Sunday, October 12, 2014

A person complained about my choice to do an interracial version of Bishop's Angel, saying "I didn't know I needed a blackfaced version of a book previously written", I clearly add a disclaimer so that the readers who purchased Bishop's Angel won't buy SEAL of Approval. Also, I don't just add a new cover and title but go in and make the necessary changes to my character.

I tried this with Up in Flames (interracial version Touch Me) and it hit the ground running. Since so few books were actually returned I have to think there is a market for this, and I plan to do it to other books in the future. I might be on to something and I bet we will see other authors doing this in the future as well. In business the goal is to try and make everyone happy by offering a product for everyone.

So in response to their comment, "I didn't know I needed a blackfaced version of a book previously written", YOU didn't, but the sales show that clearly there were other readers who did:)

I apologize in advance to anyone I might have offended by doing this.


Kymberlyn Reed said...

Ms. Richards,

As a decades-long reader of interracial romance, I find your "blackfacing" of your previous work problematic in the extreme. Would it behoove you to actually craft an original story that just happens to be IR? You truly have no idea how insulting your actions are. Not to mention it just smacks of laziness.

Kymberlyn Reed said...

We IR readers are loyal to this genre, and contrary to popular opinion, we are also highly critical of its shortcomings. At any given time in various forums and threads on the web, we readers are quick to take to task books that lack characterization, are badly edited, or the stories lackluster or hackneyed. I invite you to visit the Fans of Interracial Romance group on Goodreads:

So this isn't just about YOU, but the fact that this genre deserves far better than to be thought of so carelessly.

Savannah D. said...

This smacks a bit of bandwagon jumping. IR as a genre has been around a long time,but its not nearly as well developed as we fans would like to see it. I have a great imagination and could very well use it change the skin color of the leads in any mainstream book I read. I respect IR authors because they respect me as a reader enough to create characters that reflect the diversity of my world. For including women who look like me! I would like to think an author worth his/ her salt would respect the fans enough to craft an original story based on characters that truly spring in FULL DETAIL from their creative process. I'm sure quite a few thirsty IR fans will succumb to the lure simply BECAUSE of their thirst. Sad, but true.

Gisèle Altagracia said...

Ms. Richards,
You said:
I tried this with Up in Flames (interracial version Touch Me) and it hit the ground running. Since so few books were actually returned I have to think there is a market for this, and I plan to do it to other books in the future. I might be on to something and I bet we will see other authors doing this in the future as well. In business the goal is to try and make everyone happy by offering a product for everyone.

I have to say:
I didn't read the original. And I'm not planning on reading this IR version either. Because as a fan of IR and multicultural books AND a Dutch gal from Afro-Caribbean descent I do feel insulted by your blatant attempt to jump on the IR bandwagon.

What saddens me is that you just don't see the errors of your way. Did the term 'blackface' used in the tweet you are referring to not give you a clue of how appalled people are by your action?
But I guess we should just get over it. Because you did apologize in advance...

I sure hope you are NOT on to something. That other authors DO have the integrity to want to actual tell stories and be creative about it and not just makes different versions of one story for the sake of marketing. Will you also create a version with a Latina woman and an Asian man? I mean, why stop at just blackening Angel's face?

Offering a product for everyone by giving the client different options in color works great when you are selling t-shirts. Not so great when you are in the business of telling stories.

Referring to the sales: considering you are not Elvis, just selling books do not make you less wrong...

Tory Richards said...

Hey Kimberly, I appreciate your comments and concerns, and believe everyone is entitled to their opinion.

In response to your comment about my thinking of the genre so carelessly I did worry about insulting readers. So before I decided to do what I did I spoke to several family members, who happen to be African American, to get their thoughts on it. So please don't think I went into this blindly and without care.

Tory Richards said...

Hi Savannah, like I said in response to Kimberlyn's comments, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I appreciate your taking the time to leave your thoughts.

In response to your bandwagon jumping, I can understand why you would think that. But if you followed me as long as other readers you would know more about me. I've stated several times over the years that I write for me, and I'm not one of those authors seeking to get my foot into the big NY houses. Money has never been the reason I write.

My goal was simple in that I want to be able to offer my stories to everyone. I give plenty of them away and I've never forced anyone to purchase one.

I'm sorry that you have so little faith in readers to know what they want to read. Especially when there is a disclaimer.

Tory Richards said...

Hey Gisele,

I really appreciate your thoughts and comments with regard to this post. However, I would like to clear up a misconception.

