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Mainstream Books With LGBT Protagonists

The Lord Won't Mind

Today’s topic comes from QSFer Theo Fenraven – “‘The Lord Won’t Mind’ by Gordon Merrick became a NYT bestseller. Think we’ll ever see that again? With so many people writing books with gay main characters, we should already have seen it. Why haven’t we? Why hasn’t one of our books gone ‘mainstream’ and hit the top ten?”

So I’m going to unpack Theo’s questions here a bit. It seems to me there are two main issues here.

The first one is writing LGBT characters into mainstream fiction – and for the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to define mainstream pretty broadly – as non romance-based fiction – I guess the better term might be literary fiction. Should we be writing more stories in literary and mainstream speculative fiction that involve LGBT characters?

The second is more on the marketing and reading side – how would/should such books be marketed, and is there a hunger for them among readers?

Theo, feel free to jump in and add your own spin!

2 thoughts on “Mainstream Books With LGBT Protagonists”

  1. I can only comment on the last part of the question. The reason why none of the absolutely amazing M/M romance (erotic romance, romantic fiction, whatever you want to label it as) has gone mainstream and hit the amazing NYT Bestseller list is because of how that list is tabulated. The majority come from book sales in specific book store markets. It would mean more main stream book stores like Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, and the thousands of other physical stores across the country, have to STOCK those books. Digital sales do account for something, but it’s only a small part of the pie.
    Until more M/M is stocked in the right stores, all of the digital sales won’t be worth a hill of beans.

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  2. It wasn’t only Merrick’s books. Mary Renault had best sellers in the 1960s and ’70s — “The Persian Boy” especially comes to mind — all with gay male protagonists, albeit in an historical context. But “The Front Runner,” too — a book that features a gay wedding in the early 1970s.

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