Queer books discussion

148 views
What is missing in LGBT fiction

Comments Showing 1-30 of 30 (30 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (om_boy) What topics do you think are missing or not covered in current/past LGBT fiction?

I was just wondering what you feel would be a good story, but never to seem to come across in books today?




message 2: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (om_boy) That would be a great topic!


message 3: by Ashley (new)

Ashley (ashleybros) | 2 comments I'd like to see more books that normalize LGBT themes, instead of having to have them addressed like they are issues. I have read only a handful of books with gay characters who aren't all about being gay. I'd like to read a well written book that features a queer character who has already gone through the process of coming out and being okay with it. Just like any other novel with straight characters who are okay with their heterosexuality.


message 4: by Bonnie (new)

Bonnie (mzbonnie) | 2 comments It seems like quite a few of the lesbian detective novels that I have read are more like that, where their sexual orientation is just another part of them, no big deal.


message 5: by Victor (new)

Victor J. (victorjbanis) | 9 comments It seems to me that today's lgbt fiction is incredibly varied - mysteries, cowboys, sci-fi, romance, humor, even cookbooks. If anything is missing, it's the readers. Sales remain small in comparison to the past; but that seems to be improving.

I can tell you, though, what I do not want to see, and that is anymore AIDS stories. Yes, AIDS was the great watershed event of the nineties, and yes, a great tragedy, but I think that has been told, and most of what I see in this vein these days is just a rehashing.

And, though I don't want to minimize anyone's experience, I think there is a certain dishonesty in that fiction, just as with the fiction of the forties and fifties. That dealt so utterly with the downside of the homosexual experience, the fear and the guilt and the persecution, but it ignored the fact that in real life gay people were often happy, too; they had fun and fell in love and many of them, despite all the difficulties, managed to live happily ever after.

And I think the same could be said about the AIDS era. However great a part of gay life AIDS was/is, it was not the entirety of it.

Victor J Banis




message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Very true, Victor - I entirely agree. AIDS literature has definitely had its day. Much like cancer literature, I feel. There are other parts of life.

Axxx


message 7: by Victor (new)

Victor J. (victorjbanis) | 9 comments I agree that it would be nice to have more of those bios - for the record, the great Ann Bannon is currently working on her memoirs and there is a new book due out soon on Sam Steward/Phil Andros. Also, an anthology edited by Wayne Gunn, the Golden Age of Gay Paperbacks (MLR Press, due this spring) which will have material on Joe Hansen and Lonnie Coleman, among others.

But the truth is, most publishers just aren't interested. My memoirs, Spine Intact, Some Creases, had to be published first in Italy; they're available now in an American edition, but I was turned down by most of the gay publishers (even where they said they loved the ms.) and despite rave reviews, haven't sold more than a handful. I even serialized a big chunk on my website, but no one seemed to care.

So, don't expect the major publishers to fill this void any time soon.

Victor


message 8: by Adam (new)

Adam Hodgins | 8 comments I’d like to see more stuff coming from a working class perspective, more Canadian stuff and most of the new queer stuff I like is written by women, I’d love to see some more stuff by guys.


message 9: by Victor (new)

Victor J. (victorjbanis) | 9 comments Well, Longhorns; Lola Dances; Angel Land. Deadly Nightshade; Deadly Wrong - have you tried those on? And if you have, I would welcome feedback. If you want books by guys, you'll have to support the guys.

Victor


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm currently reviewing a paranormal mystery/suspense that has a bisexual female protagonist. Not a sex scene in the entire novel. It's just another aspect of her life and relationships.


message 11: by Tove (new)

Tove | 1 comments Bonnie wrote: "It seems like quite a few of the lesbian detective novels that I have read are more like that, where their sexual orientation is just another part of them, no big deal."

Can you recommend any of these books?
I would love to read a book about someone like the character "Lucy" in Patricia Cornwell's Scarpetta series. A gay super women heroine. :)


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

NerdGirl wrote: "I've noticed on the past few books I've reviewed, there was no mention that the main character was gay - If You Follow Me and Days of Grace and I wonder why?"

If the character's sexual orientation is immaterial to the plot it's unnecessary, and it's always better to show than to tell.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Adam wrote: "I’d like to see more stuff coming from a working class perspective, more Canadian stuff and most of the new queer stuff I like is written by women, I’d love to see some more stuff by guys."

