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Can m/m fiction be mainstreamed? Running Press is taking the chance.

According to Publishers Weekly, Running Press is going to offer gay romance fiction written by and for straight women. The series will launch in April with “Transgressions” and “False Colors” with two more titles set for fall 2009 release.

President Jon Anderson of Running Press is doing the acquiring and the line is edited by Lisa Clancy.

These books are “erotic but not hardcover explicit.” (Do they mean “hardcore” v. “hardcover”). Running Press is hoping to get these titles shelved in the main romance fiction section of the bookstores. Huzzah.

Via Daphne.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

51 Comments

  1. Jessica
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 12:12:46

    Interesting. I hope it works. But I have two questions:

    Why is “m/m” fiction synonymous with “gay romance fiction”. Is there no f/f?

    And I wonder what is meant by “by female authors”? Just the obvious?

  2. Louisa Edwards
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 12:22:45

    They must mean ‘hardcore’ not ‘hardcover’. That makes zero sense. But even if the press release is less than perfect, I sure hope this line succeeds! There can never be too much hot boylove, as far as I’m concerned. I think this has been coming for a long time, and the high sales enjoyed by m/m authors at epubs like Samhain and Ellora’s Cave do seem to indicate that there’s a large and growing readership.

  3. Emmy
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 13:36:37

    It would be nice to see m/m shelved with the main romance, but I’m not holding my breath. Black authors are still stuck in a far away corner, too.

    As far as a press offering exclusively gay romance and still being viable…Torquere Press has been around since 2003/2004 time frame. It didn’t fold the first year when gay romance (not gay porn) was hard to find, so I’m guessing they’re doing ok. All 5 of their authors and their 20 pseuds, lol.

    And I wonder what is meant by “by female authors”?

    A good chunk of gay romances are written by women who have male pseuds. Just like many males who write traditional romance use female pseuds. That old perception that you have to be what you write or it won’t be realistic/legitimate.

    That’s only applicable in the romance world, btw. I have yet to read a fantasy book by an author who claimed to be a wizard or a dragon.

  4. Erastes
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 14:03:41

    Yes, it was a typo – the editor emailed me immediately to apologise, it should be “hardcore”

    *laughs*

  5. Steve Berman
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 14:16:30

    I’m curious if they are even bothering to contact gay booksellers.

  6. Jessica
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 14:32:51

    @Emmy: Emmy, I know a lot of m/m is written by women (some of them with male pseuds), but does an m/m romance written by an actual man not count in this subgenre? Would it be shelved somewhere else?

  7. Tashe
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 15:15:21

    @Jessica: an m/m romance written by a gay man for gay men would be shelved in the (usually very tiny and difficult to find) shelf of gay/lesbian books. Same with f/f work written by women for women. It sounds to me like this publisher is pushing to get the m/m stuff that’s written by straight women for straight women shelved with the romances, which makes sense.

  8. Eva Lynn
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 15:21:00

    What, only straight women? What about all the bi and lesbian women who write m/m? Are they going to require authorial sexual histories before accepting manuscripts?

    Seriously, most of the women I know who write good m/m (and there are a lot) are bi, and a couple are lesbian. Only a few are actually straight.

    Aside from that, this would be awesome and I look forward to seeing them make it work.

  9. Ann Somerville
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 16:33:15

    written by and for straight women.

    Well that’s going to drag a few ‘men’ out of the closet, ain’t it.

    Why does romance have to be erotica? And why does m/m always have to be about the sex? Sheesh.

  10. Marcy Arbitman
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 17:34:04

    I read a lot of M/M eBook fiction and love it. I don’t see why F/F won’t be equally accepted. A well written love story is the best fiction that I can read, regardless of the protagonists.

  11. kirsten saell
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 17:47:50

    I’m not going to comment on the extreme disparity between the acceptance of m/m romance and that of f/f romance, except to say that writing about two women (or two women and one man) falling in love is something even lesbian and bisexual woman writers don’t seem to want to do much of.

    Uh oh. My bitterness is showing again.

  12. Anon Y. Mouse
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 18:59:47

    Very very interesting. It’d be a shame if the economy woes nip this in the bud, as it’s something that’s needed to happen for a long time now. I don’t know how well a new, risky line is going to do with the publishing industry and the country as a whole going to hell in a handbasket as far as profit goes.

    I’d just hate to have people point at this later, if it fails, and go “See, nobody wants that!” when maybe they do but the timing was rank.

  13. Teddypig
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 19:11:18

    Running Press is going to offer gay romance fiction written by and for straight women.

    Wow!

    What? So Gay Men stay out? Not yours! Women only, you would not understand romance?

  14. Ann Somerville
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 19:46:17

    Women only, you would not understand romance?

    Of course. Because women are the best people to understand why ‘Beautiful C*cksucker’ is actually a tender romantic title, and not gratuitously offensive to gay men. What do gay men know anyway?

    Women write gay love just as well and better than gay men, so if we can keep those nasty homos out of our fantasies, so much the better. After all, how can we get on with our harmless objectification, if gay men will insist on popping up and asking for some respect and reality in our porn erotica?

