Genre and LGBT publishing

I decided to join in with the Wednesday blog thing, #QueerBlogWed. More content on my blog will never go amiss and honestly, blogging is still my favorite form of social media, probably because I love to talk and talk and talk…

I’m almost too tired from finals week to come up with anything cogent but I did want to talk (whine if you will) about genre fiction in LGBT publishing, especially SF/Fantasy. It’s a fact that contemporary fiction sells best in the romance genre, a fact that makes me just a touch sad. Mostly, that’s because I do not like contemporary stories and never have. I’ve been a genre reader my entire life. I started with mysteries in elementary school and before I was even in middle school I was already into SF and fantasy. Those three remain my main reading interest. I’ve tried contemporary books and just can’t get into them.

So that means a lot of my favorite LGBT authors I haven’t been reading lately because they’ve been herded into writing more contemporary than SF/F/UF. Oh I’ve tried but even though I know the books have been good, they aren’t my thing. One of the authors said to me “I write the contemporary books because they pay and let me write the things I enjoy more.’ That’s a great way to think about it but there’s just one problem. If you don’t like a genre, it’s very hard to write it and write it well.

That’s where I am right now. I have a single contemporary short story out there, A Light in the Darkness. The other one I tried to write was…boring. I’m not surprised it generated no interest. I have two novels started but it’s plodding for me to write them because it’s not my great love. It never will be and it makes me sad to see a lot of genre series canceled lately and some authors have been told straight up they need to be writing more contemporary fiction. Most of the publishing submission pages contain a line that reads ‘contemporary sells best.’

Now, I don’t blame the publishing houses one bit. It’s a business and they need to do what’s best for business. I’m just wondering is it really true there isn’t an audience for genre fiction? I don’t believe that. I belong to the Queer Sci Fi group on Facebook and I know there are a couple thousand members. When the m/m romance group on Goodreads was doing their writing exchanges, many of the prompts were genre related because I had so many to choose from it was impossible to even whittle down the ones I wanted to toss my hat in the ring for. For that matter I know a lot of the buying audience are women from the slash fic fandom arena (which is a whole other can of worms for another day) and many of the fandoms are genre.

So there is an audience out there, granted it’s smaller than the one for contemporary fiction (that’s true too of the non-LGBT side of publishing as well) but how to reach it, that is the question. I’m sure I’m not the one to answer that question. I am sure that I’ll continue to support genre authors because SF/F/UF is my passion. I’ll continue to struggle to find a contemporary plot I can write but at the end of the day I hope genre doesn’t just fall off the publishing houses’ radars because of low sales. I’d hate to see it cut away as dead wood.

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