Friday, October 19, 2007

A quick questions about lesbians---pepper

Between life and school and a toothache, I didn't have time to think about and write my usual brilliant and witty posts (that was sarcasm by the way, though I was serious about not having the time).

But lately, I've been thinking about writing a f/f story. I'm not sure why, exactly. It's just been something nagging at the back of my mind. But it made me realize that there just aren't that many F/F stories being published. Not with my publishers, at any rate. Why is this? Women don't want to read about lesbians and men would rather watch lesbians? I'm sure there are actual lesbians interested in reading about lesbians. Anybody here write a lesbian erotic romance? What was your experience? Anybody here thinking about writing one?

14 comments:

Emily Veinglory said...

I was just reading in another forum that there are more f/f stories than gay these days. Given that was about small presses books shelved in Border gay interest area (where, indeed, there are often more lesbian than gay offerings these days) I wonder of MM has gone online more, but FF into small press print? I buy FF sometimes, from presses like QBORO.

kirsten saell said...

I just contracted a novella with Samhain that has a fair bit of f/f content. When I started the sequel, it began to look more and more like a m/f/f menage than anything else, and I asked my editor if that was going be a problem. She assured me it wouldn't stand in the way of publication, but sales kinda have me worried.

I do see what you mean about the dearth of f/f material forthcoming from epublishers. Although I have enjoyed some m/m/f and straight (teehee) m/m stories, frankly, I'd rather read about women together than men. I'm not talking incidental, she fondled some other woman's boobs to turn on some guy stuff, either. I want woman falling head over heels in love with another woman stuff. I can't be the only woman out there who likes this kind of story and also buys ebooks.

I have no idea what's selling in print books in the gay interest section of bookstores. I live 200 miles from the nearest bookstore--that's why I love ebooks. It would seem a shame to me if getting my fix of hot nekkid woman-love was limited to driving three hours and spending a butt-load of cash, or watching The L-Word.

Speaking of which, that African-American soldier chick is the freaking hawtness. Just saying.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a rep. from an e-publisher, I can say that our M/M books outsell Lesbian books by at least 10-20 to 1. Actually, M/M erotica now outsells "straight" erotica by about the same figure. No one seems to care anymore about M/F erotic romance. By the same token, the market is odd, considering that many straight females gobble up M/M books, but straight females do NOT enjoy the F/F variety. I'm sure there's a huge market for Lesbian material, but it's not the same market that's currenly hunting the shelves at the typical e-publishers. In other words, it's a whole different marketing strategy to reach those target customers, and since most of the e-pubs cater to straight women, we miss that particular market.

Emily Veinglory said...

I would say that I like ff but not the titles currently being epublished, sorry. I think editors may be buying ff that is like mm but with girls (I only bought 2 but that is what they seemed like to me, very angsty and mannered). The ff I read is very unlike mm ebooks. It is full of tough alpha women.

I doubt the market is as big as the current mm readership but I do think it could be bigger than it is. Ditto mf alpha female and male POV mf.

kirsten saell said...

but straight females do NOT enjoy the F/F variety.

I don't know, I'd consider myself pretty straight. Husband, kids, typical middle-class upbringing, never had a sexual encounter with another woman. I kind of take offense to the assumption that the only kind of dirty book I'm allowed to like is m/m.

And I have to wonder why m/m has such a huge appeal for a straight female readership, especially since so many of these stories don't really reflect the reality of gay relationships. A higher percentage of straight women indulge in anal sex than gay men do, either on the giving end, or the receiving. I have four gay friends who confirm that they never indulge in that particular act.

I would say that I like ff but not the titles currently being epublished, sorry.

I agree, but for a different reason. I have found a few titles (mostly m/f/f) that I enjoyed very much, but most of them suck big hairy donkey balls. The writing is lame, sometimes atrocious. The editing is abysmal. The only tough women in these stories are psycho bitch ex-girlfriends or the requisite straight bff/sister of the heroine.

I understand the appeal of the m/f/f menage story--it's nice to fantasize that you have two strong men seeing to your every need. (In the real world, the woman would probably spend most of her time doing dishes while the men surfed porno on separate computers.)

Problem with m/f/f is that the man always seems to become the center of the relationship, and that's where it falls apart for a female readership. Despite my preference for f/f, I would rather read about two men pampering their woman than two women whose lives revolve around their man.