In reading your first paragraph, which is a copy of what I said, I probably used the wrong words to get across a point I was trying to make. Why does everything have to boil down to money? The word 'marketing' was meant with regard to how many books sold, NOT money.

I can understand your feeling insulted but it was NEVER my intention of hurting or insulting anyone. Like I said previously, I asked family members for their thoughts, African American family members. They chose to look at it differently than you do, and believe me they are the ones who matter the most to me.

I suggest you ladies get to know your authors before jumping to conclusions.

Gisèle Altagracia said...

Ms Richards,
Thank you for taking time to respond.

I think we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one, because despite your explanation the action still seems wrong to me.

Of course the opinion of your family members should weigh more than that of some (potential) readers. And I guess by consulting them you thoroughly did your groundwork and pre-publish marketing assessment. I suppose I just belong to that segment that don't see the appeal of old but black washed stories.

I think you sell yourself short on this one, you could have won a whole lot more IR readers with a complete new and well crafted IR story instead of a rehashed one. But I'm assuming here.

And I'm repeating myself, so I'll stop here.

Wishing you a lot good stories to tell....


Tory Richards said...

Thank you Gisele, I can certainly appreciate your view point and agree with you that a good place to leave off is that we agree to disagree.

I'd like to believe there is no right or wrong here, just a matter of a difference in opinions. As long as no one is being hurt.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Richards I know you said this is not about money but I respectfully disagree. You are right the IR genre is getting more popular. As a result IR fans have been subjected to authors changing the cover art and republishing books as if they are new books. Now you want to "revamp" books previously written by simply changing the ethnicity of the characters and the cover art in an effort to tap into the growing market. Well it sounds like I am not the only one who thinks this move tells IR fans some authors don't respect them and don't believe they are intelligent enough to deserve good original stories.

I am an avid reader and purchaser of all genres. As you so aptly stated "Since so few books were actually returned I have to think there is a market for this, and I plan to do it to other books in the future." Well be forewarned I will not purchase anything else from you and will make sure I spread the word to all my friends to do the same if this is how you plan to operate in the future. I guess IR fans will just have to stop purchasing books that have disclaimers and start returning books when authors don't bother to put a disclaimer. Apparently, this is the only way to convince some authors IR fans want and deserve intelligent, well written, well developed original stories.

Tory Richards said...

Good morning Anonymous,

Thank you for taking the time to leave your thoughts. You're certainly entitled to your opinions and I respect that. Obviously you don't feel the same way or you wouldn't be anonymous.

I have to ask you though, what makes you think the books in question aren't intelligent, well written, well developed original stories? Up in Flames and Bishop's Angel have done great with regard to reviews. I don't believe changing the cover, title and genre changes that.

Please don't presume to know what's in my head. I stand by my earlier comments that this experiment has nothing to do with money and everything to do with giving readers what they want. I give a lot of my books away.

Everyone has a choice and I can understand your decision not to purchase anymore of my books. What books have you bought by the way?

Have a great week!

TeaOli said...

Ms. Richards,

At first, I was happy to see that you decided to address us at FIRR*. It seemed that you were going to address our concerns directly, and even though I knew that I am unable to be convinced that your decision was a good one, I respected the strength I knew it would probably take for an author to reach out to her critics.

Unfortunately, you didn't defend your product. Instead, it seems that you might have misread the reasons for our dismay and that you only defended actions (rather than the result of those actions) and lay blame on us. That saddens me.

I could have just added a new book cover and title and published it without saying anything, like someone said. —Tory Richards

I doubt that anyone here seriously wanted you to trick your readers; I read that comment as partly sarcastic and partly meaning to emphasise the perceived lack of respect you have for consumers of IRR. But perhaps I came to that conclusion because I have greater familiarity with the person who made the comment than you have. And perhaps I misread the comment altogether. Regardless, that is not the general feeling here at Fans of IRR, and that is not the reason most of us have taken issue with your choices.

I truly wish you'd heard those reasons and addressed them. This could have been an opportunity to open a dialogue about the reasons why we found your books offensive. In spite of what has transpired, what has been said so far, I hope that that opportunity is not wholly lost. And while I won't reiterate what TheFountainPenDiva wrote, I hope that, in time, what she had to say will resonate with you.

I think that many of us would still welcome a chance to discuss things more civilly.

Make no mistake, Ms. Richards: our issues are with your choices and with your responses to the objections that were made to those choices.

