Every couple of months you like to remind people of your policies, driven by this need you have to vocally represent the "majority" of M/M readers who you say don't want to read vaginas either. Usually I subtweet you a bit with my fellow vagina-lovers but don't otherwise engage or acknowledge. But man, today you really got up in my craw with this:
the M/M genre is supposed to be for romances between gay men, unless things have changed while I wasn’t looking.Okay, let's leave aside her assertion that no author would ever include gay sex scenes in "het" romances. I know that's not true--after all, my first M/F novel coming out with Carina this December has a bisexual hero in an on-screen sexual relationship with a man--as do plenty of other queer or ally readers/reviewers/writers of M/F romance who know what they're talking about and read widely in the genre. Are there het readers and writers who get angry about gay sex? Yes, but they're what we call bigots. I don't write for bigots, full stop. I don't read authors if I learn that they write for bigots. And really, "But bigots do it!" is a terrible defence for your own behaviour. So there goes that. The "double standard" is a false construction Wave is waving around like a red flag to try and keep the conversation from rightfully including her clear internalized misogyny, transphobia, and biphobia.
At this point I can only assume that some of our writers — and/or their publishers — don’t respect or care about M/M readers; if they did they wouldn’t insert into their M/M romances on-page het physical intimacies such as oral sex, full-on vaginal sex, or anal sex, with no warning in the blurbs.
Why are M/M readers treated so disdainfully? Are we not on par with het romance readers? M/M romance has been around for a decade, so why can’t our authors get it right? Clearly we are not respected because if we were this wouldn’t happen, and so often. Would authors insert graphic gay sex scenes in het romances? Not f*****g likely, unless the book is a ménage or a bi romance, and do you know why? Two reasons:
1) They know that het romance readers would not tolerate this and would tell them to put their book where the sun doesn’t shine; and
2) They respect het romance readers so it wouldn’t even occur to them to include gay sex in a het romance. Definitely a double standard.
So now that I've taken care of that piece of nonsense, I'd like to talk about this accusation she's levelled at me, and at authors like me: that we don't respect or care about readers and that we're treating readers disdainfully by including the occasional M/F relationship or sex scene in our otherwise M/M novels.
Well, let me set the record straight. I respect the hell out of you guys. I love you. I care about you. I adore you. I want to make you happy. I have buckets of respect for you. You're my entire livelihood. You're my raison d'être. Jesse Wave is not my reader, and that's bloody fine by me.
Jesse Wave says respect begins and ends at vaginas. To me, respect looks a little differently. . .
1. I work with publishers I know are going to edit the hell out of my work.
You guys deserve a polished product. You paid for it, and hell, even when it's free, the time you spend reading still counts as far as I'm concerned. Venessa Guinta at Loose Id, Sarah Frantz and Rachel Haimowitz at Riptide, they put my stories through the ringer, and that's why I choose (and have chosen) to work with them. Yes, editing to that standard is hard fucking work, but I respect you enough to put that work in. Period.
2. I keep my nose out of reader spaces.
I don't harass reviewers for not liking my books. I don't encourage other people to harass reviewers for not liking my books. I don't comment publicly on reviews, for the most part. I try my best not to spam or add you to mailing lists you didn't agree to or send you annoying event invitations on GR or FB. If I participate in GR groups or twitter conversations, I try not to spend the entire time shilling.
3. I give back.
I write free stories for you, and I love it. I write stories based on requests, sometimes I consider reader input when I'm writing stories (for example, "Salting the Earth" came from people reading the WIP snippets of The Druid Stone on my blog saying "OMG Finnbheara non-con I want it!"), I write PWP of characters from my series and sell them at a loss, I release deleted scenes or short vignettes that don't go in a novel but might be interesting to fans of my books. Is this self-serving? Of course, it's great marketing! But then, so is everything on this list, ultimately, because respecting your readers sells books on the whole. I truly believe that. Being a jerk benefits no one.
But more than that, I respect this genre enough to try and better it in any way I can. I think it needs to be more diverse, so I write books with diverse characters. I think it needs higher standards of editing, I only submit to houses with editors I know I can trust. I think it needs nice covers, I spend time going over and over again with cover artists until I get something representative and attractive. (Um, mostly. But then, art's subjective!) Ultimately, I try my best to be a part of the genre I want M/M to be. Professional, fun, sexy, smart, inclusive. All of it. I'm doing my best.
4. I love hearing you love my work.
Seriously, it fills me with joy when you @ me on twitter, or I see your thoughtful or gushing (or both!) review of one of my books on Goodreads. You know why that feels so good to me? Because I respect your opinion. Your opinion matters, and seeing you happy makes me happy. If I don't respect you--cough, Jesse Wave--then your opinion doesn't matter. It doesn't affect my mood, it doesn't change how I write or conduct business. It's as simple as that.
5. Above all else, I put the story first.
Because you guys deserve the best books I can write. Writing good books means putting the story--not the opinions of anyone else--first. Do I take your thoughts into consideration? Hell yeah I do. You like romantic comedy from me? I write you romantic comedy! You like that series? I write you some more of it! But only if it serves the story. Only if I can make it work. That means I don't write sex just because it sells, I write it because it fits the story. POC characters? Female characters? No sex? Lots of sex? Sex with ladyparts? Flashbacks? Action scenes?
It's all done with the primacy of the story in mind. Do I sometimes get it wrong? Yeah, of course. Sometimes I cut a sex scene that shouldn't have been cut. Sometimes I drag out an arc that needs to be kept shorter. But I do these things as genuine mistakes and with the best of intentions, not because I'm trying to manipulate, or make more money, or insult you or disrespect/disdain you, or even pander to you, or any of it.
The story comes first, because you deserve that.
And that's what respecting readers looks like to me.