6 Ideas Mainstream Fiction Writers can Steal from Lesbian Genre Fiction

Mainstream fiction authors and publishers could take a few lessons from the writers and the readers of lesbian genre fiction works about what readers – especially women readers – really want. Here are just a few things:

1. Mixing Genres – Romance is romance and mystery is mystery, right? You just don’t mix two or more genre’s unless you want a marketing nightmare, right? Maybe in mainstream fiction but not in lesbian fiction. Anything goes when it comes to entertaining the reader. Most mainstream mystery books have a main story line and a subplot, for example. A lesbian themed ‘mystery’ may also have a strong element of romance and a second, more mystery themed subplot besides.

(A cross genre mystery/romance by Jae that has all the ladies talking)

2. Relationships that grow and mature in series works – The books in a lesbian themed series may or may not stand alone but if there’s an overarching relationship between two characters, it often grows and evolves over the course of the series. I love Janet Evanovich’s number series featuring Stephanie Plum but it’s crazy how long old Steph has been stringing along both Ranger and Joe Morelli…oh, and Diesel. Sheesh! It’s been 21 books or so; pick one already!

(The soon to be released latest book in Radclyffe’s Honor series featuring Blair and Cameron in an ongoing relationship)

3. Covers on non-erotica books (and even on some erotica) that don’t give it all away when it comes to character appearance – Lesbian fiction genres – even some lesbian romance books – rarely depict a full frontal view of a character or any characters at all on the cover. Too, highly detailed physical descriptions are not often found between the covers.  Authors are often inclined to offer only the basics and leave much to the readers imagination.

4. Age diversity – Everyone out there isn’t reading YA stuff or stuff for the under 30 crowd. Lesbian writers get that the lesbian reading audience encompasses all ages. It’s not unusual for a writer to add their books to lists of books with ‘over 30’ and ‘over 40’ aged characters. Many books feature middle aged women with pre-teen and teen children and older friends and family also. Too, lesbian themed fiction is becoming much more ethnically diverse. Facebook group files and Listopia guides to literature exist for lesbians over 40, 0ver 50, black lesbians, Asian lesbian and on and on.


5. Strong female characters – Lots and lots of writers, especially female writers, write stories with female leading characters. Many of these women, especially in traditional romance (non-YA or contemporary), are seeking men to complete them. Even in mystery and Sci-Fi, though they may be very capable to a certain extent, they often defer to a stronger male figure who may be only a secondary character. Lesbian themed stories often have male characters but the women in the stories hold their own from go or they find their way to self reliance and confidence by the end of the book. The books empower women to understand that – whatever it is – they can do it.

(Catherine Wilson’s excellent ‘Warriors’ series speak to point five and even to point six and, the beauty part is, book one is perma-free for the Kindle. Click the photo to download your copy.)

6. Women like to read stories about women that are about more than romance – Romance sells. Sex sells. Women’s fiction is hot, hot, hot. What do all of those things have in common? It’s all about the women, baby! Women read a lot. They like to see women just like them in what they read and, while they love romance, it’s not just about that. They want it all. Lesbian genre fiction gives it to them. They get angst, they get women working hard in a man’s world, they get love, they get friendship, they get sisterhood and community and more. Women in lesbian fiction are wives, mothers, daughters, soldiers, sailors, cops, firefighters, pilots, doctors, lawyers and more. And no, it’s not all male bashing in the stories we love. Far from it. Lots of books in the various lesbian themed genres feature straight and gay male and female characters in multiple ways. The stories are an escape that mirror reality or that show what it could be like if we really were all created equal.

About Anne Hagan

I'm an East Central Ohio based government employee by day and a fiction author by night. I specialize in mystery fiction featuring lesbian sleuths and cozy fiction featuring women sleuths. I also dabble in romance especially romantic lesfic. I live with my wife and our dogs in a tiny town that’s even smaller than the Morelville of my first fiction series and we wouldn't have it any other way. My wife grew up here and she has always called this little village home. Though it’s an ultra-conservative rural community, we're surrounded here by family, longtime friends and many other wonderful people with open hearts and minds. My wife and I are the co-owners of a commercial haunted house: Hagan's House of Horrors. Much as my dream has always been to write fiction, hers has been to create it through the medium of horror. We went full commercial in 2015. Watch us as we grow!
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