by Ashley Lister
Last month I went to a horror convention. As some of you may have noticed, my focus recently has been on the genre of horror rather than erotica. (Admittedly, there are some people who argue that there’s little difference between horror and erotica with my interpretation of a sex scene – but that’s an argument for a different day). I went to the horror convention with the sole purpose of selling horror books.
But, instead of simply selling books, I ended up doing more than that. I was with a colleague who taught me how to sell things. I managed to sell more than a month’s worth of product in a single day. And I had the pleasure of meeting readers.
In our market-focused world of selling through Amazon, we’re told to make sure that we’re pitching to an online audience so they can click and collect without moving from away their desktop PC. And, whilst this is good for some sales, the sheer pleasure of meeting readers, and then exchanging books for cash, is undeniable.
Early in the day someone approached my stall and asked me about one of the books I was displaying. “What’s this about?” they asked.
And, because that’s not something I’ve ever heard anyone ask about one of my books before, I was stumped for an answer. I fell back into writer mode (hiding behind the keyboard and ready to be defensive) and thought of telling them to read the blurb. Then I thought of reading the blurb to them. I was genuinely a rabbit in the headlights.
My colleague stepped in and had the charm of a natural salesman.
“What’s this one about?” he asked, grinning, and holding up a copy of my novel Conversations with Dead Serial Killers. “I see you’re wearing a Dahmer shirt,” he observed. “That means you’re going to love this one. The research that’s gone into this title, and the way it’s presented is outstanding. It’s the story of two brothers, one of whom is obsessed with serial killers, whilst the other makes his living by being a fake psychic. When the fake psychic meets a genuine ghost, the ghost of someone who’s been killed by a serial killer, the story really starts to develop…”
He went on but, by this point, even though I’d written the fucking thing, I was wanting to buy a copy of this book because he’d made it sound good. His sales pitch led to the first sale of the day and, whilst I’m not particularly bright or gifted, I could see how his approach to selling, by using the skills of a storyteller, were going to help.
As I say, it turned into a successful day with lots of sales and lots of new readers. A further upside to this has been a plethora of fresh reviews, an increase in subscribers to my newsletter, and some very nice messages from people on FaceBook who have now found my writing and wanted to thank me for the story I told.
All of which is my way of saying, if you get a chance to sell your work in a face-to-face environment, snatch that opportunity with both hands.