I often search for books with women of colour, black women in particular and in the genres of sci-fi or fantasy where I find we show up the least. There aren’t many out there and I don’t always like what I find (well written or not) so I often end up with books in genres I don’t even like.
One day I found a well-reviewed self-published book. Some of the reviews were filled with praise but also images of the reader’s depictions of how they believed the MC looked.
I did a bit more digging and checked out the Question and Answers and indeed someone had asked if the main character was a woman of colour to which one reader responded “yes” while another said they “could not really tell.” At this point, I write the author. Long story short, her response said she was explicit about making her MC black but that she couldn’t help what people wanted to see.
I buy the book. Within the first few chapters it is clear over and over again that the female protagonist is a black woman. I’m not even remotely passionate about the book, but I am passionate about this problem. A part of me wanted to write under the reviews of these ‘blind’ readers. Another part of me was angry at the writer for using a misleading cover. The lowest part of me wondered if another cover would even make a difference and why we even bother writing diverse characters in the first place.
How would you suggest a writer deal with reviews like this? Or should they ignore them?
If you feel passionate about it, I think you should post a comment. The trick is to respond with facts not emotion. Facts are "MC is described as this, that, the other on pages N, N2 and N3"
Leave out the "you are clearly blind and ignorant to have missed that" no matter how true you think it is.
Since this is a self-published book the writer has complete control over the cover. That is NOT NOT NOT the case in books that are not self-published.
I have no idea why an author would choose to write about black women and not have them depicted on the cover. I don't even want to hazard a guess on that one.
More generally I always advise writers to stay out of the reviews/discussions on their books. It's a fast way to go full tilt crazy. Since you are not the writer, and have no skin in the game (bad joke?) you'll most likely be able to participate in a discussion without losing your mind.
And I really admire your tenacity in seeking out books with people of color, even outside your preferred reading areas. If we all did that we'd solve the diverse voices problem in about two seasons of publishing.