Woman-centered m/f/f menage is what I like. I managed to find one at Samhain, and loved it. If there was more out there, I'd be doing my damnedest to single-handedly reverse some of those sales trends.

All right, I'm going to stop now.

kirsten saell said...

I know I said I was done, but:

No one seems to care anymore about M/F erotic romance.

That's just sad.

Angelia Sparrow said...

I write the occasional f/f piece for Torquere.

I find them more personal and more difficult than the m/m.

TQ says the f/f doesn't move as well as the m/m. Ellora's Cave has quit taking f/f at all, and made me rewrite the scene in a novella. (I'm also able to duck their first refusal clause by writing lesbian-heavy books)

Pepper Espinoza said...

No one seems to care anymore about M/F erotic romance

Eh. I don't know if I agree. In August we had a M/F and a M/M, and in Sept we had two more M/Fs, and another M/M. All of the sales figures were more or less even. I do notice that it varies from publisher to publisher. There's one publisher I probably won't submit my M/F stuff to again, and another I'll be more than happy to submit to.

No one seems to care anymore about M/F erotic romance.

That's just sad.


Why? I've seen this before on other blogs, where all the comments agree that it's a horrible shame that m/m is the most abundant type of ebook on the market, but I think most writers write what sells. All things being equal, if I sell 30 copies of my M/F book and 175 copies of my M/M book with the same publisher, I'm going to be writing a 2nd M/M book. It's a market driven by readers. And if more readers want to read M/M, then why is it sad? It's not like there aren't tons and tons of print publishers catering exclusively to people who read m/f.

And I have to wonder why m/m has such a huge appeal for a straight female readership, especially since so many of these stories don't really reflect the reality of gay relationships.

I don't think it really matters if gay romances reflect the realities of gay men. I watch a lot of gay porn--made by gay men for gay men--and there is always plenty of anal sex. In a lot of wonderful positions. I don't read it or write it for the reality of it, I do it because it hits a kink.

Anonymous said...

I've heard/read a few theories on this subject. One is that lesbians deal with F/F stuff every day and they'd rather read something else. Which makes sense, since most of us read to escape our daily lives.

Another is that women like M/M because of the emotional complexity involved, and because the usual hierarchy of M vs. F is taken away. One character is no longer submissive to the other--they're socially equal. (Yes, I know there's a lot of strong women stuff out there, but M and F still have inherent roles.)

And whoever said that a lot of the F/F books are being written like M/M with girls I think hit it exactly; we've found the tricks that work to make M/M good stuff, now we need to find good, but different tricks, to make F/F work.

And--out of curiousity, a huge chunk of M/M is written by straight women, right? Who's writing the lesbian fiction? Straight women, or gay ones? Maybe it's just that those trying to write it either don't have the right mindset and/or the talents to pull it off.

And for some really good, strong lesbian fiction--go find Nicola Griffith's The Blue Place, Stay, and Always--beautifully written, and Aud is an awesome character.

Pepper Espinoza said...

I've heard/read a few theories on this subject. One is that lesbians deal with F/F stuff every day and they'd rather read something else. Which makes sense, since most of us read to escape our daily lives.

Yeah, but then straight women would never want to read M/F, and despite the current popularity of M/M on the emarket, the vast majority of romances and erotica written for straight women is M/F. If that were the case, gay men wouldn't read m/m books, but they clearly do.

One character is no longer submissive to the other--they're socially equal. (Yes, I know there's a lot of strong women stuff out there, but M and F still have inherent roles.)

I'm not convinced. A lot of m/m I enjoy reading/watching/writing has clear inequalities in the relationship. Now that I think about it, it might be another issue that's related, but not the same. Often in literature, women exist to facilitate a homosocial structure. That is, women are not interesting characters in their own right, women provide mediation for the interesting male characters. I mean, some books with the clearest gay subtext have women characters at the center of the drama or conflict because a woman is a safe place for the men to focus their attention on. BUT the only problem with my theory is that we're talking about M/M in terms of romance, not in terms of all literature, and that sort of dynamic I was describing typically doesn't exist in romance novels.

And whoever said that a lot of the F/F books are being written like M/M with girls I think hit it exactly

I'm not entirely sure what this means, and I'm really curious because of my own desire to write f/f.

Maybe it's just that those trying to write it either don't have the right mindset and/or the talents to pull it off.

I'm not sure what this means either.

kirsten saell said...

