Sunday, January 8, 2012

2012 Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event: Renee Rocco: Publisher of Lyrical Press

I was thrilled when KB's post Lesbian Fiction/Romance Does Sell Well, and Here’s How I Know showed up in my Google reader. I was pleasantly shocked she posted Lyrical’s F/F sales figure (yes, we had an author who sold roughly 1000 unites of a single F/F title in one month through third party vendors) for one of our lesbian romances. I wish that author was still with us, but regrettably, her contract expired. Lyrical now hasn’t any F/F/ romances and that bothers me. I don’t like that Lyrical currently has no F/F/ romances to offer our readers. Trust me, it’s not by choice. The fact of the matter is, we’re simply not getting F/F/ submissions. I think authors who write F/F fiction have grown accustomed to be excluded or forced into that specialty fiction category and may not feel their work is welcomed at certain houses unless that house puts out a very specific call for F/F fiction.

As a publisher of romantic fiction, I welcome all quality works. By that I mean, well-written and well-developed romance and erotica, regardless of the sub-genre. It’s a sad thing that we need to put out a ‘specialty’ call for F/F works. I’m sure authors of M/M fiction feel just as excluded from many houses, but I’m going to keep this post focused solely on F/F.

Right here on KB’s blog she once mentioned Lyrical was seeking F/F romance and erotica. Right after that mention, we were lucky enough to see a small surge of F/F submissions. Sadly, none of them fit our idea of what we’d like to offer our audience. When a quality manuscript comes in, no matter the romance/erotica sub-genre, our editors have no problem cage-matching for the privilege of editing it because they know they’ll profit from the work.

Yes, it really does come down to profit. Publishing is a business just like any other. True, it’s a creative business, but it’s a business nonetheless…and like I’ve recently told a very high-up at a very high-end publishing house regarding erotica, “you don’t have to like it, you don’t have to read it, heck, you don’t even have to look at it, but you have to give readers what they want”. It’s what publishing is all about. It’s the business of presenting good books to readers. All types of good books, not just the genres a publisher/agent/editor personally like. Personal has no place in business because it will inevitably force you to either make limited business choices or flat-out bad business choices…or worse, both…and that’s just bad business.

Look, should every house put out every type of genre? Of course not. Again, that’s bad business. But, that decision shouldn’t be based on personal preference. It shouldn’t be based on moral or religious beliefs. A business decision should be based on profitability. In the case of a publisher, profitability means what your readers are buying from you. General fiction didn’t sell well with Lyrical so we were forced to stop publishing it. Instead, we now focus on what sell for us. Romance and erotica, the latter of which happens to see extremely well at Lyrical.

It’s a disheartening thing that, in the final month of 2011, F/F fiction still needs to be defended. This should have been a discussion that happened years ago. Decades ago. Lifetimes ago. Not in today’s world.

To get a bit personal, growing up, my mother’s dearest friends since high school were two women. I remember going to their house as a little girl, noticing they only had one bedroom and one bed. My mother casually explained they slept together in that bed, just like she and daddy did because they were in love…again, just like she and daddy were. To my young mind, that made perfect sense. Over the years, I saw those two women hold hands when they walked, laugh together, kiss each other quickly on the lips in front of me, just like any other happy and loving couple would in front of kids (smile). I was raised to see nothing out of the ordinary about this. As an adult, I still don’t see anything odd about people being in love. What I do see out of place in our word is the backward thinking that two people…any two people…loving each other as being wrong…or an oddity. Or in publishing, a specialty genre.

Going back to Lyrical Press, I think I took that sort of non-thought of F/F and M/M romances to our house. By non-thought, I mean, just not seeing it as a specialty genre. To me, it’s just another form of romantic fiction, plain and simple. I also think that’s why I feel…weird, for a lack of a better word...of putting out calls for F/F (or M/M). I guess I just thought that if Lyrical put out a call for a certain type of romance or erotica (to name two recent calls, dystopian erotica and BDSM), I naturally assumed everyone would just understand that included heterosexual, F/F and M/M works. It was simply a non-thought because I naturally include F/F and M/M in my idea of what romantic fiction encompasses.

Well, there’s my two cents on F/F fiction. It really does sell, as KB pointed out. It’s good business for Lyrical to publish it. We want more F/F submissions…the hotter the better!

Renee Rocco is the publisher of Lyrical Press, Inc., a New Jersey based digital publisher of romance and erotica.

Renee welcomes emails to
Submissions should be sent to
Submission Guidelines for Lyrical Press:


Rachel Dax said...

I think you hit the nail on the head - most lesbian romance writers assume that unless the publishing house clearly states that it is interested in F/F submissions that their work will not be considered. It's good to know that this is not a 'fact'!

She said...

Nice post. It is hard to find good f/f romances. My only wish is that when an author puts out a work that it is a good story and that she (or he) has taken the time to have an editor look it over before it is published. Nothing turns a reader off quicker than a story that is full of typos and grammatical errors as well as logistical errors.