Today I noticed that my book Time’s Arrow got shoved in LGBT categories thanks to a few keywords I used. It also got shoved into romance, even though I don’t consider it a romance.
While the book does feature a queer protagonist, I really don’t like that it got shoved into that category. Neferre’s sexuality is not a focus of the story, anymore than a straight character’s sexuality is the focus of a story.
I realize these keyword categories exist to make it easier for queer people to find literature including them, but at the same time, these categories encourage people who are not queer to write them off as “queer fiction.” And you know what happens then? They miss out on really good stories because they’ve been instructed to believe that queer stories are only for queer people.
It’s the same deal with categories for race and categories for gender.
And yet, we don’t have a category called “white fiction” and we don’t have a category called “men’s fiction” and we don’t have a category called “straight fiction” and queer people are not balking at the idea of reading about straight people. Women are not rolling their eyes and throwing a tantrum at the idea of reading about men.
Apparently, straight white men get to be people and the rest of us get to be categories.
Yes, I realize the categories are there as a result of my own keywords, but I hate that it is displayed at the bottom of the page in the rankings. Someone who sees that will think “Oh, this is queer fiction!” and pass my book up, never dreaming that they could — gasp! — actually have enjoyed it!
I hate these categories because a huge chunk of the audience is encouraged not to read my work. And, no, it doesn’t help me to have Time’s Arrow filed away under a LGBT flag because Neferre is not a straight-up lesbian, and among the queer community, any woman who is bisexual or pansexual is pretty much shunned. So my book is not going to be embraced by the rainbow, unfortunately.
At the end of the day, my book will be left out in the cold, all because some keywords shoved it in a category.
And it’s a shame. Because while Time’s Arrow is not some kind of work of genius, it’s still a decent read (I think. See my previous post for more info about my uncertainty in that regard).