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Trying my hand at another somewhat serious entry.

Is there a market for original m/m fiction? I don't mean porn, okay, I already know there's a market for that. But I'm talking original m/m fiction; romance, action, whatever. Now just looking at the hefty amounts of slash on the internets the off the cuff answer would seem to be yes indeedi! Of course, the people holding the slash back could be correct and offline there really wouldn't be a market for it. Yes, I admit that it is possible there would be no market for original slash fiction offline even though it is so popular online.

However, I must confess that I do believe there would be a market for it, so this post will (no doubt) be biased in that direction. Honestly, even if there are those who read m/m slash fanfic but would never consider (for whatever reason) reading/purchasing original m/m slash, I still believe a rather hefty number would.

So, lets delve deeper into this and see if the meanies holding the slash down are correct or just blowing something nasty out their tailpipes.

One point in favor is that, as everyone knows, the internet is full of m/m slash fiction. No, seriously, on the whole there is at least as much slash fanfic as there is het fanfic. There may even be more slash, but since I can't say I've seen all the fanfics ever posted on the internets - I obviously cannot be sure of that. At best I can break it down into fandoms that I know of or play around in, and even I can't say I've read or even seen all fanfic ever posted for those. Actually, it would be interesting to hear from people in other fandoms on this, just to see if slash is really popular all over, or if it is just a few of the larger fandoms which have the slash. Though if go from what I've heard from others, I do believe slashers are everywhere.

Even in a mainly het fandom like the X-Files there is still a slash segement. Granted these days it seems as though there are only MSR fans (Mulder/Scully Romance) left. Still you can find X-Files slash out there, though in the end X-Files is primarily a het fandom. On the other side of the coin, you have Lord of the Rings, which from where I'm sitting is even more devoid of het than X-Files is of slash. Seriously, if you are looking for LotR het you are pretty much SOL (Shit out of Luck).* So, we've got two very different extreme's here. However, I believe most other fandoms are more equally balanced between their het and slash, though I could be wrong.

* I've not been lurking very long in LotR, but I can already tell you that if you want het for this fandom, you're probably gonna have to write it yourself. Okay, that's not entirely fair, I did come across one het/gen archive, so there might be more. I've yet to find them, but I suspect they are out there. Anyway, why was I looking for het? Well, I'd heard about some hot pervy Frodo/Sam/Rosie action, and I thought "hey, that sounds all right." I even found links for two, but found the links to be dead, which means I didn't get to read the fics. Aside from that, I did come across one other that, if you read upside down and holding your tongue just right, one might consider a Frodo/Sam/Rosie fic, but it really wasn't. There was no true threesome - Sam was in love with both Rosie and Frodo, but Frodo would only play around with Sam. Okay, he played around with Merry later on, but he never played with Sam and Rosie.

Of course, to do this thing properly - A, I need to focus better, B, one really needs to look into more than just two fandoms, and C, one needs to address why the above seem extreme.

For example, why does X-Files have more het? Why does LotR have more slash? I even have answers for those, but who knows whether I'm right or not. With the X-Files the two main characters were a male and female, they were also partners, and shown to have a deep abiding friendship - whatever I personally felt about said friendship not withstanding, it is the way it was written, and therefore it is the way it was preceived by most fans. Now while LotR has a larger cast, it is mostly a male dominated one. Would there be more LotR het if you had more than three/four females? If you look at the books there were really only two (three if you count Rosie) females that were in action; Éowyn and Galadriel. And the latter doesn't seem (to me) as a viable coupling option, so there is only the former, so if you just don't really care for her you are the screwed.

Therefore, it is entirely possible that if Tolkien had included more viable females in the books there would be more het options, and therefore more het. Of course, I'm one of those wacky slashers who actually likes Aragorn and Arwen, most do not, and I can certainly understand why there are so many that do not. Unlike the movies, there is actually NO Aragorn/Arwen stuff in the books. Their entire love story actually takes place outside the novels. Which is why I've always said that if I'd read before watching I probably wouldn't care for Aragorn/Arwen anymore than anyone else. The stuff in the PS of the books just did not a great romance make. But the movies actually managed (as much as possible) to include the A/A romance within the story, which made me like it, and I think makes it much more likeable period.

