Whenever I think about how the gay/lesbian genre has evolved in the past twenty years, I’m still in absolute shock. Ten years ago, if you were writing anything with same sex content, your choices were to try to get a short story into an anthology published by a gay press, try to get a single author title pubbed by a gay press, or hope for the best and contact a literary agent who represented authors in the “gay/lesbian” genre. There weren’t many agents who did this; there still aren’t; mainstream publishers have never considered same sex material saleable.
If you self-published you were basically wasting a lot of money and time…unless you did it for vanity reasons. If you were a reader looking for books with same sex material your choices were just as limited as author choices. Even today, if you haven’t joined technology and started reading digital books, you’re not getting the choices in brick and mortar bookstores.
And then came M/M Romance, in digital format. In some cases, M/M/ Romance has replaced Chick Lit for some readers. And the variety within the sub-genre of M/M Romance seems to be across the board. There are sexy romances with explicit scenes, there are more emotional romances with less sex, and there are highly charged romances with hardly any sex at all. The choices now astound me, mainly because I never thought I’d see this happen.
I remember a blog post Lori Perkins wrote about six or seven years ago. I’d been following her agent blog for a while and I enjoyed her take on the publishing industry. I’ll never forget one post she wrote about erotic romance and same sex erotic romance. She actually talked about authors writing same sex erotic romance and making money while doing it. At the time, I’d been writing and getting published in the “gay/lesbian” genre for almost fifteen years. I thought the woman had lost her mind. The only money I was ever paid for submitting a short story to a gay press was a flat fee of fifty bucks and one free copy. No royalties; no hope for anything more than fifty bucks. And one gay press in particular had dropped its flat fee to twenty-five bucks. I believe they are still doing this. Gay/lesbian fiction wasn’t just on the fringes of publishing it wasn’t even on the map.
Evidently, Lori saw something coming I didn’t see. I’m glad I took her post seriously, too. As an author always eager to write anything, when I started to write M/M Romance and I started to submit to digital publishers, my entire world changed. Although I did eventually publish with Lori, with Ravenous Romance, a publishing company where she’s part owner, I actually started submitting my work to Loveyoudivine.com. Within months I was amazed at how much I loved working with digital publishers. The process was basically the same as far as submission and editorial goes. But there wasn’t any attitude. E-publishers actually treated authors like human beings. But more than that, I didn’t need an agent. I have nothing against agents. It’s just nice to know that an author can manage and control his or her own career if he or she so chooses to do this.
The point of this post is about M/M Romance and how it’s evolved. In one way that I’ve seen it evolve is within the blog sphere. I came across a blog last night I didn’t know was around. It’s called “Chicks & Dicks.” The posts are interesting and often come from a POV I don’t see very often. Yesterday I read an interesting post written by someone who wanted to see more femme characters in M/M Romance. Being that I know a lot of effeminate gay men of all ages, I wouldn’t mind seeing this either. But what I find even more interesting is how blogs like this are helping the entire M/M Romance genre grow and expand into something larger than I ever expected I’d see in my lifetime.
I know there’s still a long way to go. But at least we’re on the map. I recently posted about an “incident” regarding a group affiliated with RWA and same sex discrimination. I’m not even going to get into that again because I’m more interested in blogs and authors at places like “Chicks & Dicks” who are doing positive things with their lives. I’d rather read something positive than negative any day. And because I know, first hand, how unbelievably difficult it was to even get an ounce of attention or recognition as a gay author not more than ten years ago, I fully appreciate anyone who wants to help promote anything in same sex fiction.
If you’re a fan of M/M Romance, check out Chicks & Dicks. You can get there from here.