  15. Laura Baumbach
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 21:20:46

    This isn’t news. Several e-publishers put out M/M erotic romance in print an dmy own small press MLR Press has been doing M/M erotic romance exclusively for TWO years now with books on both B&N mortar store shelves and in gay books stores.

    Right now one of our current releases, Mexican Heat by Josh Lanyon and Laura Baumbach (myself) is listing #3 on B&N best-selling gay romance right after two of Suzanne Brockmann’s books.

    It’s not new, but it is great to see the genre spreading in popularity.

  16. Ann Somerville
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 21:24:02

    My bitterness is showing again.

    If even lesbians don’t want to read f/f, I don’t know that you can blame a mainstream press for not throwing money at it.

    If you want to read f/f, there are plenty of respectable lesbian and GLBT presses. I know, I’m with one. I suggest you browse through the output at PD Publishing, or Lethe Press.

    No point in complaining about businesses largely aimed at heterosexual women targeting their efforts at them and not at a genre which you admit has almost no mainstream readership. That’s like complaining about a fruit store not selling beef.

  17. Ann Somerville
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 21:25:55

    Laura, did you miss the part about ‘mainstream’? Small presses doing m/m isn’t anything new.

    M/m being picked by a mainstream publisher is.

  18. vein
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 21:35:42

    I would note that about half the female-authored MM I own is mainstream. Mercedes Lackey, Tanya Huff, Tanith Lee, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Mel Keegan, Ellen Kushner, Elizabeth Knox, Fiona Patton, Laura Argiri, Lynn Flewelling and now I am just tired of typing, not out of examples.

    Having a press specialise in that area seems, to me, to be mildly interesting at best. MM is a theme not a genre. So it is shelved in the relevant genre area in almost all cases other than genre romance where it is excluded. But mainstream MM is, in my experience, rather commonplace on the literary, contemporary, fantasy etc shelves.

  19. Jessica Freely
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 22:08:23

    Well, I think this is awesome news. Big congrats to Erastes and Alex Beecroft for nabbing the flagship releases.

    I do think that the straight in “aimed at straight women” is a needlessly narrow categorization. Most of the women I know in M/M are bi or lesbian.

    Nonetheless, this puts to the test the question of whether M/M can work in the Romance section. I think people will be surprised at just how well it does, and pretty soon, it won’t just be historical, but contemporary too. And maybe people will get over all these labels and finally twig to the fact that everyone loves a good romance, anyone can write one, and it can be about anyone.

  20. kirsten saell
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 22:58:52

    No point in complaining about businesses largely aimed at heterosexual women targeting their efforts at them and not at a genre which you admit has almost no mainstream readership. That's like complaining about a fruit store not selling beef.

    My comment was aimed more at bi and lesbian authors who exclude female main characters from their romantic fiction, more than straight women readers. I’ve heard it bandied about that they write m/m because they have no interest in “Chippendale dancers and hen parties” and what-have-you, as if that’s the only kind of woman who could inhabit a romance novel, as if it’s impossible to write even one dynamic female romance protagonist, let alone two. I mean, if even lesbians find men more interesting than women, what does that say about us?

    I will concede that there’s plenty of lesbian fiction around–lesbian romance is another thing entirely. But I personally know a large number of straight and not-so-straight women readers who bemoan the lack of well-written f/f content in romance–especially presented in a bisexual context. It’s not that the market isn’t there, or that it isn’t mainstream (one could argue a bit of girl-on-girl in a romance has been verging on mainstream since Fanny Hill). I’ll grant the number of readers rabidly clamoring for f/f and f/f/m is significantly less than those who scream for more m/m–but I would guess that the percentage of women who would happily read a het romance with a f/f or f/f/m scene isn’t unsubstantial, either.

  21. Ann Somerville
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 23:05:29

    I would guess that the percentage of women who would happily read a het romance with a f/f or f/f/m scene isn't unsubstantial, either.

    If there’s pent up demand no one’s paying attention to, I can only suggest you do the surveys, find the data, and make the case. Among my circle of friends, there’s no clamouring for f/f, and they don’t care for menages a trois even between three men. That circle includes gay, bi and straight women and men.

    I make a point in every story I write to try and include strong female characters, who are frequently gay or bi. Remastering Jerna and its sequels feature female characters very prominently. The widespread misogyny in m/m fiction is, however, a completely separate argument from f/f’s lack of popularity. I like strong women characters, but won’t read f/f unless for review – where I find it okay, but not compelling.

  22. kirsten saell
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 23:21:41

    Among my circle of friends, there's no clamouring for f/f, and they don't care for menages a trois even between three men. That circle includes gay, bi and straight women and men.

    That’s the thing–they aren’t clamoring. Readers who would enjoy a bit of f/f in their romance (but not necessarily lesbian romance or lesbian fiction), may actually be more numerous, but their craving is certainly less pressing and less…loud.

    I like strong women characters, but won't read f/f unless for review – where I find it okay, but not compelling.

