Discussion: F/F and Romancelandia

Last year in June, I made a post titled Does YA Hate f/f romance. That got a lot more attention that I could’ve ever hoped for and I’m so thankful for that. Since then, I’ve gotten much more into romance and honestly? I need to address how this is also a problem in Romancelandia.

I’m going to start with queer publishing itself because you can’t argue with facts. M/M dominates it by far. Maybe it’s not on the level of m/f outside of queer publishing but it’s so clearly dominates it to the point it mirrors fanfiction’s own favouring that I addressed in my YA post. For three so called LGBTQIAP+ publishers, when it comes to numbers for pairings, Less Than Three Press has 496 books with a gay lead and 126 books with a lesbian lead (they don’t separate by pairing so best I have) Nine Star Press has one page incomplete page of f/f and five pages of m/m. For Riptide, they lost a ton of their books after their shit was exposed but they’re infamous for publishing mostly m/m. How bad? Currently, they only have two pages of f/f books and twenty-five of m/m. That is extremely disproportionate.

“That’s bad Natasha, but does that really prove anything about romancelandia as a community?” Well, fine. Lets look at actual amount of book ratings on Goodreads.

I’m going to use the same author for this. Avon Gale had really good success with her Scoring Chances m/m series. The first book has 2734 ratings on Goodreads currently, the fifth book came out 26th June 2017 and has 1211 ratings. You’d call her a well established author, right? So through a different publisher she published two books, one was co-authored with another well established author Piper Vaughn. Together they wrote Off The Ice, a m/m book and was released 30th October 2017. It currently has 1201 ratings on Goodreads. A little more than a month earlier on 25th September 2017, her f/f book The Love Song of Sawyer Bell was released. How many ratings does this have?

182. That’s it. The same publisher, barely any time apart, from a well established author. That is hugely disproportionate. There’s authors with m/m books that have had their books out for less and less successful than Gale who have more ratings in less time. Why is that? Honestly, it’s so bad I have a joke that when the m/m sequel to The Love Song of Sawyer Bell comes out it’ll quickly get more readers.

Typically, the most successful f/f books tend to be from Bold Strokes Press, but should one publisher really be completely responsible for f/f books not flopping? And even if a specific book doesn’t flop, queer publishers do seem to prefer m/m books. When was the last time you saw a really hyped f/f book on romancelandia everyone jumped to?

So why is there less f/f? And why do people seem less interested in it? Why are less picked up by publishers?

I know why, because allocishet women don’t want to read them. They want to read books about attractive cis men, no matter the gender they’re boning, they don’t care. It’s to the point some cis women feel so entitled to m/m that the CEO of Less Than Three Press literally stated that m/m was for (cis) women, and not for queer men (even though they’re writing stories about them???). There’s an assumption most romance readers are women, and there’s also an assumption that these women are straight, and you can’t slap on a stock photo of a dude with a six pack on a f/f book cover, can you? LT3’s CEO’s statement supports this. Why would women support f/f if they can read books about cis men boning each other (and also not care about their feelings in real life)?

It’s just so tiring at this point and I see so very few romancelandia people recommending f/f. I’ve done my hardest to recommend f/f but it feels like no one is listening. And you know what? It’s not even really an either or problem, Romancelandia has a role and so called LGBTQIAP+ romance publishers has a role. More push and marketing needs to be put behind f/f books. More publishers need to publish these books. More people need to read them, to buy them, to support them, to recommend them. A lot of the time, when romance releases are talked about it’s focussed on m/f with maybe a token m/m, but f/f is pushed under the rug. And I’m tired that nobody seems to care. I’m tired that the people who do support it are a sub community of a sub community (that being queer romancelandia).

It hurts every time I see there’s substantially less f/f in queer publishers. It’s really damn alienating and publishing and readers need to do better.

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9 thoughts on “Discussion: F/F and Romancelandia

  1. I growl at these publishers or reviewers who claim “We pub LGBTQ+” or “We’re open to LGBTQ+” but really aren’t. Don’t tell me you want my stuff when you are focused on cis m/m. Why waste my time and yours?

    Thanks for writing this!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. this is a very good post and entirely infuriating. just love that queer publishers care more about allocishet women than actual queer people.

    also, I really want to read The Love Song of Sawyer Bell, but I don’t think there’s anyplace to purchase it right now?

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  3. There was so much truth in this post and I’m crying. Also that certain CEO writes fetishistic trash, I read one m/m book of hers and it made me feel uncomfortable for most of it, so finding out that she’s the CEO made me think very different about Less Than Three press :/ But unfortunately she’s far from being the only woman author with books like that.

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  4. Thank you! This is such a timely post. As a publisher of lesbian fiction I see this as a growing issue within our ranks. There also seems to be less respect for lesbian fiction. Thanks for the spotlight.

    Chris
    Writing as Isabella

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Here because Cathy above shared the link. Just gotta say I agree most of the problem here is straight women not reading FF. Bothers me so much and makes me want to write more FF out of spite.

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  6. Sadly, nearly all art in our society centers males. When it doesn’t, it is regulated to the back shelf. It’s true in film, music, and fiction. Much of this is driven by men, some also by women, as is this case. But I hope my favorite f/f writers will push on despite the odds. I need your stories, and I’m sure thousands of others need them too. There is so little in life that centers females, and f/f literature is a sanctuary for so many of us!

    Great analysis!! Thank you!

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  7. Ah yes, the perennial f/f erasure problem. I mean, frankly, a lot of it is … *whispers* internalized misogyny. Cishet women being more interested in cis men is certainly a big piece of the problem, but when even a lot of queer women seem to choose to write m/m over f/f, I think that says something …

    It’s already been rehashed many times everywhere, but a key aspect of this misogyny is society’s general discomfort with female agency, especially wrt “courtship” within a relationship. I mean, it feels like we have only recently become more comfortable with women protagonists and women-led franchises. I’m sure a lot of people (men and women) struggle to write an interesting relationship with not one, but TWO women if both are perceived as passive and lacking in agency. ie.Who is going to get the ball rolling in this relationship if both parties are “passive?” This is also a symptom of the unfortunate tendency to project het scripts onto queer couples, where there needs to be a “male” pursuer and “female” pursued. (You see this all the time in m/m romance written by straight women too.) So yeah, in summary, given how we often still struggle with nuanced portrayals of het women and basic het women relationships in fiction, like female friendships, sisters, the parent-daughter relationship, and mother-child relationship, are you surprised that we also suck at queer f/f romance?

    And you’re right, publishers and readers need to actively do work to overcome this bias, or it becomes a vicious cycle where there are fewer published works, a smaller readership, fewer resources and less hype, which raises the price on works, further disincentivizing readers and authors from reading and writing f/f, etc.etc.

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