That doesn't mean that I'm one of those who feel Aragorn should not be slashed. I like Aragorn slash, especially with Frodo. But who am I kidding, Frodo goes with anyone, such a little Ho, that one! *cough* Right, sorry. I just tend to wish there were more fics out there that were kind to Arwen. It is possible that she wouldn't object to some hot Aragorn/Legolas action herself you know. ;)

Now moving back into the land of the point.

I could be wrong about my thoughts on both of the above, but I still think the main characters have much to do with the way the het/slash cookie crumbles.

Case in point, Harry Potter - in this fandom you have lots of characters to pick and choose from. However, like LotR the first several HP novels only had one (possibly two) good female characters. And, I don't mean good as in on the right side, I mean good as in interesting and well-rounded.

For four of the six Harry Potter books you had Hermione. Yes, I realize that Cho started coming up in Book Four, but she still wasn't the fully realized character that Hermione was. And, well, okay, you had McGonagall, but few people want to see her shag Harry or Ron. Not sure why myself, I personally think she'd be perfect for Ron - he needs someone who has experience and can keep him in line with a firm hand... Damn it! There I go again, sorry.

Still until Book Five, there just wasn't very many females who could star as potential love interests for our boys. So, that may be exactly the reason HP slash grew to be overly large thing that it is, or at least part of the reason.

And, for the record, this goes out to those who I've seen pissing and moaning because there's no HP het. Right! Honey, if you can't find HP het then you are clearly not trying at all! There really is much HP het as there is HP slash.

Of course, there are other fandoms, but basically only one more that I'm going to bring into this, which is Star Trek. I'm also going to break-down Star Trek into different sections. Starting with The Original Series, which as near as I can see is mostly slash, though there are a rather disturbing number of Mary Sue fics for TOS out there.

Next, you have The Next Generation, which sadly doesn't seem to have a very large fanfic fandom at all. But I think back when I read such things there was a balance between the het and the slash. Which, of course, I feel is probably because TNG actually had a few good female characters, where TOS had one. PS - Talking main characters here, not side ones, because I know TOS had at least two semi-regualarish decent female characters, but only one female who was there week to week.

Third, there's Deep Space Nine which seems more like the Garak/Bashir vs Bashir/Jadzia show. Okay, that isn't fair because there are other popular DS9 ships, and there is (was) more fic to be found for DS9 than TNG. Again, though, this one seemed mostly balanced between het and slash. There might have been a bit more slash (thanks to the G/B'ers, of which I belong) than het, but I can't say for sure, so I call DS9 balanced.

Finally, Voyager has (had) even more fanfic than DS9, I think back in the day VOY probably had as much fic as TOS did. I also believe there was more VOY het than slash, but there was still plenty of slash to be had.

Okay, I know there is one more Trek; Enterprise. But I can't say anything at all about it or its fandom. I only watched one episode and five minutes of this series, and have never bothered to read any of its fanfic at all. So I can't even tell you how much fanfic was written for this series, let alone what the slash/het balance of it might be.

Now I brought Star Trek into this for mainly one reason, although there are many interesting things to see about fandom and slash in general when looking at the Star Trek fandom. But the main reason I included it here is because of a little known (?) two book series titled Dark Passions. This series explored the "lesbian AU" first seen in the Deep Space Nine series. Yes, back in the day I believe that was the way it was marketed, at least online. I won't go into why I felt the Dark Passions books weren't worth the money I spent, or the paper they were printed on for that matter - trust me its all been said before, and that is not why I brought them up.

The reason I even bothered with them in the first place was because it was said that if the "lesbian" books sold well enough there would be a "gay" series released. At which point there was a large "squee" heard round the world. But apparently Dark Passions didn't sell well enough for that. Of course, I suspect it sold well enough and the whole thing was mainly a marketing ploy to make sure the large contingent of Trek m/m slashers bought the silly books, (which I know I did, and I'm sure others did as well) and there never actually was any plans for a "gay" series at all. Color me cynical.

