- by BlogMistress
by Len Barot
Thank you so much for this opportunity tell you a little bit about Bold Strokes Books, Inc, an independent publishing company focusing on LGBTQ literature. First, a very little bit about me (the publisher). I am a former surgeon and university professor and, in addition to hands-on running the company, I also write romance, romantic intrigue, and erotica as Radclyffe and a paranormal romance series as L. L. Raand. I have been involved in all aspects of publishing from the ground up for over a decade, having been initially published by a small POD publisher in the late 90s, then trying a short stint of self-publishing with Lightning Source, and finally deciding that publishing was what I wanted to do full time.
I founded BSB in 2004 and retired from surgery in 2005. My philosophy then as now is to publish mainstream-quality LGBTQ literature via mainstream marketing and distribution avenues. We are a traditional print publisher, not POD, and our titles are carried worldwide in bricks-and-mortar stores large and small (more on e-books in a bit). Our mission statement is twofold: 1) to create an opportunity for authors of LGBTQ fiction to bring their works to the mainstream market and 2) to provide editorial and developmental support for new and seasoned authors.
I personally oversee acquisitions with input from six editors. All our titles are rigorously edited in a one-on-one relationship between author and editor to assure that every title is the best it can be. By the end of 2005, we had signed 8 authors and published 12 new titles. We now publish over 60 authors, have an active title list of 300, and publish 5 to 8 new titles monthly.
From 2004 to 2006, our focus was on publishing lesbian genre fiction. Approximately 75% of our f/f titles are romances, with the remainder of the genre titles being equally distributed between mystery, sci-fi/fantasy, historical romances, and erotica. We publish two romance lines. The Matinee Romances are shorter, character-focused romances of 45,000 to 55,000 words and run the gamut from sweet and sensual to hot and steamy. Our BSB romance line ranges from 55,000 to 100,000+ words and encompasses longer traditional, romantic intrigue, romantic fantasy, paranormal romance, steampunk, and erotic romances. These tend to be more complex in terms of plot and subplot than the Matinee Romances. We are particularly interested in acquiring paranormal, steampunk, and character-driven traditional romances.
As the company grew and I saw the demand for LGBTQ literature increase among the general readership and more and more interest from booksellers and librarians, we added two general fiction lines—Victory editions (general fiction/women’s fiction with an emphasis on lesbian identity, sexuality, family sagas, historical fiction) and Liberty editions (general fiction and genre fiction focused on gay male/bisexual/transgendered stories). These are longer titles, usually 75,000 to 125,000 words.
We brought out the first title in our Young Adult line, Soliloquy, in 2010 from RWA member Lynda Sandoval –Father Knows Best. These titles focus on protagonists aged 14 and older. The main characters need not self identify as LGBTQ, but we are looking specifically for characters and/or issues involving gender and sexual identity. We are actively acquiring YA in all areas and are particularly interested in YA paranormals with LGBTQ themes.
Our newest line is an erotica division HeatStrokes for short story collections and novellas. We are particularly interested in f/f, bisexual, and f/f/m erotica in novella (15,000 words-40,000 words) and novel length.
The explosion of e-books has helped raise awareness of all types of fiction, and this is certainly true for LGBTQ-focused works. All our titles are available in both print and multiple electronic formats. In the last several years we have seen our digital sales quadruple, which is a boon to authors and publisher alike. Despite the economic strains of the last several years, we have seen an expansion and diversification of our readership.
This month (September 2010) we are pleased to release a work of general women’s fiction by one of this group’s members, Kathy Shay. The Perfect Family is an incredible, heartwarming story of a family nearly torn apart when their 17-year-old son announces he is gay. Ultimately a story of triumph and love, The Perfect Family explores the many challenges faced by gay teenagers and their families in navigating the uncertain social, religious, and cultural waters when life takes on a different form than the one we had anticipated. For more information about this title or Kathy’s blog tour, check out her upcoming schedule.
One of the most exciting developments in the last decade has been the greater recognition of same-sex/bisexual/transgendered literature in the mainstream marketplace. Bold Strokes Books is a recognized publisher by both the RWA and MRA. Our authors have been Edgar winners as well as finalists and winners in a number of RWA contests, ForeWord Review of Books and Benjamin Franklin Independent Publisher awards, and many others. At Bold Strokes Books, we provide “small-press” attention within a “big-publisher” business model. Every title is carefully produced, promoted, and positioned for success. We welcome questions and agented or un-agented submissions. For information please visit our Web site or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2005 Len Barot retired as an Associate Professor of Surgery (Plastic and Reconstructive) from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey and founded Bold Strokes Books, Inc. Writing as Radclyffe and L.L. Raand, she has published and/or edited thirty-six novels, dozens of short stories, and numerous anthologies. She is a three-time Lambda Literary Award winner, a 2010 FF&P Prism award winner, and a double finalist in the 2010 Heart Of Excellence Readers’ Choice awards.