The majority of submissions I get are about kids and teens who are white, comfortably well off, able-bodied, secular, average-sized, cis-gender and straight. Maybe (in fact, probably) their race or economic status or religion or sexual orientation or whatever is never mentioned... but let's get real, if it isn't mentioned in any way EVER, the reader is going to assume and "default normal."
The question of WHY white-rich-ablebodied-secular-averagesized-cis-straight people are "default" in this country, or how to change that, is not one I'm prepared to tackle -- just let's go with the fact that at this point in time, it is the case that the people in this country who tend to think about race least often are WHITE PEOPLE. The people for whom money is rarely an issue are WEALTHY PEOPLE. Right or wrong, if you never ever mention anything about money or race, your reader will probably assume your characters are relatively well-off and white. And the same goes for all those other categories.
So does that mean you just need to randomly make all your characters Black or Japanese (or whatever) but have all their other dealings be exactly the same as they would otherwise be? Um. . . no. Nor does it mean that you should force a "mixed salad" tokenism where each and every character has one thing different about them. That's silly.
Taking your characters beyond "default" is really just about giving them dimension. If your character is deaf or blind or a wheelchair user or obese or agoraphobic, or doesn't speak the language, or is a child prodigy, or an uncomfortable fashionista wearing absurdly high heels, or an uber-confident princess wearing an ostentatious diamond necklace . . . or heck, even a super-mousy shy kid in a plain school uniform . . . each of these characters will certainly think differently about how to best navigate the crowded and unfamiliar stair-filled subway platform. They each might notice different and unexpected things in the auditorium on the first day of school. So if you don't mention anything about who they are, your reader will fill in with the easiest thing, which is a blank and boring "default." Which, OK. . . but again, characters who make interesting choices and observations have depth and are usually way cooler characters to read about.
"Look, my characters are just going to Mickey-D's, let's not make a big deal out of it."
Not every split second in your book will be able to further the plot. But, pretty much anything your character does, if it is important enough to put in a book,
should reveal something about them. Even mudane things. Hell,
ESPECIALLY mundane things.
If your character is going to
McDonalds, where they come from will inform how they approach that
experience. Do they keep kosher? Are they diabetic? Do they have body
issues? Must they stick to the value meal and worry about it? Do they
recognize the person behind the counter? Is it their sister? Are they
skeeved out because it is dirty in there and they saw a PBS show about
what goes in the chicken nuggets and now they are wiping everything down with hand sanitizer and ordering vegetarian?
Are they waiting for the bathroom because they need to brush their teeth
and change clothes? Is it the one place they can meet up with their
boyfriend away from the prying eyes of their family? Do they eat fast and thoughtlessly because they are wrapped up in writing a sonata and don't even notice their surroundings? Any of these
choices would reveal something about the character. Otherwise, why bother putting it
in the book?
"But I've heard you say you want books where people are just [gay, bi, queer, trans, etc], and being [any of these things] is not a PROBLEM."
Sure. Being gay [or whatever else] isn't a bad thing. It doesn't need to be a problem.
Just, most of the books I see in this vein are coming-out narratives
that include being disowned and beaten up or worse. While this is no
doubt the experience of some people, it's not the only story, and it is a
story that has been told a lot. I'd rather hear a different story.
Still, if you are tempted to just not mention gayness, you are making it invisible.
I don't want it to be invisible. It's real, and important.
"But I don't want to write an ISSUE BOOK!"
I'm not saying all books should include grinding poverty or racial unrest or fat activism or queer kissing or ANYTHING. (Well, actually, maybe all books should include queer kissing.) (KIDDING!) (or am I?) . . . Annnnyway, I don't think it has to be an issue book to reflect reality. I think it just has to reflect reality. If you want a book with interesting and vibrant characters, they should be multi-faceted and not cookie-cutter default. . . Reality happens to include all kinds of people.
I'm also not saying "I hate books about [xyz] people" OR "I
only want to rep books about [xyz] people."
anything you want to write about is FINE. I'm not the topic-police. I'm
just saying, straight-cis-white-ablebodied-uppermiddleclass main characters
are the vast majority of what fills the ol' inbox (and, for that matter,
the bookstore). So non-default stories, whatever they may be, will feel fresh, and are likely stand out in a good way.
TL:DR -- YES, PLEASE DO SEND ME YOUR DIVERSE NARRATIVES. I'M INTERESTED.