By contrast, about eight years ago, when author Alyssa Cole told her publisher that she wanted to write a romance novel about two women – called F/F in industry parlance, for female – woman – an editor gave it the green light, but also a warning.
“She said, ‘I’m not telling you not to write this book, but F/F books don’t really sell,'” Cole recalled. “It was 2013 or 2014, and she wasn’t wrong.”
But Cole’s most recent book, “How to Find a Princess,” which has a photo of two black women pressing their bodies together on the cover, was on shelves at Walmart and other major retailers across the country.
Leah Koch, co-owner of romance-focused bookstore Ripped Bodice in Los Angeles, said when she and her sister opened their store six years ago, their LGBTQ section was “a little pitiful”, taking up a shelf for most cheap -printed books.
“When you take the publishers individually, it’s still very low,” she said of the LGBTQ romance’s release. But, she added, “when you combine them with the self-published and freelance editors, which we always offer, you have a nice and robust section.”
Len Barot is the president of Bold Strokes Books, which has been publishing LGBTQ novels since 2004. She hopes the increased output from major houses will also benefit her business.
“There will be people who would never have picked up a gay romance or a lesbian romance who might see a subway commercial,” she said. “But if they start seeing these books, they’ll probably trip over our books, which is good for everyone.”
Sound produced by Tally Abecassis.