    Fair enough (and I’ve found a huge percentage of the f/f available in ebooks lacking for me, as well). And I honestly have nothing against m/m or m/m/f–a well-written one can really suck me in and I’m in the process of writing one right now. But an equally well-written f/f/m that isn’t an “I gots two hot chicks seein’ to mah manly needs!” f/m/f, will engage me even more deeply.

    Oh, if only there were some bi and gay male writers out there writing my kind of romance! Oh, wait, they don’t think female characters deserve love, either.

    (Please don’t jump on me, that last one was tongue in cheek.)

  23. Ann Somerville
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 00:21:45

    I do think that the straight in “aimed at straight women” is a needlessly narrow categorization. Most of the women I know in M/M are bi or lesbian.

    Actually, most of the ones I know are straight. However, since they chose a bi author for one of their first releases, clearly they’re not enforcing the ‘straight’ in straight authors (nor should they – how ridiculous). Sounds like they found a definition of slash fanfiction somewhere on the internet and ran with it.

    I think it’s still going to be a long time before I can walk into my local borders and go to the m/m section of the Romance/Erotica shelves. But it would be a lot better than craning my neck to see the gay fic shelves, or having men shoulder me out of the way because I’m in ‘their’ bit of the store.

    Oh, wait, they don't think female characters deserve love, either

    Steve Kluger created some of the most endearing and memorable female characters I’ve ever read in Almost like being in love. as did the writing team of Timothy James Beck in You don’t see me.

    Doesn’t pay to generalise.

  24. kirsten saell
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 02:06:21

    Steve Kluger created some of the most endearing and memorable female characters I've ever read in Almost like being in love. as did the writing team of Timothy James Beck in You don't see me.

    Um, yeah, as secondary characters in m/m romances. So I guess female characters deserve love, they just don’t deserve their own books. Show me a gay guy who writes a love story about two women, complete with f/f sex scenes and endearing and memorable male secondary characters. I dare ya.

    *ducking*

    Seriously, I didn’t really want to hijack this thread with my little quirks, because I will be very pleased if/when m/m romance makes it into the mainstream section of stores. My first comment was a glib response to Jessica’s question:

    Why is “m/m” fiction synonymous with “gay romance fiction”. Is there no f/f?

    I also find it off-putting that the terms “gay romance” and “GLBT romance” are considered synonymous with m/m, largely to the exclusion of other orientations. I’ve found this on publisher websites–especially when I look for f/f/m menage romance–and on review websites when I go looking for reviews of f/f or f/f/m books. Sites and publishers clearly labeled “GLBT” have romance fiction offerings that are almost exclusively m/m. I guess the LB and T can take a hike…

    To be honest, the lack of f/f romance and f/f/m menage romance would rankle less if the GLBT tag were removed when those offerings are token or nonexistent.

  25. Ann Somerville
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 02:15:01

    as secondary characters in m/m romances.

    Actually, When you don’t see me isn’t a romance, and the f/f couple in that are the driving force behind the entire plot.

    I don’t really see why gay men would want to write f/f, when there is so little quality m/m fiction written and published in their community. I suspect they figure dykes can look after themselves in that respect. I don’t understand why lesbians like writing m/m, but you can’t make them write what they don’t want to.

    Sites and publishers clearly labeled “GLBT” have romance fiction offerings that are almost exclusively m/m. I guess the LB and T can take a hike…

    We hardly get offered anything but m/m at Uniquely Pleasurable though I would happily read and review more LBT fiction.

    Samhain won’t take f/f at all, so I think they at least should remove the ‘L’. I suspect GLBT is used as shorthand in a genre which struggles to find a label everyone understands, without too much thought going into the actual meaning. I have had tremendous rows with people over the term ‘original slash’ but at least that’s more honest than an umbrella term for a category which isn’t actually all encompassing.

  26. kirsten saell
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 02:40:43

    Actually, When you don't see me isn't a romance, and the f/f couple in that are the driving force behind the entire plot.

    Ahh. But I was talking about romance.

    Samhain won't take f/f at all, so I think they at least should remove the ‘L'.

    Really? I could have sworn I heard from one of the higher-ups (albeit, some time ago) that the reason they hadn’t published any was due to a lack of quality subs. It left me with the impression that the first f/f they did publish would probably have to be spectacular, but that they weren’t totally closed to the notion. And they do publish f/f/m (and not just the kind where the second “f” wanders off into obscurity and leaves the f/m to their het HEA, which is more than I can say for some).

    I do know why gay men don’t write f/f romance, and it isn’t because they’re compensating for some lack (real or perceived) of m/m fiction. I have my own ideas about why lesbian/bi-women would choose to write m/m exclusively, and they could all be true to some extent, or all completely erroneous. Either way, there are precious few authors writing f/f and f/f/m romance, and fewer still doing it well.

    But there are reviewers who comment on how refreshing it is for a female protagonist to be openly bisexual, or for the female half of a het couple to be the one to pursue a f/f/m menage. There are straight women writing f/f, and straight women reading it. I know quite a few of them, though many feel as uncomfortable about speaking up about it as a (mostly) straight man might be who likes to read your books. Telling them they don’t exist is dismissive and insulting.

