on every open forum my work is listed. Am I disappointed that this book missed the date? Yes. Am I happy that I listened to my editor instead of my ego and dismantled a story I have wantd to publish for the past five years? I am thrilled over my decision. I have put my best work forward in La Sposa, and I can’t wait to have it presented to the readers.

    I have a ‘new’ release date. The book is going through the final polishing, which should be done in a week and then it will be formatted. Can’t wait! Though I find it upsetting that my readers future of present can’t understand the level of commitment it took to do this, and my best intentions I am very confident I have a solid story to present. Therefore, I have decided on two things:

    1. I won’t apologize for the change in this date any more. It was handled professionally, timely, and communicated well.

    2. I won’t give pre-release dates anymore. Future dates are asked of me constantly on books and projects. The readers of my work will know the release date the day I learn it from my final editor, which is maybe a few days before the book is launched. I understand the promotion window has significantly shortened, but hey, at least I never run the risk of missing a release date again.

    If this means readers have moved on to more ‘professional’ or established publishers then so be it. What they won’t say is that I gave them a lacking product or compromised my work in anyway. Because unfortunately those same readers who are upset that I changed a date are the same ones that will post negative reviews advising others not to buy my work if it is substandard.

    The day I can write full time is truly a happy day for me. As much as I love to write I can only do it between a full time job and my family. 3 to 4 hours a day. Sure I could cheat and write at work and risk being fired, or neglect my family and indulge my passion but I have personal commitments that I will not compromise.

    Thanks to everyone above for your comments. I got some really helpful advice that I plan to share with other authors in this genre regarding positioning and promoting our work. Hopefully it will generate the kind of interest in this genre that we deserve.

    Have a great weekend!



  13. Fanny
    Comment
    13
    · March 31st, 2013 at 6:35 pm · Link

    I happen to be Dominican and have read romance for as long as
    I can remember. I discovered IR by accident. I saw something new and fell in love with Simon. Yes I call him Simon. I went online and stumbled on the BBC show about footballers wives and they had an interracial couple. I then found loose id website and purchased my first IR book. Yes it was paranormal and it is not my favorite genre but it did not matter because the work was fabulous. I fell in love with you when I read one of your stories and I will be with you even when I don’t like one of your stories. Blacks do read because the person who taught me to love reading was Mrs. Crawford and Mrs. Mott who happen to be black. I do agree that something needs to be done about the genre and advertising it. I happen to be half of an IR couple and we are proud of our love even though he gets on my nerve sometimes I still claim him.



  14. CaramelVirgo0830
    Comment
    14
    · April 26th, 2013 at 9:28 pm · Link

    Ms. Mynx I know you may hear this all the time, but to me YOU ARE THE QUEEN OF INTERRACIAL ROMANCE! I am an avid romance reader, especially in paranormal and interracial romance novels and since your debut in reading Zoe never and I mean never had I read a romance novel, especially in an interracial romance story where the characters seem to come alive! I love the passion, lust, and drama in your novels. The men are hot and the women in their lives give them hell! 🙂

    But to answer your question regarding promoting interracial romance novels I think most of the resistance comes from ignorance and also criticisms from political social organizations. I read online that a lot of white American authors have wanted to write interracial romance as well, however they have received a lot of backlash. For example, one of my all time favorite romance authors Christine Feehan wrote about one of my favorite Carpathians couples in Dark Possession. The main protagonist was an African American woman and the author till this day receives negative criticisms about her choice in having a heroine who was African American. The worst part was that the criticism came from African American social reader blog groups.

    Here is my two cents. If there is one genre of romance I would love for you to venture is paranormal. I think that if you were to concoct a story that featured main characters from all different diverse backgrounds and with your talent in writing I think that would be the catalyst to push interracial romance into the mainstream light.



  15. sharonda
    Comment
    15
    · August 28th, 2014 at 10:24 pm · Link

    excellent question Sienna. I would have to say categorization…when I look for new IR/MC books to read, Unless I know the author by name, its hard to find them at times on book websites. the only site that has a good category of IR books is AllRomanceebooks. As a matter of fact, they’re the first site I found your books on.

    Also, book blogs. On the bigger blogs…they don’t feature IR/MC books. They don’t talk about them, don’t review them…nothing. I myself started reviewing and talking about books in the genre because I want to share the wonderfullness that I’ve been seeing in this genre.

    Also, maybe try virtual book tours. There are a couple of good tour companies out there and as a blogger, I would like to see more IR/MC books when I get an email asking if I want to be part of a tour.

    I don’t know about anyone else’s reading list, but IR/MC books are at the top of my list. I do hope this genre gets more promotion.




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