The majority of the writers who penned lesbian pulp fiction were men, but there were a few lesbian and bisexual women who were able to bring their stories to the attention of publishers.
When Women's Barracks became a best seller, publishers reissued older books with lesbian content from the 1930s such as those by Anna Elisabet Weirauch and Gale Wilhelm. Lesbian authors from earlier eras tended to be from well-connected families. In contrast, the lesbian and bisexual authors of the paperback originals published in the 1950s and early 1960s were from humbler backgrounds. Authors such as Marijane Meaker, Valerie Taylor, Sally Singer and Yvonne MacManus were employed in publishing firms as clerks before they were able to break through as editors and published authors.
Marijane Meaker was making $40 a week as a clerk at Fawcett Publishers when she approached Dick Caroll about publishing a story (eventually published as Spring Fire). Authors were paid between $200 and $500 in advance and then royalties of 1 cent per copy on the initial print order. A typical publishing run of 400,000 copies resulted in the payment of $4000 for the author. Spring Fire eventually sold more than 1.5 million copies.
Although lesbian authors wrote within the moralizing constraints of the period, their books provide sympathetic characters with realistic glimpses of mid-20th-century lesbian life. Researchers have noted that authors such as Valerie Taylor and Yvonne MacManus (writing as Paula Christian), tended to be far more discrete in their descriptions of lesbian sexuality than male writers.
Given that gay and lesbian lifestyles were illegal in the United States in the 1950s, many of the works are published with pseudonyms. Many male authors used women's names to appear as if the authors were lesbians. Lawrence Block went as far as joining the Daughters of Bilitis, and early lesbian rights group under his pen name Jill Emmerson. Block wrote under many names including, Sheldon Lord and Andrew Shaw. He had an arrangement with Midwood-Tower Books, whereby less experienced writers would submit works under his names, and he would receive $200.00 per title.
Publishers often used multiple authors to pen books using “house” names. Two of March Hastings’ novels are known to be written by Sally Singer, but many other authors wrote under the Hastings name. The quality of the writing varied widely prompting Barbara Grier (writing as Gene Damian) to note, “This author [March Hastings] is remarkably uneven, having done some of the very worst tripe in the genre, and several of the better-done paperback treatments.” In some cases, authors had identities related to different genres. For example, Marijane Meeker wrote crime-related novels as Vin Packer and lesbian non-fiction as Ann Aldrich.
Equally fascinating are the ways authors chose their pseudonyms. Meaker wished to use the pseudonym Bianca Blye for her lesbian journalist persona, but her editor urged her to choose a more "All-American" name, and so Ann Aldrich was "born". Ann Weldy’s husband prompted her to use a pen name as he did not want her lesbian novels associated with their family name. She chose the surname Bannon from a list of his sales contacts because it contained her first name.