  27. kirsten saell
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 02:51:30

    We hardly get offered anything but m/m at Uniquely Pleasurable though I would happily read and review more LBT fiction.

    And you’ll find it “okay, but not compelling”. I’m stymied as to why you’re not inundated with f/f and f/f/m ARCs. If you don’t like f/f, why not just specialize as a m/m review site. I’m not offering this as a criticism, because there’s nothing wrong with only wanting to read and review m/m and/or m/m/f. I’m just suggesting you apply some truth in advertizing.

    Because with hundreds of m/m fiction reviews, less than a handful of f/f and f/f/m, and an admitted negative bias toward f/f fiction, I don’t see your site attracting more lesbian and f/f/m fiction.

  28. Ann Somerville
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 03:12:43

    I'm stymied as to why you're not inundated with f/f and f/f/m ARCs.

    I’m not the only reviewer on the site, and at least two of my colleagues are bi women who would, I’m sure, be delighted to read more f/f. I’ve never reviewed any f/f for UP (we were offered a perfectly dreadful one written by a man which neither I nor my team reviewer could stomach, so we turned it away), although I’m about to. The only other f/f I’ve read has been fanfiction, or what I’ve beta’d for people.

    If people don’t want to submit their stuff to us, I can hardly force them to, but we remain open and welcoming to f/f and all permutations there on. I’ve repeatedly advertised the site as welcoming f/f – I made a post about it very recently. In fact a poster here contacted two presses about getting them to send us material, and I never heard another word about it. I don’t have any contacts in the f/f writing world other than through PD, so I don’t know what more I can do.

    I'm just suggesting you apply some truth in advertizing.

    Now, now. You were being so reasonable, don’t go spoiling things.

    There is a lot more m/m romance being published than f/f, or bisexual or transexual fic. My contacts are in the m/m world. I make no apology for that. It’s not surprising we get much more m/m than anything else, especially now that we review Samhain and Changeling Press releases which contain no f/f.

    That I haven’t read a f/f story to blow me away is almost certainly because of the small amount I’ve read. I don’t go reading it for fun because it’s yet to grab me – any more than I read horror or vampire or werewolf or historical stories for amusement. I reviewed a transsexual story which I adored, and said so. If you know a killer f/f story, why not send me a link, or get the author to contact me.

    UP is a reader-supported site. Anyone can review there. *You* could review there, Kirsten, if you think we’re too m/m oriented. I would really welcome that. But I’d appreciate it, having had that invitation, if you wouldn’t accuse me of lying to my readership. We *will* review and promote all kinds of GLBT fic that’s not simple porn and not dealing with incest or underage characters.

  29. Anon Y. Mouse
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 03:15:52

    For someone crying for equality, Kirsten, it’s more than a little hypocritical to begrudge m/m authors their progress. Saying those who enjoy M/M are “screaming…loud…” You admit yourself there’s no clamoring readership for f/f. So why would anyone try to mainstream it until there *is* a clamoring readership demanding it? Saying “They’ll read it if it’s there” isn’t enough and as a supposed business woman you should know that. Apathy isn’t nearly enough to convince anyone to take a risk. Especially in this economy, jeez.

    The fact is, m/m has had the same hard road f/f is having right now. Somebody had to break the glass freaking ceiling so how about you be grateful that the door’s cracking and stop whining that you’ll only be happy when you can go too. It’s only good if it’s good for you? Honestly, the nastiness of your attitude is offensive.

    It is always a process when change comes. It’s never a throwing open of the gates, it’s a tiny trickle of a few before the many. Quite shoving and trying to trample the people who’re opening the gates in the first place.

  30. Ann Somerville
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 03:21:08

    I'm just suggesting you apply some truth in advertizing.

    I had a long reply to you, which the site seems to have eaten. The gist of it was – we’re not lying, and if you want to review f/f over at UP, a reader-supported site, go for it. I can’t review what I don’t receive, or never hear about. The ball is in the court of those who love that kind of writing.

    I made a post specifically asking for more f/f not all that long ago. We had no response.

    there are precious few authors writing f/f and f/f/m romance, and fewer still doing it well.

    Yet somehow I’m supposed to be wowed by something that hardly exists? You could at least come up with some recommendations. That’s usually how people are turned onto something new, not by being chided for not trying what they have little interest or knowledge of.

    When someone says to me they’ve never tried m/m, I offer them a short list of things they might like, bearing in mind what their experience and background is. You might try that.

  31. Ann Somerville
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 03:44:25

    For the sake of accuracy, and this post will go to moderation so who knows when it will turn up, I find I *have* reviewed a f/f story, and gave it a glowing review:
    http://unique.logophilos.net/?p=402

    Paul Bens reviewed an anthology for us here:
    http://unique.logophilos.net/?p=535

    And Lydia Thorne, another,
    http://unique.logophilos.net/?p=467

    Other than a magazine I’m about to review and the Yuri edition of the Bang * Bang ezine which I confess I could have reviewed, but like other editions of this excellent ezine, I haven’t found the time to do (how about you doing that, Kirsten?) the only other f/f piece we’ve had is a revolting novel by a man which my team and I couldn’t stomach.

