Monday, May 23, 2011

Evolving at Gay Days

This will be the fifth year I've participated in Gay Days Orlando, one of the world's largest gay-centric conventions, and it's been quite a journey.

The first year, I had the pleasure of having the incomparable Vincent Diamond as my table buddy. I believe it was the first year the Expo had books for sale, and I know it was definitely the first year a female author was selling gay erotic romance.

We got lots of strange looks that year. After all, I had a vagina yet was sitting behind a table full of books with sexy male-male covers. Nobody could quite understand what I was about, and a lot of men, particularly the younger ones, jumped away from the table as if we had something catching. The braver ones that wandered near were shocked to learn I was the author of some of those books, not just a reseller. Then, amazingly, they bought! Maybe it was to satisfy their curiosity, but the fact remains that they forked over their hard-earned money to buy our books.

It was a good experience overall, and we decided to try it again the following year... and the year after that, and the year after that, and well, you get the picture.

You see, we discovered something amazing. Gay men evolved. Unlike some straight men who couldn't be convinced to try something new or accept something different without hot pokers being applied to the soles of their bare feet, gay men were willing to step outside of their comfort zones.

First, the guys began asking questions. Then they began actively looking for us each year. And buying, mind you. Our books. Our romances, the ones some people in the publishing industry insist gay men don't want.

Our little booth experiment at Gay Days has evolved, too. This year Gay Days will host it's first ever Literary Festival, hosted by yours truly. I'm thrilled to say Vincent Diamond will be there again as well, representing Torquere Press, who is a Title Sponsor of the event! Whoot!

If you happen to be in the Orlando area June 2-5th, stop by the Double Tree Resort on International Drive South and come see us. The Expo has free admission, and we'll have books, signings, some spectacular giveaways, and wine tasting at all the discussion panels (also free!).



Vincent Diamond said...

I remember one cynical young guy saying, "Oh, gay romance, there's no such thing! Well, of course, it's fiction..." Tee hee! Funny yet sad. And the one who swung by sneering, "Oh my god, who *reads*?"

Yes, the folks at Gay Days have been a hoot. And Kiernan is absolutely right--once you break the ice and connect a bit with the guys especially (gay women don't have that issue with the whole breasts/vagina thing), they'll talk to you, they'll ask questions, they'll take a look at your books.

Sure, we still get the occasional odd look, but with a friendly smile and a wave, it's easy to overcome. We are totally looking forward to being at Gay Days officially and I'll be (wo)manning the table for Torquere. Stop by if you're there and say hi!

Lee Benoit said...

It's so encouraging to hear about your experiences! This June will see my third outing with a book booth at Rhode Island Pride (a much more modest event than Gay Days, but it has a fab illuminated nighttime parade). The first year, there was one other book booth, and lots of folks stopped by both. Some wanted to know more about ebooks, other just wanted to marvel. "Books at Pride!" one chic lesbian gushed.

Last year, Torquere was the only publisher with a booth and the response was great. More folks were ebook savvy, and many loved the Prizm YA line.

I don't know how things will go this year, but I hope for more visitors, more authors represented, and another year of showing our community what we can do.

Here's to the best Pride season ever!

Lee xo