If you had been following me then you would understand me as a person and this whole situation could have been handled differently. —Tory Richards

Unfortunately, these books were my introduction to your work. Your responses to my fellow members' objections were my only clue to your motives. As someone who was in the business world for years, surely you must know and understand that consumers most often judge a product on how it performs for them — and they have no reason (or, likely, ability) to seek out and subsequently judge the producer of a product before they've heard of the product. I think it's unfair to expect us to have familiarised ourselves with your background before saying that writing these "new" books was a bad idea.

Instead of jumping to conclusions, presuming to know what's in my head and heart, and criticizing a stranger because your opinion is I made a terrible, dumb mistake, you could have expressed your reservations before the damage was done. —Tory Richards

I also think it isn't fair for you to ask us to feel shame for having made comments based on your own responses to the initial objections.

Now, I understand how personal writing can be. And I completely understand the urge to defend one's written "babies". However, as none of us (that I know of) know you, please don't take our words as a personal attack.

I truly meant it when I said that you could one day be a source of good reads and future advocacy for the genre. But that will only happen if you open your mind as you are asking us to open ours.

This was originally posted at the GoodReads group, Fans of Interracial Romance, with only the starred sentences changed*. I really want you to not feel unwelcome at Fans of Interracial Romance*. You wrote that you'd like to think that you are someone who welcomes feedback and learns from her mistakes; we're a ready-made focus group.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Richards, I find it quite ironic and down right funny how you appear to devalue my comments because they are posted anonymously. Honestly, I didn't feel like creating an account to leave a comment. Kinda of like how you don't feel the need to write original IR and just "revamp" your older books ;-). Hopefully, the offensiveness you felt when you pointed out my anonymity helps you understand a little better how IR fans feel when they heard of your desire to "revamp" your stories to try to tap into the IR market.

Ms. Richards I do respect and applaud you for being forth coming with your intent. Not many authors are willing or honest enough to open up the dialogue you have by your post. I sincerely respect that and give you kudos.

I don't think I made any wrong presumptions about 'knowing what is in your head.' My comments were strictly based on your comments and responses to others. As a business woman I would hope your goal is to be successful and make money. Thus, it would be obvious your desire to tap into IR is because it is a growing and lucrative genre. Entrepreneurship is the American way. I do realize the average author does not make a lot of money and thus continues to write because it is their passion.

I think you are missing the point of why I and others find it sad and disrespectful. #1 your sudden interest in IR "appears" to be only financial with no other real investment, #2 most (I agree not all) authors who do this throw together poorly written, undeveloped characters and stories charging IR fans an average of $2.99 and up for drivel that is often not even 25pages. Contrary to your opinion most ebooks can't be returned if you buy them from sites like Ellora's Cave and All Romance (some of my favorite sites), and #3 IR fans desire to read about relatable characters who understand the unique challenges that minority women face not only in life but in finding love. In "Revamped" stories this unique element will be watered down or completely removed and ultimately become no different from traditional romances. The sole purpose of having an IR genre is to celebrate these things and not water them down.

I am not sure why it is relevant what books of yours I purchased. But, these are the ones that I have in my All Romance Library: "Talk Dirty to Me", "Hot Spot", and "Touch Me."

P.S., my name is Lee, and thank you for taking the time to post.

Tory Richards said...

Ladies, I actually took yesterday off from responding to really think over your comments and concerns. One of your readers said that they thought the problem was that I felt you all were calling me a racist, and I think that hit the nail right on the head. It certainly opened my eyes.

I know I'm not a racist, people have always just been people to me, but their comment also got me to thinking. Not all people feel the same way. Sometimes I can be so focused that I don’t see the trees through the forest.

I’m not stupid, I’m not insensitive, but I am stubborn and though this really isn’t about giving in, it’s about understanding and doing what’s right. And this is right.

I will NOT be turning anymore of my existing books into interracial versions.

I do have one interracial short story that I wrote a couple years ago, Instant Attraction, published with Totally Bound if anyone would care to read it let me know and I’ll send you a copy. I would welcome the feedback.

Again I'm sorry for all the pain and hard feelings I've caused and hope we can go on from here.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tory,

Debbie here. First let me say, I'm white. A lot of my friends are black though and as an avid reader I don't care if it's IR or not so I'll read it if it's good. I've been following your this conversation and emails from friends regarding same so I'd like to maybe add something here that seems to be lost.
We (and by we I mean my email friends) have read your original books and enjoyed them. What seems to get everyone's dander up is the repackaging of an original story for sale. I HATE it when indie or publishers do that. I know you all have to make a living but UGH! At least you told us about it although it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, you know?
Based on your comments I'm guessing you're interested in continuing writing about the genre. I don't have a problem with that since you seem to be willing to do the research needed to make it good.
If that's what you're planning, state as much and follow through. Trust me, the IR readers will give you a chance and they are very loyal readers.