    I wish we had more entries. So, want to fill the gap, Kirsten? Or anyone else you say is a fan of the genre? If you want to raise interest, you’ve got to start somewhere. That’s why I started UP in the first place.

  32. Anion
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 04:48:00

    All I know is, it’s my experience and the experience of others I know, that a book with an f/f scene–even only a short one–doesn’t sell as well.

  33. Angie
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 04:55:26

    Same here. [nods to Anion] My publisher (Torquere) offers f/f periodically, but they don’t sell anywhere near as well as the m/m. Publishing f/f is more of a community service than an actual money-making activity.

    Although I’ve heard that f/f sells better in bookstores, while it’s m/m which dominates the e-book market. No clue why.

    Angie

  34. Ann Somerville
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 05:00:17

    f/f sells better in bookstores

    In any Borders here which have a gay section at all, the f/f section is actually (slightly) larger. Maybe women are less inhibited about being seen with such books, and men prefer to obtain stuff under plain cover?

    M/m got its impetus from slash fanfiction writers and readers. F/f fanfic does exist but it’s always been a minority interest in fandom. Without that kind of engine, or a major advertising drive from a major publisher, I can’t see it reaching the same levels of popularity any time soon.

  35. Anion
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 07:36:58

    Although I've heard that f/f sells better in bookstores, while it's m/m which dominates the e-book market. No clue why.

    Maybe women are less inhibited about being seen with such books, and men prefer to obtain stuff under plain cover?

    Perhaps couples tend to buy f/f stuff together, because the woman wants erotica and feels the man will get into it more if it’s two women?

    Or maybe lesbians don’t buy ebooks as much–figuring they’re not going to find what they want–but instead look for Cleis Press or something at the bookstore?

    Obviously that’s total conjecture, and I certainly don’t mean to imply in any way that lesbians don’t shop online or are Luddites or anything like that, any more than to imply women only read f/f to please their men. I just meant that m/m ebooks tend to be sold through het erotic romance ebook sites (with a few exceptions) and maybe they simply prefer to get their books in stores because they don’t look at het erotic romance sites, having tried them before and found them not appealing?

    I have noticed, btw, that Virgin Books–by English/UK writers, for English/UK readers, published by an English/UK publisher–contain a LOT more f/f. I don’t think I’ve read a Black Lace book without at least one lesbian scene in it–usually more–in addition to spanking and a heavier emphasis on oral-anal play (yes, that my attempt at a polite euphemism for rimjobs, which are pretty common in Virgin books.) The only Virgin book I read without any f/f was for their Cheek line, which was for books set in the US by US authors, and which has been cancelled (if memory serves).

    So that might be something to think about as well, both for those wondering why more f/f erotica sells in stores and for those looking for more f/f. I’m not crazy in general about the Black Lace books (for a number of reasons), but there are a few very good writers in their stable; Portia da Costa, of course, Olivia Knight and Kristina Lloyd (although her books are generally not HEAs, just to warn you).

  36. Steve Berman
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 07:51:47

    Thanks, Ann, for mentioning Lethe Press. We do publish a wide variety of LGBT titles, including several lesbian-themed books. I don’t really know where f/f ends and lesbian fiction begins. But I’m supportive of a range of books. And yes, we have released some historical fiction titles by female authors.

  37. Angela James
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 09:30:57

    Samhain won't take f/f at all, so I think they at least should remove the ‘L'. I suspect GLBT is used as shorthand in a genre which struggles to find a label everyone understands, without too much thought going into the actual meaning.

    We won’t? Someone forgot to tell us that! Perhaps you could point out where on our website it says that?

    Really? I could have sworn I heard from one of the higher-ups (albeit, some time ago) that the reason they hadn't published any was due to a lack of quality subs. It left me with the impression that the first f/f they did publish would probably have to be spectacular, but that they weren't totally closed to the notion. And they do publish f/f/m (and not just the kind where the second “f” wanders off into obscurity and leaves the f/m to their het HEA, which is more than I can say for some).

    We see almost no f/f subs. I believe one is in the process of being contracted, though.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. There are very few things in romance that we say “no” to, and much of that depends on how it works in the story.

  38. kirsten saell
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 10:56:05

    The fact is, m/m has had the same hard road f/f is having right now. Somebody had to break the glass freaking ceiling so how about you be grateful that the door's cracking and stop whining that you'll only be happy when you can go too

    Because we all know they only started publishing m/m when those clamoring for it shut up and went away…

    M/m got its impetus from slash fanfiction writers and readers. F/f fanfic does exist but it's always been a minority interest in fandom. Without that kind of engine, or a major advertising drive from a major publisher, I can't see it reaching the same levels of popularity any time soon.

    Possibly because there’s always been plenty of “f/f” *shudder* content produced for male readers/viewers, and that’s supposed to be good enough for us women, too. And I will concede that maybe women are so sick of bottle blondes with implants and three-inch swords growing out of their finger-tips moaning to compete with dying alley-cats and prodding delicately at each other while trying to avoid injury, that maybe the majority of the female readership isn’t ready to accept that there are other forms of f/f and OMG! f/f/m that aren’t like that revolting male-written one you mentioned.

