As part of my novel writing journey, I’ve spent the last few weeks doing some market research into the world of lesfic and I’ve come to a, possibly unpopular, conclusion. And that is that the churn in the lesfic world is frighteningly huge.
When I say churn I mean the investment kind and not the butter kind. But, what do I mean by this? I mean that it seems to be very common for some lesfic authors to mass-produce books with little care as to the quality of the final product. This can range from issues with editing, presentation or just the storyline being a repeat of their previous novels.
During my research I have seen published novels with glaring errors in the blurb of their books, book covers with clearly copyrighted materials on them, series of books which appear to all contain the same formulaic stories. To me, I feel that this is giving the lesfic market an inferior product…but, time and time again I noticed that these books seem to sell and were often well-reviewed.
This got me thinking about why we, as lesfic readers, continue to put up with this. And I have come to the conclusion that it is because the lesfic community has been so starved of women loving women literature for so long, that we will read and love almost anything that is put in front of us.
I’m a married woman who is out to my family, I run my own business and I am out to the people I work with, my clients and my suppliers. My closet is strictly for clothing. For people like me, it’s easy to forget about there are many people in our community are not out and struggle to find acceptance in their own lives. Often these people will look towards literature for that acceptance, and for years there was very little lesfic out there.
During these dark ages, prolific readers would, understandably, buy anything that was released. The quality of the product was a secondary consideration to the fact that the product even existed. But things are changing.
In recent years, there has been a huge rise in the amount of lesfic published. This growth is due to a few factors, the expansion and acceptance of fanfic, which is often written for LGBTQ pairings, the ease at which technology allows us to produce and publish and as our community grows and the world (or parts of it) becomes more accepting.
So, the market has grown. There are more readers. And, as a result, more and more lesfic authors are popping up either through publishing houses or self-publishing. While I believe this is a good thing, I am concerned that we are still too accepting of inferior quality products. Gone are the days when we had to make do with a poorly edited book with a cheesy cover that overall made no sense. Great quality lesfic literature can now be found for free.
So why are we still accepting and buying products which sometimes appear to have been thrown together? To be clear, while there are some lesfic authors who mass-produce to make profit, I believe the majority who produce low-quality novels just don’t know any better. I don’t blame the authors who do this. With good sales and great reviews, surely they are just catering their market, right? Why change a formula that works?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect. I would never even dream of holding up my first novel as an example of all that is right in the publishing world, of course not. As a new lesfic author, I am learning and looking at the market. I want to give the audience the best product I can give them and I think both authors and readers need to hold themselves to a better standard to ensure that the lesfic book market is something we can all be proud of.
The problem, from my perspective, is that if we don’t take our literary sector seriously and hope that some basic standards be met, then we will fall behind. How can we ever hope for a lesfic novel to make it onto the mainstream market if the blurb is full of errors and the cover is a screenshot from the Sims? Why would a mainstream reader dip into the lesfic community if our output is so poor? If we want to be taken seriously, we need to stop the churn and focus a little more on quality.