I had a unique experience recently.
There’s one reviewer who I like to read, especially when he’s writing about one of my books. It’s one of the rare vanity moments we have as authors. What I like about this reviewer is that within his critique, he offers advice to the writer.
In the past he hasn’t been keen on the titles of my novels. He has commented on the male to male romance market and the fact that that within this genre, my first book was just outside the norm. But on the flip-side, my second novel made him think back on his life. His points are never personal, and make sense to a writer honing his craft.
So I asked him to be a beta-reader for one of my works in progress.
He graciously accepted. He sat down one evening and began. As he read a few chapters, something dawned on him. My book was not specifically gay. This sweet man started fretting, it seems. He didn’t know how to approach me about it. He did however point out that he loved the surreal nature of the work, which is one thing he loved about my afterlife novels (the Drama Queen series).
But he spent a part of his life reading mainstream novels for a book club he was in. He consumed about ten a year. In his own words he wrote: ‘Chalk it up to an old gay man who’s gotten eccentric after too much of a lifetime being invisible in mainstream literature.’
Since I started getting published I realised I’ve done the same, mostly.
We now have so much fresh gay writing out there that we’re not just reading what is acceptable to the mainstream any more, thanks to new smaller publishers and those who venture to self-publish. And although I still read mainstream literature, I seem to be reading less of it.
This reviewer has a strong point in saying he’s been invisible in literature for too long. Perhaps he’d like to beta-read my attempt at an erotic novel? Once I get to the second draft, I’ll ask him.