    I’m aware of those reviews at UP. I found them because I wanted recs for bi and lesbian romance and I figured I could trust you to know what good writing is. You have over 200 reviews for m/m fiction, and only those three for f/f. One you only reviewed because it was trans. Another was in an anthology that contained a variety of stories. I wasn’t aware there was anything stopping you guys from actually buying a book to review. I was under the impression that it was more of a “community service” to borrow Angie’s term.

    I would guess that f/f sells better in stores because it’s more well-tolerated in society (in that women are permitted many more avenues of emotional and physical intimacy with one another than men are), that there isn’t the stigma attached to it that there is attached to m/m–for both male and female readers. I don’t think this reflects so much on the popularity of m/m versus the unpopularity of f/f–I think it mostly means that m/m is still largely in the closet, and any move by a publisher to get it out of there is a good thing.

    I would love to buy more books from publishers like Black Lace, but I’m not made of money. The availability of f/f in print does NOTHING for someone who lives 150 miles through unpopulated country from the nearest bookstore (which may or may not have a GLBT section). If I buy from Amazon, shipping to my area costs more than the book does. I rely on ebooks. And I don’t want to pay trade paperback prices for them, either. When Black Lace, Cleis and others start putting their titles out in ebook, then I will cheer.

    As to the assumption that I berudge the success of m/m–were those early advocates of m/m guilty of begrudging het? My initial comment that sparked this whole thing was an off-the-cuff response to Jessica’s comment about “gay romance” and m/m, and the disparity I see there–the same disparity many saw and still see between m/m and het and the definition of “romance”. And I think I’ve stated there’s nothing wrong with m/m, nor do I resent its success. I think progress is good, whoever it benefits. But I do resent being told I don’t exist, or that my dollars don’t matter, or that publishers only publish the books I love as some sort of charity.

    We won't? Someone forgot to tell us that! Perhaps you could point out where on our website it says that?

    Maybe Ann made the same assumption about SP that I made about her site–that the fact there isn’t really any on offer reflected the company’s preferences. It’s nice to hear the assumption refuted on both counts!

    And as I am now about to drive that 150 miles through unpopulated forest to do some Christmas shopping, I won’t be around to respond to those who take further umbrage with this comment. But feel free to be annoyed while I’m gone. :D

  39. Robin
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 11:15:28

    What proportion of the readership for GLBT books is straight women? Because if that percentage is high, perhaps it’s a matter of the Romance structure as it relates to gender and sex. That is, perhaps there’s an acceptance of same-sex sex in both m/m and f/f Romance, but when it comes to the HEA the m/m configuration is, how do I put this, less imposing on the romantic fantasy for straight female readers?

    Depending, of course, on how these readers relate to the HEA (is it about being able to identify with the characters, and would the m/m difference ironically engender more identification than the f/f HEA?), how comfortable they are with the sexual differences (the stereotypical notion that people are more accepting of same-sex sex in the opposite sex), and whether it’s a case of m/m taking hold first and opening the door for wider interest in f/f.

  40. kirsten saell
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 11:38:01

    I agree with you there. I think there is plenty of lesbian and m/f/f erotica out there, because it is largely written by men for men. I also think that the traditional position of a woman in a romance is as the surrenderer, the vulnerable one, and I wonder how many lesbian and bi-woman authors want to write yet another woman who “gives in” to love. It might be more empowering to write one who enjoys an active sex life, but doesn’t succumb to the weakness of love. Maybe lesbian writers who write m/m feel more comfortable exploring the vulnerabilities and sacrifices of falling in love with male characters?

    I do think this isn’t a question of f/f erotica, or f/f fiction, but one of f/f and f/f/m romance. Straight guys in general might enjoy f/f, but aren’t looking for romance (or any talkie bits, really, lol). And lesbian readers might enjoy f/f romance, but there is virtually nothing out there aimed at the straight or bi (or bi-curious) woman reader who is intrigued by f/f sexuality, but isn’t ready to pitch the guy out the window, yet (my ex-husband notwithstanding). Maybe all they’ve managed to find is that hideous, porny straight guy fantasy (boobs, butt and bleach blonde, cut the chit-chat and commence writhing).

    (the stereotypical notion that people are more accepting of same-sex sex in the opposite sex),

    All I’m gonna say here is that men and women are wired differently, and what seems stereotypical (that straight guys do not tolerate m/m well, for example) may be supported by scientific research, and what seems true (that women like two hot guys for the same reasons that men like two hot chicks), is maybe not as accurate as people think.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/06/030613075252.htm

    I do think that, as evidenced by the burgeoning success of m/m romance, being quiet and waiting for someone to read my mind and publish what I want is probably not going to work.

  41. MD
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 11:51:23

    I can tell you why, as a female reader, I personally prefer m/m to f/f (I don’t care for threesomes in any fashion). I became a gay romance reader through the familiar route of fan fiction to slash fiction to gay fiction. And I first began reading fan fiction because TV shows and movies and other fiction seldom provided close male friendships, let alone male love affairs. In the world I grew up in, men seldom hugged or showed signs of physical affection or even verbal affection. When shows like Starsky and Hutch came along, it was a revelation that men could be like that with each other. In fan fiction, it was all the more satisfying to revel in the friendshippiness and, later, the slash.

