Last year there was an article in The Guardian about the lack of lesbian authors in the UK. A few big names have made the mainstream, but lesbian publishing is difficult in the UK, with authors looking to US publishers and indie publishing as some of the few ways forward. VG Lee tells us a bit about how she has successfully had her work published in the UK:
My first novel, The Comedienne, was published by Diva Books in 2000 as part of an exciting new venture to publish quality lesbian fiction. At that time I had an agent who liked my writing but was looking for a ‘straight’ book from me, so I decided to go it alone. Diva also published my second book, The Woman in Beige, before folding. They were great to work with, run in the main by a wonderful woman, Helen Sandler, who now runs Tollington Press, of which more later. They produced several lesbian anthologies which are still available today and probably made it possible for around a dozen lesbian authors to have books published.
Even thirteen years ago, this is still very difficult. There are probably no more than two handfuls of British lesbian authors I can think of who are mainstream and also well known: Sarah Waters, Ali Smith, Jackie Kay, Val McDermid, Carol Anne Duffy, Emma Donoghue, Stella Duffy, Maureen Duffy, Jeanette Winterson. This list hasn’t been added to in several years.
After Diva I went to Onlywomen Press which had a solid reputation and been going a long time, but with limited resources. This was not a happy experience for me. Fortunately around that time Helen Sandler was starting up Tollington Press and I was one of her first authors with my short story collection. Tollington does charge for their services but their authors are predominantly lesbian and I felt my book was well looked after. This was definitely a happy experience!
However, having had my work published for over ten years I felt I would like a more mainstream press, which is why I am now with Ward Wood.
I came into contact with one of the directors through Facebook. I live in Hastings on the south coast, and she often holidayed in the town. Ward Wood is an independent publisher, there are no fees. If they like your manuscript, then they will publish it. I’ve loved working with them and hope they will publish my next book next year. They are in the process of putting two of my previous novels on kindle and Always you, Edina, my most recent novel, has also been brought out on Kindle.