Artist profile: Abigail Ekue
Abigail Ekue is a visual artist and writer and is the photographer behind the amazing male nude series, Bare Men.
The series is tackling the taboo of male nudity, body image and the double standard in nude art. As a female photographer working with full frontal male nudity, I am shifting the usual gaze found in art.
What sort of products has Abigail produced from this series?
I published the limited edition 500-page photography book in October so that's been my main focus -- get the word out and get the collector's item on people's shelves.
Has it been a long process to get this series out into the world?
I've been working on Bare Men for 4 years thus far and there are images that didn't make it into the first book. "Bare Men: The B Roll" is an ebook that features 82 images never before published.
As well as photography, what else has Abigail been working on?
I am also the author of an erotic short story collection, The Darker Side of Lust, which is currently in its 2nd edition. I'm revisiting the marketing push on that because I have a story that was published in Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 2 and will be participating in the book tour and doing readings and panels in early 2017.
Where does Abigail distribute her work?
Both books can be purchased on my website or on Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble.
Are there particular challenges to distributing work that features full frontal male nudity or sexually explicit work online?
I asked Abigail where she has her largest audience.
My largest direct audience is on Twitter and Instagram. On Tumblr I don't have as many followers but I get a lot of reblogs which raises awareness of my photography in an indirect way. Tumblr is also where my natural hair tees "Don't Pet The Fro™" got their start. A graphic I created for a blog post went viral on Tumblr with people asking for it on a tee. I also have to thank Google for growing my mailing list. Most people find me/my work via an online search and then sign up for my mailing list that way!
Does that mean most of her sales are via Twitter and Instagram?
I sell my work direct on my website -- I maintain creative control and the profits. The royalty from Amazon Kindle is 70% or only 35% - not nearly enough for indie publishers. But Amazon is great for visibility. My first online shops were simply PayPal buttons embedded on my website. Now, I'm able to process all credit cards, accept Apple Pay and PayPal for those who want to use that payment option. I sell my tees through Storenvy. My books are sold to bookstores through Ingram and I've been lucky enough to have a few bookstores buy direct from me at the industry standard discount.
How does Abigail encourage people to buy her work?
I think generating sales comes down to raising awareness of your product to the people that like your work, creating a sense of exclusivity and urgency and getting customers and clients to leave feedback and reviews. I think for artists, people like to know there's a real person behind the social media and like to see some of the creation process. If they are informed and feel included, they're more likely to spend money.
What are Abigail’s top three tips for artists who are distributing their work online?
1. Check out artists you like and make note of how you found them -- do that. Or your version of it if you don't have the marketing budget.
2. Be a content creator. You don't want to force anything but you have to create and share on a regular basis. Also engage with the content you create -- respond to genuine comments and questions. Ignore the trolls and bots.
3. Be your own PR/publicist. Cold calling or cold emailing to introduce yourself can lead to press coverage and exposure to a wider audience