Success Stories: Selling Poetry


Marketing Poetry: One Person's Experience

Below is an email I received from one self-published poet. I think it shows the power of promotion, even for something that is hard to sell (i.e., poetry) . . .

I can’t brag that I’ve sold a billion copies of my self-published book of poetry, Thread Count, but I’ve certainly managed to get a lot of local attention all by my lonesome self!! As a result of publishing this book:

1. I was asked to join the Courses for Community Faculty at Salem College, and am now teaching a class entitled, “Poetry as Distilled Experience.”

2. I was asked by my alma mater to do a television promo for the school’s English department. I think it is still running on WXII.

3. Our local Borders reviewed the book, liked it, and is now selling it.

4. A columnist for our local newspaper, The Winston-Salem Journal, interviewed me and an article came out about my book in their Clemmons Journal back in April.

5. I was asked by a local coffee shop to do a book signing, and I also did a reading at the library. Both were very well attended, and I sold lots of books.

6. IBD News put the Journal article in its newsletter.

7. My poem, “Thread Count,” was nominated as a librarian’s favorite poem for the North Carolina Arts Council website in honor of National Poetry Month.

8. Paris Voice Magazine (http://www.parisvoice.com) published my poem, “Luncheon in Paris” in their Reader’s Forum section, with a link to Amazon.

9. Forsyth Magazine interviewed me and did a piece on my life and book for their “Women on the Move” section. They also published two of my poems.

10. I have an interview next week, to see if WFDD Radio wants to do an on-air interview with me…I guess to make sure I’m not a lunatic with a voice like Minnie Mouse!! :o)

And, there are probably other things that I’ve left out... All in all, it’s been rather amazing. Of course, it would be nice to branch out of “local” more than I have ... although a place in Paris Voice is not bad!!

Also, I recently sold a new poem to the Christian Science Monitor, which is pretty exciting. I wish I could just phone “Aunt Oprah” for a spot on her show. HA!! But, I’m afraid I don’t have those kinds of contacts!! :o)

Anyway, you have a very interesting website. Thank you for compiling all this information. I have a website, too, by the way, if you are curious: http://www.geocities.com/thread_count.

— Terri Kirby Erickson, author and poet, Thread Count

8/09 update:

I want to thank you again for telling folks about my book, Thread Count, and all my marketing efforts, in your newsletter. I have to say that promoting my book so heavily, really paid off. Since I published Thread Count, I gained more confidence in my work and started sending poetry out to journals, etc.

To date, I’ve had more than fifty poems accepted by literary journals and anthologies, and now have a contract with a small press. My new book, Telling Tales of Dusk, will be out in a couple of weeks (http://www.Press53.com)....

Oh, a poem of mine called “Cling Peaches” is being published in JAMA, (Poetry and Medicine section) in their August 19 edition—which, of course, is an international magazine. This is perfect timing for the release of my new book!! Maybe a few folks will Google my name, if they like this poem.


Marketing Poetry: Another Poet's Experience

I loved the Marketing Poetry piece from several issues ago. I can certainly relate. I am a published and self-published poet.

  • A small publisher published my first two books of poetry.
  • I self-published three poetry chapbooks.
  • I self-published my third poetry book.
  • I self-published two poetry anthologies: Reflections (for the poetry writers group I founded in 2003) and In Katrina's Wake (which was the first book inspired by the disaster of Hurricane Katrina, all profits of which are donated to the American Red Cross.
  • I founded an online poetry magazine which I published until this summer, when I had to let it go due to website costs (True Poet Magazine).
  • I perform book reviews.
  • I offer book-editing services to other authors.
  • I published audio editions of my poetry books.
  • I read my work at poetry reading open mikes.
  • I participate in multi-author panel discussions, literary festivals and similar events.
  • I developed, organize and host an annual event at my local library called WriterFest, where Chicago-area published authors answer questions posed by aspiring authors on writing, finding agents, publishing, self-publishing and book promotion.
  • I was asked in late 2005 to present poetry publishing workshops for the Inside Writing & Publishing series sponsored by the North Suburban Library System in early 2006.
  • Based on the huge turnouts for the workshops (18 to 40 attendees), I decided to present poetry-writing, memoir-writing, poetry-publishing and book-publishing workshops at Chicago area park districts, libraries, writing centers and writers groups. I presented a number this fall and have 30 scheduled in the first half of 2007.
  • I hosted an internet radio talk show podcast called Practical Poetry, where I interviewed published poets and others in the literary world and provided writing, publishing and promotional advice specific to poets.
  • I started a newsletter for Writers early this year called Write-On!
  • I mentor high school students interested in a writing career.
  • I will be leading a monthly life/memoir-writing group/workshop at my local library starting in March 2007.
  • I'm looking for an agent and publisher for my first nonfiction book: The Poet's Manual: How to Become the Poet Laureate of Your Home Town.
  • The small press, poetry journals, literary newsletters and literary websites have published my articles, tips and poems.
  • I am a member of the Steering Committee (and the Marketing sub-committee) of the Chicago Writer's Association (http://www.chicagowrites.org).
  • I've been interviewed by my local weekly newspaper several times, twice by a local radio show on the arts, and by several internet radio talk shows.

All poets know it's an uphill battle to get known, to get people to even read poetry, and to have any substantial sales of poetry. My books mostly sell at the workshops I present, readings I perform, the author events I host or attend, and other personal appearances. I also offer a discount of 21% if people buy all 3 of my poetry books. In addition, word of mouth provides many sales.

While I'm only known locally as a poet, it's quite a thrill! I'm hoping to have more success as an author once my nonfiction book comes out and have a memoir in the works that I will start writing sometime in 2007, to be followed by my 4th poetry book. I also have a sea monster/horror movie in mind. I've literally watched the whole movie in my head and now I have to get it all down on paper, either as book or screenplay.

My passion for poetry, which started up in 2003 (after over 20+ years of not writing any) has led me in many different directions. I have found many useful tips in your book, and have constantly recommended it to other published authors.

— Michelle True, poet. Web: http://www.michelletrue.com.


Copyright © 2010 by poetry book marketing expert John Kremer
Email: JohnKremer@bookmarket.com

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