    Pairing two women can be romantic and sexy and fun, but as a woman, I already know and understand how women work and, while reading about them falling love can be sweet at times, the m/m relationships generally intrigue me more, because men are more of a mystery to me. They always seem so skittish about emotion and getting too close and being too vulnerable. So reading an exploration of their feelings in fiction is more of a draw to me than reading similar stories about two women.

    That’s just me, though. I’m sure other readers have their particular reasons for preferring m/m.

    Kirsten, if you’re not getting what you want in fiction, write it, yourself. That’s what fanficcers do. =)

    You say you’re writing an m/m/f. Well, why not write an f/f/m, instead?

  42. MB (Leah)
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 12:04:58

    @MD— In case Kirsten has left already, for the record, Kirsten has written f/f/m. All three of her books, through Samhain, contain f/f/m, and f/f. And very nicely written as well. :D

    Speaking strictly as a straight woman who loves to read f/f, f/fm and actively seeks it out where ever I can find it.

  43. Tasha
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 13:06:45

    Just as m/m does not necessarily equal gay romance, so f/f does not necessarily equal lesbian romance. Most of the women I know who read lesbian romance buy print books from publishers whose books are aimed toward a lesbian audience, not straight couples, and do not buy books from epublishers whose customers are mostly straight women.

  44. Ann Somerville
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 14:27:14

    @Angela James:

    Perhaps you could point out where on our website it says that?

    This is my mistaken recollection, clearly – I thought I was told that around the time that you guys decided you would only take romance. I very distinctly remember being told that Samhain wouldn’t take f/f at this time, but where and by who, I don’t know, and obviously I’m getting it mixed up, and that mistaken memory is reinforced by the fact I never see any f/f coming through.

    Once *again* I’ve managed to offend you, oh great editor. I’d apologise but I’m sure it makes no difference.

    One you only reviewed because it was trans.

    Uh, no. It was recced by a friend, I read and enjoyed and recommended. That tends to be how it works. If f/f fic is rare, do you have any idea how little trans fic I’ve ever even heard of? I reviewed it because I enjoyed it, and it fit in the remit of the site. I didn’t go, oh, I really must review some trans stories.

    I wasn't aware there was anything stopping you guys from actually buying a book to review. I was under the impression that it was more of a “community service” to borrow Angie's term.

    Only money and interest. It’s an unpaid job, Kirsten – Torquere’s a business. I run and manage that site on my own, including development, and pay the costs of the site – hosting and registration – entirely out of my own pocket. At the moment, with my husband out of work, that pocket is very empty. I rarely buy books I know I’ll enjoy – why should I lay money out for books I have no interest in, and have no knowledge of what is good? If you want to shove some books out way for review, you go ahead. I can tell you that your attitude of entitlement doesn’t inspire me to look for f/f.

    If you want f/f reviews at UP, write them yourself. That’s what the site is for.

    I do think that, as evidenced by the burgeoning success of m/m romance, being quiet and waiting for someone to read my mind and publish what I want is probably not going to work.

    Neither is attacking the few outlets willing and ready to give your preference a voice. Torquere started their own press, for good or ill. If you believe in f/f that strongly, maybe that’s what you’ll have to do. M/m grew out of fanfiction. Its success owes nothing to fans clamouring or not, but to ex-fandom writers turning to original works, and others who have been quietly writing this stuff for years, suddenly being given a publishing outlet. In other words, there was both demand and supply. You’re describing a situation where the demand is small at best, and the supply is almost non-existant. Raging about the unfairness of one review site, or at one press deciding to take a business risk, won’t change that.

    You need to create momentum, and I don’t believe your posts on DA are likely to create that because all it sounds like ‘Kirsten want, why Kirsten no get?’. No business can make a success out of what Kirsten want.

    Come up with a thousand Kirstens, and fifty talented writers like K A Mitchell, and then you’re cooking with charcoal.

  45. Anon Y. Mouse
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 15:50:46

    So, according to you, Kirsten, hardly anyone writes it, let alone writes it well, there’s no readership asking for it, at best there are readers who’ll read it if it’s there maybe. No evidence of that, but let’s assume that you’re right. What about any of that makes publishing f/f, let alone mainstreaming it, seem like a sound business idea?

    I get that you wish there were more, I get that you wish people loved it as much as you apparently do, but the facts are that it doesn’t seem that’s the case. Which pretty much means you can shout to your heart’s content and all it’ll get you is a sore throat. Supply and demand, hon, and your genre of choice has neither. That’s no one’s fault so how about you stop blaming everyone and their brother for it?

    How are people supposed to publish and review and love something that you say yourself is barely written, and even less written well?

    Also? Your not so subtle jab at bi and lesbian m/m authors was just catty and bitter. You’re not a better lesbian, if in fact you are a lesbian, just because you write femmeslash. I’m an asexual, aromantic, genderqueer female m/m author. Sexual orientation, or lack thereof, has absolutely nothing to do with what one enjoys writing.

