Alan Summers writes:
Selling and shifting books can be notoriously difficult in many venues. We’ve all done open mic and guest poet slots but the make up of the event can rarely be conducive to book sales.
I remember one person consistently hijacking my guest poet slot by giving long monologues during Q&A about herself and projects. Suffice it to say I sold no books that day.
I always look to specific venues to give maximum access to the general public whether local or regional or further afield but sometimes to the cost of book sales simply because the venue management doesn’t cater for a table presentation where the author or editor can sign books.
This time around I am making it a priority to include as many table/signing/Q&A spaces to accompany the talk or reading.
Of course there are wonderful exceptions such as this week I addressed two hundred and seventeen first year BA students (my organiser gave me the specific number) on contemporary haiku. But then for forty minutes work I did earn £120, a raise on last year.
When not selling books I have read or performed in noodle bars, nightclubs, a bordello, on the street outside the Watershed Media Centre, Bristol, as part of a multi-media Watershed event, the Royal Festival Hall, London, and Trafalgar Square as part of Antony Gormley’s Fourth Plinth One and Other Project, which was incredible.
Make your venues special and easy to get to, and when selling books, as Charlotte says, make it a different type of specific.
Paul Beech writes:
Here in the UK, we have many regular poetry venues where, even if not invited to do a guest spot, we may read at an “open mic”. There are also festivals and one-off fundraising events.
On Monday, for example, my partner Maureen and I both read at an event at Birkenhead Central Library, part of the Wirral Libraries Poetry Week 2016, where we met a most charming older couple heavily into art and poetry, who bought my book ‘Twin Dakotas’ and Maureen’s latest ‘Midnight Robin’ and invited us to head over their way sometime. An excellent bit of networking.
And twelve months ago, Maureen and I did a joint guest spot on Vintage Radio’s Poetry Roundup, which is due to rerun this morning and evening, Saturday, which we’re both chuffed about of course.
Really, the essential thing for us is to avoid taking on so many readings that we’ve no time left to actually write and send work out. So yes, we need to be wise over where we read too, and seek discriminating audiences where possible.
Thank you, Charlotte, for this most interesting and instructive post.
My very best,