gatekeeperspost

An Older Article About Why Straight People Don’t Read Gay Books

Sometimes I find it interesting to go back a few years and read articles and blog posts to see how things have changed in publishing. In this case, I think a great deal has changed.

The article to which I’m linking dates back to May, 2007. I’ve always thought of the year 2007 as being a pivotal point in publishing in general. Little things began to happen that triggered a string of events that would change publishing forever. And we didn’t know it at the time.

I remember well because I was there. In 2007 established publishing professionals laughed at e-publishing, and self-publishing was still considered vanity publishing and no one would even admit to doing it. In 2007 there were blogs written by literary agents and editors for large publishing houses that were considered the best places to get information about publishing, if not the only places. That’s the year anonymous blogger Miss Snark reached her peak and then vanished into cyberspace and left her dedicated readership shocked and saddened. That’s also the same year a publishing professional told me e-books would never be more than a half a per cent of the book market. I even remember that iUniverse was the place to self-publish if that’s what you wanted to do and take the chance of being laughed at. And the only means of hope for an author was the never ending query process…a flawed process in my opinion where some agents in 2007 still refused to entertain digital queries and insisted on snail mail queries.

And now a handful of literary agent blogs remain, Miss Snark is a distant memory, and self-published books are making some authors very rich…some are also making a decent living on self-published books. I know people are still querying agents, but not as much as they used to. But more than that, literary agents are starting their own digital services, the very thing many (not all) scorned five years earlier.

So some things have changed. In fact, with more and more people calling for less anonymity, I think if anonymous Miss Snark were still around she/he would have been outed and exposed. I think that’s because the Internet is becoming more professional and people are taking it seriously now more than ever. Amateur anonymity like Miss Snark’s can be entertaining and enjoyable (it was very entertaining at the time), but a lot of people who are tired of sockpuppets and Internet fakes are not willing to put up with the same things they did five years ago. And the goal seems to be make it more professional. I’ve been wanting to do youtube readings for my books and putting it off because I know it’s going to cost me to hire a professional. I won’t do it with an iPhone and a dream. I want it to be professionally done. Something like this might not help sell books, but it will be on the Internet forever and I don’t want to come off looking like Lucy and Ethel selling Aunt Martha’s homemade salad dressing in the 1950’s. (I plan to write a post about this soon.) There’s nothing wrong with amateur videos. Some are very clever. I just don’t want one of me turning up in the future where I’m wearing bad clothes and sitting slumped over.

When I found this article, “Why Don’t Straight People Read Gay Books?” I had to smile while I read it. This is the way many people thought five years ago:

As a gay man, I actually read very little “gay literature”. There isn’t that much gay lit published these days, especially since the demise of Gay Men’s Press, and anyway I consider myself a citizen of the world, not a member of some exclusive fragment of society called the gay community.

It’s a very good article. The author goes on to explain why he writes gay fiction and how his gay experiences motivate and inspire him. Then he talks about how frustrating it is when his books are received this way:

I first started to realise that heterosexuals were less interested, less open to, or perhaps even embarrassed by my world when a close friend declined to read my book. “Well,” he said simply, “I’m not gay.”

In this respect I think a lot has changed since 2007. Some things are still the same, I can back that up through my own personal experiences in publishing. Large publishers, most literary agents, and most mainstream editors are still not interested in LGBT material. But e-publishers and indie authors who have created sub-genres that include m/m romance and gay fiction have been slowly gaining a new readership with straight people since 2007. And the sales prove that those who don’t think straight people are interested in reading gay books are wrong. There is a huge market for straight women and gay fiction. I’m not sure about straight men. But from what I hear they don’t read much anyway, and those who do focus more on non-fiction. On the other hand, I actually know a few straight men writing gay fiction who are doing very well.

The author of the article talked about how he was treated by the press back then:

Emails and letters aren’t answered. Review copies go missing or appear directly for sale on Amazon marketplace. Replacement review copies again go missing. Finally, when the newspapers do acknowledge receipt of the book and maybe even concede that it’s “on the potential review shelf” that’s the end of the story.

With regard to the mainstream media, I think this is still true. But in the last five years web sites that review and discuss gay fiction have popped up all over the place. There are so many I can’t list them here. Some of these web sites are owned by straight women who read gay fiction. And authors who write gay fiction have found a fan base they never knew existed. I can back that up, too. When I was told that straight women were reading gay romance and gay erotica back in 2007 I was stunned and didn’t really believe it at first. It wasn’t long after that when I started to see it was true when straight women started e-mailing me about my fiction.