Canadian "stuff" - Kicker's Journey by Lois Cloarec Hart (PD Publishing). Available on Amazon.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Ashley wrote: "I'd like to see more books that normalize LGBT themes, instead of having to have them addressed like they are issues. I have read only a handful of books with gay characters who aren't all about b..."
What conflict would you like to see in a story like this? Conflict/tension drives fiction, gotta have a source for it.


message 15: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 3 comments Lara, I'd imagine that conflicts might be along the lines of relationship issues, job issues, money issues, etc. Issues that everyone faces, regardless of their sexual orientation. I know where Ashley's coming from. Having been out for a *cough* long time, I'm not interested in reading stories that focus on coming to terms with being gay, coming out to family members, or other conflicts along those lines.

Science fiction and fantasy stories often have LGBT main characters grappling with universal conflicts. Check out Sandra Barret and Jane Fletcher. I also write stories with lesbian main characters and conflicts that don't revolve around being lesbian. You can read my stories for free at my website (http://www.rymellanstories.com) or buy them in print/eBook format.


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks, Sarah, I have read those. I wasn't disputing, just asking for clarification on her position.


message 17: by Erik (new)

Erik Orrantia (captaineo70) | 5 comments It's hard to say...clearly, not everyone is looking for the same thing. Many still want to focus on typical "gay" issues--homophobia, coming out, inequality, etc. Others want to see just regular old gay folks in conflicts not related to sexual orientation. Perhaps a lot depends on who you are and where you are from. Living in Mexico, I might remind some people that most of the world is nowhere near the debate of gay marriage. I'm sure you've followed the issues in Africa of people getting imprisoned for homosexuality...and cemeteries refusing to bury gays! We're not out of the woods just yet.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

In many cases is it still "LBGT" literature" if the central conflict is not related to the character(s) sexuality or an LBGT issue?

ie. Wouldn't it then just be a mainstream book with gay character(s)? Would it even be marketed as a "gay" book? Probably not.


message 19: by Erik (new)

Erik Orrantia (captaineo70) | 5 comments That's a good point...true enough. Nevertheless, since there may be a lot of gay people who want to see or read such a story, where gayness isn't necessarily the main theme, it might still be tagged as such. I think the tags are directed to the populations who might be most interested in it.


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

tags and genre labeling are about bookstores and in the world of online bookstores, for searches by buyers, so it's all about classifying a book for sales purposes, that is true. However, we also know that books labeled exclusively for GLBT readers will never be picked up but a certain (large) percentage of mainstream readers. So if the non-GLBT themes of the book are suitable for a larger audience, would you still put a GLBT label on it if you could get 1 million copies sold without it, but only 10,000 copies sold with it?


message 21: by Sarah (last edited Jun 27, 2010 03:15PM) (new)

Sarah | 3 comments Sadly, many non-GLBT folks won't read books with GLBT main characters because they assume they won't be able to relate. I hope that changes in the future!

Regarding stories with GLBT characters but no GLBT conflict: they're still GLBT literature. The main audience is still the GLBT community. Most of my readers are in the lesbian community, and the other books I mentioned in my earlier post were published by lesbian presses.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Mark Doty's Dog Years was a huge mainstream bestseller. His memoir about him and his partner, their life with dogs in Provincetown. So non-GLBT folks will read books with GLBT main characters. We just have to market to the universal themes. IMHO.


message 23: by Erik (new)

Erik Orrantia (captaineo70) | 5 comments Hey, even selling 10,000 books wouldn't be bad, now would it? But, to be honest with you, I think the sales figures are a bit secretive...and I have left such marketing decisions up to my publisher.

I just finished a manuscript which is a suspense, I suppose, with a very secondary lesbian theme. I think I'd want to market it to both GLBT and non-GLBT, if it ever gets that far. I guess GLBT are more likely to read non-GLBT than vice versa...is that what you are hypothesizing?


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

I think many small publishers aren't equipped to reach the mainstream market whether they want to or not.

How many of the small presses are full-time operations, and submit your books for you to all the major review sites, like NYT, Trib Services, Midwest Book Review, or ALA? How many of them issue press releases even to the local papers, much less the national and international wire services?

These are SOP actions at the "big" houses. Most of the small presses don't even try.


message 25: by Erik (new)

Erik Orrantia (captaineo70) | 5 comments I'm sure there is a little "Payola" going on, too; at best, lots of "professional relationships" and back-scratching. Admittedly, I'm ignorant about the field. Sounds like you, Lara, have much more expertise. So, I am just sponging up information!


