I like to be able to find stories that I want to read, like everyone else who reads fiction, I imagine. If I'm in the mood for a fantasy, I want to be able to find it. Or a paranormal story, a romance, a mystery, or even a western...I'm kind of living the latter, so I'm not as interested in those, I'll admit. But as someone who very much enjoys these stories with a gay twist, I've been running into an issue lately with e-publishers.
They don't classify things the way my mind does.
For e-publishers who specialize in stories with gay main characters, it's easy. Every story has characters with the sexual orientation I'm interested in, so I just need to look in the correct genre, problem solved. I browse their fantasy section, and there you go, a story with gay elves, right up front.
And note, I avoided the 'fairy' pun because that would just be silly. I swear, I ever write a story with a gay fairy, that dude is gonna be 7 feet tall and able to kick everyone's ass, seriously. Because the Sidhe are scary bastards. Hey, my mom's Irish, we learn to fear the fairy, eh?
Ahem, where was I? Oh, yes...classification. Here's the problem...or perhaps, maybe I should say, here's my question to e-publishers:What does a character's sexual orientation have to do with the genre of a story, in terms of plot and conventions?
Answer: nothing what-so-freaking-ever
Which always makes it a surprise, to me, that 'gay and lesbian' or GLBT is listed alongside other genres, situated with others like Sci-fi, fantasy, erotica, and romance. Somehow, I hear that song 'one of these things is not like the other' running through my head.
The other genres tell me what kind of story I'm getting. Swashbuckling, robots, romantic situations, etc... The gay category tells me NOTHING about the plot. If we were going to classify stories in a category like 'GLBT,' we should be consistent. Which means we stop looking at a genre of fiction and start categorizing by character.
The list of titles would be put into categories like this: nerdy straight ex-con, pissed-off bi-sexual biker chick, sword fighting gay narcissist, and hot bi-curious electrician.
Because that's all the gay is, wouldn't you agree? It's talking about a characteristic of a 'character,' not saying anything at all about the story itself. Now don't get me wrong, I'm HAPPY that more publishers are realizing that people LIKE to read about good characters, regardless of their sexual orientation. And sometimes because of it. *uh...raises hand as guilty for that one*
I like the fact that enough books are published for there to BE a GLBT category now in a lot of publishing houses. What I would love to see, however, is for a few more publishers to, say, expand their categorization, just a little bit, to add to our convenience. We can go to the sci-fi genre, and underneath, we could find gay sexuality, het sexuality, violence, angst, erotica, or whatever might help.
I know this is a bit more work on the publishers side of things. But in the world of the web, anything that helps a person find what they want, faster, is going to be good for business, too. If I only have to spend 60 seconds finding a fantasy with gay main characters that has romance, I'm much more likely to buy it than if I wasted five minutes hunting through pages and pages of titles in the 'gay' section.
So please, e-publishers, remember that while we love the characters in the stories we read, it's awfully hard to search for stories by 'character' and nothing else. Please, help a reader out: put in some multiple categories to search by. We'd all appreciate it. Thanks.