In February 2015, in celebration of Black History Month, author Rebekah Weatherspoon highlighted the work of black women who write romance novels with the hashtag #BlackWomenInRomance. That mission evolved into WOC in Romance, a website promoting works by women of color. Weatherspoon’s most recent self-published erotic romance novel, Sanctuary, pubbed at the end of August.

What motivated you to start your website?

I was hearing, “Oh, there’s not a lot of romance written by black people,” and I thought that was kind of weird. I am a black person who writes romance, and I know plenty of black people who write romance.

How is your site helping to raise the profiles of authors of color?

What [Women of Color in Romance] is doing differently, maybe, than some other sites is the volume of books we’re sharing every week. Most people share between five and 10, but I try to keep it between 15 and 20 every week.

It’s a concrete place for you to look. If people are saying, “I’m looking for a secret baby book,” or, “I’m looking for a marriage of convenience book,” the books are organized by trope, so you can see what’s been uploaded most recently or just browse all the books. It’s helped get a lot of books out there and into readers’ hands.

How have your efforts been received by other authors?

Lately, we’ve been getting way more [submissions]. We have a lot of books in the queue right now. For some authors that’s a small weight off their shoulders. Any author feels better knowing they can get their books featured somewhere for free.

Harper Miller, whose most recent book is the self-published Complexity (2016), and Adriana Herrera, who is considering offers for what will be her debut novel, American Dreamer, cocreated the PoC Queer Romance Authors Community Page, an online collective for authors of color writing queer romances, and a resource guide for readers and publishers, editors, and agents.

What motivated you to start your website?

A.H.: The reason we started this collective is so that the stories that we’re writing have a podium. I like the idea of a space where being the author of color is the norm. There’s enough of us—our presence or inclusion in all spaces should be the norm.

How is your network helping to raise the profiles of authors of color?

H.M.: If you truly want to seek out the work of a queer romance author of color you have a place to go. Now there’s no excuse because you have this centralized location.

A.H.: We’re hoping that people are looking at this list and they’re saying, “Wow, there are some really good stories happening here, things I haven’t read before. I want to see more of this.” And hopefully the right people start to take notice and say, “Maybe we should get on this, maybe we should start to look at these authors and try to acquire them.”

How have your efforts been received by other authors? What about publishers?

H.M.: When Adriana and I were talking about this, just having a conversation about the collective, we said, “Let’s send it out on Twitter.” [We got] so many retweets—I think we’re talking about 300. You know, people thanking us. We really didn’t expect the outpouring of support. [We wanted] to make sure that lots of people get eyes on their work, and social media has helped remarkably in that regard.

A.H.: Social media is like that piece of consciousness-raising—getting those ideas and those faces and those names out there.

H.M.: From the retweets, I’ve had a couple of likes and re-shares from editors and editorial assistants, so it’s being discussed in publishing houses. We’ve done the grunt work for you. It’s up to you now to do the rest; pick up the baton and run with it.

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