For the people who've stuck it out, first things first: my co-author and I got the cover for the first novella in our f/f BDSM series. Jeez, that's a lot of letters. The only other lesbian romance I've ever published was a short story in a Cleis anthology years ago, and it's not the kind of fiction I'm often inspired to write, but Caitlin Ricci was interested in collaborating and I've never gone all the way with another author before, so I agreed. Interestingly, I've written very, very little BDSM before as well (the only other story I can think of is my Shadows and Light series on Literotica) so this ended up being quite the stretch for me.
Let's get the cover reveal out there first:
I think LT3 did a great job with this cover. It's got the elements we were looking for without being overwhelming in any particular way, and there are no partially naked torsos. Not that I don't like a nice naked torso, but that wasn't really the feel I wanted, and it's not LT3's style either.
Onto the issue of readership. E.E. Ottoman recently did a very cogent blog post on the subject of why lesbian romance doesn't sell as well as gay or straight romance. She makes a lot of very good points, and I'm going to highlight one here:
I think for a lot of women it's triggering to see women portrayed as confident and sexual without having men involved. It brings up, all of their own insecurities about their bodies and their sexualities. It highlights all of the ways they've been told that they are bodies aren't good enough and their sexual desires are wrong without the 'safe space' of a male body or male sexuality to retreat to.
I know this can be an issue for me when I read lesbian romance. I primarily seek the company of men, in part because they tend to be the majority participating in my very physically inclined hobbies, and in part because I just feel like I can be more comfortable with men. Other women tend to intimidate me. There's an unspoken layer of competition there, whether it revolves around looks or material success or just sheer poise, and I generally label myself as lacking. Part of the joy of reading a book is losing yourself in the characters, but there has to be something to draw you in and make you identify with them, and sometimes I just can't quite manage that with lesbian romance. True, I'm not a lesbian, but I'm not a gay man either and I get down with that all the time. Perhaps the problem is a lack of personal verisimilitude. Maybe I need to write a lesbian romance about an introverted, jiu-jitsu loving, knife-wielding writer. :)
I strongly suggest you read the rest of the post, not just for it's primary content but for the comments too, some of which are incredibly well thought out: http://thisjourneywithoutamap.blogspot.com/2014/02/why-is-lesbian-romance-so-unpopular.html
When it comes to the issue of readership, though...here's where it gets interesting to me. Since I've not published a lot of f/f fic, I can't speak to sales, but plenty of authors (see the above article) said that their lesbian fiction didn't sell as well as their gay fiction. The only experience I've had with selling both types of books came at last year's Denver Pride Fest, and here's what's interesting: the only author in the group selling lesbian fiction sold out in an hour. Really. She brought like forty books, and they were snapped up instantly. All of the rest of us with our piles of m/m? We did okay, but not great. Certainly no one else sold out.
Why would this happen? Is it because a large part of the readership of m/m romance is straight women, who weren't as present at Pride? Is it that the women who were at Pride were more interested in reading than the men? I'm not entirely sure, but it definitely inspired me to have something ready for this year's Pride Fest that would meet the need of more of the people there. This new series (only one book will be ready for Pride this year, but it's a start) might not sell fabulously online (really, I can't say that anything of mine has sold fabulously yet) but it will be there for the people who are interested, and that makes me happy.
At some point I'll write another blog post on the trial by fire that is co-authoring, but not today. This is long enough. Happy Monday, darlins. Be strong!