Of course, I do wish that "gay" series had been released, then we would have a pretty good idea whether or not slash would have enough readers to create a viable market. Because going by the cover for Dark Passions there wouldn't be anything to give away the slash content, so those folks who never want their slash secret known would be safe enough in buying it. Seriously, you'd have the words Star Trek, along with a title on the cover. And three (four) fully clothed Star Trek males important to the plot on the cover, but they wouldn't be ripping each others clothes off or embracing, so fear of discovery wouldn't be a factor in sales.

*sigh* I truly believe (though I know I could be wrong, but even today I still believe) that the rumored "gay" series would have been tripple the sales of Dark Passions, and would have shown everyone just how viable the market for m/m slash is.

What makes it all the more interesting for me, is that there just isn't many f/f slashers (in any fandom), though there were quite a few in Trek overall (as well as Buffy), but if you go by the internets to judge interest there should have been a M/M Trek book released before the F/F books. Honestly, those who bitch about the lack of f/f slash in fandoms do totally have my sympathy, because unlike other stuff bitched about there really isn't much f/f out there at all.

Anyway, in the end, I believe original m/m slash would have a viable market. Though I admit that it is unlikely every m/m fanfic slasher would read original stuff,* though I think least half would, if for no other reason than to show support/interest. And I think that would be a comfortable market, maybe not the money maker Harry Potter is, but then again what is the money maker that Harry Potter is?

* I do understand that some fanfic m/m slashers are only interested in reading to explore characters that they already know and love, and therefore original slash wouldn't appeal to them at all.

Alas, until some brave soul (company) gives it a try - there is no real way of knowing whether original slash would have a good, bad, or decent readership.

~ * ~ * ~

Now I simply must be off to work on a couple fanfics. I actually have more than that which need working on, but I'm hoping to complete the two I'm talking about first. And, of course, now I need to work on a "one shot" original I need to work on as a present for a friend.

*crosses fingers*

Hopefully next time I make an entry it'll be about how UAV has (finally) been updated and that the second story will be posted very soon.
Wow, this made for a very interesting read, Hopey :-)

I'm not very deep in the slash-scene (any slash scene), - I do read the occasional LotR slash/RPS, and some StarGate stuff as well, but not very frequently - but I generally agree with what you're saying.

Except for one thing. I don't think a m/m slash book would sell very well (or rather, outsell an f/f one). Judging by say, TrekBBS, most scifi/fantasy fans are young geeky men who don't want to read anything remotely 'gay'. There are of course heaps and heaps of female fans and they seem generally more interested in fandoms and slash, so it's possible that they'd be more eager to buy an m/m book, but still... I think the market would be unviable.
Of course, it's just conjecture on our part. Maybe they should do a simultaneous release of both and see which one sells better. :)

You're welcome.

However, I think you underestimate the power of pervie old women. ;)

No, seriously, I know that lots of Trek fans are male (not as many as I think B&B wanted, cause I think latter Treks lost much of the male Trek fanbase) and feel that even just reading something gay would give them gay cooties. However, there are just as many (strangely enough. Seriously, it is strange when you really think about it) female Trek fans who are very interested in slash. Whether they would be interested enough to buy is the question.

That is the question all around. We know there are slash fans (and lots of them) out there, but would they be interested in purchasing a slash (or slashy) novel? I think at least half would, but would that be a viable market or not?

Anyway, I can understand why you (and others, you aren't alone) think there would not be, and perhaps you are correct.

After all, the Smoke & books by Tanya Huff feature a gay hero; Tony Foster. They haven't sold well, so the third book was the last one. Although if sales picked up more novels might be forth coming. However, Huff has commented that her agent hated them. Now whether she/he hated them because of the gayness or for some other reason, I can't say, because I haven't seen Huff say.

What I can say is that gay or not, I feel Tony Foster is one of the better characters I've encountered. And really those books aren't overly slashy. A relationship is had (off screen, between books) and Tony spends much time mooning for his LI, but as far as slashy moments, there's only about three of them.