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Author Topic: Is gay/lesbian publishing disappearing?  (Read 4755 times)

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Feral

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Re: Is gay/lesbian publishing disappearing?
« Reply #9 on: Thu, Nov 30, 2006, 04:45 »

Well, we always have Doug Ireland. :)

Andy Humm is quite solid as well. Still, you are right -- there is much to wish for in today's journalism.
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Mogul

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Re: Is gay/lesbian publishing disappearing?
« Reply #8 on: Wed, Nov 29, 2006, 08:47 »

I dare say the more recent changes in the "media landscape" may well have made this the golden age of the gay press.

This was a biting irony, wasn't it?  :=SU From what I can judge, there isn't much of the gay press so far. GoogleNews Search and re-wording articles provided by AP can't be really seen as powerfull journalism... 
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Feral

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Re: Is gay/lesbian publishing disappearing?
« Reply #7 on: Tue, Nov 28, 2006, 10:33 »

Do We Need a GLBT Press? What a strange title for a discussion of the "role that queer journalism has and can play in an ever-changing media landscape." Clearly we need a gay press. I dare say the more recent changes in the "media landscape" may well have made this the golden age of the gay press.
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Mogul

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Re: Is gay/lesbian publishing disappearing?
« Reply #6 on: Tue, Nov 28, 2006, 03:48 »

The GLBT Historical Society, with its cosponsor, the Northern California Chapter of the NLGJA, will hold a roundtable discussion "Do We Need a GLBT Press?" exploring the role that queer journalism has played and can continue to play in an ever-changing media landscape.
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Mogul

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Re: Is gay/lesbian publishing disappearing?
« Reply #5 on: Wed, Aug 09, 2006, 08:39 »

There is a  bimonthly journal of LGBT arts, culture and politics "The Gay & Lesbian Review" devoted to the promotion of the gay culture:

"The Mission of The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide is to provide a forum for enlightened discussion of issues and ideas of importance to lesbians and gay men; to advance gay and lesbian culture by providing a quality vehicle for its best writers and thinkers; and to educate a broader public on gay and lesbian topics."

The "Archives" section contains some interesting reviews on gay & lesbian books.
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Mogul

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Re: Is gay/lesbian publishing disappearing?
« Reply #4 on: Mon, May 01, 2006, 14:00 »

Here is another big advantage of the internet: in this forum,contributors to it do not ask to be payed.They are after a political result rather than
a personal reward. [..]

Certainly - the internet offers immense possibilities for political writers. It could do the same service for fiction writers, but unfortunately all these people also need their 3 warm meals a day and a housing possibility. I am afraid that we are back to those times when writers were not able to provide for their own existence and were forced either to a live in poverty or look for an extra job.

[..] We are all, however, subject to the market economy. Ultimately, if the gay people will not read books, then books will not be purchased and printers, editors, and young authors will not be paid.

The problem seems not to be limited solely to gay literature - people generally tend to read less, and if at all, so in lower quality. It is astounding what kind of literature does finds its way into shelves! However, I do not have the impression that gay literature is really coming into decay. The real problem might be the missing link between the authors and the readers - a good gay literature journal, with orderly revisions and excerpts of new works. It is possible that I am but ignorant, alone I do not know of such a publication. Sure, gay magazines publish short recensions as well, but this is far not enough.
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Re: Is gay/lesbian publishing disappearing?
« Reply #3 on: Mon, May 01, 2006, 11:38 »

Ultimately, if the gay people will not read books, then books will not be purchased and printers, editors, and young authors will not be paid.

Here is another big advantage of the internet: in this forum,contributors to it do not ask to be payed.They are after a political result rather than
a personal reward.In its time,the invention of printing was a revolution.But the new method of communication of our times,the revolution comparable to the one of printing a few centuries ago,is the internet.How book edition could compete with it,that is the question.

K6
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Re: Is gay/lesbian publishing disappearing?
« Reply #2 on: Mon, May 01, 2006, 10:45 »

Quote
As long as profit is king gay writers need to be nurtured in a sympathetic publishing home. If it no longer exists, they will be obliged to create it.

This development has been long in brewing. I remember reading some years ago a very similar news story, but about gay book shops closing down. If gay and lesbian publishing is in a phase of decay, it is because we as a people have, for some time, been starving it to that state. It is quite possible that new forms of communication have overtaken the humble book. More gays and lesbians are writing and being read than ever before--only the character of their work has changed. Much of it is gossip and opinion in the form of blogs, it is true, yet there are also web sites devoted to short fiction. Still, I am mindful of Michael Denneny and his work at St. Martin's Press--one editor made a phenomenal impact on gay literature in our lifetimes. It is possible that at any moment some figure might again arise to take gay literature under his wing. We are all, however, subject to the market economy. Ultimately, if the gay people will not read books, then books will not be purchased and printers, editors, and young authors will not be paid.
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Mogul

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Is gay/lesbian publishing disappearing?
« Reply #1 on: Mon, May 01, 2006, 08:28 »

Source: http://books.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1763857,00.html

"Swimming against the tide

Rupert Smith on why the closure of Gay Men's Press is bad for the industry

Saturday April 29, 2006
The Guardian


For many young gay people, their first encounter with "people like us" is in books. The lineage of gay writers, from Sappho and Shakespeare to Wilde and Sarah Waters, is long and noble. The Big Gay Read, part of Manchester's Queer Up North International Festival opening on May 7, recognises the legacy with readings, workshops and a vote for the most-loved gay book.

