I write lesbian erotic romance because I love to read it. I would read it every day of the week if I could, but there simply isn’t enough of it. The Amazon erotica charts are filled with pert blondes (all of them) engaging in the occasional girl-on-girl session, but actual lesbian adult romance, in which two women meet and a tantalizing build-up starts towards the only possible outcome (hot sex the way lesbians do it, as opposed to the way straight men think they do it), is very much under-represented.
Yes, I’m a firm believer in the clichéd saying: write what you want to read. Not, for instance, what others tell you might sell. A few weeks ago a beginning lesbian erotica writer e-mailed me and asked if I wanted to read one of her stories. I was rather appalled when near the end, out of the blue, a man was introduced into the plot. I have nothing against ménage in general, as a genre it’s extremely popular, but when new writers feel inclined to call upon a broad-chested male character (that has absolutely nothing to do with the story) to break into the lesbian erotica writing business, something is not right.
People are still convinced that real lesbian fiction of any variety, even the sexy kind, doesn’t sell. When I asked the writer about the abrupt introduction of the male character, her reply was: ‘I didn’t really want to write in a man, but I’ve been told it wouldn’t do well if it was just about two women.’ Allow me to disagree…
I published my first lesbian erotica title in June 2012 and sales have been much higher than expected. So much so that in 2013 I plan to sell 20,000 copies of my combined titles. And that number is just a cautious estimate. (On a side note, my books occasionally reach the top 10 in Amazon’s lesbian best sellers list, but usually rank between 20 and 40, which logically means that dozens of other lesbian fiction authors are doing much better than I am.)
Lesbian fiction will always be a niche, which as an author catering to that niche, I believe is also its strength. You don’t have to sell hundreds of copies every day to keep your spot in the rankings and it’s fairly easy to get some visibility. Readers of lesbian fiction are also a loyal bunch and, if they like what you have on offer, will always come back for more—just don’t slap them in the face with a heterosexual sex scene.
These days, thousands of authors in any genre make a living selling a respectable number of books every month, without ever coming near best seller status. It doesn’t mean they’re not doing well. I know my books will never break into Amazon’s top 100 because they don’t feature kinky grey-eyed men and innocent heroines, but they don’t have to. I do well because (here we go again) I write what I want to read… and I’m not the only one.
Of course, I’m also coming at it from a lesbian perspective. Ever since discovering I was much more interested in girls, I’ve been starved for lesbian entertainment of any kind. The thrill of discovering a lesbian title in our local library (in the mid-nineties) is still unparalleled. I was not alone. Other people felt exactly the same as I did.
The genre in which I write is very much an escapist one, but, for me, it’s still lesbian fiction first and erotica second. My characters will never hop into bed with a man to boost sales. Plenty of other authors out there are writing those kind of stories. I’ll stick to lesbians, thank you very much.
Speaking of lesbians… I recently started a new series (High Rise) starring four of them. Fool for Love (High Rise Novella One) and Undisclosed Desires (High Rise Novella Two) are available now, the last two books will be released in February and March 2013.
I’ll be giving away a copy (e-book - any format) of each, as well as a copy of the bundled version (the first two High Rise novellas combined) to three lucky commenters.Leave a comment here by Sunday 1/20 for your chance to win.
Harper Bliss (www.harperbliss.com)