Today, I'm using my blog as a confessional. This kinda makes me want to crawl into a hole and pull it in after me. Okay, just like ripping off a bandaid, right? Here goes...
My book covers are whitewashed.
In the Jane Colt trilogy, Jane and her brother Devin are meant to be biracial/Eurasian. It's not really a factor story-wise because the books take place in a far-flung space opera future where neither Europe nor Asia exist anymore, but it mattered to me. Partly because nonwhite characters (especially main characters) are terribly underrepresented in sci-fi (I'm looking at you, Firefly, with your Chinese props and Chinese swearing but no Chinese people). And partly because I'm Asian and, hey, wouldn't it be nice if there were space opera protags who looked like they could share an ancestor or two with me?
I pictured the interstellar siblings as looking something like this:
This is how they're portrayed on the books' covers:
Don't get me wrong... I love how both covers turned out and okay'd them both, even knowing I was whitewashing my own characters. The reason for this was simple: I couldn't find any Eurasian models in the stock photo libraries. In fact, I could barely find any Asian models (and the few I did find didn't fit the characters). Dark-haired Caucasians were the closest thing the photo libraries had to offer, so I ran with it. And loved the covers I got. And felt guilty about loving the covers I got.
I've spent hours and hours and hours combing stock photo sites, and they're overwhelmingly white. I suspect that this is because these sites exist to sell images, and those are the ones that sell. It's disheartening. And it's not like I could afford to stage my own photo shoot. I suppose I could always have asked for covers that didn't feature characters, but I'm a personal fan of faces on covers, so no fair making me give that up on my own damn books.
Anyway, all this is to say that lack of diversity is a problem across the board. So c'mon, photo libraries! Do better!
*whew* Glad I got that off my chest...