L to R: R.G. Emanuelle, Catherine Maiorisi, Ann Aptaker, and me
It was a great night last Wednesday at the historic Salmagundi Art Club in Greenwich Village. For those who missed it, here’s a short recap.
The Mystery Writers of America (MWA) – New York chapter invited four authors to talk about the state of LGBT fiction. Moderated by Ann Aptaker (Criminal Gold, Tarnished Gold), the panel presentation was titled: Thrills, Chills and Sex in LGBT Crime Fiction: We Read Your Books, You Should Read Ours. The other panelists were R.G. Emanuelle (Add Spice to Taste, Twice Bitten) and short story writer Catherine Maiorisi (Family Matters, Fresh Slices).
The central question we addressed was why do so few books with LGBT characters find a mainstream audience?
The answers were multifarious.
Some of us talked about the continued lag in appreciation or even interest in LGBT stories by non-LGBT readers, who of course make up at least 90 percent of the fiction market. Others discussed the tendency of the traditional publishing community to pigeon-hole any book with LGBT characters as niche or genre, thereby relegating books to tiny spaces on the shelves of brick-and-mortar booksellers where they are harder for readers to find; or in the case of department stores, which focus on books with “broad interest,” LGBT books are nowhere to be found.
As each of us have had our work published primarily by small presses (Bold Strokes Books, Bella Books, Yiva Publishing), we spoke to the gap in resources to achieve visibility in the mass market. This impacts everything from getting high impact industry reviews to garnering nominations for awards to availability in bookstores and libraries.
All in all, it was a fantastic event with fortyish people turning out for the discussion. Many thanks to Ann and MWA-NY for putting it together!
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