TeaOli said...

Ms. Richards,

Thanks for taking the time to think about what we were actually saying rather than was you might have thought we were saying. I also hope that we'll see more of you at FIRR. As I wrote before, we're a ready-made focus group, and lots of our members are open to talking to authors about ideas and answering questions – as long as they're asked.

If you decide to continue in this genre, I look for to reading your original, made-for-the-genre-and-its-consumers works.


Gisèle Altagracia said...

Yes! Ms. Richards, this is a response that truly warms my heart! And I want to thank you. Not for giving in, but for understanding!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ms. Richards,

Thanks again for your honesty and willingness to have an open dialogue with us. I appreciate your sincere apology and wish not to have offended anyone. I too would like to extend a sincere apology and let you know my comments were not meant to disparage you or hurt your feelings.

I purchased "Instant Attraction" from All Romance tonight. I will read it and gladly post my opinion soon.

Sincerely Lee

Tory Richards said...

Hi Debbie, which is my real name, too! Thank you for taking the time to comment, I appreciate all thoughts. And thank you for reading some of my books.

I have some concerns now with the one original IR book that I wrote for Totally Bound a couple years ago, Instant Attraction. I might not have done my heroine justice. I'll see. I've offered a copy to anyone who'd like to read it and give me feedback.

If you'd like a copy email me please.

Tory Richards said...

Hey Lee, shoot! I would have gladly given you a copy of Instant Attraction. If there's another of my books you'd like a copy of just let me know.

I'd like your feedback on the story after you read it, thanks.

Tory Richards said...

Gisele, you're welcome:)

I do plan on writing more in this genre in the future. And I always welcome feedback and thoughts about what I've written. I can't learn if I don't know.

Take care, ladies!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tory,

Sorry, I couldn't post earlier…I had a seriously hellacious week and got caught up just trying to survive the end of it.

I purchase tons of ebooks especially when All Romance has a sale and unfortunately have not had the time to read them all. I am a self admitted book junkie. I literally have tons of books everywhere. I was reluctant to get an ereader but I found it was easier to hide my book obsession from my family. My TBR list is endless, but there are several authors I try to read whatever they publish immediately. I am adding you to my list of read immediately books and have transferred the other 3 I have to my Kindle.

Now my honest opinion of "Instant Attraction" is it really is a well written story and grabs your attention from start to finish. I don't think there are a lot of nuances that makes it IR other than referring to Julie's hair as being kinky and wild. With that being said a lot of IR books follow the same format. It's hard to say how to add the IR element which makes the female character authentically relatable (Black or other ethnicity) while avoiding being stereotypical. I just know it's there when I read it. Some of my favorite IR authors are Pepper Pace, Aliyah Burke, Sienna Mynx, Latrivia Nelson, Delaney Diamond, Theodora Taylor and Marie Rochelle. There are others but they popped to my head now.

I know you writers do a lot of research, so maybe you can read a few books from the above authors to get a feel of what I am talking about. Good luck with your future IR endeavors. Original, well written and well developed characters will endear you to IR fans. In my opinion, there are too many authors who try profiting from the popularity of IR and literally charge an arm and leg for poorly written crap masquerading as a book. The point of the heated debate on this thread.

I would love to receive a book for free. I am a book junkie. I am not picky when it comes to a good book, so I will gladly take whatever you are willing to give me.

Thanks again for being so open and honest. It is so refreshing to find this today.


Tory Richards said...

Hi Lee,

First, thanks for the chuckle (I was reluctant to get an ereader but I found it was easier to hide my book obsession from my family.)

I appreciate your honest opinion of Instant Attraction. I've heard of of a couple of the authors you mentioned and will check them out. I'm interested to see how they add an IR element to their stories.

If you'll email me at I'll send you a book. I recently went on a cruise and was able to catch up on a lot of reading. Writers also have TBR lists and I have full libraries all over the place.

That's sweet of you to add me to your read immediately book list. I'm honored.

Well, gotta get back to work. Have one chapter left and I'll be finished with Wild Marauders MC. I was beginning to think I'd never finish that book.

Take care!