Color of Love Blog Hop: The Unwashed Cover

I recently read this story about how bestselling middle-grade author Rick Riordan (of Percy Jackson fame) had no recourse when several of his international publishers whitewashed the covers of his books and portrayed a black character as white. He complained but even for an author of his stature and sales, the correction took far too long.

A day or two later an author in a Facebook group lamented that her cover was whitewashed by her small press. This is in no ways new and it never stops being infuriating.

I turned on the TV yesterday and caught a clip of some movie where Blaire Underwood was being beaten by the police for literally no reason. The movie was set in the 1950s. My husband and I just looked at one another — no words needed to be said. It seems we’re still fighting the same battles over and over.

I’ve been told that I was very “courageous” for putting black faces on the covers of my books. This made me indescribably sad. Will white readers feel like my books aren’t “for them” because they don’t feature people who look like them on the covers? Have I ever felt like a book wasn’t for me because of the lack of diversity on the cover? That I wouldn’t be able to relate or enjoy it? Of course not. And my philosophy is to start as you mean to go forward. As an artist (and a control freak) I want to create and through my work begin reshaping the world in the way I want it to be.

I made decisions regarding my covers that many believe will impact sales for a variety of reasons, but mostly because I just like seeing black people on my covers. And having my covers represent the characters in my books. To quote a Twitter poster “the melanin is winning.” And since I self publish, I can do whatever I want. I don’t have to shout into the void and not be heard like Riordan or Ursula LeGuin or the many other authors whose books have been whitewashed over the years and continue to be so.

One day representing my reality the way I live and perceive it will stop being “courageous” and just be normal. Until then, I’ll put whoever I want on my covers and be grateful I have the freedom to do so.


I’m giving away a copy of Angelborn as a part of the Color of Love Blog hop. Check out the other fabulous prizes you can win!

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BookBox: embed book widget, share book list

Here’s how to win:
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And check out the other posts in the blog hop!

17 thoughts on “Color of Love Blog Hop: The Unwashed Cover

  1. Isn’t it crazy how it’s considered courageous? Really considered not having people on the cover for our Spec Fic projects but decided against it since anyone who doesn’t pick up our books because there are PoC on them is no one we’d want reading the books anyways. All your covers are dope, and I hope you keep making them fabulous!

    1. Thank you! I think that once there’s a critical mass of PoC on covers of a variety of genres (not just AA), the books will have a chance to reach more people. Or not. I agree, if a black woman on the cover turns a reader off, then maybe the story inside isn’t for them.

  2. Thanks for participating in the Color of Love Blog Hop. How sad. Whitewashing. In my country many people bleach their skin because they don’t want to be dark, and we’r all black. I’m glad you’ve taken the stand to make your characters appear as they should. I do the same.

    1. Thanks! And thanks for checking out Angelborn! The idea of black folks bleaching their own skin because of internalized self hatred is beyond sad. Every action that promotes self love is valuable!

  3. I checked out the article on Rick Riordan – I’m shocked. As an African, I can say that a lot of times we think the models of some IR/MC are not black enough. But to me, readers need to start looking beyond colour. As a reader I only care if the story is true to the characters whatever colour they may be.
    And BTW your covers are gorgeous

  4. the way the book company think the authors or the one who write the book they owe it to them like when book go over sea or different lanaguage i can see asking the author do you think a black white or green man or women should be on the books i read over in year 1000 book and i do not judge the book buy the cover i judge on th book it self

    1. Thanks! What’s inside the book is definitely key. I hope people enjoy the words as much as the covers 😉

  5. Awesome, awesome post! I saw the title and instantly thought of the Riordan issue. It’s sad that trad pubs seem to be averse to putting diverse people on their covers, just as some people are to reading books with them. I think it’s overly simplistic, how covers raise the possibility of “low” sales and affect a business decision.

    And oh, my gosh, yes to this curious concern over a book being relatable just because of colour. Empathy works in reverse. It’s not like I was alienated when I found out other people have red or yellow hair when mine are black.

    I’d love it if in the future, good books with diverse characters are representations not of diversity, but of simply good books. That diverse books not segregated from, and included in, best books lists is treated as the norm.

    Cheers to self-publishing and the freedom of being true to your stories and characters!

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