Hopefully anyone who reads Twinja Book Reviews comes for the reason we review books.
To reach out and diversify your choice in books.
We admit, our approach to book blogging isn't the most conventional. With reviews for books nearly everywhere on the web, it's difficult to stand out on really, any blog, with just book reviews alone.
Reviewing books that feature main protagonists, and when we mean MAIN, we mean the main narrative in which the story is being told,or if told with dual protagonists, one is of a marginalized group, or at the very least a love interest, who's main objective is more than to making kissy faces with the main character.
Perhaps this is a lot to ask. Perhaps it is not asking enough. But even books we have reviewed that haven't scored high, if they met those requirements, they haven't been ignored in their reviews. And yes, our review page isn't as conventional as most sites, where the review counts as a typical post.
But if you read on, does that ever tell you anything about the person you're following? Our best posts highlight authors of diverse backgrounds, discrimination in the media, and our favorite monthly feature of highlighting martial artists. Perhaps the reviews are secondary in comparison. But we want people to know us, and our book taste isn't always enough to show that.
Twinja Book Reviews, we may not have the followers as other blogs, but our mission to diversify bookshelves isn't always a commitment people can make. Many don't even realize that the lack of diversity is an issue to begin with. Some people are content with "multicultural" being people of color, or characters with disabilities, of diverse religions, queer, diverse ages or shapes and sizes as back drops, with it's only purpose to push the straight, white, young, cis gendered, able bodied, and model thin/perfect characters forward.
Perhaps that takes out the fun for many readers to be that trivial. But there are so many stories to tell. How many times will we focus on greek mythology, little white boy wizards, and virginal girls to save the world? Change happens. We should be open to all types of characters, even when their experiences don't match our own.
The saddest part about writing, reading and releasing a novel multiculturally, is that often, you are almost never given the level of promotion a book with the same themes may have, but with white, straight, cis-gendered, skinny/thin, male, able bodied characters. Unless of course you are all those things, and you are writing outside your own experience. Then it's considered genius.
This should not discourage those wonderful writers who are all those things, who write diversely. You are all fighters in the movement as well, and you deserve credit for your work as well. But even you guys know it gets much harder to convince audiences you have the next big thing, when it doesn't have any of those generic "default" category characters.
Where are the resources for authors who want the freedom of writing diversely?
We want to say no resource is too small. If a book blog is all a person can do to contribute, by all means, research and start one today.
But there are many ways a person can promote diversity in books.
-Making a book club online
-Starting a website(like http://www.alienstarbooks.com) to highlight books with people of color
-Create a book blog highlighting books with characters from marginalized groups as main characters( Diversif_YA, Disability in Kidlit, Diverse Pages and Diversity in YA are great pages to start! Including us!)
-Use hashtags to promote diverse books like #weneeddiversebooks or #diversityinsff so people looking for these things know exactly what you stand for, and can find conversations you may have had about it.
And those are just a few tips to make noise about diversity in books. Like all books, they require having a marketing strategy. Libertad and I are teaming up with two great individuals to start up a book blog tour company called "Diverse Book Tours." Author/Book Blogger Briana Gaitan, and book blogger and soon to be author Sasha(whom is also the founder) are teaming up to host book blog tours for authors who have strong elements of diversity in their novels. Another blog post will be dedicated to going into greater detail about this, so if anyone is interested in becoming a book blog tour host, we will post links on how to do so.
The marketing of books with marginalized main characters has to be that much smarter than books without them. There is so much we can all do to promote diversity.
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