One of the more sought-after benefits of an e-reader device is instant access to works that are otherwise not easily accessible at a local bookstore, due to factors such as geography, popularity, or other more stringent barriers, like prejudice. For readers of gay and lesbian literature, there may not be a brick-and-mortar gay bookstore nearby, as most are operating in the larger U.S. cities and as of late it is becoming more and more difficult to locate one still in business. Finding a good book can be an exercise in frustration.
But as e-readers bring instant access to literature of all genres, LGBT works especially, a sense of privacy and normalcy in the purchasing are an additional benefit. Keeping a library of books private is as simple as turning off one’s e-reader or closing its cover, something that is not as easy to do with an entire bookshelf of print titles in plain sight.
One concern of many LGBT authors and readers alike is the perceived lessening of titles being published in the LGBT genre. Tony Valenzuela of the Lambda Literary Foundation, which hosts the 2010 Lambda Literary Awards on May 26th, would beg to differ on the state of gay and lesbian publishing.
“For two years in a row, we have had a record number of nominations for the Lambda Awards, with over 500 this year. That is due in large part to self-published LGBT books and e-books, since more titles are reaching the market. Now, we’re even seeing indie authors’ titles not just being nominated, but actually becoming finalists for the awards. There is some good work being self-published out there,” says Valenzuela.
Sarah Glenn, author of All This and Family, Too, out at Amazon.com and Nook and published by Pill Hill Press, had some surprisingly candid remarks about the surge in indie publishing for LGBT authors. Her book features a lesbian protagonist who becomes a vampire early in the book, and as Glenn admits, the market is fairly saturated with vampire stories at the moment, even ones like her protagonist who follow more traditional mores for vampires. This made going with traditional publishing somewhat difficult.
“Not having an agent is a real barrier to mainstream publication, and it’s hard to find an agent to represent lesbian and gay fiction because most of the time the audience is a small one. Many publishers who only print LGBT material accept unagented submissions because of this difficulty. I did a final revision to prepare the manuscript for submission to a lesbian press when I got my lucky break with Pill Hill.”
Eric Priuska, author of The Fireball Rebellion, agrees.
“I spent a fair amount of time earlier in my career worrying that a publisher would sign a contract with me and then start to dictate what was included in my book. I plan on tackling some pretty heavy issues in the Fireball Rebellion series of books, as the protagonists mature and get involved in more adult situations, and I don’t want my hands tied by marketing pressures. I am going to write a book that is 100% authentic to me, a gay man, and I’m really excited that I can do that without even subtle influences pushing against my choices,” notes Priuska, who independently published his book thanks to his and his partner’s skills in computer fields, will be available this fall.
“The thought of a reader, anywhere in the world, safely buying my book without fear of shame or discovery is very satisfying. The internet has been a boon to people struggling with their sexuality, especially in hostile environments. We can now discover who we are from the safety of our own homes, and we don’t need to share this part of ourselves with anyone until we know it’s safe to do so. I also hope that this lifeline will extend to not only my books, but to me, as I tweet constantly, and I hope to develop a close relationship with my readers. It is my hope that my book will be more than a series of adventure books, but a chance for people to discover who they really are inside, and learn to be proud of themselves, just as they are.,” continues Priuska.
The future of publishing is constantly up for debate among its professionals, not just for any one specific genre or audience but for the entire publishing model as a whole, due in large part to the availability of self-publishing. However, Valenzuela offers up this insight, “People will continue to write books, it’s just how we will choose to read them that will change.”