At the end of the article the author asks a few very interesting questions about why straight people don’t read gay fiction:

Now there must be an explanation of this, and that explanation interests me. Are my books so popular that people steal them for home? Are straight book reviewers embarrassed to admit that they enjoyed a book containing gay characters? I really don’t know.

I could be wrong, but my take on all this is that publishing has evolved in a way that authors and smaller presses are now able to reach more people with digital books and the Internet. The gatekeepers who would never have entertained gay authors or gay books because they didn’t think they could sell them are not determining what the public reads anymore. The print publications that used to review books are disappearing one by one because no one is reading print media anymore. My last copy of Time Magazine felt like it was ten pages thick. It felt more like a newsletter than a magazine. I look at books recommended in magazines now and think,”ick.” And as publishing continues to evolve into a more reader oriented industry where a handful of select gatekeepers don’t call all the shots anymore, who knows what might happen.

In any event, please take the time to check out the link I’ve provided and read the article in full. I know what the author is saying is true because I was there and I felt the same way he did at the time.

Protected: Gatekeepers Post – Live Announcement!

Protected: Gatekeepers Post – Live Announcement!

As I mentioned last week, there’s a new web site/blog launching tomorrow that deals with the publishing industry. I received an e-mail about it last week and I’ve been dying to talk about it since then. I just hope the homepage is faster to bring up tomorrow than it is today. Because, gatekeeperspost.com, if it’s not you’ll be losing readers that don’t have time to wait three or four minutes for the homepage to open (smile). We want to read it, we really do, but we don’t want our coffee to get cold in the meantime.

Here’s the press release:

THE GATEKEEPERS POST LAUNCHESA NEW SOCIAL MEDIA BOOK PUBLISHING COMMUNITY
FOR RELEASE: Monday, January 31, 2011
Author and media personality, Jeff Rivera launches The Gatekeepers Post, a new social media community intended to make a significant impact on the conversation of book publishing.
With the decline in print book sales, the increase of eBooks, the rapid closing of independent bookstores and the boom in young adult fiction, the world of book publishing is experiencing a flux few could have anticipated even five years ago.
Industry outlets have struggled to keep pace with the new developments in publishing but the changes are happening too fast for anyone to cover it all. The industry and public’s insatiable appetite for fresh news on the rapid changes has only increased.
The Gatekeepers Post hopes to satisfy that appetite. A cross between Huffington Post and Publishers Weekly, the outlet features some of the most important and respected voices in book publishing.
Joined by an editorial advisory board that includes the likes of print and online magazine editor Neal Boulton;
TechSavvy high-tech consulting CEO Scott Steinberg; New York Times bestselling author and Publisher, Zane; Planned TV Arts’ Rick Frishman; Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives Ed Nawotka; Smashwords’ Mark Coker; Thomas Dunne Book’s Brendan Deneen; eReads.com publisher and veteran literary agent Richard Curtis; Editor-in-Chief of Gawker.tv Richard Blakeley; former Writers Digest Books Editor-at-Large Jane Friedman; Authorpreneur Joe Konrath; and Hachette’s Director of Multicultural Publicity Linda Duggins. The new outlet also features Gatekeepers bloggers that site founder and Editor-in-Chief Jeff Rivera personally handpicked. “The support from the industry has been overwhelming,” says Rivera, “I’m proud of the high caliber of Gatekeepers and guest bloggers who’ll be joining us.” Veteran agents, major editors, librarians, publishers, publicists and authors such as New York Times bestseller Alisa Valdes Rodriguez will be lending their voice to the community as well. Book publishing heavy weights such as Andrea Barzvi of ICM, Keith Ogorek of Author Solutions, Harvey Klinger of the Harvey Klinger Agency, Bill Gladstone of Waterside Productions, Glenn Yeffeth of BenBella Books, Steve Wilson CEO of Fast Pencil and Ellen Goldsmith-Vein of Gotham Group have also joined.
A steady stream of book-centric reviews, headlining news, articles, and op-ed pieces, will be incorporated within the outlet along with forthcoming special events such as virtual panel discussions and online conferences.
Gatekeepers Post officially launches on February 1, 2011 at midnight.