RSJ Emma Awards for Diversity in Romance Honor Kilby Blades as Best Debut Author

I'll admit it--it's been a tough year for me in terms of discovering truths about the industry--and, by that, I mean coming to some realizations about how far we still have to go with respect to promoting diversity in romance. I certainly knew that we were underrepresented--that it seemed more difficult for diverse authors to get traditional publishing contracts and, if we get them, to have good experience with our publishers around marketing and promotion. I did not know until recently about a litany of other issues--from earning retail space, to being dropped from publishing, to problems with book displays and shelving, to serious issues with the RITA Awards.

Though I was excited to hear that something like the Emma Awards existed, it's only recently that I've fully appreciated how much of a need there is for an event like the Romance Slam Jam and the awards that accompany it. I'm truly honored to have seen my debut novel, Snapdragon, reach the finals for Erotic Romance and for its sequel, Chrysalis to reach the finals for Interracial Romance, and am thrilled to have won its Best Debut Author award and I'd like to say thank you to all of the judges. Beyond all of this, my true hope is that anyone reading this article takes the time to check out all the other finalists and winners and considers picking up some of their books. 

This is something that I myself have done, and what I love most about this list is that it isn't flooded with names that many of us already know. I am wildly excited about the success of diverse authors who have become big, but I'm deeply worried for unsung authors who haven't gotten as much attention, even though their work merits much more. 

The Emmas have another component that I hope folks who read this will take seriously. The Emmas allow readers to nominate authors they support. The requirement, when nominating a book is that either the book itself or the author represent diversity in some way.

As of the writing of this article, information about 2019 nominations isn't available. I'll be posting more information about future conferences (and future awards) as they become available. The final thing to consider is attending this conference in person, as a reader, in order to get more exposure to diverse authors and diverse books!