Yet, despite this obvious appetite and market, there is no longer a dedicated gay publisher in the UK. Gay Men's Press has finally ceased trading after years of dwindling sales. The big book retailers are closing down their gay sections, and small specialist shops are struggling or going under. The era of niche publishing is over.

Article continues
 
This begs the question of whether we need gay publishers. When GMP was launched in 1979, the book business was highly resistant to lesbian and gay material unless it had heavyweight literary provenance. GMP, like other small publishers catering to women or black people, provided a vital break to new writers. It rescued forgotten gay authors such as James Purdy from oblivion, and wasn't afraid to publish contentious titles like Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin, the children's book that "inspired" Section 28. In 2006, the landscape is different. Alan Hollinghurst's Booker Prize-winning coke-and-sodomy epic The Line of Beauty is to be a TV series. Waters and Jake Arnott sell by the warehouseload. Jamie O'Neill's At Swim, Two Boys is, arguably, the big gay love story we've always been waiting for. With mainstream success so widespread, who needs the small presses?

"I have absolutely no doubt that a lot of gay writers will now find it impossible to get published," says Peter Burton, a former editor of Gay Men's Press. "A handful of established authors are very successful, and that gives the illusion that gay writers have cracked the mainstream, but it's entirely untrue. Big publishers are only interested in books that will sell by the sackload, and for a lot of new talents that's not the case. Fiction is a high-risk activity for any publisher, and gay content is seen as increasing that risk."

But one man's risk is another man's opportunity. In the clickable world of Amazon, and the new self-publishing services like lulu.com, gay material can find its market more easily than before. There's a groundswell of lesbian and gay writers coming up through periodicals such as Chroma, and in the absence of established publishers willing to give them a chance, they will undoubtedly go the indie route. "Mainstream publishers aren't interested in the type of lesbian and gay books that might sell, say, 5,000 copies," says Helen Sandler, a former publisher at GMP, now director of the York Lesbian Arts Festival. "But there's a demand, whether it's experimental, dissident stuff or just a good holiday read. Someone needs to step into the gap, because if it's done right it could be very successful."

GMP was not making money. Even with small print runs and tiny advances, it couldn't accommodate the massive discounts demanded by chain and online retailers. Parent company Millivres Prowler Group also publishes profitable magazines like Gay Times but the book business was under-performing. "On a £10 title at 65% discount, you're left with £3.50 to commission, edit, lay out, print and market the title, and cover author royalties," says Nick Hilton, MPG's head of sales. "GMP suffered from a lack of support from the chain stores. They have to focus on blockbusters, and that leaves less shelf space for independent presses. We couldn't compete."

But shouldn't gay writers be com-peting in the mainstream? "When you look at the big, ambitious, serious novels being written by Sarah Waters or Philip Hensher, you could say that the battle has been won," says Jonathan Best, artistic director of Queer Up North and the Big Gay Read. "The demise of gay publishing in the UK is certainly a loss, but we can't have it both ways. We've fought for acceptance, and now we've got it we can't complain if the small presses close."

So what exactly will be lost? In mainstream publishing, lesbian and gay writers have to be great, or nothing at all. Arnott, Waters, Hollinghurst, O'Neill and Colm Tóibín, to name but a few, create fictional worlds that are emphatically removed from modern gay lives. They're historical or set in rarefied social circles. Meanwhile, American publishers such as Cleis and Alyson, with access to a much larger market, produce a steady stream of erotica, thrillers, romances, sex manuals and self-help books.

Unidentified in bookshops, unsupported by dedicated publishers or imprints, lesbian and gay literature may simply be swallowed in a profit-led market. The Big Gay Read is in part a riposte to the BBC's Big Read in 2003 - a poll of the nation's favourite books in which gay writers barely registered. "Gay literature still has to struggle for visibility," says Best. "I don't think we need all those endless coming-out stories that GMP published in the 80s, but we do need to promote an awareness of gay work. A dedicated gay press isn't necessarily the right way to do that, but we have to ensure that queer voices don't just disappear."

GMP isn't a victim of book-trade homophobia; in some ways, gay writers and readers have never had it so good. But its passing does mark another milestone in the evolution of British publishing towards accountant-led homogeneity. Given the right breaks, literary voices like Arnott and Waters will always be heard - but what of the dissident voices, or young, developing writers? Most publishers will always choose a straight book over a gay book simply on market potential. As long as profit is king gay writers need to be nurtured in a sympathetic publishing home. If it no longer exists, they will be obliged to create it.

Rupert Smith reads from his new novel Service Wash (Serpent's Tail, October) at the Big Gay Read Festival, May 17. Details at www.queerupnorth.com"


While gay and lesbian publishers are of course still subject to the market economy, the following 2 questions are allowed:

  • Is gay/lesbian publishing really in a phase of decay; and
  • If "yes", what could be done to improve the situation?

Certainly, any direct governmental support is questionable, but what ways are suitable to encourage young and unconventional authors to write and publish?
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