Today Laura Baumbach, author and publisher of ManLoveRomance Press, is on the site. We’re very privileged to have Laura with us because as you can imagine she has an incredibly tight schedule. I know that authors AND readers will be interested in what Laura has to say about the direction of this sub genre.
Some people might think that writing and publishing what is considered a small niche market a doubtful move in today’s economy. I disagree. I’ve been writing gay erotic romance for five years. My first print book, A Bit of Rough, was published in 2005. It was so popular, the distributors asked my publisher for more titles from me and a career was born.
My second book, Out There In The Night, followed the next year and I haven’t stopped writing since. My work is steamy, explicit love stories between two complex, unique and different men. Simple, everyday stories.
And I have a simple philosophy about my writing. I write what I want to read and I hope there are people out there who like what I like. So far it’s been a successful ground rule.
And what makes it such a success is that the audience who reads my work is not just the small niche market of gay men. My fan mail over the last five years shows that my readership is almost equally divided between straight women and gay men. No one will argue that straight women are not a small niche market. Not even when you reduce them down to the percentage who find they like to read about men in love. Romance is the second largest genre of books purchased in the USA.
Every day our society is becoming more and more integrated. It’s been a battle for equality but there are definite signs that GLBT culture is becoming a part of the mainstream culture. Yesterday the largest GLBT publisher Windows Media filed for bankruptcy. A decided increase in mainstream media covering GLBT events was cited as one of the contributing factors to the company’s financial instability. I’m not saying this is entirely a good thing, a voice for GLBT issues and accomplishment needs to be present, IMO, but it does illustrate a point. The lines between our differences are blurring so society is truly beginning to see people as PEOPLE, not straight or gay or lesbian. The differences aren’t mattering as much anymore. Our younger generation is seeing past those walls. I think this is a welcome change.
Just this year for the first time even some literary awards programs like the EPPIES have removed the GBLT category from their judging, making all stories equal and able to compete on a level field of talent. RWA accepted a new chapter that as founder, I’m very proud of — Rainbow Romance Writers, a chapter devoted to furthering this genre of romance. It’s a big step forward for a very traditional organization with an eye toward more acceptance already being seen on the horizon.
Writing gay erotic romance is like any other type of fiction writing. You have to love it, be drawn to it, and understand it to write it well. Then once you have the itch, you have to have the right tools–writing skill and storytelling talent– to pull it off. Just like any other author.
So, is it career smart to write gay erotic romance? For me it’s a calling. I’ve just recently quit my day job as a RN to write and publish fulltime. My press, MLR Press, LLC is growing more than I ever imagined. We’re receiving coverage in the mainstream publication PW and this December will have a commerical on OUTtv in Canada, a cable station. Our mystery Death Vows by Richard Stevenson was named one of the best mysteries of 2009 by National Public Radio, a decidedly mainstream venue. We’re prospering and it is our readership that is making it happen. I can’t see myself doing anything else. It’s working for me.