A couple of weeks ago, I posted about what you, and everyone, can do to grow the gay fiction genre. And really by gay fiction genre I mean the entire QUILTBAG spectrum. You can visit here for a refresher if you need one, but the upshot is to request gay fiction at your local libraries. Yes, even if you’ve already read or own the titles! If you read and enjoyed it, so much the better–because someone else may, as well.
At the end of that entry, I promised to provide a follow up on what more you, and all of us, can do to keep growing the genre. And like Part One, it is almost too simple to be true.
Buy the books!
When you buy them, you’re showing the publishing companies with your dollars where you want to see more product. Do you love m/m romance? Buy more! Do you love genderqueer fiction? Buy it up when you see it! Looking for titles focused on lady-love, or trans* characters? Fork over that cash! And if you can’t spend your own dollars, ask your library to buy it for you. Put it on your wish list. Or get it with your Amazon gift card or birthday/holiday money or tax return.
Spending your money on something, or getting someone else to spend money, on books, results in the publishers turning right around and investing their dollars in more authors that write for that genre. So if you’re really digging post-apocalyptic dystopian fiction with bisexual heros and strong genderqueer sidekicks and you’re lucky enough to see one, snap it up! (And point me to it, I’d read the hell out of it.)
Okay, that’s going a bit far afield, but more generally: do you support f/f? Buy it! Do you want to see more trans* fiction? There’s an anthology coming out next year–buy it! Do you think we need more literature that’s generally inclusive of the entire spectrum? When you see it, buy it!
Supporting what you want to read with your dollars is only part of the equation, though. Because there’s more you can do to spread the word.
Read the books!
Uh, why do I even have this as a step? Isn’t that a given? You would think so, wouldn’t you! But if you’re anything like me, you have a pile of books on your e-reader and a pile of physical books lurking on that shelf over there. And the one over there. And maybe even the one upstairs in the computer room. What? I’m a book pack rat. I have books I bought years ago that I haven’t even read yet.
Hence me including this step. When you buy those books, read ’em! They’re not doing any good sitting there on the shelf–make the time! (Or skip the extra helpings of Cracked listicles. I may or may not have worked that reference in just because I like the word listicle.)
It’s important to take breaks from tasks, whether you’re a writer, a mom, a stockbroker, or a workaholic of any stripe. Take a half hour out of your evening and pick up a book.
Or heck, leave it in the bathroom for that particular daily trip. Only you and the book will know, and the book gets read regardless.
Review the books!
This is where you put your mouth where your money has been. Because there is, indeed, more you can do to support the genre than simply pouring your dollars into it.
Why rate the books?
So other people will see whether you liked them, and potentially get interested in new authors or books they may like, as well!
Your rates and reviews matter. They provide other readers with information that helps them decide whether they’re going to spend their hard-earned cash on someone’s book. People tend to look at ratings, and they also look at reviews as well.
You don’t have to write an essay. You can write a sentence or two. You can keep it simple, so long as you convey whether you liked a book, and what you liked (or disliked) about it. You can let other readers know whether there was something that should have been warned for, and wasn’t; you can let other readers know if there was something especially delightful, or something that grabbed you and wouldn’t let go.
How can this possibly help? By spreading the word! People find out about new books through word of mouth as much as stalking publishers and authors they enjoy. Why do you think Goodreads connects to Twitter? So you can let other people know about your three, four, or five star reviews, of course. (I’m looking at it optimistically, I like doing that.)
So keep calm. Buy the books. See also: get the library to buy the books. And spread the good word.
Because the more they hear about it, the more everyone hears about what we want to read, the easier it gets to buy it. I don’t think QUILTBAG fiction will ever be mainstream, no, but I do think the industry is getting big enough to give other publishing paradigms a run for their money. There is so much more variety, so many more incredible stories featuring non-straight characters than there was when I was a kid. I love that! But I think we can do better, and there’s a ways to go.
Buy the books.
Read the books! (Duh.)
And spread the good word.
Three simple steps to keep our genre growing in a diverse world that’s seeing the face of publishing change every day!