Back in July of 2013, I published A Woman Lost, my first book. When I tried promoting the book with some of the major sites, I had three major strikes against me:
- I wrote lesbian fiction
- I was self-published
- I was an unknown author
Even some of the sites dedicated to LGBTQ fiction wouldn’t let me use their services because of the last two points. I have to admit it hurt being rejected by everyone, but it really stung when so-called inclusive sites wouldn’t give me a chance.
Those who know me will tell you I’m a stubborn person. So, I continued writing and publishing, hoping I could build up my name.
Unfortunately, I continued to run into gatekeepers who deemed my books unworthy simply because they had the power to do so.
So, in 2017, I decided enough was enough, and I started networking with other lesbian fiction authors. At first, I organized coordinated sales, and they were successful. It got me thinking, which can be dangerous for me, like the time I decided to climb a mountain without training for it, but that’s an entirely different story. In this instance, my pondering how to unite all lesbian fiction authors for the greater good is how I came up with I Heart Lesfic.
To be honest, at the time, I had no idea how much work it would involve, and I’m glad I didn’t because it may have scared me off the whole concept. Not only has it allowed me to work with other lesfic authors, but it’s helped readers find new books.
It was recently shared with me that since January of 2020, one reader has devoured over 500 books. Most of them were lesfic, and many were found via I Heart Lesfic.
Also, I’ve heard from many authors saying the IHL newsletter helped them launch their first book.
These comments from readers and authors encapsulate why there was (and still is) a need for I Heart Lesfic.
I set out to include all lesbian fiction, whether it be traditionally or indie published, because I didn’t want to leave anyone out in the cold. Putting a story out into the world is scary, but it’s nice to know you have a tribe cheering you on.
For three years, I ran I Heart Lesfic all on my own, and the website takes an inordinate amount of time. By the end of 2020, which was difficult on all levels, I nearly tossed in the towel and shut it down.
Luckily, Miranda MacLeod talked some sense into me. Also, she joined the IHL team, and she’s been an immense help.
It’s not simply the time it takes to run I Heart Lesfic, but the fees add up, including website hosting, mailing lists, universal links, and so many other little things I completely forget about until I get an email receipt and I’m like, oh yeah, there’s that.
One of my goals from the outset of launching the website was not to charge authors or readers. I’m committed to this. (Remember my stubborn streak.) I do not want to charge an author to be featured, and I never want readers to have to pay to be part of such an amazing community.
This is why we recently setup a Buy Us a Coffee page, which allows people to help out to cover the costs. We announced it in last week’s newsletter, and I have to admit I was blown away by the response. Not only were people willing to pitch in, but all of the kind notes and encouragement brought more than a few tears to my eyes.
I know this is the long road to saying thanks, but I wanted to share why I started I Heart Lesfic to show you how much it means to me to know you appreciate the hard work and dedication.
Back in 2013, I felt so alone, publishing in a genre many told me could never make money, and if I believed the ones who kept slamming the doors in my face, I wouldn’t be where I am today: making a living writing lesbian fiction, but it’s even more than that.
I now have a place where I belong. That’s the greatest gift every single person who has visited the site has given me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.