  46. Anion
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 17:01:32

    What does “genderqueer” mean?

    (I don’t mean to offend, so I’m sorry if that’s a bad question to ask. I’ve genuinely never heard it.)

  47. Joan/SarahF
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 19:16:37

    Genderqueer: not really identifying with either gender. Not feeling male or female nor wanting to present explicitly as male or female. Or feeling/presenting as very feminine one day, very masculine the next. I think.

  48. Anon Y. Mouse
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 19:54:39

    @Anion:

    No offense taken :) It means I don’t feel I fit either gender really. I’m somewhere in a gray area where neither male nor female feels right to me. I present as a female, I am biologically a female but in my head and heart I don’t recognize myself as a woman, nor do I feel I’m a male in a female body. Sort of an undefined somewhere in between, with characteristics and traits of both genders a natural part of who I am. I’m pretty sure that’s closely tied to my asexual nature, as well.

    My main point in bringing it up is that what a person enjoys writing has little to no correlation to their gender or sexual preference (in my case a lack thereof on both notes.)

  49. Kate Pearce
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 22:09:05

    to return to the original question, can m/m be mainstreamed, I think it can and I think its happening already, albeit in a quiet subversive, let’s get the guys into bed together as long as its wrapped around the more traditional M/F romance structure.

    M/M relationships abound in erotic romance, often as sub plots or part of a M/M/F relationship-but it’s a start, and readers in my experience love it. And look at what Suzanne Brockmann did-took a gay character all the way through her best-selling series until he got is own HEA with another man.
    When I asked my editor at Kensington Aphrodisia if it was okay for the two main male characters to get it on before the heroine even appeared, he was fine with that. She doesn’t appear until chapter 3 :)

    All these things chip away at the stereotypes and allow the notion of love, whatever the gender, conquering all. I like it and I think it is progress :)

  50. kirsten saell
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 22:56:35

    Your not so subtle jab at bi and lesbian m/m authors was just catty and bitter. You're not a better lesbian, if in fact you are a lesbian, just because you write femmeslash. I'm an asexual, aromantic, genderqueer female m/m author. Sexual orientation, or lack thereof, has absolutely nothing to do with what one enjoys writing.

    Where have I jabbed at lesbian and bi writers of m/m? The most I’ve done is speculate on why they would prefer to exclusively write stories about men over ones about women. If I’m totally off-base in that, they’re free to set me straight. The comment about “Chippendale dancers and hen parties” was out of one of their own mouths, not mine. How is that not a jab at straight women? I mean, she was basically implying she can’t relate to the average woman (and no, I’m not a lesbian) because all we care about is drinking coffee and blathering about babies and the PTA whilst marveling over the latest advancements in Tupperware.

    I agree that people, regardless of their orientation, should write what they want. I believe readers and publishers should read and publish what they want. I have more than once on this thread expressed my pleasure at the success m/m is enjoying. And again, it wasn’t my intention to turn this m/m thread into the “Kirsten is living in a dream world, when will she ever learn no one likes f/f, she’s selfish to even ask for more of what she wants to read” thread. My initial comment was glib and obviously ill-advised to have spawned this. I’d pledge to restrain myself in the future, but somehow I don’t see myself living up to that kind of vow.

    I get that you wish people loved it as much as you apparently do, but the facts are that it doesn't seem that's the case.

    There are people who love it as much as I do. Not as many as love m/m romance, granted, but they are out there. But after being told time and again that “straight women do NOT enjoy f/f” [caps not mine] I imagine quite a few of them are reluctant to admit it. And since there is an ample supply of male-produced “lesbian porn” *shudder* already out there, maybe they can get their fix on that (I hate the stuff, but, hey, any port in a storm, as they say). I’ve had email discussions and forum conversations with enough of them to know they’re out there.

    Will I shut up about f/f? Um, will the Erotica Cover Watch people give up their hopeless cause? I mean, the dearth of solo mantitty on the covers of het erotica is a marketing decision intended to be as inclusive as possible to the tastes of a het erotica readership: a lone female form is attractive to straight and gay women, and to straight men, and a m/f couple will appeal even to gay men, but a lone, sexualized male form will actively turn off a straight man. If those straight men are a large enough percentage of the target readership, those covers are going to stay as they are. Unless the BICEPS crew manages to convince straight guys to get turned on looking at other guys, that is. That doesn’t mean it’s fair, or that the ECW people should shut up and go away, does it?

    Back to the topic at hand and please, please, please try to listen: I enjoy reading m/m. I enjoy reading (and writing) pretty much any romantic configuration, if it’s well written.

    I think m/m romance in the regular romance section of stores is a wonderful idea. I think anything that furthers tolerance is a good thing. But I don’t only feel that way about m/m.

    All these things chip away at the stereotypes and allow the notion of love, whatever the gender, conquering all. I like it and I think it is progress :)

    Kate, I think I love you.

  51. Anion
    Dec 17, 2008 @ 03:41:29

    Thank you Joan/Sarah F. and Anon Y. Mouse, I appreciate the explanation. :-)

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