Clearly, no one who doesn't want to read ff stuff (and be turned on by it) should be writing it. And you don't have to be a lesbian to enjoy it, although some people evidently believe that. There may be a reluctance among straight women to read lesbian erotic romance because they think it means they must be lesbians. (It works the same way for most straight men and gay porn.) But yanno, some dude named Kinsey said very few people are either 100% gay or 100% straight, and that most of us fall somwhere in between. I think he had a pretty good handle on it. Women should feel free to enjoy stories about whatever they like.

I have no problem with the prevalence of mm stories, whether they're realistic or just kink. People will write what sells, sometimes with wonderful results, sometimes not so much. What I find sad is some industry people's willingness to simply write off a subgenre that, as Pepper has indicated, ain't doing so bad. The way people talk, in a year or two, I will be stuck driving three hours to the bookstore, because the only thing available in erotic romance ebooks will be mm, or mmf, and yeah, I can enjoy them, but they're not enough for me.

That said, I have serious doubts about any claim that there is no heirarchy in mm relationships--even in the fantasy world of erotic romance. Men are all about heirarchy, and being penetrated is a huge surrender of power to another person, even if it's only temporary. I haven't read enough of them to know, but maybe women like these stories because they want to see a man experience what they experience.

I'm not entirely sure what this means, and I'm really curious because of my own desire to write f/f.

If you want to write one, then you should. There are markets out there for it, even if they don't bring the dough rolling in. If you do, I promise, I'll buy it.

Maybe it's just that those trying to write it either don't have the right mindset and/or the talents to pull it off.

I have to agree, since much (actually, most) of what I've read has not been particularly well-written, with irksome characters and plots hingeing on "The Big Misunderstanding" and other classics. I swear, there's gonna be a lesbian romance with a secret baby plot soon (if there isn't one already), and then I'll just have to give up reading them altogether. Even the sex in many of them seems contrived. I haven't bought anything from Torquere, and I'm definitely going to give them a try. If it's a specialty, maybe they'll actually know what they're doing. I've thought about going to straight erotica, but I really do want some emotion and a HEA, not just tales of one time encounters at parties or in a nightclub restroom.

(I'm also able to duck their first refusal clause by writing lesbian-heavy books)

I'm curious why anyone would want to duck such a clause, when everyone apparently wants to be with EC.

Sorry I'm so long-winded, but I'm a relative newb, and this subject is of some interest to me.

Angelia Sparrow said...

Why do I want to duck the first-refusal clause?

Because sometimes other places, like Torquere (fiercely loyal to them, they gave me my first break) ask me to write something specific for them.

And because sometimes I want to write for a sepcific line, like TQ's Hard Liquor pulps. If I write Commander Cliff Cody of the Space Exploration Rangers, it has to go EC first. If I write Cat and Amanda trying to hold their Indian Territory spread and fight the zombies from Louisiana with cool steampunk inventions, that can go straight to TQ.

And because I have a rebel streak in me. I deeply resent being told, "You have to send us everything first." I'm a lamb about edits (usually, until they hit the "more cowbell" point) but orders grate.

Everyone wants to be with EC, because they are huge. They play to a huge audience, and you make more money than almost anywhere else.

cheryl anne gardner said...

Frankly, I like it all, if it's good, and I mean good writing and relatable characters.

My new book coming out in January (a self-pub) is m/m/m/f/f -- BD, S&M with a bit of sharing, knifeplay, and bloodsport. No gay, although there is mention of it as a valid life question. However, I don't write poke and jab ... so you will only see the "c" words in a joke line. My PR company had trouble classifying it. They thought erotica at first, but then decided we would go with dark literary romance -- the sex is a bit disturbing and the mid-life crisis stuff is spot on.

And I wrote it in first person, which is very difficult and very personal, but I have always felt that if the author didn't feel it to some degree, then the reader won't either.

So, I like reading it all, and what makes it good for me is: "did I feel it?" I have read so much cliche gay out there it's frightening; and then I have read some very realistic hot hot stuff, and that was better for me. I don't care how you mix it up -- shaken or stirred -- as long as it has depth of emotion.

Anonymous said...

Before I took over pubbing duties at my house, my predecessor would not accept F/F. She didn't read it, didn't want to read it, she didn't publish it. Scenes in a book were okay, not a full story.

We have only started pubbing F/F works, and it appears to be an uphill climb. Time will tell how it does with us, but if I see a good story I'll give it a chance. We have our popular genres, but F/F isn't it right now. Of course, maybe we just need that one book to put it over the fence.