How to sell erotic books at events
Zak Jane Keir explains how to sell your erotic books at trade fairs and events in this week’s guest feature…
Trading in Kink
I remember my first sexy stallholding event quite well. Not just because I got stung by a wasp and shagged a Scotsman in the long grass, though I have to say the former was less trouble in the long run.
In later years, many of which have involved selling books and other oddments at things like the BBB, the London Fetish Fair (currently on hold), Erotica and a variety of shortlived or one-off events, I have picked up a few tips on trading that might be worth considering if you have a book or two you want to boost the profile of.
If you are in the early stages of your erotic writing career, it’s worth looking into smaller and more affordable selling occasions. Stand or table space at something run by enthusiastic hobbyists is usually within the sort of price range that gives you the chance of at least covering your costs, and it’s worth being open-minded about the sort of show where you might find readers. Under my other writing name, Sallyanne Rogers, I have put out an erotic romance about Morris dancers and an anthology of erotica inspired by folk songs, and I approached a folk festival to ask if I could hold a quick book signing, which they were happy to agree to. I’ve also taken copies of the steampunk anthology I had a story in to sci-fi/fantasy events.
However, it’s important to be both upfront and tactful if you want to sell erotica at a non-erotic gig. If your cover is writhing with bared sweaty genitalia or is called something like Fuck My Anus Dirty Boy then most niche-but-not-specifically-sex-based gigs will freak out and reject you. And while you might get some major publicity out of showcasing your sexual awakening tale entitled I Love My Pussy at the local cat show, you’d have to have a thicker skin than me and no day job you’d mind losing, to think it worth a go.
Small events are worth doing if you have (and can obtain paperbacks at a discount rate) a few different pieces of work in printable versions, especially if there are several anthologies which include your stories available from the same publisher. Not only will you be able to put in a bulk, discounted order for print copies, but passing punters may well be more tempted by a collection of stuff by a range of authors.
Should you have other stuff to sell that’s relevant to the event in question, such as second-hand theme-related clothing, jewellery or toys, or a mate who makes and sells things that would also appeal to likely attendees, you could probably cover the bulk of your costs and even make a profit as well as boosting your profile. So here are some basic tips if you haven’t done it before.
- Confirm everything with the organisers. Are they absolutely OK with you selling erotic fiction at their event? Offer to send them jpgs of your cover/s if they are twitchy. Also, make sure you know what you are getting for your pitch money – a table? How big? A wall, booth, partition to stick posters to? If you are going to need to supply your own table or banner or whatever, it’s much better to know in advance.
- Bring a cloth of some kind to cover your table. A clean, brightly-coloured (or plain white) spare bedsheet will do, but you can get lengths of fabric quite cheaply in a lot of places, and moderately hardwearing plastic tablecloths from most poundshops. Throwing a cloth over the table doesn’t just set off the books nicely, it means you have a hidden space to store your coat, empty bookbag and the assorted crap any friends of yours in attendance will want to offload on you to avoid paying cloakroom fees.
- Check how pissy the event venue is about food and drink: some are much more reasonable than others. You’re going to be there all day, so it might seem fair enough to bring your own butty and bottle of water (or six-pack, caviar, chocolate, etc) but some places will insist you only consume the overpriced bar snacks and short measures of booze that they supply on the premises, while others cheerfully dispatch stallholders to the nearest Tesco Metro midway through the day.
- Big events are not a good idea if you are a newcomer with a single title to your name. If you want to team up with other people, the Smut crew are very enthusiastic about promoting individual authors whenever they are either hosting or attending a big event, and I also like to offer other writers a corner of my stall where possible – you can find me via the Dirty Sexy Words Facebook page.
– Zak Jane Keir
About the writer: Zak Jane Keir describes herself as a maker of stuff, writer of rude words, drinker of much cider, feminist, deviant, atheist, book junkie and morris dancer.
Please click to read Zak’s blog, follow Zak on Twitter and buy her erotic books on Amazon. You can also find out more about Zak in her Erotic Author Spotlight feature here at Cara Sutra.