Need a good book? Suzanne Corson can recommend one. The executive editor of Books to Watch Out For (bookstowatchoutfor.com), a subscription-based monthly e-letter that features LGBT book news and reviews, says, “It makes me angry when folks say there aren’t any good lesbian books; it just isn’t true.” Just ask her.
Each issue of the e-newsletter features 20 to 30 comprehensive reviews of new titles, which keep readers without access to good bookstores apprised of the latest news in the worlds of lesbian and gay publishing. And it breaks down the genres by publishing in three editions: Lesbians; Gay Men’s; and More Books For Women, titles with feminist themes.
Corson’s passion for literature began in the ’90s, when, with the help of two friends, she opened Boadecia’s, a feminist/LGBT bookstore in the Berkley area. But a niche retail market begets a niche clientele, and sales were not strong enough to support the business.
“Being a feminist bookstore owner is not an easy way to pay the rent,” Corson says. Boadecia was eventually forced to close it doors in 2004, but other doors in publishing were opening for Corson. To drum up some supplementary income, Corson wrote for several publications, including Feminist Bookstore News, Sojourner and Girlfriends.
An acquaintance from her bookstore days, Carol Seajay, the proprietor of Feminist Bookstore News (which closed in 2000 after 34 years of printing), began publishing Books to Watch Out For in 2003, for which Corson served as part-time production assistant and copy editor.
Then in early 2005, she was hired as managing editor at On Our Backs. “On my second day [at On Our Backs], my boss told me that I had to test lubricants for the magazine’s annual lube survey. It was a tough job, but my girlfriend and I spent the weekend working like crazy for the sake of the readers!”
Unfortunately, the fun couldn’t last forever: On Our Backs was closed after 21 years on newsstands, and Corson went full-time at BTWOF. –Nicole K. Sia