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

There is some "insider trading" going on, but it's about being a trained professional in PR. There just aren't many publishers that can afford PR people on the payroll who know where to submit things. A lot of it is knowing the "lead time" which is necessary to reach many advertising mediums. Despite -- no, in fact because of, the spontaneity of electronic media -- no one wants to be the bearer of "old news". How many of you get an ARC more than a month before your release? Most review sites want at least that much time just to find a reviewer to review the book. By the time your book has been released a month it's old news. No one wants to review it. Most larger publishers actually have their books essentially ready for release SIX months before a release date and start the PR for it -- distributing the ARC and press kit, instead of on release. By the time we're seeing the newspaper ads, or the bookstore flyers about a new release, the national and international press has had the book for 3 months... or more. The book review had been done, and put in a dated bin, to be released in the week of, or the day of, the book's official release.

A PR person at a publishing house keeps a calendar of all release dates and has a press kit for every title, and ARCs. But most importantly, they have a list of addresses/emails at all the review sources, and a timetable for when/how they like their copies for reviews, by targeted month.

Instead, for small presses, each author is expected to do their own. No wonder we never get anywhere.

Even if a small consortium of publishers banded together and hired one person to handle all their calendaring, it would elevate small press notice the tiniest fraction, simply because the information would be reaching the wider market. Because honestly, we're preaching to the choir when we're talking just to other online folks. Less than 1/4 of the U.S. is "plugged in." The rest still get their information about books from the newspaper, and their community library. So if we're not reaching those sources, 3/4 of the American population is NOT even getting a chance to be interested or not. At present census data, that's more than 300 million people who DON'T know about you. Even if a tenth of them are GLBT that's 30 million, and if only a tenth of those bought your book, that's 3,000,000 sales more than you're making now!

There's a reason Stephen King of J.K. Rowling sell 10 million copies in their first day. Their publisher tapped into the full market, not just a little slice of it. But as you can see, the market is so huge that is still just a drop in the bucket of the American population.

Just to have a chance at more sales than you're making, you have to get in front of a larger audience.

GLBT buying percentages, by the way, mirror the general populace. They've found, in survey after survey, only about 10% of the people reached about a particular product buy it. So to get larger sales, you've got to reach more people. Enlarge the pool, and 10% becomes a larger raw number.

How many of the small publishers at least send out a press release to every GLBT newspaper/magazine in the U.S. about your winners/finalists at awards, GLBT or not? How many send out a press release to all the indie/GLBT bookstores? How many send out a press release to the GLBT Centers?

Even if all you end up with is they put your flyer on the main lobby wall, you've just gotten a "billboard" to reach thousands, in a place you could never get yourself. Three times they'll pass your name as they go to/from their meeting, and your name and book title will be familiar to them. Do that three months before your book is released.

If you can get a copy of your book into the lending library at that Center upon release, accompanied by a "Now Available" sheet for them to change out. Guess what? You've got new readers.

If you can get the local bookstore to stock the book, and tell people in that flyer that it's available there after a similar "three months" advance, you've got new readers.

So, in lieu of the publishers managing to get their acts together and marketing us, I've just given you my three biggest tips for expanding your market reach.

Good luck!


message 27: by Victor (new)

Victor J. (victorjbanis) | 9 comments There's not much of a blanket rule when it comes to indies - MLR does lots of promo, with review sites, bookstores, distributors, shows, etc. Regal Crest does absolutely none, leaving it all up to the author.

But, I have to say, I don't think the major print houses do much anymore either, except for their big name authors (who would probably sell without any PR.) When I was publishing with St. Martins, Arbor House, et al, they really got behind a book, but I don't think that's generally true anymore. The publishing world is changing to dramatically and so quickly right now. Hard to keep up with it all.


message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

Agreed, there's diverse response in the small presses. But there's damn few trying to reach readers outside our small pond, much less everyone already the GLBT pond. The number of GLBT book readers I encounter at a typical Center meeting is miniscule. Most of them still don't know that GLBT small presses are fairly bursting at the seams with books by, for, about them.


message 29: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 3 comments Lara wrote: "Mark Doty's Dog Years was a huge mainstream bestseller. His memoir about him and his partner, their life with dogs in Provincetown. So non-GLBT folks will read books with GLBT main characters. We j..."

Sure, a few books have managed to sell to the mainstream, but they're exceptions. It would be interesting to see what would happen if GLBT books were aggressively promoted/marketed to the mainstream.

Good info about PR!


message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Sarah wrote: "Sure, a few books have managed to sell to the mainstream, but they're exceptions. It would be interesting to see what would happen if GLBT books were aggressively promoted/marketed to the mainstream. "

Exactly what I'm trying with providing what knowledge I glean. I may be one tiny voice, but if I can inform my colleagues at small publishers how it can be done, maybe many small voice will become a bigger roll of thunder.


back to top