Monday, June 02, 2008
Not very long ago you would see gay romance described by epublishers in terms such as 'alternative lifestyle', or listed as subjects they would not consider in the same grammatical breath as rape and child abuse. Fortunately that has rapidly become very rare indeed. Now works are labelled simply as gay, lesbian, menage, transgender etc and publishers are more likely to be debating the correct contextual use of more ambiguous terms like queer. Those who remain uninterested in publishing gay fiction usually list it as a genre beyond their remit, not a taboo they abhor.
I do, however, continue to discover some throwbacks. I saw this promo post: "Writers Exchange E-Publishing is thrilled to announce that the Reader's Eden Ezine is now online. Our thanks to our editor Sean McLachlan for all his work in getting it ready." And went to find more about Writer Exchange Epublishing. Whereupon I read:
"* Romance - This includes sweet or sensual but no erotica, homosexuality, beastiality [sic], non-consensual relationships or undue crudity. This can also include straight romance or multi-genre (ie mixed with paranormal, time-travel, mythological creatures etc) - We are particularly looking for vampire, werewolf and other paranormal romances."
My usual comment about this phrasing, if you don't see the problem right away, is to encourage you to substitute the name of your ethnicity, religion or some other demographic variable in the place of homosexuality in this sentence and see how that feels, having a basic romantic orientation slipped in between 'too much sex' and 'bonking sheep'. To publishers I advise, no matter what you personally think of homosexual behavior, please please please just limit your comments to something like: "we are not seeking erotica or gay romance at this time" and be done with it.
To my eyes they also doth protest too much about not being a vanity publisher, whilst specifying that to appear in print one must pay a fee, and strongly urging authors to buy a specific book before submitting. They seem to feel it is only vanity if the money they require or request goes in their own pocket. That may seem perfectly logical to the publisher but from an author's point of view money is still flowing away from the writer. That puts one in a category other than conventional commercial publishing, no matter what you call it.